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Allied, the good, and the bad

A decent idea of a film, lacking a payoff
Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard
Directed by Robert Zemeckis

Oh, what, you want to talk about “Allied,” the film? Where’s the fun in that? Wouldn’t you rather talk about Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie and Marion Cotillard? Popcorn, please! Look in the mirror and be honest with yourself. Would you really rather go in-depth on the art direction? Twice Brad Pitt has made espionage movies about a spy married to a woman who might be an enemy out to betray him. ... more >

12 Years a slave

The story that needs to be retold
Chiwetel Ejiofor, Lupita Nyong’o and Michael Fassbender
Directed by Steve McQueen

Among movies about race in America, how many great films have been made about slavery? We’ve seen gentle drivers ("Driving Miss Daisy"), sisterhoods of maids ("The Help") and pizza places going up in smoke for our sins ("Do the Right Thing"). Most of these films focus on the sixties or the modern day. Even Lincoln barely touches on slavery as more than legal theory. This enormous, shocking gap ... more >

World War Z

Tentpoles never used to be this crowded
Brad Pitt, Mireille Enos and James Badge Dale
Directed by Marc Foster

"World War Z" may be the first film in which the cast exceeds the actual population of the planet. There are huge citywide vistas of rambling crowds. Most of these people are infected with a zombie virus that turns them into rattlesnakes with overbites and clammy hair. These elements pay off quickly in a fantastic opener set in a traffic jam in downtown Philadelphia. Amid startling ... more >

KILLING THEM SOFTLY

Paging Jackie the Enforcer
Brad Pitt and Scoot McNairy
Directed by Andrew Dominik

“Killing them Softly” is an expression I never understood but I'll guess that if one needed to kill softly, Brad Pitt’s Jackie would be the right man for the job. “Softly,” writer-director Andrew Dominik’s adaptation of the George V. Higgins novel “Cogan’s Trade," (itself a follow-up to “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford") is the Weinstein Company contender for an Academy ... more >

Moneyball

Everything you wanted to know about moneyballers but were afraid to ask
Brad Pitt, Robin Wright and Jonah Hill
Directed by Bennett Miller

No one wants to watch a movie about the Yankees. No one wants to watch Throwing Money At It: Superstars, Dollar Signs, and Left-handed Relief Pitching. No one wants to hear the story about how the Pinstripes used their massive financial advantages to hire the best coaches, scouts and players in order to forge an American League dynasty--and guess what: they did it! There is no market in the ... more >

Money ball

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The tree of life

Getting ultra-philosophical on the meaning of life
Brad Pitt, Sean Penn and Jessica Chastain
Directed by Terrence Malick

If Terrence Malick is a saint of cinema, then this is his holy lesson. Over a four-decade career, the mercurial American visionary has mastered absence and flowered a daunting mystery. After making one of the most impressive debuts in American film history, 1973’s "Badlands," he quit talking to the press. After the dreamy masterpiece "Days of Heaven" five years later, the perfectionist dipped a ... more >