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Stephanie Zacharek 

Film, Film Reviews

Zach Braff’s Kickstarter Film Wish I Was Here Is Just Good Enough

Wish I Was Here, partially funded with money raised through Kickstarter by actor and second-time director Zach Braff, isn't nearly terrible enough to satisfy all the grumblers who are hoping to see it fail. When Braff couldn't secure traditional financing for the film, he appealed to the fan base he'd...…
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Film, Film Reviews

Richard Linklater's Boyhood Captures Everything You Secretly Know About Childhood

The business of childhood is the business of waiting: waiting for Christmas, waiting for school to let out, waiting to be old enough to stay up past 9. No other movie I can think of better captures the wistfulness of those days full of waiting than Richard Linklater's Boyhood, an...…
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Film, Film Reviews <I>Dawn of the Planet of the Apes</I> Is Much Better Than Its Predecessor

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes Is Much Better Than Its Predecessor

Who knows why, but the sight of apes sitting tall and proud on horseback is stirring in a primal way. That's one of the best images in Matt Reeves' Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, the sequel to the enormously successful 2011 Rise of the Planet of the Apes...…
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Film, Film Reviews

Roman Polanski’s Venus in Fur Moves From Stage to Film With Surprising Ease

Plays adapted into movies always feel naked by the time they make it to the screen, their theatrical bones showing through in a most awkward and unbecoming way. That's more or less true of Roman Polanski's screen version of David Ives' Venus in Fur, in which playwright and first-time director...…
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Film, Film Reviews

Life Itself Shows Why Roger Ebert Was Such an Admired Movie Critic

To call Roger Ebert one of the great populist film critics is to damn him with faint praise. Though he took pride in working for the scrappier of the two Chicago dailies, the Sun-Times, and though we do have him to thank — or curse — for popularizing the thumbs-up/thumbs-down...…
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Film, Film Reviews

A Hard Day's Night Is Still Revelatory 50 Years Later

Let's get the obvious bit over with: The early days of the Beatles, as reflected in Richard Lester's ebullient shout of freedom, A Hard Day's Night, were all about the optimism of the early 1960s, a thrilling and energizing time when young people, and even some older ones, truly believed...…
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Film, Film Reviews

In Snowpiercer, Chris Evans Officially Becomes a Grown-Up

It's kind of happy-sad, like watching a kid you knew as a toddler graduate from high school: Chris Evans, seemingly destined to be a boy forever, is now officially a grown-up. In Bong Joon-ho's futuristic snowbummer Snowpiercer, the Korean director's first English-language film, Evans plays the leader of a group...…
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Film, Film Reviews

How to Train Your Dragon 2 Brings Back One of Most Beautiful Characters in Animation History

If you ever have days when you prefer animals to human beings, How to Train Your Dragon 2 is your kind of movie. In some ways the second entry in this animated franchise is inferior to the first, released in 2010: The plot is needlessly busy, and much of the...…
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Film, Film Reviews <em>The Fault in Our Stars</em> Doesn't Soar Onscreen

The Fault in Our Stars Doesn't Soar Onscreen

Cancer, so costly in real life, can be thrown around pretty cheaply in fiction, which is why most cautious readers and moviegoers are wary of it as a plot element. Call it the Love Story syndrome. But the presence of mortal illness has always been a staple of romantic melodrama,...…
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Film, Film Reviews

22 Jump Street's Funny Enough -- Except for the Tired Gay Jokes

One of the biggest selling points of 21 Jump Street, the 2012 TV-remake comedy, turned out to be its seemingly unscripted lunacy, the way it put Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill in police-shorts outfits and let them riff on their characters' mutual ineptitude. Sometimes you need a little flapdoodle, and...…
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Film, Film Reviews

The Fault in Our Stars, a Grand Young-Adult Novel, Doesn't Soar Onscreen

Cancer, so costly in real life, can be thrown around pretty cheaply in fiction, which is why most cautious readers and moviegoers are wary of it as a plot element. Call it the Love Story syndrome. But the presence of mortal illness has always been a staple of romantic melodrama,...…
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Cannes Report: Don't Say Marion Cotillard Is "Too Pretty" for Two Days, One Night

#492425863 / gettyimages.com Marion Cotillard, the star of the Dardenne brothers’ competition film Two Days, One Night, showed up for the photo call on Tuesday in a mini-dress encrusted with a riot of buttons, a whimsical and rather adorable choice for an actress who, on screen just a few minutes...…
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Cannes Report: A Great Julianne Moore Illuminates Maps to the Stars

It's been a few days since I saw David Cronenberg's Maps to the Stars, screening here in competition, and I'm still not completely sure what I think of this sometimes smart, sometimes arch, ultra-black comedy about shallow Hollywood types. But one thing's for sure: Julianne Moore is a knockout in...…
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Cannes Report: In Foxcatcher, Channing Tatum Gives What Must Be One of the Year's Best Performances

If all of Cannes isn't in love with Channing Tatum right now, it should be. During the photo call for Bennett Miller's Foxcatcher on Monday afternoon, Tatum — relaxed, affable, light on his feet despite being seriously built — turned toward the press and took a few photographs of the...…
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Cannes Report: Euro Men Can Dress! Plus: Damián Szifrón's Standout Wild Tales

Cannes, on festival weekends, is wild: Every night is busy on the Croisette, the long boulevard that winds along the shore and past the Palais des Festivals, the large complex where most of the festival action — including screenings, premieres and red-carpet walking — take place. But the crowds swell...…
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Cannes Report: Contemplating Animal Nudity with Godard's Delightful Goodbye to Language

I haven't looked forward to a new Godard movie since…never. The first Godard movie I saw upon its release in a movie theater was First Name: Carmen, in 1983, which overwhelmed me: I didn't yet understand that it's OK not to completely comprehend everything a filmmaker puts in front of...…
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Film, Film Reviews <em>The Immigrant</em> Stars Marion Cotillard as a Prostitute in 1920s New York

The Immigrant Stars Marion Cotillard as a Prostitute in 1920s New York

In 2014, any filmmaker who has a feel, and a flair, for romantic melodrama is doomed, and just one recent example from the world of blockbusters suggests why: In the final moments of The Amazing Spider-Man 2, the hero tragically fails to save a major character, but the moment, coming...…
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Film, Film Reviews Godzilla Has Too Small a Part in His Own Movie

Godzilla Has Too Small a Part in His Own Movie

Godzilla is the movie monster with the mostest. King Kong may be just one gorilla-chest-hair behind, but not even the greatest of apes can quite match the half-dragon, half-dinosaur who first stomped and chomped his way through Tokyo in Ishiro Honda's 1954 Toho Co. extravaganza, Godzilla. In that picture —...…
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Cannes Report: Timothy Spall Gives the Performance of His Career in Mr. Turner

If you’ve ever loved a terrible person, Mike Leigh’s quietly sensational Cannes competition entry 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...…
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Cannes Report: Grace of Monaco at Least Has Clothes

Greetings from Cannes! It’s an unwritten rule — maybe it should even be a written one — that no one who is lucky enough to come to Cannes for the film festival, now in its 67th year, should, in any way, shape or form, complain about being here. But may...…
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