Archive for category: by Robert Horton

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Film Review: ‘And So It Goes’

25 July, 2014 (08:06) | by Robert Horton, Film Reviews | By: Robert Horton

Should you encounter a curmudgeon, someone so bitter and grouchy he seems unredeemable, fear not — there is a sure-fire remedy. Simply put this killjoy in the presence of a live birth and have him deliver a baby. It always seems to work in movies, anyway. Case in point: And So It Goes, a middle-aged […]

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Film Review: ‘Boyhood’

24 July, 2014 (07:20) | by Robert Horton, Film Reviews | By: Robert Horton

The title Boyhood suggests something definitive, perhaps even a statement on the essential nature of growing up. Which is not at all what this movie is. Made up of stray moments, occasional bits of melodrama, and a gentle sense of time drifting by, the film is much better represented by its working title: 12 Years. […]

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Film Review: ‘Cannibal’

24 July, 2014 (07:17) | by Robert Horton, Film Reviews | By: Robert Horton

Most of the conventional horror is contained in the first 10 minutes. A surgically precise evocation of a lonely gas station at night gives way to reveal someone stalking a driver and passenger. A deliberate crash ensues. A dead woman is taken to a mountain cabin, where the stalker selects a knife from his collection […]

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Film Review: ‘I Origins’

24 July, 2014 (07:12) | by Robert Horton, Film Reviews | By: Robert Horton

It begins as a science thriller: Researchers narrow in on absolute proof that the eye evolved in nature. Such confirmation would give the lie to creationists who sometimes use the complexity of the eye as evidence for an “intelligent designer,” which is another way of saying God. Alas, I Origins has more than science on […]

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Film Review: ‘The Purge: Anarchy’

18 July, 2014 (08:42) | by Robert Horton, Film Reviews | By: Robert Horton

We can pick away at the merits of last year’s thriller The Purge (my big problem was that the characters had to do stupid things to keep the plot moving), but the movie definitely had a wild idea. For one night every year, the U.S. government sanctions lawlessness, allowing citizens to purge their baser instincts […]

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Film Review: Wish I Was Here

18 July, 2014 (08:39) | by Robert Horton, Film Reviews | By: Robert Horton

In the long-lived sitcom Scrubs, Zach Braff proved his comic timing and a willingness to be silly. And like so many actors who succeed with comedy, it seems Braff cannot stop wanting to be serious. He wrote and directed the 2004 indie hit Garden State, which captured a moment for millennial viewers. In that one, […]

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Film Review: ‘As Is It in Heaven’

17 July, 2014 (07:15) | by Robert Horton, Film Reviews | By: Robert Horton

The new spiritual leader of a small religious sect in the American South has received the word. That is, the Word. And the Word is that the group must become purified to be sufficiently prepared for the final days, which—according to their own in-house prophet—will arrive about a month hence. Along with their usual rounds […]

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Film Review: ‘A Summer’s Tale’

17 July, 2014 (07:13) | by Robert Horton, Film Reviews | By: Robert Horton

The movie of the summer in 1996 should have been A Summer’s Tale, a wise and bittersweet romance by then-septuagenarian filmmaker (and French New Wave co-founder) Eric Rohmer. But it didn’t get a chance to be. While the film did enjoy a regular release in Europe and was seen at festivals, for some reason it […]

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Film Review: ‘Dawn of the Planet of the Apes’

11 July, 2014 (08:49) | by Robert Horton, Film Reviews, Science Fiction | By: Robert Horton

After much adversity, Caesar — the leader of the simian takeover of Earth — must admit a hard truth. His bickering, backstabbing ape brethren are much more like humans than they’d care to admit. Ouch. Caesar’s grunted insight comes as no surprise as we’re watching Dawn of the Planet of the Apes: the human population […]

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Film Review: ‘Half of a Yellow Sun’

10 July, 2014 (07:38) | by Robert Horton, Film Reviews | By: Robert Horton

The problems of squishing down a novel to fit a two-hour movie are familiar; when a complicated historical setting is added to the mix, things really get thorny. Half of a Yellow Sun tackles a decade or so in Nigeria’s tortured chronology, from its early years of independence to the disastrous Biafran war that divided […]

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Film Review: ‘Venus in Fur’

10 July, 2014 (07:35) | by Robert Horton, Film Reviews | By: Robert Horton

In this adaptation of the 2010 stage play by David Ives, Roman Polanski casts his wife in the main role and makes his leading man look as much like himself as possible. As tempting as it is to read autobiographical intention into these decisions, I think it’s probably wise to take them as sardonic jokes. […]

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Film Review: ‘Third Person’

10 July, 2014 (07:31) | by Robert Horton, Film Reviews | By: Robert Horton

Paul Haggis has had such a curious career, it’s no wonder he seems to make movies with no regard for fashion or demographics. The Canadian-born filmmaker labored for years as a TV writer/producer before scripting two successive Best Picture Oscar winners, Million Dollar Baby and Crash (he also directed the latter). He then co-wrote a […]

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Film Review: ‘Life Itself’

3 July, 2014 (06:55) | by Robert Horton, Documentary, Film Reviews | By: Robert Horton

For the last 25 years of his life, Roger Ebert was the most famous film critic in America. In his final decade—he died in April 2013—Ebert became famous for something else. He faced death in a public way, with frankness and grit. Cancer altered his appearance and robbed him of the ability to speak and […]

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Film Review: ‘Tammy’

3 July, 2014 (06:50) | by Robert Horton, Film Reviews | By: Robert Horton

Melissa McCarthy has earned her moment, and it is now. After scaring up an Oscar nomination for Bridesmaids and dragging The Heat and Identity Thief into the box-office winner’s circle, McCarthy gets to generate her own projects. So here’s Tammy, an unabashed vehicle for her specific strengths: She wrote it with her husband, Ben Falcone […]

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Film Review: ‘Earth to Echo’

3 July, 2014 (06:36) | by Robert Horton, Film Reviews, Science Fiction | By: Robert Horton

Charm is in short supply in the kiddie sci-fi opus Earth to Echo, a mechanical imitation of E.T. Mechanical is the key word here, because the movie’s method is all about digital technology, and its extra-terrestrial is a little metal robot. We are watching a video supposedly created by the film’s characters. It’s a chronicle […]

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