Mark Jenkins

Mark Jenkins reviews movies for NPR.org, as well as for reeldc.com, which covers the Washington, D.C., film scene with an emphasis on art, foreign and repertory cinema.

Jenkins spent most of his career in the industry once known as newspapers, working as an editor, writer, art director, graphic artist and circulation director, among other things, for various papers that are now dead or close to it.

He covers popular and semi-popular music for The Washington Post, Blurt, Time Out New York, and the newsmagazine show Metro Connection, which airs on member station WAMU-FM.

Jenkins is co-author, with Mark Andersen, of Dance of Days: Two Decades of Punk in the Nation's Capital. At one time or another, he has written about music for Rolling Stone, Slate, and NPR's All Things Considered, among other outlets.

He has also written about architecture and urbanism for various publications, and is a writer and consulting editor for the Time Out travel guide to Washington. He lives in Washington.

Movie Reviews
5:03 pm
Thu March 20, 2014

It's Faction Against Faction In A Grim Future Chicago

Tris (Shailene Woodley) and Four (Theo James) train hard as part of the warrior faction Dauntless in Divergent, based on the novel by Veronica Roth.
Jaap Buitendijk Summit Entertainment

The latest teen-girl fiction series to become a movie franchise, Divergent delivers adolescent viewers some bad news and some good news. The bad is that the dystopian future will be just like high school, with kids divided into rigid cliques. The good is that adulthood will be just like high school, so teens face no major surprises.

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Movie Reviews
5:03 pm
Thu February 27, 2014

In 'Stalingrad,' Where The Fog Of War Is Plenty Thick

Teenage civilian Katya (Mariya Smolnikova) shares a ruined apartment with a gang of Soviet soldiers during the battle of Stalingrad in Fedor Bondarchuk's Stalingrad.
Sony Pictures

If you're only going to see one film about the Battle of Stalingrad — and there are many — Stalingrad would be the wrong choice. Russian director Fedor Bondarchuk's treatment of the World War II turning point is shallow and contrived, if sometimes impressively staged. The movie wins points, however, for sheer wackiness.

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Movie Reviews
5:03 pm
Thu November 8, 2012

'Dangerous Liaisons' Gets A Far-East Makeover

Xie Yifan (Jang Dong-gun) sets out to seduce a young widow, Du Fenyu (Zhang Ziyi), at the behest of his former flame.
Well Go USA

Relocating Dangerous Liaisons, the 18th-century French erotic intrigue, to 1930s Shanghai is a bold move. And yet it's not especially surprising. In Chinese movies, that city in that decade frequently serves as shorthand for decadence. And what could be more decadent than two debauched ex-lovers cold-heartedly planning to destroy the innocence of not one but two virtuous women?

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Movie Reviews
5:03 pm
Thu October 11, 2012

A 'Big Picture' Intently Focused On The Details

Paul (Romain Duris), an aspiring photographer, assumes another man's identity to escape his job, marriage and dull life.
MPI Media Group

The original French title of The Big Picture — an adaptation of a novel by American expatriate writer Douglas Kennedy — means "the man who wanted to live his life." That's pointedly ironic, since this existential thriller is about a person who seeks personal freedom by becoming somebody else.

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Movie Reviews
5:03 pm
Thu June 21, 2012

The Visible Costs Of The Military's 'Invisible War'

Kori Cioca is the linking thread among many stories in The Invisible War. Kirby Dick's documentary reveals a shocking culture of sexual assault in the U.S. military.
Cinedigm/Docurama Films

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.

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Movie Reviews
5:03 pm
Thu June 21, 2012

Two Couples Bunk Up For 'A Burning Hot Summer'

in Philippe Garrel's A Burning Hot Summer, Angele (Monica Bellucci) and Frederic (Louis Garrel) make up the more tempestuous of two couples living together in Rome.
IFC Films

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.

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Movie Reviews
5:03 pm
Thu June 14, 2012

Under His Parents' Shadow, Both On And Off Screen

In Americano, Martin (Mathieu Demy) goes on the road to Tijuana in search of Lola (Salma Hayek), who is supposed to inherit Martin's estranged mother's apartment.
MPI Media Group

Originally published on Fri June 15, 2012 5:34 pm

In his debut feature, Americano, writer-director Mathieu Demy casts himself as Martin, a brooding French real estate agent who travels to Los Angeles after his long-estranged mother dies. He plans to sell her apartment quickly — until he finds a letter in which she promises to leave the place to a friend, Lola. Martin can't locate the woman, but hears she may be in Tijuana.

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Movie Reviews
5:03 pm
Thu June 7, 2012

'Bel Ami': Period Drama Skips The Small Talk

The once-penniless Georges Duroy (Robert Pattinson) maneuvers his way to the top of Paris society by wooing and bedding the city's best-connected women — among them the influential Madame de Marelle (Christina Ricci.)
Magnolia Pictures

Words, words, words: Novels, especially 19th-century ones, are full of the damned things, which can be an inconvenience for filmmakers doing adaptations.

Directors Declan Donnellan and Nick Ormerod, theater veterans making their cinematic debut with Bel Ami, try to downplay language, which seems a promising idea. But the strategy fails for several reasons, the foremost of which is their leading man.

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Movie Reviews
5:03 pm
Thu June 7, 2012

In 'Patagonia,' Pristine Rivers And A Plan For Dams

The Baker River is one of two waterways that would be dammed in a proposed hydroelectric project in the fabled Patagonia region of Chile. This section of the river would become a reservoir under the plan.
Brian Lilla First Run Features

The way the Andes divide Patagonia, Argentina gets most of the land and Chile most of the water. As shown in Patagonia Rising, a new documentary, the landscape on Chile's side of the border is similar to coastal British Columbia or the Alaska panhandle: chilly, forested, mountainous and very wet.

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Movie Reviews
5:03 pm
Thu May 31, 2012

'Pink Ribbons,' Tied Up With More Than Hope

Participants at the 2010 Avon Walk for Breast Cancer, San Francisco, as seen in Pink Ribbons, Inc.
Ravida Din First Run Features

Provocative yet far from definitive, Pink Ribbons, Inc. is a critique of "breast-cancer culture." It could even be called a blitz on pink-ribbon charities and their corporate partners — though to use that term would be to emulate the war and sports metaphors the documentary rejects.

As one woman observes, describing the treatment of cancer as a "fight" or a "battle" suggests that the disease is always beatable if patients make a heroic effort. The implication is that people who die "weren't trying very hard."

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