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Lucy

Scarlett Johansson is an intriguing blank in Luc Besson's "Lucy," which is stranded somewhere between a stranger-in-a-strange-land action thriller and apocalyptic science fiction.

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Hercules

Dwayne Johnson tries, but he’s surrounded by poor CGI and a terrible adaptation of yet another comic book. Ian McShane steals what little movie there…

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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 5/1/2014

1.

‘If I can do one more ‘lost cause’ of a film, I will, with my last breath, try:’ Oliver Stone on Activism in Film”: In Moviemaker Magazine, director Stone argues that filmmakers should strive to keep the idea of freedom and dignity alive in the midst of perpetual discouragement.

“The great German actor-director, Maximilian Schell died recently at 83 and his obituary noted his comment that of all the works of art he’d seen and participated in for the betterment of mankind, he could honestly say that none of them had added up to much, and that man had not civilized himself in the least. It was a depressing conclusion to a well-lived life, and one in which I find myself depressingly and increasingly in agreement with. Aside from the sum of poetry, literature, dance, opera, theater, etc—whether it’s Henry Fonda in Ford’s ‘Grapes of Wrath,’ or the Frank Capra movies, Stanley Kramer, or all our own modern film efforts—we must wonder what happened! Eloquent recitals of Lincoln’s ‘better angels of our nature’ must be autopsied alongside the violence of his assassination.”

2.

"How Scarlett Johansson helped me challenge disfigurement stigma": Actor Adam Pearson tells Elizabeth Day at The Guardian that working on Jonathan Glazer’s “Under the Skin” was an empowering experience.

“‘Under the Skin’ gave Pearson an opportunity to challenge what he sees as the stigma surrounding representations of disfigurement on screen. ‘There's a lot of fear around the unknown. If I can try to be as normal as possible and show there's nothing to fear—either on film or day to day, going round the corner to go shopping for milk—then the more people see it in wider society, the less stigma there is. If I just sit at home and mope, hugging the dog and crying, nothing's going to change.’”

3.

Tribeca: Ron Howard On Proving Himself to Bette Davis and the Future of Filmmaking”: Indiewire’s Ziyad Saadi compiles the best quotes from filmmaker Ron Howard’s conversation with NBC’s Brian Williams at Tribeca.  

“I think [we're] at a high point in television quality. ‘Breaking Bad’ was tremendous. There are shows that I wanna see that I haven't begun to. I really think the creative process is more exciting than ever, and there are more and more people doing great work and we've had a great awards season this past year. It's kind of mind-blowing, people all over the world are making great creative choices, pushing American filmmakers.”

4.

New on Video: ‘Breaking the Waves’”: Sound on Sight critic Jeremy Carr reviews Lars von Trier’s revelatory 1996 classic starring Emily Watson and Stellan Skarsgård, now available on Blu-ray and DVD courtesy of Criterion.

Though the women in his films, including Watson here, do go through a lot—emotionally, physically, mentally—Skarsgård, for one, points out the absurdity of the accusations that von Trier doesn’t like women. Ever the provocateur, this is just one charge von Trier has had to contend with. But perhaps, as Skarsgård says, not necessarily pertaining to this issue, but just in general, ‘The problem’s not Lars von Trier. The problem’s the world.’”

5.

Horse Sense: What I learned about being a mother from ‘National Velvet’’s Araminty Brown”: Dana Stevens of Slate.com discusses her favorite maternal character in cinema history after reading Richard Corliss’s new book, “Mom in the Movies.”

Maybe this is what I love so much about Anne Revere’s performance as Mrs. Brown: that sense she projects of having a rich but invisible inner life, a complicated past that mattered to her and shaped her before becoming a mother, and which she looks back on without regret or nostalgia.”

Image of the Day

Actors Keith Stanfield and Brie Larson take pictures for their “Short Term 12” director Destin Daniel Cretton when their film received a standing ovation at Ebertfest. Photo by Robin Scholz of News-Gazette.com. 

Video of the Day

An Independent Friendship: Joe Swanberg and Frank V. Ross from Fandor Keyframe on Vimeo.

Over at Fandor, "Tiger Tail in Blue" director Frank V. Ross chats with fellow Mumblecore trailblazer Joe Swanberg, whose acclaimed film, "All the Light in the Sky" is now available for streaming.

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