Film

The Kid With a Bike

The Dardenne brothers, Jean-Pierre and Luc, are known for their low-key, plot-light, character-heavy tales of survival, usually played out in a small Belgian town that serves as their spiritual microcosm and often focused on the struggles of children to make it to adulthood in one piece. The Kid with a Bike, which won a top prize at last year’s Cannes Film Festival, continues down this path, though Dardenne purists may find fault with the film’s upbeat conclusion, a contrast to the harsher endings of their earlier efforts.
May 3, 2012

The Deep Blue Sea

Readers of a certain age may remember “women’s pictures,” those four-hankie weepies from the 1940s and ’50s. Celebrated British director Terence Davies has lovingly embraced the once-popular genre via an adaptation of the 1952 play The Deep Blue Sea.
April 29, 2012

A Separation

A Separation is a highly ambitious piece of work. It successfully tackles a range of topics and themes, from class, religion and gender to pride, guilt and justice. It is a tale that appears uniquely Iranian but quickly transcends physical and spiritual borders to portray the difficulty of doing the right thing under difficult, even life-threatening circumstances.
April 1, 2012

In Suzanne Collins's trilogy, and the recent movie adaptation of the first book, the Hunger Games are a nationally-televised spectacle in which 24 randomly chosen teenagers are forced to fight to the death in a man-made arena. The annual Hunger Games are an instrument of oppression by the Capitol--the center of totalitarian power that survived a rebellion--to remind the 12 districts under its power just how powerless they are. The citizens of the Capitol love the Hunger Games. To them it is pure entertainment. To the citizens of the 12 subservient districts, it is a form of torture. Their children and neighbors become murderers or victims, and they are forced to watch (literally--viewing is mandatory). There is a paradox at the heart of The Hunger Games' appeal.
March 30, 2012

The Woman in Black

The Gothic The Woman in Black, based on a Susan Hill novel and set in turn-of-the-century England, is so terrifying that it feels like a classic of its type.
March 21, 2012

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

It takes a tremendous amount of delicacy and tact to pull off a movie about 9/11 without making the audience feel it's been strong-armed. Stephen Daldry's Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, based on the Jonathan Safran Foer novel of the same name, puts you through the wringer.
March 20, 2012

Undefeated

Undefeated is a solid piece of filmmaking that is also too little too late. The Oscar-winning documentary by Daniel Lindsay and T. J. Martin concerns the travails of a high school football team in a poor black neighborhood of North Memphis that overcomes years of futility thanks in large part to a white volunteer coach who inspires them to believe in themselves both on and off the field.
March 7, 2012

Albert Nobbs

Albert Nobbs's journey from page to stage to screen has been long and bumpy. Simone Benmussa adapted a short story by Irish writer George Moore into the play The Singular Life of Albert Nobbs; this was then nearly made into a film by the celebrated Hungarian director Istvan Szabo. The fact that the project was still alive and kicking in 2011 is due, in large part, to the determination of Glenn Close.
March 4, 2012

Man on a Ledge

Man on a Ledge is a nifty little entertainment about an ex-cop (Sam Worth­ing­ton) framed for stealing a diamond owned by a ruthless magnate (Ed Har­ris). He escapes from custody and stages a suicide threat on the window ledge of Harris's hotel as a diversion while his allies break into his accuser's vault to prove the theft was a hoax.
February 21, 2012

Carnage

Carnage plays out entirely in a New York City apartment, where two couples are trying to deal with a playground incident involving their 11-year-old sons, one of whom struck the other in the mouth with a stick. In the process, the film—directed and coscripted by Roman Polanski, based on Yasmina Reza's play God of Carnage—peels back the skin of each supposedly caring parent, revealing the person beneath the civilized facade.
February 7, 2012

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