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  • Bloody, brutal ‘Survivor’ cracks Navy SEAL culture

    A grim chapter in Navy SEALs history earns a heroic, no-punches-pulled accounting in “Lone Survivor,” an above-average action outing for Mark Wahlberg & Co. Based on the true story of …


  • Folk music tale too focused on antihero

    Homer’s “The Odyssey” was the inspiration behind the Coen brothers’ “Oh Brother, Where Art Thou.” And that ancient epic provides the loose structure and coded, contemplative essence of their latest, …


  • Star-studded ‘Match’ feels rigged

    “Grudge Match” is a sort of “Punchy Old Men,” a slow-footed high-concept comedy that pairs up the screen’s greatest pugilists, circa 1981, for a few slaps and a few laughs. …


  • Ambitious ‘Mitty’ carries resonance

    James Thurber’s whimsical short story “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” was about a bored, unassuming married man who escapes his humdrum life through wildly adventurous fantasies in which he …


  • ‘Wall Street’ overflows with sex, drugs, greed

    Leonardo DiCaprio’s most charismatic performance ever anchors Martin Scorsese’s robust and raunchy lowlifes-of-high-finance comedy “The Wolf of Wall Street.” This is their greatest teaming, a veritable “Citizen Kane” of the …


  • As Mandela, Idris Elba dominates ‘Long Walk’

    As Nelson Mandela, Idris Elba towers over the rest of the cast in “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom.” That’s literally true and perfectly accurate. Mandela was tall, as is Elba …


  • Ben Stiller finding his footing

    NEW YORK – Ben Stiller’s commonality with the hero of his new film hasn’t gone unnoticed. “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty,” starring and directed by Stiller, is adapted from …


  • Damon, visual effects can’t save ‘Elysium’ from tired script

    Monsters, a masked man and music fill this week’s new DVD offerings. • “Elysium,” C: A man (Matt Damon) goes on a mission to save polarized worlds.


  • Pinup icon tells own story in documentary

    In posters, comic books and “girlie magazines,” hers was a truly iconic image – jet black hair, bangs, and a beaming, accessible smile that said “girl next door,” even if …


  • With part 2, the laughs continue

    The blow-dried hair, polyester suits, ’70s-style political incorrectness and facial hair are back in “Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues.” The buffoonery goes epic in this sillier-than-silly sequel, a broad, down …


  • ’70s scams, glam, scandal make for decadent fun

    It was time of wide ties and velvet suits, jangly jewelry, open shirts, big hair and boat-sized cars. After Watergate, cynicism was everybody’s default mode. The economy was in the …


  • ‘Lie’ seeks truths behind cyclist’s fall

    “The Armstrong Lie” is about as angry and confrontational as documentary titles get, but filmmaker Alex Gibney has good reason to feel aggrieved. One of the top documentarians working today, …


  • Poignant trip through middle America

    Dylan Thomas taught us all we ever need to know about old age, death and dying: “Rage, rage against the dying of the light.” Woodrow “Woody” Grant makes his rage …


  • ‘Fast & Furious 6’ sales will help benefit Walker’s charity

    This week’s new DVD releases include “Fast & Furious 6” – sure to stir emotions for fans of the movie franchise in the wake of star Paul Walker’s tragic death. …


  • ‘Desolation’ has never been so entertaining

    Bilbo turns tougher and more cunning and “The Hobbit” turns altogether more entertaining in “The Desolation of Smaug,” Peter Jackson’s livelier, funnier and action-packed middle film in his trilogy based …


  • Intensity overwhelms ‘Furnace’

    Memories of “The Deer Hunter” creep in long before the deer hunt in “Out of the Furnace,” co-writer/ director Scott Cooper’s ambitious, impressionistic and confused ode to steel-belt machismo, code, …


  • Familiar story gets an urban perspective

    “Black Nativity” is a musical updating of Harlem Renaissance poet Langston Hughes’ play, based loosely – very loosely – on the way Jesus of Nazareth entered the world in a …


  • Plenty that’s fresh in ‘Frozen’

    Disney is onto something pretty cool with its latest princess picture, “Frozen.” It’s evolving a solid story template that will give its girl movies an identity distinct from the studio’s …


  • Action rerun falls short

    The Jason Statham vehicle “Homefront” is such a generic tough- guy-against-the-odds ’80s-style actioner that you’d swear Sly Stallone starred in it. He did, back in the day. Or versions of …


  • ‘Darlings’ captures mood of Beat era’s beginnings

    Think of “Kill Your Darlings” as an origins story, except instead of being about superheroes, it’s about the New York literary avant-garde of the 1940s and ’50s. We are at …


  • A powerful story, touchingly told

    He is an ex-journalist who crossed over to a government spokesman job that has just blown up in his face. Depressed, embarrassed, the one story idea he’s been pitched is …


  • ‘Book Thief’ tells story of courage in Nazi Germany

    Rarely has a story about an angelic schoolgirl been narrated by Death. But such is the case in the dark yet wondrous Nazi Germany-set “The Book Thief.” “Here’s a small …


  • ‘RED 2’ has too much to live up to

    Antiheroes are featured in this week’s new DVD releases. • “RED 2,” C-plus: There was a playfulness to the 2010 action film “RED,” directed by Robert Schwentke, that elevated it …


  • Plenty that’s fresh in ‘Frozen’

    Disney is onto something pretty cool with its latest princess picture, “Frozen.” It’s evolving a solid story template that will give its girl movies an identity distinct from the studio’s …


  • Uninspired tale offers nothing miraculous

    If lush settings were plums and costumes were nuts, we’d all have fruitcake for Christmas. And we could enjoy it watching the lovely looking but dramatically flat and emotionally sterile …


  • Documentary pays tribute to ‘Calvin’ and strip’s creator

    If, when you first heard about “Dear Mr. Watterson,” you feared it was going to be some grotesque exercise along the lines of stalking J. D. Salinger, you can relax. …


  • ‘Hunger Games’s’ Lawrence stays grounded as her career takes off

    LOS ANGELES – Last year, during an interview to promote “The Hunger Games,” Jennifer Lawrence talked about how blessed she felt to ride the Batman roller coaster at Six Flags …


  • ‘Planes’ lacks originality, but fun enough for DVD

    Animation and comedy are part of Tuesday’s new DVD releases. • “Planes,” B: The film draws on a common theme of Disney movies: A young dreamer longs for a bigger …


  • Vaughn’s delivery right on target

    “Delivery Man” is a Vince Vaughn comedy about an irresponsible oaf who discovers that his sperm-donations-for-money years resulted in 533 kids he never knew he had. As he learns this …


  • Drama adeptly tackles AIDS crisis

    What’s been missing from all the movies about AIDS and the history of the AIDS crisis is that Matthew McConaughey swagger. And we never would have realized that if he …

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