Cinema

​Offline: ‘Men, Women & Children’ in the internet age

October 30th, 2014

Trading the comic complications and satirical stingers of “Thank You for Smoking” and “Juno” for the more nakedly manipulative white whine and/or bathos of “Up in the Air,” “Young Adult,” and the critically ravaged “Labor Day,” filmmaker Jason Reitman adds another entry to his list of underwhelming missteps. The director’s sixth feature, “Men, Women & Children,” is based on the novel by Chad Kultgen, and aspires to examine the dark side of our fascination with…

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​More Halloween movie fun

October 30th, 2014

Halloween weekend is a natural time to revisit or track down horror films, with plenty of public screenings as well as numerous sales on home video editions. The prestigious Criterion Collection has several notable horror films from major directors around the world available on Blu-ray, with 13 selected titles not-so-coincidentally on sale for half-price this week at Amazon through Nov. 1. Several of these I’ve reviewed in past columns, all worth seeing.

This sale includes Lars von…

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“Plastic Galaxy” Looks at history of Star Wars toys

October 22nd, 2014

By fans, for fans, “Plastic Galaxy: The Story of Star Wars Toys” covers the profitable marriage of George Lucas’ phenomenal movie and Kenner Products, the Cincinnati-based company that acquired the license to produce action figures, vehicles, and other playthings based on Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, Darth Vader and the many inhabitants of the “Star Wars” universe. Director Brian Stillman alternates between the super collectors who have devoted the majority of their spare…

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​Diverse thrills for Halloween in HD

October 22nd, 2014

Next Friday is Halloween already and horror movies are everywhere, more thrilling than ever with the crisp clarity of a Blu-ray on a high-definition television monitor or, better yet, projected in 1080p onto a big screen, especially when enjoyed as a group experience with an enthusiastic audience.

Those who’d rather forego the glut of gory pain-porn horror, twisted psycho-killers, and pseudo-documentary paranormal thrillers that seem to have taken over the genre in recent decades,…

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​Long gone: Is Fincher’s twisty adaptation an awards-season contender?

October 21st, 2014

WARNING: The following review reveals key plot information. Read only if you have seen “Gone Girl.”

Gillian Flynn, author of the bestselling novel “Gone Girl,” hit the Hollywood jackpot. She A) got to adapt her own screenplay without having to share any screen credit; B) had the fortune of finding David Fincher at the directorial helm; C) saw her characters brought to life by talent like Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike; D) all of the above. At its best, Flynn’s page-turner…

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​Celebrate Chaplin’s centennial on Blu-ray and DVD

October 16th, 2014

Legendary screen comedy icon Charlie Chaplin was born 125 years ago this past April and made his movie debut 100 years ago this past January. His first feature-length film appearance premiered in December 1914. Amazingly, almost all of the films he made throughout his five-decade career have survived, even numerous outtakes and abandoned film ideas, and can be seen on home video.

Four years ago Flicker Alley issued a comprehensive DVD set of every surviving film he made at Mack…

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FM LGBT Film Fest: Show ‘Em Your Colors

August 28th, 2014

The Fargo Theatre’s big screen is going gay for the weekend of Sept. 12 and 13 for the 6th Annual Fargo-Moorhead LGBT Film Festival.

This year, 14 shorts and feature length films will be screened. Prepare for a couple days of heart-melting love stories, queer quests, Hawaiian transgender culture tales, eye-opening educational experiences and Sundance-awarded lesbian hooker adventures. You’ll laugh, slap your knee, pump your fist, cry, shout and, perhaps most importantly, be…

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Linklater takes a long look at ‘Boyhood’

August 21st, 2014

“Boyhood,” Richard Linkater’s 12-years-in-the-making adventure that follows the lives of a familial quartet, carries in its DNA one of the Texas auteur’s most durable paradoxes: the easygoing, everyday and quotidian markers of cyclical middle class life onscreen contrast sharply with the vision, commitment and work ethic that Linklater applies to his profession. From the fascinating and entertaining connect-the-dots vignettes that propel “Slacker” to the unfolding poignancy…

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​The Return of Maude’s Dilemma: “Obvious Child” Makes a Choice

July 17th, 2014

Making her feature debut with an expanded adaptation of her 2009 short, Gillian Robespierre shows plenty of talent and even more promise in “Obvious Child,” a low-budget comedy attracting as much attention for its subject matter as it is for star Jenny Slate’s breakout performance. Slate plays Donna Stern, a smart, underemployed stand-up comic whose candid onstage disclosures drive away an already unfaithful boyfriend. Reeling from the lost relationship, Donna takes refuge in…

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Big Tree, Small Axe

July 3rd, 2014

Photo by Kensie Wallner

Last April, HPR film editor and Concordia film professor Greg Carlson traveled to Toronto to watch his latest movie in front of a sold out crowd at largest documentary film festival in North America, Hot Docs.

Carlson’s “The Hammer and the Axe” was selected as a top 12 finalist in the International Documentary Challenge, a timed nonfiction filmmaking competition.

Having entered the Doc Challenge once in 2010 without advancing, Carlson said this year’s good news was a “total…

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