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Ida

Discovering a family secret
Agata Kulesza and Agata Trzebuchowska
Directed by Pawel Pawlikowski

Watching Pawel Pawlikowski’s drama “Ida,” is to immerse yourself in a film of great silences. Set in the grim landscape of postwar-Poland “Ida” follows Anna, a young Catholic nun (newcomer Agata Trzebuchowska) as she prepares to profess her vows in the convent she's lived in since childhood. Before she can take this important step, the convent’s Mother Superior insists that she pay a visit to her ... more >

The Grand Budapest Hotel

Wes Anderson's best. Again.
Ralph Fiennes, Tony Revolori and Saoirse Ronan
Directed by Wes Anderson

Wes Anderson’s "The Grand Budapest Hotel" is the cinematic equivalent of a pastry: beautiful, exquisitely-crafted and so immensely enjoyable that it seems too good to be real. Part-homage to pre-World War II Europe, part-tribute to memory and the passage of time and part-ridiculous slapstick, "The Grand Budapest"'s greatest achievement is not in its visual perfection but its literary sensibility. ... more >

The Monuments Men

About that forgotten part of WWII history
George Clooney, Matt Damon and Cate Blanchett
Directed by George Clooney

This is the way the world ends, or starts to end, in George Clooney’s “The Monuments Men”: with a bang. In the film’s opening scenes, Hubert and Jan van Eyck’s “Ghent Altarpiece” is loudly dismantled, panel by panel, and prepared—too late, though—for a secret hiding place. The clock is ticking for its fellow masterpieces. World War II is raging and Hitler, an unpromising art student before he ... more >

Her

What's love? (v. 2.0)
Joaquin Phoenix and Scarlett Johansson
Directed by Spike Jonze

It’s the oldest story in the book: boy meets girl. Boy and girl fall in love. Boy and girl live happily ever after. The problem? The girl in this instance is a computer, and the boy is the lonely Theodore Twombley (Joaquin Phoenix). Theodore, who spends his days composing love letters for other people, is slogging through the aftermath of a failed marriage when he purchases an artificially ... more >

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The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

Can flattery help keep you alive?
Ian McKellen and Martin Freeman
Directed by Peter Jackson

Middle-earth continues its domination of the silver screen with this latest installment, "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug," the second film centering on the adventures of the hobbit Bilbo and his band of merry men (and dwarves and wizards). Peter Jackson has delivered a terrific film that also has a unique Achilles’s heel. The one weakness in this otherwise highly-entertaining movie is exactly ... more >

Romeo and Juliet

Not the best adaptation
Hailee Steinfeld and Douglas Booth
Directed by Carlo Carlei

Never has there been a story of more woe than Carlo Carlei’s lukewarm adaptation of "Romeo and Juliet," that most eminent of romantic tragedies. The problem with this film adaptation is that it is about as romantic as a bad date and the acting performances are worthy of a pre-Glee high-school production. Bringing the star-crossed lovers to life––or sucking it completely out of them––are Hailee ... more >

WADJDA demands to be noticed (here’s why)

There's Oscar chatter in the air
Waad Mohammed and Reem Abdullah
Directed by Haifaa al-Mansour

The most striking aspect of “Wadjda” isn’t so much that it’s the first movie filmed entirely in Saudi Arabia, a country bereft of movie theatres, or that it is the product of a female writer and director (Haifaa al-Mansour): it’s that it manages to make the viewer forget these achievements thanks to its elegant plot and the understated, admirable performances of its actors. Set in a suburb of ... more >