Mark Jenkins en You're A Little Flat, 'Boys' For the final credits of <em>Jersey Boys</em>, director Clint Eastwood sends the whole cast into a backlot street to dance to the Four Seasons' most recent chart-topper, 1976's "December, 1963 (Oh, What a Night)." <em>Hmmm</em>, the confused viewer might wonder, <em>perhaps this is supposed to be a musical</em>....<p>The movie is, of course, derived from the long-running Broadway hit, and includes numerous Four Seasons songs. But this adaptation, as reworked by original writers Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice, adds dialogue and subtracts music. Fri, 18 Jul 2014 21:22:35 +0000 Mark Jenkins 64881 at In 'Manuscripts,' A Barred Filmmaker Considers Dissident Art Iranian writer-director Mohammad Rasoulof is known for such lovely yet elusive allegories as <em>White Meadows</em>, but his response to being barred from filmmaking has not been to recede further into symbolism. His <em>Manuscripts Don't Burn</em>, smuggled out of Iran last year, is direct and unflinching.<p>Rasoulof and fellow director Jafar Panahi were arrested in 2010, and forbidden from making movies for 20 years. Fri, 18 Jul 2014 12:56:12 +0000 Mark Jenkins 64752 at All Eyes Turn To One 'Beauty' In Interwoven Tales Of Families And Politics Four stories and at least that many themes interlace in <em>Dormant Beauty</em>, veteran Italian director Marco Bellocchio's latest bid to combine the personal and the political. The central issue is euthanasia, which became a national argument in 2009, when the father of Eluana Englaro asked to end her life after 17 years in a vegetative state.<p>The controversy over the real-life case is the backdrop for the director and co-writer's multistrand drama. Fri, 04 Jul 2014 19:33:08 +0000 Mark Jenkins 63907 at Punk Is Alive And Living In Three Swedish Girls Somewhere in liberal-minded but boring Sweden, two teenage girls begin a rebellion. If the premise of Lukas Moodysson's <em>We Are the Best!</em> sounds familiar, that's because it's roughly identical to that of the writer-director's charming 1998 debut, <em>Show Me Love</em>.<p>As well as being something of a retread, <em>We Are the Best!</em> is a thematic retreat from its predecessor, <em>Mammoth</em>, a well-meaning if contrived globalization parable. Artistically, however, the new film is a rebirth. Thu, 26 Jun 2014 19:50:09 +0000 Mark Jenkins 63372 at Dizzy From Time Travel, Overstuffed With Mutants As the seventh X-Men movie begins, New York City is in ruins, its residents nearly annihilated. Yet <em>X-Men: Days of Future Past</em>'s true plight is overpopulation. The film is so stuffed with characters that including twin versions of Professor X and Magneto scarcely boosts the confusion.<p>The first X-flick directed by Bryan Singer since 2003's <em>X2</em> clicks in its middle section, which mostly focuses on the younger crew of heroes introduced in 2011's <em>X-Men: First Class</em>. Mon, 16 Jun 2014 22:12:45 +0000 Mark Jenkins 62704 at In 'Horses Of God,' A Sprawling Slum Breeds A Violent Act Anyone seeking to establish an incubator for suicide bombers could hardly improve on Sidi Moumen, a slum on the fringe of Casablanca. As depicted in <em>Horses of God</em>, the neighborhood is a place of crushing poverty, rampant hostility and exceptionally limited options.<p>Those burdens alone, of course, were not enough to motivate the 12 bombers who attacked sites in the nearby city in May 2003, killing 33 people as well as themselves. Sun, 25 May 2014 21:42:07 +0000 Mark Jenkins 61420 at 'Neighbors' Just Wants To Be The Gross Joke Next Door Makers of R-rated comedies face an essential dilemma: finding brand new ways to gross out their snickering adolescent viewers. But as <em>Neighbors </em>demonstrates, there's another challenge that's just as tricky: piloting the raunchy scenario to a payoff that upholds the very middle-class values the movie gleefully profanes.<p><em>Neighbors</em> opens in an upscale suburban Anywhereville, where a house is occupied by a standard sitcom couple: goofy, pudgy dad and improbably beautiful mom. Thu, 08 May 2014 23:06:49 +0000 Mark Jenkins 60399 at Travel And Discovery, For 'Ida' And The Filmmaker Who Watches Her Everyone is on a voyage of self-discovery in <em>Ida</em> — the two central characters certainly, but also Poland-born, Britain-based director Pawel Pawlikowski, making his first film in the homeland he left at 14.<p>The austerely luminous black-and-white drama is set in 1962, an era the director can't remember all that well. (He was 5 at the time.) The title character is 18 and about to learn who she is, or was. Sat, 03 May 2014 15:32:28 +0000 Mark Jenkins 59959 at Tracing One Life, Lost In The Desert <em>Who Is Dayani Cristal?</em> attempts to humanize the many who illegally cross the U.S.-Mexico border by focusing on just one: a corpse found in the lethal Arizona desert with the words "Dayani Cristal" tattooed on his chest. The documentary follows the models of several genres of fictional films: the forensic procedural, the road movie, the man-who-wasn't-there mystery.<p>The results are poignant, yet show the difficulties of applying fiction templates to true stories. Thu, 24 Apr 2014 23:43:46 +0000 Mark Jenkins 59343 at The Rush Of A River; The Rise Of A Gondola Although they take very different approaches to the eco-documentary, <em>DamNation</em> and <em>Manakamana</em> are both immersive experiences. In the former, one of the directors is the narrator and an onscreen character. In the latter, the directors stay off-camera (or behind the camera) as they turn a simple journey into a slowly unraveling ethnographic mystery.<p><em>DamNation</em> opens with a recording of FDR, who acclaims the then-new Hoover Dam and denounces those of "narrow vision" who reject major public-works projects. Thu, 17 Apr 2014 21:40:34 +0000 Mark Jenkins 58778 at