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March 10, 2014#

We need to talk about Lindsay: “Part One” recap

Lindsay on OWNLindsay Lohan is pacing around an enormous storage lockup. Boxes on boxes of clothing and movie props accumulated from nearly a decade in Los Angeles. A cigarette case from a movie. Her sister, Ali Lohan’s shoes. Even a tiny paper fortune that reads “Long life is in store for you.”

On the opposite coast in New York City, strangers tell Ann Rice’s camera what they think of the star.

“I used to be a fan of her work,” laughs one woman in a tight bun. “She kinda fell off the deep end.”

These are among the early scenes from Oprah’s new docuseries on Lohan called Lindsay, which she began filming just four days out of her sixth stay in rehab. It’s a fascinating contradiction of care—Winfrey claims she wants Lohan to “WIN,” as she emphasizes more than once—and an obvious fallacy to the troubles of addiction in the public eye, putting the pieces back together with a camera in your face.

But it’s happening, and the first of four hours aired Sunday on OWN.  Continue Reading

January 30, 2014#

‘Girls’ review: Good times are coming to an end

'Girls' HBOLike some of the best episodes of Girls, the credits song for “Only Child” is perfect:

I’m turning back to the man that I once was, but it’s fun to fool them for a while. Finally those good times are coming … to an end.

Indeed, all that was good has come to an end on Girls with “Only Child,” an episode that finds the characters at their most honest and abrasive. It’s all come crashing down in a way that anyone who enjoyed the sitcom feel of the season two finale won’t enjoy, but if Matt Costa’s lyrics speak any truths, that was just Dunham having fun fooling us for a while.  Continue Reading

January 25, 2014#

What “Beyonce” gets wrong and Miley gets right

BeyonceBeyonce is hot, I get it. She’s bootylicious, and all that. She also happens to be one of pop’s most talented stars, but does that give her more privilege to flaunt without bounds than other starlets?

Most people would say, yes—bow down. But I’m not bowing down just yet.

As a visual album—a new kind of album that all singers should now approach with caution, if at all—Beyonce requires us to look, not just listen.

“When I’m connected to something, I immediately see a visual, or a series of images that are tied to a feeling or an emotion,” she said in a video promotion for the project.

As it turns out, what Beyonce saw was largely herself, writhing nearly-naked somewhere. On a beach. By herself in bed sheets. On a stripper pole. You have to wonder, in her wildest dreams and fantasies, is it really her own body in various stages of undress that she sees? As a showcase for Beyonce’s body, the visual album succeeds. But as an act of feminism, which it claims to be at times, and which many have hastily lauded it, it doesn’t accomplish much.  Continue Reading

September 11, 2013#

TIFF Review: ‘Night Moves’ an empty slog

Kelly Reichardt’s films have probably been called “boring” before. Her brand of slow-burning restraint and subtlety is far from mainstream.

But “boring” was never a fair description. Until now.

“Night Moves,” which screened at the Venice Film Festival, and is now at TIFF, is skimpy in character and dead-eyed in acting.  Continue Reading

January 14, 2013#

There are two ways to look at ‘Zero Dark Thirty’

There are two ways to look at Zero Dark Thirty, Kathryn Bigelow’s latest controversial and critically-acclaimed post-9/11 drama.

As a movie, it’s a searing thriller.

As an account of real-life events, it’s pretty dangerous.  Continue Reading

December 29, 2012#

‘The Impossible’ review: English-language for no good reason

The Impossible will probably make you cry. But that doesn’t mean it’s not a miscalculated and disconnected look at one of the most devastating natural disasters in our history.

The immense talents of Naomi Watts notwithstanding, there is absolutely no reason for making this an English-language film. The real family it is based on are Spanish. As is the director, Juan Antonio Bayona, and most of the film’s crew. They all made an amazing Spanish film five years ago called The OrphanageContinue Reading

December 24, 2012#

2012 Book Critic Top Ten Lists

Because Metacritic got rid of their Books section, here are the critics’ picks for best books of 2012.

More than 500 books were included on the year-end lists.

Do you agree with the most-mentioned books? Find out after the jump…

Continue Reading

December 19, 2012#

‘Lincoln’ review: Politics trump character

Some biopics shroud politics in tepid character study. The Iron Lady opted for a speculative ageing drama instead of focusing on Margaret Thatcher’s fascinating politics—it was a huge mistake. Luckily for American history buffs, Lincoln knows it’s all about the backroom rhetoric, to a fault or not.

What’s for certain is that both have huge performances at their centre. Where Meryl Streep’s was a talented impersonation, I’m inclined to herald Daniel Day-Lewis’s Abraham Lincoln for the fact that he had no YouTube clips to study, only 150-year-old notes on the President’s character. He does a stunningly good job of inventing a man out of the notes and portraits we’ve all seen before. The praise is not out of left field; the acting—excuse me, Acting—is the film’s biggest strength.

The performances are grand, often operatic. I expect this was a conscious direction on the part of Steven Spielberg, as one dramatic verbal bout is literally followed by an opera. Luckily, both Day-Lewis and Sally Field, playing the First Lady, are up for the task and it works well.

The political story, though rightfully at the centre, is a bit of a challenge.  Continue Reading

November 25, 2012#

‘Rust and Bone’ review: Cotillard amazes once again

Rust and Bone is not an easy film to watch.

Some will find its the-worst-gets-worse indie tendencies somewhat grating, but the film’s style and the leads’ powerful performances make it a certain Oscar contender.

In brief, Rust and Bone, based on a series of short stories by Canadian writer Craig Davidson, follows the complicated attraction between a killer whale trainer (Marion Cotillard) and an unemployed boxer (Matthias Schoenaerts). But to reduce the film to a sentimental romance isn’t fair—it’s anything but. Rust and Bone is a complex story of the scars that shape us.  Continue Reading

November 25, 2012#

‘Amour’ review: Haneke shows his soft side

Known for his intensely disturbing films (Funny Games, anyone?), Amour explores Michael Haneke’s softer side. There are no golf club beatings or hidden cameras in this one. The intensity comes all from the incredible performances and profound sadness of an ageing relationship.

Starring Emmanuelle Riva and Jean-Louis Trintignant as the stroke-ridden wife and her saddened husband, the legendary French actors give stirring performances in what may be one of the greatest movies about ageing ever put to film.  Continue Reading