THE PAST – Review by MaryAnn Johanson

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A woman meets a man at an airport. Their greeting is familiar but not romantic… or maybe what we’re seeing is strained romance? Who are they to each other? Be comfortable with discomfort and uncertainty, because that is one of the key — and one of the most thrilling — elements of Iranian writer-director Asghar Farhadi’s astonishing family drama: one of its underlying questions is, How do we define family today? Read more>>

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Asghar Farhadi Talks About THE PAST – Kristy Puchko Interviews

the-past-farhadicroppedIt was 30 degrees outside, but my palms were slick with sweat as I cut through midtown New York, headed to a posh hotel for a meeting I was both elated about and dreading. There have been few moments in my life as nerve-racking as those leading up to my interview with Iranian writer-director Asghar Farhadi about his stunning new drama The Past. I’ve interviewed bigger “names” before, but I was about to sit down with the man who, by my count, is one of the greatest living filmmakers. Read more>>

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THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL – Review by Susan Granger

Set in 1932 in an opulent Alpine spa in the fictional Republic of Zubrowka, Wes Anderson’s comedic caper revolves around the eloquent, esteemed concierge, M. Gustave (Ralph Fiennes), and his protégé, earnest lobby boy, Zero Moustafa (Tony Revolori). Apparently, elderly Countess Celine Villeneuve Desgoffe und Taxis – a.k.a. Madame D. (Tilda Swinton) – left an invaluable treasure to M. Gustave instead of her own villainous offspring – and the tale-within-a-tale is told through flashbacks. Read on…

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CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER – Review by MaryAnn Johanson

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Wow. The Avengers movies just keep getting bigger and better and smarter and more relevant with each flick. I might have to start calling this the best genre franchise ever. But even none of the Avengers movies has stunned me the way this one has with its scathing commentary on the real world today… and all wrapped up in some of the most delicious, most comic-booky fantasy ever. The little kid in me almost wants to moan that I don’t want my silly stories burdened with “relevance” and “pertinence” and “political awareness.” The grownup in me, though, is very very glad to see it. Read more>>

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March Movies Wrap – Preview by Jennifer Merin

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Out with the old Oscar season and in with the new! March opens the starting gate for next year’s race and this month’s releases include extraordinary performances by Annette Bening and Catherine Deneuve and a superb documentary about female photographer Vivian Maier. Winners, all! Read more>>

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DIVERGENT – Review by Susan Granger

According to psychologists, one of the most stressful aspects of adolescence is finding acceptance within a peer group. The need to belong has been the basis for popular young-adult fiction like “Twilight,” “The Hunger Games,” even the “Harry Potter” series. Read on…

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STARRED UP – Review by MaryAnn Johanson

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I’ve never been to prison, so I can’t know for sure, but Starred Up could be the most realistic depiction of the horribleness and the ineffectiveness of institutional incarceration that I’ve ever seen. The title might sound sort of dreamy, but it refers to the status of a young offender in the British penal system who is prematurely moved to an adult facility, which is what happens to 19-year-old Eric (Jack O’Connell)… and so, right there, is the first level of awfulness, when a young person who might have a shot at genuine rehabilitation is thrown into the midst of hardened criminals. Read more>>

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MUPPETS MOST WANTED – Revew by Susan Granger

The prophetic opening musical number – “We’re Doing a Sequel…It’s what we do in Hollywood, though it’s never quite as good” – heralds Jim Henson’s fuzzy fellows’ new, globe-trotting crime caper. Read on…

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A LONG WAY DOWN – Review by MaryAnn Johanson

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It shouldn’t work: this is, after all, a platonic meet-cute among four people who’d planned to throw themselves off the London rooftop where they all run into one another on a particularly despairing New Year’s Eve for each of them. But it works: as wonderfully sardonic British humor (for us), as something to cling to in the face of misery (for them), as a reminder that it’s okay to be fucked up in this insane world and that you’re not alone in feeling helpless in the face of it (for everyone). Read more>>

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PARTICLE FEVER – Review by Jennifer Merin

particle feverScientists are the super sleuths in Mark Levinson’s smartly entertaining thriller of a documentary that chronicles the quest for fundamental knowledge about the origins of the universe. Using the Large Hadron Collider, the world’s largest machine, they’re searching for the elusive Higgs boson, the world’s smallest subatomic particle. Even if you think science isn’t your thing, this fascinating film will spark your imagination. Particle Fever is contagious. Read more>>

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