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The Last of Robin Hood

A title as good as "The Last of Robin Hood" deserves a better movie. In fact, it deserves a good movie.

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As Above, So Below

It's that rare found-footage film with a strong premise, a memorably eccentric style, and plenty of energy to burn. It's also poorly conceived, and hard…

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Ballad of Narayama

"The Ballad of Narayama" is a Japanese film of great beauty and elegant artifice, telling a story of startling cruelty. What a space it opens…

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Monsieur Hire

Patrice Leconte's "Monsieur Hire" is a tragedy about loneliness and erotomania, told about two solitary people who have nothing else in common. It involves a…

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Thumbnails 2/7/2014

1.

"Why I Walked Out of 'The Monuments Men.'" By Sam Adams, for CriticWire. This piece ignited a lively and often judgmental comments thread, much of it based on the mistaken impression that Adams was officially reviewing the film, rather than simply reporting, in context of rounding up other people's opinions, that he saw half of the movie but wasn't intrigued enough to stick around through the end credits. (RogerEbert.com editor Matt Zoller Seitz's review can be read here.)


"I don't walk out of movies often -- the last, I think, was Labor Day, and before that, The East -- and never when I'm writing a review, though some movies might have been better off had I been set free earlier from their toxic embrace. Historically, I've been an "in for a penny, in for a pound" type, partly out of a sense of duty, partly because as a critic, you're always waiting for the moment when a movie perfectly encapsulates its own worth or lack thereof, and you never know when that crucial piece of evidence may surface. But when I'm watching movies to see if they're worth writing about, I'm trying to hew more closely to the New York Times' theater critic Walter Kerr's famous dictum: "You don't have to eat the whole apple to know it's rotten."  

2.

"Joe Dallesandro: Body Worship." For The Chiseler, by RogerEbert.com's Dan Callahan. An appreciation of the brawny actor with the non-actor's demeanor, who went from Andy Warhol Factory player in the '60s to long-lived object of critical contemplation and unabashed fantasy.

"Put-upon and beguilingly passive, standing in the street waiting for guys who might give him some money for nothing or for something a little more, Dallesandro in Flesh is as un-self-conscious as Louise Brooks in Pandora’s Box (1928), but his energy is more inward-directed. He doesn’t 'act' so much as enter fully into any scenario Morrissey has given him like a little kid playing 'let’s pretend' in their backyard. Every kid plays 'let’s pretend,' but some kids are just more fun to play with than others, and the camera picks up on that, just as the person directing behind the camera can become entranced."


3.

"Hell Hath No Fury." For Artforum, Nick Pinkerton looks at the upcoming Brooklyn Academy of Music's series of female-driven vengeance movies. 

“I need him like the axe needs the turkey.” This is Barbara Stanwyck’s spurned card sharp in Preston Sturges’s The Lady Eve (1941), speaking of a man she loves, and loves to hate. Such a bloodthirsty sentiment is typical of “Vengeance is Hers,” BAMcinématek’s twenty-film program that highlights a particular aspect of female desire—the desire for revenge. Stanwyck’s target, a socially incompetent ophiologist (Henry Fonda) who has thrown her over, gets off relatively easy: She marries the dunce. We may chalk up this light sentence to the fact that The Lady Eve is a Valentine’s Day screening, for most of the (overwhelmingly male) targets in the series aren’t so lucky. They will die slowly, screaming, by tooth and claw, by sword and poison and aphrodisiac overdose, by fire and firearm and scissors."

4.

"New York Times editorial department passed on Dylan Farrow's open  letter to Woody Allen." Self explanatory. By Dylan Byers, for his Politico column On Media. (It actually was not an open letter to Woody Allen, but whatever.)

5.

"'Blazing Saddles,' the best interracial buddy comedy, turns 40." By Nadya Faulx for NPR's Codeswitch blog.  See also: Odie Henderson's 2008 appreciation from The House Next Door

"Though Little and Wilder receive about equal screen time, Bart is arguably the true lead, another departure from traditional interracial film relationships, in which the black character usually serves to prop up the white one (think Shawshank Redemption). It's Black Bart's show to run, and he takes every available opportunity — and there are many — to highlight the stupidity of the white racists. Whether he is crooning Cole Porter's "I Get No Kick from Champagne" to a white boss demanding a "good old n- - - - - work song" or taking himself hostage, Bart, along with his fellow railroad workers, is always in on the joke."

IMAGE OF THE DAY

From Tim Burton's 1996 film "Mars Attacks!", based on a series of bubblegum cards. Metro film critic Matt Prigge puts it on a list with other films adapted from, shall we say, unusual sources. The occasion, of course, is the new animated film "The Lego Movie," which RogerEbert.com contributor Susan Wilosczyzna reviewed here

VIDEO OF THE DAY

Video essay by Nelson Carvajal on women in Martin Scorsese's movies. To read an accompanying piece by Max Winter, click here

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