Woody Allen's slack new movie, To Rome with Love, comes fortified with a fine bit of nonsense involving a shower, a loofah and a nervous Italian tenor who's terrified of performing in public.
Allen repeats the joke at well-spaced intervals, and he's right to: It represents what's best in his comedy, a goofball grace note in which he invites us to join in his delight in the sublime absurdity of artistic endeavor. Around my local screening room, it seemed that just about everyone obliged.
Originally published on Thu March 21, 2013 11:55 am
In documentaries, showing is almost always more effective than telling. But The Invisible War, an expose of sexual assault in the U.S. military, is compelling despite being all talk. Footage of the many crimes recounted in the film is, of course, nonexistent — and would be nearly unwatchable if available.
So director Kirby Dick addresses the subject directly, without gimmicks or gambits. Stylistically, The Invisible War is conventional and plainspoken, from its opening clips of vintage recruitment ads for women to its closing updates on the central characters.
Like the romance it portrays, Seeking a Friend for the End of the World is brief, sweet, funny and sad. It's also tonally uncertain and occasionally foolish, but somehow these flaws never derail the story's wistful pleasures, not the least of which — if we ignore an unpleasant speech by Patton Oswalt — is its pleasing lack of the frat-boy vulgarity that has come to define so much of the genre.
The Last Ride recounts the final days of country-music legend Hank Williams, but it's strangely short on actual information about the singer. We only sparingly hear snippets of his music on the radio, and we learn almost nothing of his past. In fact, no one ever refers to the man by his proper name.
Lovely people, beautiful places, a suicide attempt and echoes of a French New Wave classic — these ingredients seem to promise lots of passion in A Burning Hot Summer. But this existential-romantic roundelay barely simmers, and certainly doesn't scorch.
Veteran director Philippe Garrel's latest film opens with apparently parallel events: a woman reclines naked, alone in a room, as a man guns his car, heading straight for a tree.
Abraham Lincoln (Benjamin Walker) and Will Johnson (Anthony Mackie) in one of the slick action sequences from Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. Lincoln's weapon of choice in the film is a silver-plated ax.
Credit Stephen Vaughan / 20th Century Fox
Abraham Lincoln with Henry Sturges (Dominic Cooper), a friendly member of the undead who trains Lincoln as a vampire hunter.
Two films into his English-language directing career, and already Timur Bekmambetov is spinning his wheels. But at least when the Kazakh director does so, the wheels have glistening silver rims and spin in hyperdetailed, superslow motion, all while the car is spinning through the air in a graceful, arcing corkscrew.
Not since Walt Disney's heyday has an animation company enjoyed a creative — and technically innovative — run like Pixar, now on a two-decade stretch that started with Toy Story in 1995 and continued with modern classics like Finding Nemo, Monsters Inc., The Incredibles, WALL-E, Ratatouille and two Toy Story sequels that took on improbable depth and complexity. Over the years, the only persistent knock against Pixar is its lack of one thing Disney movies had in spades: female heroines.
Want better sound from your home music system? Electrical engineering professor Chris Kyriakakis says it might not be your stereo components that are the problem — it might be your home.
Kyriakakis, who is the principal investigator at the Immersive Audio Lab at the University of Southern California, has spent years figuring out how to make the experience of listening to recorded sound as close to what you hear in a live performance as possible.
A Yemeni army tank fires at positions of al-Qaida militants near the coastal town of Shaqra, Yemen, last week, in a photo provided by Yemen's Defense Ministry. Yemen's army says it has pushed al-Qaida fighters out of towns in the south.
Credit Mohammed Huwais / AFP/Getty Images
An armed Yemeni tribesman loyal to the army stands near a destroyed government building in the provincial capital of Zinjibar last week. The Yemeni military drove al-Qaida militants out of the city two days earlier.
Yemen's offensive against al-Qaida has focused on territory in the south of the country that the militants have held for nearly a year. With the backing of the U.S., Yemen's army has cleared al-Qaida and its allies. But many local residents believe the fight is far from over. Kelly McEvers spent several days in southern Yemen and filed this report.
We're in a Yemeni army land cruiser with a shattered windshield. Our destination is the town of Shaqra, the last town in the al-Qaida badlands before the sandy ground turns into mountains.