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The One I Do/Don’t Love

Movies: ‘The One I Love’
leong@lakevillejournal.com

Ethan and Sophie (Mark Duplass and Elizabeth Moss) are 30-somethings whose marriage is foundering on the rocks of fading love (her), waning physical attraction (both) and a single infidelity (him). Claiming they want to reclaim what they are losing, they visit a therapist (Ted Danson), who sends them to a retreat — really an isolated, luxury country estate in California’s Ojai Valley -— where, he says, they may be, he pauses, renewed.

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Totally Done In By Ghosts, Found Footage And a Shaky Camera

Movie: ‘As Above, So Below’

In John Erick Dowdle’s “As Above, So Below,” the shaky camera style that started with the “Blair Witch Project” reaches its irritating apotheosis, and boy, do I wish we could de-potheosis this thing.

Indiana Jones, I mean Scarlett (Perdita Weeks), is continuing her late father’s quest for the Flamel Stone, a variation on the Philosopher’s Stone that turns stuff into gold and is the key to everything.

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A Promising Idea That Falls Apart

Movies: ‘Calvary’
leong@lakevillejournal.com

There are two stars of “Calvary,” writer-director John Michael McDonagh’s ambitious new film: Brendan Gleeson and the spectacular scenery of Ireland’s northwest coast.

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Decisions, Decisions And No Zombies

Movies: ‘If I Stay’

I had thought that “If I Stay” was about a young woman who dies and turns into a zombie. So when Mia, a painfully shy young cello prodigy played by Chloe Grace Moretz, is in a horrible car crash early in the film, I eagerly awaited her death and resurrection, hoping it would infuse some energy into the carefully tasteful movie.

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Giving ’Till It Hurts, Or Bores

Movies: ‘The Giver’

When Lois Lowry wrote “The Giver” in 1993, it won both the Newberry Medal and became a mainstay of middle-school reading lists around the country. Unlike so many other young adult novels, it dealt with a serious issue beyond just the agonies and uncertainties of adolescence: If human emotions cause war and suffering and pain, how far should humans go to control, even eliminate the power of emotions?

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Scarlett Johansson and Only 89 Minutes

Movies: ‘Lucy’

So, the last time we caught up with Scarlett Johansson she was mostly nekkid, until she molted into some kind of vampire space critter, in the incomprehensible “Under the Skin.” In the title role of Luc Besson’s “Lucy,” she stays clad.
And for those of you who worship the actress, this movie is a must-see, on account of she becomes God. Or pretty darn close.

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Spies, Intrigue and Hoffman, A Must-See Movie

Movies: ‘A Most Wanted Man’

The latest movie to be made from a John Le Carré espionage thriller, “A Most Wanted Man,” and the last starring role for Philip Seymour Hoffman, is more successful as the latter than the former. Hoffman is in almost every scene, a puffy, lumbering, disheveled yet fiercely passionate presence, and he elevates the movie to a must-see.

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Stars, D-Listers and CG Sharks, How Could the Syfy Channel Go Wrong?

TV Scene

It’s here! “Sharknado 2: The Second One,” with the most finely crafted movie title ever conceived. The Syfy channel’s masterful use of four simple words and a number explains every subtle detail of the film: It’s a sequel, and it features a tornado full of sharks.

If you’ve never seen the original “Sharknado,” don’t worry. Within its opening minutes, the second one sums up the plot (can we call it a plot?) of the first one, in which Fin Shepard (Ian Ziering) saved Los Angeles from a Sharknado.

Watching Lives, and Actors, Change

Movies: ‘Boyhood’

The movie “Boyhood” is the fictional record of an average American boy named Mason (Ellar Coltrane) as he ages from 6 to 18. Living with his mother and sister in a series of Texas towns, we watch as Mason works out a relationship with his fly-by-night father, endures the bad stepfathers his mother chooses, moves from school to school, finds his passion, photography, and starts college.

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Hard To Watch, But a Marvel To See

Movies: ‘Life Itself’

Steve James’s “Life Itself,” a documentary about film critic Roger Ebert, is alternately funny, sad, cringeworthy, touching and nostalgic.
That’s a pretty good mix of emotions for a two-hour movie.
Ebert, who won a Pulizer for his film reviews in the Chicago Sun-Times and co-hosted “Sneak Previews” with Chicago Tribune critic Gene Siskel, died in 2013 after fighting thyroid cancer. Surgery associated with the cancer treatment meant the man had no jaw, and was unable, in his last years, to eat, drink, or speak.

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