An Old Hollywood Holiday: Classic Festive Films

For many people, the holidays are about tradition — and nothing says “old-fashioned” more than a classic film from the old Hollywood era. These films have enough sentimental stories and sparkling good cheer to brighten your holidays. Don’t be a Scrooge: find the spirit of the season in these vintage favorites. … Read More

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Essential Cuban Films You Should Know

This week, President Obama’s lift of the 54-year-long American trade embargo against Cuba — which would ease restrictions on travel and financial activities, normalizing relations with the country — was announced. But different generations of Cubans are processing different feelings about the historic move. The economic crisis in Cuba that resulted from the embargo, and the country’s war-torn history, has been the subject of many films. Throughout the history of Cuban cinema, filmmakers have explored sociopolitical issues and the country’s shifting identity. Here are a few films to put on your radar before exploring Cuban cinema for the first time. … Read More

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The 30 Best Movie Posters of 2014

The image on its poster often bolsters a good film, leaving a remarkable impression before we’ve even seen it. The image often sees us through the film, casts its own lens over our perception of the whole experience. Of course, there’s no dearth of mediocre films with beautiful posters out there, and these can long outlive their lesser, more time-consuming counterparts. Here, we’ve gathered and ranked the best film posters of 2014 based on both their aesthetic appeal and the ways they work alongside their source material. … Read More

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Quvenzhané Wallis Can’t Save the ‘Annie’ Reboot, But Her Performance Is More Important Than Critics Let On

When I checked the Rotten Tomatoes page for the Annie reboot this morning, I was surprised to see its positive ratings had crept up past the 20 percent mark. I was surprised because the critical response to the film has felt so universally negative: vicious review after vicious review has reveled in “hard knock life” and “the sun’ll come out tomorrow” puns that are about as unoriginal as the movie’s dialogue, all in the service of complaining about Annie‘s lack of originality. … Read More

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‘Unbroken,’ ‘Still Alice,’ and the Desperate Pursuit of Oscar Gold

One of the many ingenious running gags in Ben Stiller’s scathing 2009 Hollywood satire Tropic Thunder is Simple Jack, a widely derided, financially disastrous attempt by Cruise-style action star Tugg Speedman (Stiller) to be taken seriously as an actor by making a film that panders, with comic desperation, for Academy Award recognition. We see clips from Simple Jack, and the parody is dead-on: the faux-inspirational music, the sepia-tinged photography, the “tear-jerking” storytelling. We laugh, because the intentions are so transparent — and because we’ve seen films that clamor for that Oscar with no less sophistication. Now, I’m not saying that the inspirational drama Unbroken is a 137-minute version of Simple Jack, or that the Julianne Moore vehicle Still Alice is Moore’s Tugg Speedman moment. But let’s just say I’ve been thinking of the spoof movie a lot lately. … Read More

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The Best Films of 2014

At the end of every year, the assembling and organizing of a best-of list becomes an exercise in incongruity; it seems like we spent all of our time complaining about blockbusters and avoiding dystopian YA adaptations, and yet, when you look at the sum total of a year of cinema, there are enough great films for not only this list, but two supplementary ones. Some film writers have taken this year’s shortage of clear-cut “favorites” as the sign of a weak year. I say just the opposite: the wide swath of quality releases, from personal indies to whip-smart genre flicks to thoughtful documentaries, tells the story of an uncommonly rich and rewarding 12 months of… Read More

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Jennifer Aniston Is Just as Great as You’ve Heard in the Disappointingly Mediocre ‘Cake’

Let it be said: Jennifer Aniston’s performance in Daniel Barnz’s Cake is fantastic. Just look at that punim above! It’s not just an Oscar-baiting punim, it’s the punim of an actor convincingly embodying a very pained character! Let it also be said: it shouldn’t be a surprise that Aniston’s performance would be fantastic — she killed it in Nicole Holofcener’s Friends With Money and Mike White’s The Good Girl. But finally, it must be said that Cake is not really good enough to pay attention to, and the only reason people most definitely will is because of that Aniston punim, which, while convincingly pained and convincingly scarred, remains trapped beneath the manipulative emotional anvils the movie drops. … Read More

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Oh Look, Here’s a Trailer for a Good, Multicolored S&M Film: ‘The Duke of Burgundy’

Berberian Sound Studio director Peter Strickland has been rousing festival audiences with The Duke of Burgundy, a lush S&M drama named, oh… Read More

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