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Wednesday, December 22,2010

The Screening Room

Coen Brothers' 'True Grit' hits the mark

by James Sanford
Mattie Ross is looking for a man, preferably a man who can find a man. All of 14 years old ' but with the self-confidence of a seasoned woman of the world ' Mattie has decided to take it upon herself to find and punish the outlaw who murdered her father.
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Friday, December 17,2010

Requiem for a dream ballet

Natalie Portman drowns in 'Swan Lake' in Darren Aronofsky's shocker 'Black Swan'

by James Sanford
From the moment Nina (Natalie Portman) gets out of bed, she’s reminded of her mission in life. Her toes and feet crackle like splintering ice as she braces herself for another day in the realm of ballet, an environment dominated by myriad mirrors and an insatiable appetite for youthful energy. If you could listen to Nina’s psyche, you might hear the same unnerving sounds the rest of her body makes: Time is running out, opportunities are elusive and, even though Nina still lives with her mom (Barbara Hershey) and sleeps in a cotton-candy-pink bedroom full of stuffed animals and a ballerina music box, she’s not a child anymore.
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Friday, December 17,2010

Packing a wallop

Outstanding performances and fine writing make 'The Fighter' worth cheering

by James Sanford
The title of director David O. Russell’s film is simple enough — “The Fighter” — but which character it refers to is not so clear. It would seem to be Micky Ward (Mark Wahlberg), the welterweight who’s been battling his way through the fight game in the early 1990s. But it could just as easily be his half-brother, Dicky Eklund (Christian Bale), a former boxer who seemed to be a champion in the making more than a decade earlier, before giving in to drug addiction.
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Friday, December 17,2010

Packing a wallop

Outstanding performances and fine writing make 'The Fighter' worth cheering

by James Sanford
The title of director David O. Russell’s film is simple enough — “The Fighter” — but which character it refers to is not so clear. It would seem to be Micky Ward (Mark Wahlberg), the welterweight who’s been battling his way through the fight game in the early 1990s. But it could just as easily be his half-brother, Dicky Eklund (Christian Bale), a former boxer who seemed to be a champion in the making more than a decade earlier, before giving in to drug addiction.
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Friday, December 17,2010

Electronic eye candy

'Tron: Legacy' dazzles the eyes and ears, but the mind — eh, not so much

by James Sanford
In 1982, Pac Man Fever was sweeping the nation. But in the Magic Kingdom, Disney executives were feeling aches and pains of a different sort. The studio's designated summer blockbuster "Tron" (which cost approximately $20 million, an impressive budget for those days) had all but short-circuited at the box office, failing to become the next "Star Wars," much less the "2001: A Space Odyssey" of the Atari generation.
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Wednesday, December 15,2010

The Screening Room

Why Disney is keeping 1982 'Tron' out of sight

by James Sanford
What if someone announced plans to make a sequel to the Wachowski Brothers’ “Speed Racer,” or the infamous Ben Affleck/ Jennifer Lopez vehicle “Gigli”? If you were asked to help bankroll the eagerly awaited follow-up to Bruce Willis’ “Hudson Hawk,” would you reach for your checkbook?.
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Monday, December 13,2010

The Screening Room

Carey Mulligan and Andrew Garfield are stars on the 'Go'

by James Sanford
(Wednesday, Oct. 13) In “Never Let Me Go,” based on Kazuo Ishiguro’s popular novel, Carey Mulligan and Andrew Garfield play young adults facing a gloomy future. That is hardly the case for the two British actors in real life, however. Mulligan won a best actress Oscar nomination last year for “An Education” and she’s been singled out as one of the bright spots in director Oliver Stone’s “Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps.” Garfield is getting strong notices of his own in “The Social Network,” and he’ll soon be donning the scarlet threads of Spider-Man in Sony Pictures’ reboot of the phenomenally successful series. Mulligan and Garfield sat down for interviews last month at the Toronto International Film Festival.
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Monday, December 13,2010

The Screening Room

'Burlesque' has become a box office surprise

by James Sanford
It’s not particularly shocking to see “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1” and Disney’s “Tangled” slugging it out for the dominant position atop the box office rankings. But what’s in the No.
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Friday, December 10,2010

Detour to Dullsville

Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp can't make 'Tourist' worth the price of a ticket

by James Sanford
In “The Tourist,” Angelina Jolie is a woman of many faces — many of them familiar. Sashaying through the streets of Paris in a cream-colored dress and opera gloves, she’s Audrey Hepburn. Navigating the canals of Venice, she turns into Jacqueline Bisset, circa “The Deep.” Gliding through a glittering ballroom, she becomes Sophia Loren. Tough acts to follow, all of them, but Jolie confidently puts across each persona.
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Wednesday, November 24,2010

Hair affair

Disney puts a sweet spin on Rapunzel in engaging 'Tangled'

by James Sanford
The character of Rapunzel is much better known than her story is, which gives Team Disney a certain amount of license to sweeten up her saga in "Tangled," a buoyant, often uproarious musical comedy that already has a hallowed place in the studio's history: It is, as the opening title informs us, Disney's 50th animated feature.
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