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A Bloodless Blockbuster

Movies: ‘Cloud Atlas’

David Mitchell’s popular 2004 novel “Cloud Atlas” may or may not be a great yarn; I wouldn’t know, since I haven’t read it. As an epic, $100 million, three-hour jaunt across centuries, it is an unwieldy, if somewhat diverting, mess of a movie.

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Combining Movies, Food and Art

compass@lakevillejournal.com

A long time ago, somebody figured out that food and movies go together. So when Janet Crawshaw, associate publisher of The Valley Table, a magazine devoted to all things edible in New York’s Hudson Valley, announced that the sixth annual restaurant week would include four new restaurants in the northeastern part of the valley, Bob and Carol Sadlon got an idea.

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Quibbles Aside, A Nice Story

Movies: ‘Searching for Sugarman’
patricks@lakevillejournal.com

Like a lot of Americans, I have never heard of Rodriguez, a late-’60s folk singer who released two albums that did not sell and then vanished into even greater obscurity.
Until now.
The only place Rodriguez was a star was South Africa, as it turns out, where his records were the soundtrack for the young liberal whites who eventually turned against the apartheid government.
Malik Bendjelloul’s documentary, “Searching for Sugar Man,” tells the story of how Rodriguez’s South African fans — journalists, music store owners, musicians —searched for the man.

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What Money Can And Can’t Buy

Movies: ‘The Queen of Versailles’
leong@lakevillejournal.com

Versailles, Louis XIV’s great stage set for playing out his theatrical drama of kingship and the near divinity of monarchs, has seduced visitors and dreamers for nearly 400 years with visions of wealth, splendor and beauty. But Versailles represented the apogee of a monarchy that, separated from its country by gilded gates and strict court protocol, would be destroyed by the French Revolution. Even the king and queen would lose their heads to the guillotine.

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Wily and Witty

Movies: ‘Argo’

The film “Argo,” is two movies in one: a terrifically tense and dead-serious political thriller about American hostages in Iran, and a very funny irreverent satire of Hollywood. Both are successful, and both work together surprisingly well.
In 1979, after the overthrow of the Shah of Iran (the movie helpfully reminds us that this was orchestrated by the United States) and installation of the Ayotollah Khomeini, anti-American sentiment began to boil in Tehran.

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More of the Same, Only Less

Movies: 'Taken 2'

It has offensive stereotypes, shockingly brutal violence and a body count in the dozens. It is also a heck of a lot of fun. And that’s just “Taken.”
Now here’s “Taken 2.”
We find ourselves only weeks, we guess, from the events of “Taken.” The bodies of the Albanian bad guys are scarcely in the ground, and the grieving father (Rade Serbedzija) of the baddest of them is swearing to take his revenge on superspy Bryan Mills (Liam Neeson), who killed them all to rescue his daughter Kim (Maggie Grace).

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On the Road With Gus

Movies: ‘Trouble With the Curve’
patricks@lakevillejournal.com

In Robert Lorenz’s “Trouble With the Curve” the good guys win. All of them, pretty much.
Clint Eastwood is Gus, a scout for the Atlanta Braves. (He signed Chipper Jones, Dale Murphy and Tom Glavine, among others.)
But Gus is getting older. His eyesight is failing. His temper, never placid to begin with, is steadily disimproving.
And it doesn’t help that Phillip (Matthew Lillard), a cutting edge twerp who wears open-collared shirts and pullovers, has the Atlanta general manager’s ear. (Vince, the GM, is played by Robert Patrick, who looks almost as crusty as Clint.)

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Gorgeous, and Empty

Movies: ‘The Master’
leong@lakevillejournal.com

For months the buzz on Paul Thomas Anderson’s “The Master” anticipated a movie based on the Church of Scientology and L. Ron Hubbard, its founder, from a master of filmmaking. What emerged, however, is a film that embraces the possibilities of technique and 65-millimeter film stock with wild abandon, bombards us with beautiful scene after scene, stuns with three bravura performances, yet leaves us confused by unresolved storytelling and, ultimately, unmoved.

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Enjoy Watching Gere, That’s It

Movies: ‘Arbitrage’

How many times has Richard Gere played the slick money guy in the expensive suit? It’s been more than 20 years since “Pretty Woman,” and while a quick scan of his resume shows plenty of other kinds of roles, he fits so well into the part of hedge fund high roller Robert Miller, it’s as if he was born in the corner suite. And he wears that suit so very well.

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A Word About ‘The Words’

What if a writer committed the ultimate act of plagiarism: copying someone else’s novel and then passing it off as his own, achieving success in the act?
That is the intriguing and topical premise of “The Words,” a romantic drama starring Bradley Cooper (“The Hangover,” “He’s Just Not That Into You”) as the author Rory Jansen.

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