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Stephanie Zacharek 

Film, Film Reviews

Timothy Spall Unearths the Man Beneath Mr. Turner's Gruffness

If you've ever loved a terrible person, Mike Leigh's quietly sensational Mr. Turner — a biopic, of sorts, covering the last 25 years of the life of the great 19th-century British painter J.M.W. Turner — is the movie for you. In his seascapes and landscapes, Turner found the perfect visual...…
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Film, Film Reviews

He Brought Down the Wrong Empire: Seth Rogen's The Interview Won't Show in Theaters

Editor's Note: Sony has officially canceled the theatrical release of The Interview following terrorist threats against theaters, and the announcement that several major theater chains had opted not to exhibit the film. The following review was written before Sony pulled The Interview — and stands as a reminder that world-shaking...…
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Film, Film Reviews

Thankfully, Paul Thomas Anderson Loses His Self-Importance for Inherent Vice

Paul Thomas Anderson was making serious movies long before he started making "serious" movies, ponderous works of certified art such as There Will Be Blood and The Master. His earliest pictures, like Hard Eight and Boogie Nights, and even the later Magnolia, were wily, imperfect, vibrating with life like yeast...…
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Film, Film Reviews

Chris Rock and Top Five Make Glorious Sense in a Country Gone Mad

Whatever it is Americans want out of life — and it's not even something we can precisely define ourselves — it was nowhere in evidence on Dec. 3, when a grand jury failed to indict the New York police officer whose chokehold killed Eric Garner in July. We all know...…
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Film, Film Reviews

Reese Witherspoon Hoboes Through the Winning Wild

For reasons that are perhaps understandable, stories about women finding themselves — or their voices, or their inner courage, or any number of things that are apparently very easy to mislay — are big business. But even if Cheryl Strayed's hugely successful 2012 memoir, Wild: From Lost to Found on...…
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Film, Film Reviews

Horrible Bosses 2 Is the Comedy the First One Should Have Been

The third greatest scourge of the earth, right after online comments sections and bedbugs, is the unfunny comedy sequel, which may be why you think you should skip Horrible Bosses 2. The miraculous surprise is that Horrible Bosses 2 isn't terrible at all. It's looser, breezier, more confident than its...…
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Film, Film Reviews

Jon Stewart's Movie Rosewater Is Outraged, Cinematic — and Even Funny

During a 2009 Daily Show interview with Maziar Bahari, the Canadian-Iranian journalist who, earlier that year, had been imprisoned in Iran for 118 days on espionage charges, Jon Stewart said, "We hear a lot about the banality of evil, but so little about the stupidity of evil." Or about its...…
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Film, Film Reviews

Showbiz Drama Beyond the Lights Is Familiar But Cutting

Tales of fame and its trappings — and the way they're never enough to build a life — are as old as show business itself. Maybe for that reason, almost any story about discovering the hollowness of fame is written off as a cliché. But what's the difference, really, between...…
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Film, Film Reviews

Dumb and Dumber To Is Missing the Original's Magic Idiocy

In the mid-1990s, self-appointed cultural gatekeepers used to wield Peter and Bobby Farrelly’s Dumb and Dumber as proof of the deterioration of film artistry. Those people hadn’t, of course, actually bothered to see the movie, and thus had no sense of its peculiar, sweet-spirited, un-toilet-trained brilliance. Times have changed, thank...…
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Film, Film Reviews

A Brief History of Love: The Theory of Everything Examines Stephen Hawking's Marriage

If the universe is infinitely finite, an entity whose mystery is knowable only through an evolving progression of theories and equations, it's nothing compared to a marriage. Every marriage or long-term partnership is knowable only to the people inside it — and sometimes not even then. The Theory of Everything...…
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Film, Film Reviews

Nightcrawler's Jake Gyllenhaal Aces His Role as a Media Monster

Jake Gyllenhaal, not a particularly bulky guy to begin with, dropped 20 pounds or so to play a Los Angeles misfit who finds his calling as a freelance crime videographer in Dan Gilroy's nervy thriller Nightcrawler. Even when Robert De Niro does it, weight change isn't acting — it's the...…
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Film, Film Reviews

Interstellar May Be Grand, But It Doesn't Connect

There’s so much space in Christopher Nolan’s nearly three-hour intergalactic extravaganza Interstellar that there’s almost no room for people. This is a gigantosaurus movie entertainment, set partly in outer space and partly in a futuristic dustbowl America where humans are in danger of dying out, and Nolan -- who co-wrote...…
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Film, Film Reviews

In Laggies, Keira Knightley Asks Chloë Grace Moretz: Will You Be My Friend?

It's an unwritten rule that we're supposed to feel most in step with people our own age, as if sharing the same cultural and historical references somehow enables our ability to look into one another's hearts. So why do we sometimes tumble into deeper friendships with people who are 10...…
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Film,

How John Wick Restored My Faith in Violent Movies

This essay contains a spoiler or two for John Wick. There's too much violence in movies today -- too much of the wrong kind, though if you asked me what the "right" kind is, I would only be able to tell you that I know it when I see it...…
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Film, Film Reviews

As Lit's Biggest Prick, Jason Schwartzman Wears Us Down

You can’t live in New York for more than 10 days without meeting some truly dreadful people: couples who fret about having to choose between buying a summer home and having a second child, even as you’re struggling to pay your monthly rent; large groups of people getting together for...…
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Film, Film Reviews

In Birdman, Michael Keaton Spoofs His Superhero Past

Before there was a Birdman, there was a Batman — several, in fact, though the best was played by Michael Keaton in the two Tim Burton films. Since then, Christian Bale's somber strutting and muttering, as seen in Christopher Nolan's Batman movies, has — go figure — become the gold...…
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Film, Film Reviews

Campus Comedy Dear White People Braves Tough Questions of Race

Among its many attributes, Justin Simien's exuberant debut feature, Dear White People, proves that we're not yet living in a "post-racial America": Forget for a moment that there are so many vexing problems entwining race, class and economics that we haven't been able to put a Band-Aid on, let alone...…
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Film, Film Reviews

Whiplash Brings Back Your Worst Memories of Music Teachers

Jazz isn't dead. Miraculously, there's always a small but steady stream of young people who continue to fall in love with this most dazzling and elusive American genre, spending hours, days and months running ribbons of scales and memorizing Charlie Parker solos in the hopes that some of the alto...…
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Film, Film Reviews

David Fincher's Gone Girl Is Smartly Crafted But a Bit Too Slick

Everything about Gone Girl, David Fincher's adaptation of Gillian Flynn's enormously popular 2012 thriller about a deteriorating marriage and a wife gone missing, is precise and thoughtful — it's as well planned as the perfect murder, with its share of vicious, shivery delights. But at the end of the perfect...…
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Film, Film Reviews

André Benjamin Plays Hendrix, But the Women Make Jimi: All Is By My Side

Groupie has come to be an ugly word, a misogynist dig that's used all too casually by men and women alike. A groupie is a woman who doesn't "do" anything; she gets her glamour via her association with a strong man, most often a rock star. How can we admire,...…
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