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Not a Fresh Idea Among All Those Stars

Movies: ‘Star Trek Into Darkness’

That headline pretty much sums up J.J. Abrams’ second “preboot” (that’s a prequel and a reboot, see?) of the franchise, “Star Trek Into Darkness.” The universe in 24-something appears to be devoid of anything new, and the title of the movie seems to have had a colonectomy along the way.
It doesn’t even take us very far into darkness, unless by darkness the producers meant the murky labyrinth of inscrutable and inane storytelling. (My punning 11-year-old would like something scrutable, but she won’t find it here.)

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Absorbing, Tense And Very Fine

Movies: ‘Mud’
patricks@lakevillejournal.com

It’s a remarkable film, Jeff Nichols’s “Mud,” a coming-of-age story that recalls “Shane,” has the slow movement of a Faulkner novel and includes enough oddball characters to populate an Elmore Leonard caper.
Plus it’s got a boat in a tree.
Yes, that’s right. Ellis (Tye Sheridan) and his buddy Neckbone (Jacob Lofland) are about 14 years old — old enough to go out in a small boat on the Mississippi by themselves and explore.

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Film Fest Is Back With 70 Movies

Movies

Back for its eighth year, the Berkshire International Film Festival, or BIFF, has evolved into a world-class showcase for independent films and filmmakers. More than 70 movies from 15 countries will be screened over four days in Great Barrington and Pittsfield in Massachusetts.
Many of the participating filmmakers and actors will be on hand to discuss their work.
Much of BIFF’s success is due to the tireless efforts of its founder and director, Kelley Vickery. I spoke to her this week about the upcoming 2013 festival.

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The Indulgent Gatsby

Movies: ‘The Great Gatsby’

It’s a great book, “The Great Gatsby.” F. Scott Fitzgerald’s crystalline prose is limpid and insightful, metaphor couched in almost always perfect tone. It’s like a splendid diamond, flawed yet brilliant. So brilliant, perhaps, that it has resisted four previous efforts to bring it to the screen.

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Setting It Up, Then. . .

Movies: ‘The Company You Keep’

Remember the Weathermen? The political ones, who organized against the Vietnam War and sometimes blew things up?
In “The Company You Keep,” Robert Redford plays Jim Grant, an Albany public interest lawyer. Thirty years ago, he may or may not have been involved in the bombing of a bank in Michigan in which, reminiscent of the real-life Brinks truck robbery, a security guard was killed. Grant’s true identity as Nick Sloan is revealed when Sharon Solarz (Susan Sarandon) decides to turn herself in and he is approached to represent her.

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Avoiding the Biopic Pitfalls, Glorying in Fine Art and Acting

Movies: ‘Renoir’

The potential pitfalls of the biopic are many: a tendency to hagiography being the chief one, but also out-and-out histrionics and the “great moments embodied” syndrome.
I’ll never forget in the silly “Coco & Igor,” Chanel points to a bottle of perfume and shouts, “I’ll take No. 5!” (The bottle was miraculously pre-labeled with the familiar commercial logo, to boot.)
At a time when “42” is making the rounds sanctifying the Jackie Robinson story and raking in box-office bucks, the French biopic “Renoir” is flying under the radar. 

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Try Again, And Again . . .

Movies: ‘Evil Dead’

When I learned there was a remake of Sam Raimi’s immortal “The Evil Dead,” I was very, very concerned.
The “Evil Dead” trilogy: “The Evil Dead” in 1981, the cleverly titled “Evil Dead II” in 1987, and “Army of Darkness” in 1992‚ occupy a special place in the caca pantheon.

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A Tale of Fathers and Sons

Movies: ‘The Place Beyond the Pines’

Recalling Orson Welles’s “Touch of Evil,” “The Place Beyond the Pines” opens with a bravura tracking shot. The camera follows Luke (Ryan Gosling) as he walks from his tent through a crowded midway to a larger tent, climbs on his motorcycle and drives it into a steel ribbed sphere where he and two other performers race around and upside down without ever crashing. It is ominous and riveting.

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Growing up English And Fearing The Bomb

Movies: ‘Ginger and Rosa’

What we have here are two girls, best friends from birth, bonded since their mothers clasped each others’ hands during childbirth at the end of World War II.
Written and directed by Sally Potter, who drew from her own memories growing up in England in the shadow of the bomb, “Ginger and Rosa” reveals the inner workings of female friendship and the helplessness — and manipulations — of adolescence.

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Not Worth the Price of . . .

Movies: ‘Admission’

If you’re going to skewer the world of Ivy League college admissions and the cut-throat competition that takes place in the elite prep schools below – our very own Hotchkiss prominently included – then, gosh darn it, go for the gusto.
Spare nothing and no one. Call Rodney Dangerfield back from beyond and make Bill Murray your chief admissions officer. How about Whoopi Goldberg for university president? I like it!

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