Author: George Mccartney (George Mccartney)

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It Ain’t Necessarily So
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It Ain’t Necessarily So

Noah Produced and distributed by Paramount Pictures Written and directed by Darren Aronofsky The Unknown Known Produced by The Weinstein Company, History Films, and Moxie Pictures Written and directed by Errol Morris Distributed by RADIUS-TWC In Darren Aronofsky’s telling of the Noah story, Cain’s descendant Tubalcain (Ray Winstone) confronts his creator, growling these words: “I...

Of Pasteboard and Pastry
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Of Pasteboard and Pastry

The Grand Budapest Hotel Produced by Scott Rudin Productions and Studio Babelsberg Directed and written by Wes Anderson Distributed by Fox Searchlight Pictures   Exceptionally well-made pastries are often said to be lighter than air.  I was reminded of this after watching Wes Anderson’s latest film, The Grand Budapest Hotel, a confection so airy that...

Truth on a Diet
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Truth on a Diet

Now that Matthew McConaughey has won his loudly preordained Academy Award for Best Actor for his role in Dallas Buyers Club, it’s time we asked how he did it. The answer is simple.  He pulled off a canny trifecta: First, he made himself an LGBT wet dream by playing a heterosexual who gets AIDS; second,...

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Pregnant With Meaning

Her Produced by Annapurna Pictures Written and directed by Spike Jonze Distributed by Warner Brothers Inside Llewyn Davis Produced by StudioCanal and Anton Capital Entertainment Written and directed by Joel and Ethan Coen Distributed by CBS Films   Her is directed by Spike Jonze, the inscrutable nom de cinema Adam Spiegel has adopted for himself.  Set...

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Flyovers and Combovers

Nebraska Produced by Blue Lake Media Fund and Bona Fide ProductionsDirected by Alexander Payne Screenplay by Bob Nelson Distributed by Paramount Vantage American Hustle Produced by Atlas Entertainment and Annapurna Pictures Directed and written by David O. Russell Distributed by Columbia Pictures   Few directors would have taken the chances Alexander Payne does with his...

Reckless Regard
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Reckless Regard

All Is Lost Produced by Before The Door Picture Written and Directed by J.C. Chandor  Distributed by Lionsgate  Robert Redford and Bruce Dern are proving that we needn’t retire to our rocking chairs at 77—not if we have star power, that is.  Each costar of 1974’s The Great Gatsby has his own leading role in...

O Captain, My Captain
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O Captain, My Captain

Captain Phillips Produced by Trigger Street Productions Directed by Paul Greengrass Screenplay by Billy Ray Distributed by Columbia Pictures  Captain Phillips, the film, has come under fire since its opening, as has the eponymous captain of the Danish container ship Maersk Alabama, which was hijacked by Somali pirates in 2009.  Complaints against Richard Phillips have...

Attachment and Loss
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Attachment and Loss

Blue Jasmine Produced by Perdido Productions  Written and directed by Woody Allen  Distributed by Sony Pictures Classics    Grim.  That’s the first thing to say about Woody Allen’s new movie, Blue Jasmine.  The second is that its lead, Cate Blanchett, gives one of the best performances by an actress since Vivian Leigh played Blanche DuBois...

Elysian Fields Forever
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Elysian Fields Forever

Elysium Produced and distributed by TriStar Pictures and Sony Pictures Entertainment  Directed and written by Neill Blomkamp  Neill Blomkamp’s second film, Elysium, is, in a way, a sequel to his first, District 9.  This time, however, there are no eight-foot-tall prawn-like aliens accusing earthlings in Johannesburg, South Africa, of the crime of apartheid or insensitivity...

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Reason’s Enemy

Copperhead Produced by Swordspoint Productions  Directed by Ronald F. Maxwell  Screenplay by Bill Kauffman  Distributed by Brainstorm Media  What makes a good war story?  Cannons, bombs, bloody bodies, and bounding heroes?  Stephen Crane’s short story “An Episode of War” demonstrates it can be achieved by other means.  It fully registers the madness, horror, and folly...

Heartless Irony
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Heartless Irony

What Maisie Knew Produced by Red Crown Productions Directed by Scott McGehee and David Siegel Screenplay by Nancy Doyne and Carroll Cartwright Distributed by Millennium Entertainment    Some people should not have children.  This is one way to read Henry James’s 1897 novel What Maisie Knew.  Another way, the way James preferred, is to marvel...

A Vast, Vulgar, Meretricious Beauty
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A Vast, Vulgar, Meretricious Beauty

The Great Gatsby Produced and distributed by Warner Brothers Pictures Directed by Baz Luhrmann Screenplay by Baz Luhrmann and Craig Pearce    Why do studios keep trying to turn F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby into a film?  Fitzgerald’s extraordinarily vivid prose and his unmatched descriptive powers would seem to make it a natural choice,...

Oblivious
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Oblivious

Oblivion Produced and distributed by Universal Pictures Written and directed by Joseph Kosinski from his graphic novel The Company You Keep Produced by Voltage Pictures Directed by Robert Redford Screenplay by Lem Dobbs from the novel by Neil Gordon Distributed by Sony Pictures Classics    Oblivion seems to me an experiment in form following function. ...

The Long Take
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The Long Take

Beyond the Hills Produced by Canal+  Written and directed by Cristian Mungiu  Distributed by Sundance Selects    Beyond the Hills is Cristian Mungiu’s fictionalized account of the widely reported story of an exorcism performed at a Rumanian Orthodox monastery near Tanacu in 2005.  A disturbed young woman who had been living there had become violently...

Maya at Half-Past Midnight
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Maya at Half-Past Midnight

Zero Dark Thirty Produced by Columbia and Annapurna Pictures Directed by Kathryn Bigelow Screenplay Mark Boal Distributed by Columbia and Sony Pictures   Those who read this column may recall how impressed I was by The Hurt Locker five years ago.  As directed by Kathryn Bigelow and written by Mark Boal, it still is the...

Unspoken Promises
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Unspoken Promises

Promised Land Produced by Focus Features and Image Nation Directed by Gus Van Sant Screenplay by Matt Damon and John Krasinski from a story by David Eggers Distributed by Focus Features   I thoroughly enjoyed Matt Damon’s latest movie, Promised Land.  It channels Frank Capra’s spirit, featuring little people caught in the toils of corporate...

Mercy Is Courage
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Mercy Is Courage

The Hobbit Produced by New Line Cinema, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, and Wingnut Films Directed by Peter Jackson Written by Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens Distributed by Warner Brothers Pictures For this month’s column, I’ve enlisted my son Liam to write the review, since he knows far more than I do about J.R.R. Tolkien and Peter Jackson’s film...

Enemies
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Enemies

Skyfall Produced by Metro-Goldwyn Mayer and Eon Productions Directed by Sam Mendes Written by Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, and John Logan Distributed by Columbia Pictures Lincoln Produced by 20th Century Fox and Dreamworks Pictures Directed by Steven Spielberg Written by Tony Kushner Distributed by Touchstone Pictures No less an authority than Vatican City’s daily newspaper,...

Poisonous Intoxicants
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Poisonous Intoxicants

The Master Produced and distributed by The Weinstein Company, together with Annapurna Pictures  Written and directed by Paul Thomas Anderson    The Master is another travesty by the supposed wunderkind Paul Thomas Anderson.  In 2005 he gave us his rendition of Upton Sinclair’s 1927 novel Oil in There Will Be Blood.  Unfortunately, he left out...

Lawless Enforcement
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Lawless Enforcement

Lawless Produced by Benaroya Pictures Directed by John Hillcoat Screenplay by Nick Cave from the novel by Matt Bondurant Distributed by The Weinstein Company   Whenever I think of Prohibition movies, I inevitably see Jimmy Cagney smiling rakishly as he shrugs his shoulders to make sure his double-breasted jacket drapes just so.  He’s the city-boy...

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Bats and Weasels

The Dark Knight Rises Produced and distributed by Warner Brothers Directed by Christopher Nolan Written by Christopher and Jonathan Nolan Hope Springs Produced by Escape Artists and Mandate Pictures Directed by David Frankel Written by Vanessa Taylor Distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer   Christopher Nolan doesn’t do things by halves.  His third Batman movie, The Dark Knight...

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Responsibilities

Savages Produced by Relativity Media Directed by Oliver Stone Written by Shane Salerno and Don Winslow from Winslow’s novel Distributed by Universal Pictures The Amazing Spider-Man Produced by Marvel Entertainment  Directed by Marc Webb  Written by James Vanderbilt and Alvin Sargent  Distributed by Columbia Pictures   Directed by Oliver Stone, Savages is an adaptation of...

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Utopia Forestalled

For Greater Glory Produced by NewLand Films Directed by Dean Wright Screenplay by Michael Love Distributed by ARC Entertainment   Are you familiar with the Cristeros?  They were Mexican Catholics who rebelled against their secularist government in 1926.  I knew very little of them myself until I saw For Greater Glory: The True Story of...

Things Are Looking Up
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Things Are Looking Up

Damsels in Distress Produced by Westerly Films  Written and directed by Whit Stillman  Distributed by Sony Pictures Classics    Is there a better remedy for depression than watching Fred Astaire’s films?  Violet Wister (Greta Gerwig), the heroine of Whit Stillman’s magisterial Damsels in Distress, doesn’t think so.  Neither do I.  The medical and psychiatric communities...

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Ad majorem Dei gloriam

  I want to bring your attention to a new film, one that attempts to convey some genuine truths about religious faith and secular governance.  My full review won’t appear until Chronicles’ August issue and, by that time, For Greater Glory may have left the theaters.  As this is a film that should be seen—as they say—on the big...

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Bullseye!

  [The Hunger Games ? Produced and distributed by Lionsgate ? Directed by Gary Ross ? Written by Suzanne Collins and Gary Ross] Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games is the first volume of a trilogy set in a not-too-distant future.  An unspecified apocalyptic event has destroyed much of North America, and a new state named Panem has arisen to replace the...

Bullseye!
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Bullseye!

The Hunger Games Produced and distributed by Lionsgate  Directed by Gary Ross  Written by Suzanne Collins and Gary Ross    Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games is the first volume of a trilogy set in a not-too-distant future.  An unspecified apocalyptic event has destroyed much of North America, and a new state named Panem has arisen...

A Capital Mars
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A Capital Mars

John Carter Produced and distributed by Walt Disney Pictures Directed by Andrew Stanton Written by Andrew Stanton, Mark Andrews, and Michael Chabon   When Edgar Rice Burroughs wrote Under the Moons of Mars in 1911, introducing the character John Carter, he did so in a mood of desperation.  At 35, with a wife and two...

Howling at the Heavens
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Howling at the Heavens

The Grey Produced by 1984 Private Defense Contractors in association with Liddell Entertainment Directed by Joe Carnahan Script by Joe Carnahan and Ian Mackenzie Jeffers from Jeffers’ story Distributed by Open Road Films   We tell one another stories to help us face death, knowing the stalker to be ever at our heels. Not that...

Illusions and Disillusions
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Illusions and Disillusions

The Artist Produced by Le Petite Rein and Studio 37  Directed and written by Michel Hazanavicius  Distributed by The Weinstein Company A Dangerous Method Produced by Recorded Picture Company  Directed by David Cronenberg  Screenplay by Christopher Hampton  Distributed by Sony Pictures   As I write, many critics have declared French writer-director Michel Hazanavicius’ The Artist...

Those Real Estate Blues
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Those Real Estate Blues

The Descendants Produced by Ad Hominem Enterprises Written and directed by Alexander Payne Distributed by Fox Searchlight Pictures Young Adult Produced and Distributed by Paramount Pictures  Directed by Jason Reitman  Screenplay by Diablo Cody (Brooke M. Busey)   The Descendants and Young Adult are dark satiric comedies that insist on an unpopular thesis: Sexual misbehavior...

J. Edgar Who?
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J. Edgar Who?

J. Edgar Produced by Imagine Entertainment and Malpaso Productions Directed by Clint Eastwood Written by Dustin Lance Black Distributed by Warner Bros. Entertainment   Director Clint Eastwood’s  J. Edgar opens with the June 2, 1919, bomb attack on the Washington, D.C., home of Atty. Gen. Alexander Mitchell Palmer.  As Palmer and his wife come dazedly...

Of Candidates and Clowns
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Of Candidates and Clowns

The Ides of March Produced by Smoke House Directed by George Clooney Written by Grant Heslov, George Clooney, and Beau Willimon from Willimon’s play, Farragut North Distributed by Columbia Pictures   George Clooney’s film The Ides of March is a behind-the-scenes look at a presidential primary race in contemporary Ohio.  The behavior of the candidates...

Shane On Wheels
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Shane On Wheels

Drive Produced by Bold Films and Odd Lot Entertainment Directed by Nicolas Winding Refn Screenplay by Hossein Amini from the novel by James Sallis Distributed by Film District   At the close of George Stevens’ 1953 big-screen version of Jack Schaefer’s novel, Shane, ten-year-old Joey Starrett (Brandon De Wilde) called repeatedly to his wounded idol,...

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Carrying the Burden

The Help Produced by Dreamworks Pictures Directed and written by Tate Taylor from Kathryn Stockett’s novel Distributed by Walt Disney Studios The Guard Produced by Reprisal Films Directed and written by John McDonagh Distributed by Sony Pictures Classics   I went to see The Help fully expecting it would be a travesty of race relations...

Sold, Not Bought
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Sold, Not Bought

If you want to understand our current financial woes, skip the economists and go directly to the premiere analyst of the Great Depression, James M. Cain.  His 1943 novel Double Indemnity (originally a 1936 serial that ran in Liberty) explains far better than spreadsheets the moral origins of our present financial misadventure. Cain once remarked...

Under an Honorable Spell
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Under an Honorable Spell

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2 Produced and distributed by Warner Brothers Pictures Directed by David Yates Screenplay by Steve Kloves, from J.K. Rowling’s novel   I took my son Liam to the first Harry Potter movie ten years ago, so I thought it only proper to let him take me to the...

Modernists Amuck
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Modernists Amuck

The Tree of Life Produced by Cottonwood Pictures and River Road Entertainment Written and directed by Terrence Malick Distributed by Fox Searchlight Entertainment Midnight in Paris Produced by Letty Aronson Written and directed by Woody Allen Distributed by Sony Pictures Classics   Evelyn Waugh once remarked that, while reading Ulysses, one could watch James Joyce...

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Shouldering On

Atlas Shrugged: Part I Produced by The Strike Productions Directed by Paul Johansson Screenplay by John Aglialoro and Brian Patrick O’Toole from Ayn Rand’s novel Distributed by Rocky Mountain Pictures   Now we know: When it comes to celebrating the virtues of unbridled capitalism, it does not pay to skimp.  The ten million dollars producer...

The First and Final Command
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The First and Final Command

Of Gods and Men Produced by Why Not Productions and Armada Films Directed and written by Xavier Beauvois Distributed by Sony Pictures Classics   Director Xavier Beauvois’s Of Gods and Men quietly, one might say austerely, meditates on the faith and courage of nine French Trappists who faced death at the hands of Muslim fanatics...

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Three From the Past

Unknown Produced by Studio Canal Directed by Jaume Collet-Serra Screenplay by Oliver Butcher and Stephen Cornwell Distributed by Warner Bros. Adjustment Bureau Produced and distributed by Universal Pictures  Directed and written by George Nolfi, adapted from “Adjustment Team,” a story by Philip K. Dick Limitless Produced and distributed by Relativity Media  Directed by Neil Burger...

It’s a Bird
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It’s a Bird

The Eagle Produced and distributed by Focus Features Directed by Kevin Macdonald  Screenplay by Jeremy Brock    There’s this to be said for director Kevin Macdonald’s The Eagle, set in Roman-occupied Britain circa a.d. 140: It’s remarkably unpretentious.  It was made for a mere $24 million at a time when even the most ordinary Hollywood...

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The Grit and the Gritless

True Grit Produced and distributed by Paramount Pictures Written and directed by Joel and Ethan Coen  The Green Hornet Produced and distributed by Columbia Pictures Directed by Michel Gondry Screenplay by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg  The King’s Speech Produced by See-Saw Films  Directed by Tom Hooper  Screenplay by David Seidler  Distributed by The Weinstein...

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Mortal Terror

The Fighter Produced by Mark Wahlberg and David Hoberman Directed by David O. Russell Screenplay by Scott Silver, Paul Tamasy, and Eric Johnson Distributed by Paramount Pictures 127 Hours Produced and directed by Danny Boyle Screenplay by Danny Boyle and Simon Beaufoy Distributed by Fox Searchlight   Mark Wahlberg produced The Fighter and convincingly plays...

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Neocon Follies

Doug Liman has performed half a public service with his new film, Fair Game.  By retelling the story of the neoconservative attack on Amb. Joseph Wilson and his wife, Valerie Plame, he has once more exposed how eager these ideologues are to destroy anyone who gets in their way.  Unfortunately, he stops short of reaching...

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Include Me Out

The Social Network concerns Mark Zuckerberg and his cybercreation, Facebook, the website that now boasts 500 million active users and has made its “inventor” a multi-billionaire.  On his site, you’re free to divulge your most praiseworthy, intimate, and perverse behaviors to thousands.  Merely register, and you instantly become a star, inviting the scrutiny of your...

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They All Laughed

Farewell (L’affaire Farewell) Produced by Christophe Rossignon and Pathe Films Directed by Christian Carion Screenplay by Christian Carion and Eric Raynaud Distributed by Neoclassics Films   After 20 years, we finally have a film that dramatizes how Ronald Reagan won the Cold War.  Needless to say, it’s not an American production.  In the land of...

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2—D or 3—D:That Is the Question

In 1953, I saw a three-dimensional film for the first time.  It was a André de Toth’s  House of Wax, with that perfect slice of ham, Vincent Price, playing the curator of a wax museum in New York City, circa 1910.  Having gone bats after a fire destroyed his original establishment, Price decides he can...

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Advertising Himself

Inception Written and directed by Christopher Nolan Produced and distributed by Warner Brothers   It took me a while, but I finally realized what Christopher Nolan’s Inception is all about.  Simply put, it’s about how it got to be itself.  Or, to be less gnomic, Nolan has undertaken to advertise his own moviemaking skills in...

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The Last Gasp

Breathless (À bout de souffle) Produced by Les Productions Georges de Beauregard Written and directed by Jean-Luc Godard Distributed by Rialto Pictures   This past May, French director Jean-Luc Godard’s first feature film, Breathless (À bout de souffle), was rereleased in a new print on its 50th anniversary.  It was briefly screened in various American...