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4:13 pm
Thu June 21, 2012

Branding 'Brave': The Cultural Capital Of Princesses

In Brave, the character of Merida is a skilled archer and sword fighter who rebels against what is expected of her as a princess.
Disney/Pixar

Originally published on Fri June 22, 2012 12:42 pm

For little girls, princesses hold roughly the same value that tulips did for the Dutch back in the 1500s, and that princess mania is sure to get a boost with the new Pixar movie Brave, which stars a Scottish princess named Merida.

For a keyhole glimpse into the pink and glittery world of pre-K princess culture, consider the scene at a recent princess-themed birthday party in a suburb of Washington, D.C.

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Movie Reviews
4:05 pm
Thu June 21, 2012

Time In 'To Rome With Love': It Doesn't Make Sense

Antonio the newlywed (Alessandro Tiberi, left), Uncle Paolo (Roberto Della Casa) and Anna the prostitute (Penelope Cruz) in one of To Rome With Love's four independent stories. This one features Anna attempting to teach Antonio something about love.
Philippe Antonello Sony Pictures Classics

Originally published on Thu June 21, 2012 5:19 pm

For four decades, Woody Allen's been churning out movies at a rate of almost exactly one film per year, a phenomenon that I'd describe as being "like clockwork" if my whole sense of time hadn't been scrambled by his latest comedy, To Rome With Love.

Pleasantly scrambled, but still.

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Movie Reviews
4:03 pm
Thu June 21, 2012

In 'Brave,' A Pixar Princess At Odds With Her Place

Merida, the heroine in Pixar's Brave, causes much family drama by refusing to get married — and acting more like her father, King Fergus, than a "proper princess."
Disney/Pixar

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.

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Movie Reviews
4:03 pm
Thu June 21, 2012

Lincoln's Life, Stylized (And Somewhat Embellished)

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.
20th Century Fox

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.

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Movie Reviews
4:03 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 10:55 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
4:03 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
4:03 pm
Thu June 21, 2012

Hank Williams Takes A Back Seat In 'The Last Ride'

In The Last Ride, Silas (Jesse James, right) is hired to drive Hank Williams (Henry Thomas) to his New Year's gigs and must learn to stand up to the country singer's hectoring behavior.
Melody Gaither Mozark Productions

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.

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Movie Reviews
4:03 pm
Thu June 21, 2012

'To Rome': Allen, Fiddling Again With Familiar Ideas

In Woody Allen's latest, John (Alec Baldwin, left) begins to live vicariously through complications in Jack's (Jesse Eisenberg) love life.
Philippe Antonello Sony Pictures Classics

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.

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Movie Reviews
4:03 pm
Thu June 21, 2012

Sharing Small Moments While Waiting For A Big Bang

In Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, Penny (Keira Knightley) and Dodge (Steve Carell) help each other reconnect with distant family and an old love before an asteroid destroys life on Earth.
Darren Michaels Focus Features

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.

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The Salt
4:02 pm
Thu June 21, 2012

Kosher: The Hottest Word On Food Labels

This matzo ball soup may be kosher, but that doesn't necessarily mean it's better for you.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Fri June 22, 2012 5:11 am

Grandma's can of matzo ball soup and jar of gefilte fish have never seen such love.

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