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.

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Movie Reviews
9:25 pm
Sun December 29, 2013

A Wall Street Predator With An Appetite For Excess

Leonardo DiCaprio plays a profoundly corrupt stock-market manipulator in The Wolf of Wall Street, based on the real-life story of convicted fraudster Jordan Belfort.
Mary Cybulski Paramount Pictures

Originally published on Tue December 24, 2013 2:21 pm

Several times during The Wolf of Wall Street, the wolf himself turns to the camera and offers to explain some stockbroker term or strategy. But then he stops himself and says it doesn't really matter.

It sure doesn't — not in this exuberant but profitless bad-behavior romp. It's based on the career of former penny-stock magnate Jordan Belfort, but might as well be about Keith Richards in the '70s or Robert Downey Jr. in the '90s.

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Movie Reviews
5:01 pm
Wed December 25, 2013

'The Selfish Giant' Spins A Grim Modern Fairy Tale

Living in poverty and expelled from school, Arbor (Conner Chapman) turns to collecting scrap metal with a cart and horse in The Selfish Giant.
Agatha A. Nitecka Sundance Selects

Originally published on Thu December 19, 2013 6:08 pm

In Oscar Wilde's fairy tale The Selfish Giant, the title character brings eternal winter to his garden by banishing children from it. Writer-director Clio Barnard's film of the same name was inspired by Wilde's fable, yet is much different.

The original story was for kids; the movie is about kids, but its grim depictions of violence against innocents may be too harrowing even for some adults. Yet the movie is engrossing, and sure to linger long after its poignant culmination.

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Movie Reviews
3:57 pm
Thu December 12, 2013

After Meltdown, Nine Months Of Drift For Fukushima Survivors

After the disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in 2011, the nearby town of Futaba was entirely evacuated. Nuclear Nation follows nine months in the lives of the displaced.
First Run Features

Originally published on Wed December 11, 2013 1:03 pm

"Atomic energy makes our town and society prosperous," reads a sign photographed by filmmaker Atsushi Funahashi for Nuclear Nation. By the time he shows this small-town civic motto, the irony is unmistakable: Japan's nuclear-power industry may have enriched society, but it has left this particular city desolate.

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Movie Reviews
5:44 pm
Thu December 5, 2013

A 'Furnace' Fueled By Manly Malice

When his younger brother disappears after getting entangled with a rough customer, Russell (Christian Bale) grabs a gun and heads out to hunt for him.
Kerry Hayes Relativity Media

Originally published on Thu December 5, 2013 4:03 pm

Both literally and thematically dark, Out of the Furnace simmers with manliness like a slow-cooking pot of venison chili. This is the sort of movie where character is revealed by what the protagonist decides to hunt and possibly kill.

A noble buck in the Pennsylvania woods? Maybe not. A murderous, meth-dealing bare-knuckle-boxing promoter? Bang!

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Movie Reviews
12:59 am
Sat November 30, 2013

A 'Long Walk' With Mandela, But It Shorts His Story

Idris Elba plays Nelson Mandela in a biographical film based on the former South African president's memoir.
Keith Bernstein The Weinstein Company

Originally published on Fri November 29, 2013 6:10 pm

Some movies try to underscore their authenticity by flashing dates, names and locations on the screen. Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom offers some dates and locations, but not much in the way of names. The result is a history of national transformation in which only two people really seem to matter.

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Movie Reviews
12:58 am
Sat November 30, 2013

A Gospel Story, Reframed (Again) In 'Black Nativity'

Jacob Latimore (from left), Angela Bassett, Jennifer Hudson and Forest Whitaker power through the season in Kasi Lemmons' Black Nativity, a Christmas movie musical based on Langston Hughes' gospel oratorio.
Phil Bray Fox Searchlight Pictures

Originally published on Fri November 29, 2013 7:55 pm

Like Eve's Bayou, her best-known movie, Kasi Lemmons' Black Nativity presents a child's view of a troubled family. The latter film is sweeter and slenderer, but that's only to be expected: Black Nativity is a musical, after all, as well as a credible attempt at an African-American holiday perennial.

The original Black Nativity is a gospel-music oratorio, conceived by poet Langston Hughes and first performed in 1961. It pairs the Christian Nativity story with traditional spirituals and African drumming.

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Movie Reviews
5:43 pm
Thu November 21, 2013

A Foray Into The Blood-Soaked 'Cultura' Of Mexico's Cartels

In Narco Cultura, director and photojournalist Shaul Schwarz interrogates the collision of pop culture and Mexico's drug cartels — as personified by bands like Los Bukanas de Culiacan (above), who perform narcocorridos, or songs glorifying the drug trade.
Shaul Schwarz Cinedigm

Originally published on Fri November 22, 2013 2:03 pm

Following police through Mexico's Ciudad Juárez — reputedly the world's homicide capital — the Israeli filmmaker Shaul Schwarz finds mutilated corpses and gutters running with blood. But the resulting documentary, Narco Cultura, is not nearly so vivid as its most gruesome footage.

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Movie Reviews
3:47 pm
Fri November 15, 2013

Alexander Sokurov, Seeking New Shadows In A Dark Classic

The man who makes the deal with the devil, played by Johannes Zeiler, is back onscreen in a new interpretation of the Faust story from director Alexander Sokurov.
Leisure Time Features

Originally published on Thu November 14, 2013 4:02 pm

Siberia-born director Alexander Sokurov is best known in the West for 2002's Russian Ark, a cinematic waltz through the Hermitage Museum that also functions as a primer on Russian history. The filmmaker is an idiosyncratic historian, though, as he demonstrates yet again with a version of Faust that completes his "tetralogy of power."

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Movie Reviews
1:12 pm
Wed November 13, 2013

The End Of The World, As She Knows It

Daisy (Saoirse Ronan) is just a typical teen struggling with boys, family and growing up — and also what might be the apocalypse.
Nicola Dove Magnolia Pictures

Originally published on Thu November 7, 2013 4:03 pm

Because it serves up Armageddon with a side order of teen romance, How I Live Now is not always credible. But as a portrait of a surly 16-year-old whose internal crisis is overtaken by an external one, the movie is persuasive.

For that, credit goes partly to director Kevin Macdonald, but mostly to his star, Saoirse Ronan. Playing a neurotic urbanite who learns to survive in a war-ravaged landscape, the actress is, appropriately enough, a force of nature.

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Movie Reviews
10:24 pm
Tue November 12, 2013

'Tai Chi' Master: Keanu Reeves Takes The Director's Chair

Making his directorial debut with Man of Tai Chi, Keanu Reeves also appears as the film's rich, ruthless villain.
RADiUS-TWC

Originally published on Thu October 31, 2013 4:03 pm

Keanu Reeves' directorial debut, Man of Tai Chi, is basically the anti-Kill Bill. Both movies are quilted together from their auteurs' favorite Asian action flicks, but where Tarantino's was overheated, Reeves' is elegantly iced. It's martial-arts mayhem with a touch of zen.

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