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The Pleasure of Short, Beautiful Tales

Movies: Animated Shorts

I’ve never managed to see all the Academy Award-nominated films or performances in any category — I make my calls on Oscar night based on personal bias, just like everyone else. But this year I was able to see every nominated film in one category, animated short, because they are playing as a bill at several theaters for a short run.

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Magical and Inventive, What Film Can Be

Movies: ‘The Artist’
leong@lakevillejournal.com

In a time of bigger and louder, “The Artist” takes us to the simpler world of silent movies.
Director Michel Hazanavicius’s confection is a sweetly satisfying mix of wit, lavish production values and superb performances.

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Sometimes, A Cigar Is Just a Cigar

Movies: ‘A Dangerous Method’

 
 
Scene: Somewhere in the Tri-corner area, the offices of Sigmund Fred, renowned movie (psycho) analyst.  Enter David Cronenberg, director of “A Dangerous Method.”
  “Come in, Herr Direktor.  What seems to be the problem?”
  “Well, Doc, I heard you didn’t care much for my movie.  Is it true?”
  Stage whisper: “Didn’t care much?  Seriously?” 
Aloud: “This is about you, not me. But since you ask, it was, as we say, not so hot. Or, as you say, eine rotten tomato.”

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On a Tricky Subject

Movies: ‘Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close’
patricks@lakevillejournal.com

Stephen Daldry’s “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close” is an interesting film, part adventure story, part coming of age story, and all tearjerker.

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Streep Is Fine, And Note Perfect, In a Flawed Production

Movies: ‘The Iron Lady’
leong@lakevillejournal.com

Meryl Streep gives what, for any other actress, would be the performance of a lifetime in “The Iron Lady,” a superficial, unfocused film about Margaret Thatcher, Britain’s iconic prime minister throughout the 1980s.
Hitting every line with note-perfect accent and emphasis, coiffed in Thatcher’s upswept style, moving from small-town English dowdy into, eventually, Chanel, and playing Thatcher over the 40-year span of her rise from backbencher to head of government to the throes of dementia, Streep is superb.

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So Cool, So Fresh, So Very British

Movies: ‘Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy’

The Circus, the top echelon of the British intelligence service circa 1973, has been infiltrated by a mole, a spy working for the Russians who has infiltrated the inner circle.
The head of the service, Control (John Hurt), sends Jim Prideaux (Mark Strong) to Hungary to meet with an agent who may be able to reveal the name of the mole, but their cover is blown and Prideaux is shot. As a result of the botched operation, both Control and his top deputy, George Smiley (Gary Oldman), are forced into retirement.

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Joey and Snowy, Take a Bow

Movies: ‘War Horse,’ ‘The Adventures of Tintin’

Taking in two end-of-year releases directed by Steven Spielberg, I was reminded of Spielberg’s enormous cinematic range and appetites, and why he continues to be a seminal influence on the art and business of moviemaking.
Of “The Adventures of Tintin” and “War Horse” — both outstanding achievements — I preferred the former. This animated film, based on a classic series of 20th-century comic books by the Belgian artist known as Hergé, is light, loose, and terrifically entertaining.

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You Can Do It, But Should You?

Movies: ‘Sherlock Holmes 2: A Game of Shadows’
patricks@lakevillejournal.com

Guy Ritchie’s “Sherlock Holmes 2: A Game of Shadows” is an uneasy mix of modern technique and literary material that’s alternately whimsical and heavy-handed, clever and inane, suspenseful or deadly dull.
Holmes (Robert Downey Jr.) and Dr. John Watson (Jude Law) are ending their long association, at least as far as detection goes. Watson’s getting married, and Holmes is obsessed with tracking the nefarious activities of his arch-enemy, Professor Moriarty (Jared Harris).

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Getting Older, Moving On

Movies: ‘The Descendants’
leong@lakevillejournal.com

“The Descendants” is a gentle, tough, acutely observed, nuanced picture of mixed emotions that walks the thin line between comedy and tragedy with easy confidence. In his first film since 2004’s “Sideways,” director Alexander Payne has transformed a story of betrayal, family dysfunction, death and potential rape of the land into an entertaining and deeply moving film.

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A Love Letter to Moviemaking

Movies: ‘Hugo’

The film “Hugo,” is the first family movie Martin Scorsese, director of such disturbing works s as “Taxi Driver,” “Cape Fear,” “Shutter Island” and “Raging Bull,” has made. Here, he creates a world about innocence, ecstatic creativity and love of his chosen art, film, which both entrances and instructs.

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