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About Nothing Much, But Certainly Engrossing

Movies: ‘Inside Llewyn Davis’

Joel and Ethan Coen’s “Inside Llewyn Davis” covers a week in the tumultuous life of a young, clueless, irresponsible and somewhat talented folk singer in Greenwich Village in 1961.
Llewyn Davis (Oscar Isaac) is a mope, no question. He couch surfs from the apartments of close friends to academic friends to bare acquaintances to his sister in an aluminum-sided outer borough. 
He allows people’s cats to escape. He locks himself out. He wheedles non-existent funds out of his agent. He plays the unappreciated artist with great zeal and indignation — when he can muster up the energy.

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An Amazing, Witty Caper

Movies: ‘American Hustle’

“Some of this actually happened” reads the title card of David O. Russell’s rollicking, bigger-than-life caper film, “American Hustle.” Indeed Russell uses the 1978 Abscam investigation, which caught a senator and six congressmen taking bribes from fake Arab sheiks, as the unifying fact around which to create a fiction that follows a group of hilariously eccentric characters through the twists and turns of their reinvention, scamming, caring and loving.

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Different, Charming And Disney, Too

Movies: ‘Frozen’

Once upon a time, a guy I had been very casually dating decided to surprise me with an original composition — the purpose of which, I later realized, was to guilt me into not dumping him. For three horrible minutes, he sang at me while we sat in his beat-up Corolla with the windows rolled down, inviting curious looks from passersby. I would like to say that I did not have the heart to end the relationship right then and there.
But I didn’t. I did.
Maybe it’s my latent guilt for dashing a wannabe-John Mayer’s hopes, but singing just makes

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Lots of Heat, Not Much Fire

Movies: ‘Out of the Furnace’

The night I saw “Out of the Furnace,” Scott Cooper’s violent and intense film about life in the depressed steel country of eastern Pennsylvania, the writer and director was on hand for a Q&A after the screening.
Cooper, whose directorial debut was the well-received Jeff Bridges’ vehicle “Crazy Heart,” told the audience that he shoots alternate endings and then picks one. It is not a technique that serves him well in this movie. The final, enigmatic shot of “Out of the Furnace,” a wordless vignette showing Russell Baze (Christian Bale) seated at a table, puzzles more than it resolves.

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It’s Back, It’s Long And Fans Will Be Happy

Movies: ‘The Hunger Games: Catching Fire’

The first thing I noticed in “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” is now we know what happened to all the leftover imperial storm trooper uniforms from the “Star Wars” movies.
I checked with our resident nerd on this terminology, knowing that if I get it wrong I’ll have Star Wars fanatics crawling up my Chewbacca. Address your complaints to compass@lakevillejournal.com
Anyhow, I came late to this particular party, and it took a while to get the background.

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A Hard-edged Film: Honest and Ironic

Movies: ‘Dallas Buyers Club’

Much has been written about the transformation of Matthew McConaughey from the bronzed, aw-shucks hunk of mindless romantic comedies to master of quirky, anti-hero roles: “Bernie,” “Killer Joe,” “Magic Mike” and this year’s transcendent “Mud.” But nothing compares to his triumph in “Dallas Buyers Club.”

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Even Time Travel Can Be Tedious

Movies: ‘About Time’

Let’s get one thing straight: If a skinny, sallow-skinned guy with a terrible haircut came up to me at a party and professed his love for Kate Moss, I would make a beeline for the nearest exit.

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About Time and Wasting It

Movies: ‘Ender’s Game’

Well, there’s a big spaceship, you see, with two glowing tubes that can fire world-destroying beams, which work by “tearing atomic particles apart.” I swear, that’s how it works.
And that pretty much sums up sitting through “Ender’s Game.” Not only was my mind numb, but I also had the feeling my particles were shredded to bits and left burning on the movie house floor.
Rarely have I so keenly wanted two hours of my life back.

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All Trash Or No Trash, But Decide

Movies: ‘Last Vegas’

Sometimes a film comes along that is so bad it transcends itself and becomes a cultural artifact. “See kids, people actually sat in a dark room and watched this on a big screen back in the olden days.”
I’m thinking of “Deathstalker III,” Alfonso “Poncho” Corona’s 1988 sword ‘n’ sorcery epic, with Thom Christopher as the evil warlock Troxartes.
Troxartes was unique among evil warlocks, because he looked like Gloria Swanson in “Sunset Boulevard.”
Except Norma Desmond wasn’t sitting on a horse.

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Beautiful People Slogging Toward Fate

Movies: ‘The Counselor’

Ridley Scott and Cormac McCarthy’s sordid, pretentious thriller, “The Counselor,” begins on a high note. Michael Fassbender — who taught audiences what full-frontal really means in “Shame” — and Penelope Cruz are in and under white sheets having graphic sex. They should have stayed there, because in McCarthy’s world, nothing good happens to good people.

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