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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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Violence and Revolution In a Richly Imagined World

Movies: ‘Snowpiercer’

The first English-language film, “Snowpiercer,” from South Korean director Bong Joon-ho, bears all the hallmarks of his filmmaking: attention to detail, sudden shifts in mood, black humor. To these he has now added heavy-handed violence, shocking tales of what humans will do to survive, and a veneer of social commentary and allegory on wealth and political inequality.

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Single, Urban, Educated and Aimless

Movies: ‘Obvious Child’

This movie, “Obvious Child,” wants to be a gutsy, comedic film about a young woman who decides, rather quickly and without much agonizing, to have an abortion. Leaving behind the sad, shocking abortions of “Dirty Dancing” and “Cabaret,” and even the women who decide to give birth in “Juno” and “Knocked Up,” writer-director Gillian Robespierre's first feature-length movie is unburdened by social or political cant. It is also clumsily written, clichéd and self-indulgent.

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He’s Back . . . Again Again Again

Movies: ‘Godzilla’
patricks@lakevillejournal.com

Although I am a fan of B-movies (not to mention Z-movies), I have never given the “Man in Monster Suit Destroys Scale Model of Tokyo” genre of sci-fi flicks a lot of attention.
Part of this is because, after three decades spent systematically viewing movies like “Ilsa: She-Wolf of the SS” and “The Wrestling Women vs. The Aztec Mummy,” I am so jaded that a mere monster stamping a city to bits just doesn’t get my dander up.

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The “Love Story” of Our Time

Movies: ‘The Fault in Our Stars’

Beloved books come into your life in all sorts of ways — a librarian, a friend or sometimes an NPR recommendation your mom hears on the radio. When I heard the review of “The Fault in Our Stars” a few years back, I ran out and got it for my teenage daughter. As an aficionado of maudlin dying-teen books in my own adolescence, I had a feeling she was ready for the genre, especially if it was as smart and acerbic as John Greene’s hugely popular book. She loved it, and quickly lapped up the rest of his oeuvre, latching onto the smart/acerbic part, not the dying-teen part.

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Food, Sex and a Happy Ending What’s Wrong With That?

Movies: ‘Chef’

The first two “Iron Man” films made so much money for director John Favreau that he could do whatever he wanted. And what he wanted was to get back to his Indie roots, to act and direct as he did in “Swingers” and “Made.” So now we have the sweet crowd-pleasing “Chef,” a calming, joyful breather between summer’s action-packed, comic book blockbusters and sci-fi fantasies.

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Special Effects and Hodgepodge

Movies: ‘Maleficent’

Well, here we go again with a movie full of — you guessed it, special effects!
And it’s in 3D!
With cool glasses!
Wow!
Robert Stromberg’s update of the Disney “Snow White” story is told from the point of view of the evil Maleficent (Angelina Jolie), who has a serious beef with Stefan, the king (Sharlto Copley) on account of he slipped her a Mickey Finn and cut off her wings.
And they were pretty spectacular wings, too. Stromberg and the boys in the computer lab certainly spent enough time and energy on them.

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Exciting, Gorgeous And Fun

Movies: “X-Men: Days of Future Past”

In a spring filled with superhero movies — “Captain America” followed by yet another “Spider-Man” — the best is now in theaters: “X-Men: Days of Future Past.” It is exciting, thrilling, gorgeously filmed, wonderfully acted by an ensemble cast like no other film has gathered in years and ultimately satisfying.
So what if the plot is often incomprehensible, or the film occasionally sprawls. It is fun.

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