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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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Bygone Days, Be Gone

Movies: 'The Muppets'

What do you do to revive a dying franchise that dates its glory days back to the 1980s?
If you’re the Muppets, you throw a Hail Mary pass in the form of a movie – about a Hail Mary pass to revive the franchise.
And make sure to include plenty of references to your glory days and the 1980s.
The latest installment from the legendary puppetry workshop that Jim Henson built, though by now a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Disney brand, is a wan, humorless attempt to make the Muppets a household name for a new generation.

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How Scary Can Boring Be?

Movies: ‘The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Part I’
patricks@lakevillejournal.com

Bill Condon’s “Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Part I” is the flick that answers the question, “Can a human girl get knocked up by a vampire if he has cool hair?”
What? You didn’t ask that question?
Neither did I, but the answer is “yes.”
I saw this film unencumbered by any truck with the “Twilight” phenomenon, and the first thing I would like to point out is that the only thing duller than a wedding is wedding preparation.

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Will the Real J. Edgar Please Stand Up?

Movies: ‘J.Edgar’
leong@lakevillejournal.com

Surely no 20th-century government figure wielded more power — or abused it more — than J. Edgar Hoover, founder and czar of the modern FBI.
Such abuse is the stuff of drama. Yet Clint Eastwood’s “J. Edgar” is ponderous and plodding, with almost no dramatic impact despite a remarkable performance from Leonardo DiCaprio, who renders Hoover’s obsessiveness in flat, uninflected tones.

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A Bad Day on The Street

Movies: 'Margin Call'

The barely-fictionalized film, “Margin Call,” about the collapse, in a single day and night, of the entire financial industry, starts as just an ordinary day in a high-profile investment bank. Three quarters of a floor of analysts have just been laid off, hustled by guards out the door, these hapless persons bearing nothing more than their family photos in cardboard boxes.

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