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Cinequest Film Festival Preview

The 25th annual Cinequest, which is set to run from Feb. 24 to March 8, will feature big-name actors and directors, local filmmakers and the latest in film-oriented technology. Read More

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The Best Oscar-Nominated Short Films of 2014

In the years I've spent reviewing movies, I've come to anticipate great things from Academy Award-nominated short films, which I almost always find more impressive than big-name features. However, this year's roster of Oscar-hopeful shorts leaves me wanting. Far too many are safe and toothless-peculiar considering the vast selection of short films released in 2014. » Read More

'Still Alice'

Julianne Moore seems vouchsafed for the Oscar at last after four losses. This petite, lucid actress, of great plasticity and even greater bravery, is one of the five or 10 reasons that the movies are worth attending. It's about time she was going where she's going-if one could only be happier about the vehicle she was travelling in. » Read More

'Human Capital'

In synopsis, the glossy yet fascinating Italian import Human Capital sounds like a Paul Haggis tag-teamer-the high and low classes make an unwilling meeting over a traffic accident. It's shrewder than anything ever influenced by Crash, however. Based on a Connecticut-set novel by Stephen Amidon, director Paolo Virzi's tale takes place in a small city outside of Milan. After a Christmas gala held by a well-endowed private school, someone injures a busboy in a hit-and-run collision as he returns home from work on his bicycle. The accident sets off the kind of class antagonism entrenched in Italy since the Roman Empire. » Read More

'American Sniper'

Texan Chris Kyle, who cultivated the nickname "The Legend" during his tenure in the armed forces, was a Navy SEAL sniper with a reported 150 kills during his four tours of duty. In American Sniper, Kyle (Bradley Cooper) is envisioned by director Clint Eastwood as a barrel of movie tropes: cowboy, rodeo rider, lone gunman, a gruff soldier uncomfortable with the womenfolk and the settled world. » Read More

'Inherent Vice'

Lazy story structure and arcless arc compliment, rather than injure, Inherent Vice. P.T. Anderson's ingratiating version of sometimes-Aptos-based author Thomas Pynchon's homage to detective fiction. The mood is far more important than the case. It's a threnody for the end of the 1960s, as the best defective-detective since Dude Lebowski tries to determine who is responsible for what. » Read More

'Mr. Turner'

There's a scene in Skyfall where Daniel Craig's James Bond is meeting with his quartermaster (Ben Whishaw) at the British National Gallery. Our hero is seated in front of J.M.W. Turner's 1838 painting The Fighting Temeraire. It depicts a ship, once part of the victorious British fleet at Trafalgar, being towed to the wrecker's yard for salvage. The young Q has chosen the rendezvous carefully and cruelly as a way to infer 007's obsolescence. » Read More

Best Films of 2014

The indie producer and festival director Ted Hope recently penned a column listing 30 reasons why the film industry is in trouble. After the Sony hack, you'd have to ask: only 30? Hope's starting point was easy enough to guess-2014 saw the lowest box office numbers since Bill Clinton was in office. You could say that the lack of originality in mainstream films was a big reason for dwindling audiences; the New York Times noted that eight out of 12 sequels sank this year, failing to make more money than their originals. » Read More

'Big Eyes'

You can't fight cute. That much is clear in Tim Burton's mid-1960s comedy, Big Eyes-which follows the reign of the highly marketable art of Walter and Margaret Keane. For a few years the pair were among the most famous artists in the world. Millionaires and movie stars lined up to purchase paintings by the Keanes, who specialized in figures of children, mostly girls, with vastly oversized, pleading eyes-great black vacuums, in which glowed gibbous-moon crescents of gold. Burton has a valuable collection of these waif paintings. » Read More

'The Hobbit: The Battle of The Five Armies'

Bleary visuals, a blearier narrative and a stage groaning with characters in search of a stopping point The Hobbit: The Battle of The Five Armies is the keystone in the arch between the two trilogies. The masonry is shaky: obvious little-person stunt doubles in the long shots, billions of winged animated critters churning up the leaden skies in the final battles. » Read More

'Exodus: Gods and Kings'

It's a biblical epic done the George Bernard Shaw way-throw the agnostics a bone, and suggest that religious zealots are a threat to an orderly functioning society. Exodus: Gods and Kings is rich, gilded, crisply digitalized pagan spectacle in sharp 3D. Haters are blind to the humor, which was far thinner in Cecil B. De Mille's Egypt. Here: a sculptor fretting at the model for Ramses's proposed statue ("It is...tall.."). » Read More

'Wild'

Based on the Oprah-honored book that so many serious backpackers hurled against the wall-"Goddamn it, she's dumber than Christopher McCandless!"-Wild may also raise hackles outside the hiking community, in spite of the fact that it's Dallas Buyers Club-director Jean-Marc Vallee's best movie to date. Some even who prefer to camp with a Coleman cooler will watch and indulge in some good old-fashioned slut-shaming, since Wild's author, Cheryl Strayed, told all about her extra-marital affairs and dabbling with heroin. » Read More