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
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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Movie Reviews
9:07 pm
Tue November 12, 2013

'The Square': Egypt In Crisis, And Its People In Focus

The documentary follows the political turmoil in Egypt since 2011 but focuses on the story of just a handful of young revolutionaries, among them Ahmed Hassan.
Noujaim Films

Originally published on Thu October 24, 2013 4:03 pm

Several times during The Square, Jehane Noujaim's account of Egypt's unfinished revolution, the camera gazes down on Tahrir Square, teeming with multitudes. Yet ultimately, one of the principal appeals of the D.C.-born Egyptian-American filmmaker's documentary is its intimacy.

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Movie Reviews
11:40 am
Fri October 18, 2013

Punk History, Embroidered Here And There

Malin Akerman, who plays Blondie singer Debbie Harry, is just one of many actors and musicians lip-syncing to the tracks of '70s punk legends in the loose but lively CBGB.
Beau Giann XLrator Media

Originally published on Fri October 11, 2013 2:54 pm

Loose, lively and agreeably unsolemn, the alt-culture biopic CBGB is an account of that Manhattan punk-rock crucible whose audience will likely be even smaller than the crowd that actually went to the club in the 1970s.

That's because to really enjoy Randall Miller's film, viewers not only probably need to have experienced the club in its formative years; they'll also need not to be too terribly invested in their own versions of what happened there. This is not a film for purists or quibblers.

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Movie Reviews
1:19 pm
Sat October 12, 2013

A Portrait Of A Modern China Steeped In 'Sin'

Dahai (Jiang Wu), the protagonist of the first of four vignettes in A Touch of Sin, brings a shotgun when he returns to his hometown to seek revenge against corrupt businessmen.
Kino Lorber

Originally published on Fri October 4, 2013 12:52 pm

A Beijing-operatic tale of revenge and murder, A Touch of Sin is the most dramatic and even lurid of writer-director Jia Zhangke's movies. The film festival star hasn't quite become a Chinese Tarantino, however.

Jia pays tribute to Chinese opera and to the King Hu martial-art movies that also inspired Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. The homage extends to the English title, which echoes Hu's A Touch of Zen. But the four stories he loosely intertwines come from actual incidents publicized on Weibo, China's answer to Twitter.

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Movie Reviews
6:27 pm
Sun September 29, 2013

Music Doc Packs 'Muscle' (Plus A Whole Lotta Soul)

Roger Hawkins, a member of the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section (also known as the Swampers), is just one among the many musicians captured in this documentary about the famous town.
Magnolia Pictures

Originally published on Fri September 27, 2013 9:32 am

Most fans of '60s soul know of Muscle Shoals, the tiny Alabama town that produced huge hits. But only the genre's most studious followers will be able to watch Muscle Shoals without being regularly astonished: Even if it sometimes gets lost in its byways, Greg "Freddy" Camalier's documentary tells an extraordinary story.

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Movie Reviews
6:26 pm
Sun September 29, 2013

For Richer And For Poorer, But What Of That Vanishing Middle?

Former U.S. Labor Secretary Robert Reich, now a professor at the University of California-Berkeley, takes a look at growing income disparity in Inequality for All.
Radius/TWC

Originally published on Thu September 26, 2013 4:03 pm

The U.S. financial sector's 2007-2008 swoon hurt a lot of people, but it's been a bonanza for documentary filmmakers with an interest in economics. The last five years have seen dozens of movies about the dismal science, most of them pegged to the Great Recession.

The latest is Inequality for All, a showcase for former U.S. Labor Secretary Robert Reich. (He served under Bill Clinton, who borrowed much of his fellow Rhodes scholar's rhetoric, if fewer of his prescriptions.)

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Movie Reviews
8:20 pm
Thu September 19, 2013

From Lebanon To Israel, With An Olive Tree In Tow

Zaytoun follows Yoni (Stephen Dorff), an Israeli fighter pilot, and Fahed (Abdallah El Akal), a young Palestinian boy, as they travel together and form an unlikely bond.
Eitan Riklis Strand Releasing

Originally published on Sun September 22, 2013 7:27 am

Israeli director Eran Riklis often depicts characters separated by borders. In The Syrian Bride, a Druze woman leaves Israel to marry, knowing she can never return to visit her family; in Lemon Tree, a privileged Israeli woman and a disadvantaged Palestinian regard one another warily from opposite sides of the fence between free and occupied territory.

Zaytoun is different: This time, the director allows his characters to cross the frontier. That makes for a story that's sweeter, but also less convincing.

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Movie Reviews
10:47 am
Mon September 16, 2013

From A Saudi Director, A Familiar Story Made Fresh Again

All Wadjda (Waad Mohammed) wants is her own bicycle — but as Haifaa Al Mansour's film illustrates, that's a tricky proposition for a young girl living in Saudi Arabia.
Tobias Kownatzki Razor Film/Sony Pictures Classics

Originally published on Thu September 12, 2013 4:03 pm

Wadjda is the sort of lovable young hustler we've seen in scores of films — a 10-year-old who wants something and will lie, threaten and cajole to get it.

But Wadjda's familiar premise is transformed by its unexpected location: The movie's protagonist lives in Saudi Arabia, and what she wants, even if she doesn't exactly realize it, is freedom.

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Movie Reviews
5:47 am
Fri September 6, 2013

Qwerty Can Be Flirty, If We're In '50s France

Ses Doigts, Sont Adroits: Deborah Francois proves adept with the titular typewriter in Populaire.
Jair Sfez The Weinstein Co.

Originally published on Thu September 5, 2013 4:09 pm

Devotees of '50s Hollywood comedies could have a great time at Populaire, an intentionally lightweight ode to romance and, uh, typing. But the way to enjoy this French souffle is to concentrate on the scrupulously retro music, costumes and set design, not on the musty fairy-tale script.

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