Tag Archive: frances mcdormand


Dir. Wes Anderson
(2012, PG-13, 94 minutes)

Moonrise Kingdom is odd even by Wes Anderson standards. His visual compositions are eerily symmetrical. His shots are straight on, rarely – perhaps never – angled. His camera moves on a horizontal or vertical axis at all times. And like his visual approach his characters and their dialogue are mannered – dry and controlled, yet whimsical. It’s not an easy film to digest, but that’s not surprising for Anderson. I remember in 2007 I had to watch The Darjeeling Limited twice: the first time I was nonplussed, but the second time I was unexpectedly touched.

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Dir. Gus Van Sant
(2012, R, 106 minutes)

I’ve noted in past reviews that there seem to be two kinds of Gus Van Sant film: the easily accessible kind in the vein of Good Will Hunting and Milk, and the darker, more inward kind like Paranoid Park and My Own Private Idaho. The latter variety doesn’t always appeal to me, but when he directs a more straightforward project, even when it’s good, it seems less personal, lacking his strong stylistic signature.

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Dir. Joel Coen
(1984, R, 95 min)
★ ★ ★ ½

What’s most impressive about the Coen Brothers’ first feature, Blood Simple, is how straightforward its plotting is. It wasn’t until I tried to summarize it to my curious mother that I realized how elaborate it really is. Over the course of 95 minutes, the story unfolds, well, rather simply.

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George Clooney, in 'Burn After Reading'

Dir. Ethan Coen and Joel Coen
(R) ★ ½

Seldom has a movie that started with such intrigue ended as such piffle. Burn After Reading is too grim to work as comedy, too arch to work as drama, too senseless to work as a story, and too thoughtless to work as satire. The longer it goes on, the less of it there is, until it vanishes into thin air. It has nothing to say, nothing to show, and precious little to entertain us by. The emperor has no clothes, and there’s no emperor either.

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Academy Award statuette

As the late-year Oscar rush continues, here are a few of the year’s worthiest contenders the Motion Picture Academy has probably missed.

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Dir. Bharat Nalluri
(PG-13) ★ ★ ★ ★

Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day comes as a surprise. It is a romantic farce, set in the 1930s and styled as if from the era, but it becomes something richer. Director Bharat Nalluri, working from a fine screenplay by David Magee and Simon Beaufoy, based on a novel by Winifred Watson, digs deep into the material to reveal an undercurrent of sadness and the foreboding of a nation on the eve of its entry into World War II. Underneath the comically mannered performances and romantic entanglements, this is a film about class, about loss, about gender, and yes, about love.

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