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
8:52 am
Wed July 3, 2013

For Power-Pop Fans, The Woeful Ballad Of 'Big Star'

The Memphis pop band Big Star (composed at one point of, from left to right, Andy Hummel, Jody Stephens, Chris Bell and Alex Chilton) would eventually be acknowledged as a significant force among purveyors of power-pop — though not until years after the group's demise.
Magnolia

Originally published on Wed July 3, 2013 9:23 am

In the early 1970s, the Memphis band Big Star played Beatles-esque pop-rock whose exuberance was laced with melancholy. That the ruefulness was earned becomes poignantly clear over the course of the documentary Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me.

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Movie Reviews
8:48 am
Wed July 3, 2013

In Swinging '60s London, A Frisky 'Look Of Love'

The high life catches up with pop-culture impresario Paul Raymond (Steve Coogan, right) and his daughter Debbie (Imogen Poots) when nudie-mag editor Tony Power (Chris Addison) introduces them to drugs.
IFC

Originally published on Tue July 2, 2013 4:33 pm

The fourth collaboration between actor Steve Coogan and director Michael Winterbottom is much like their first: Both The Look of Love and 2002's 24 Hour Party People are antic, self-conscious film bios about impresarios on the fringes of showbiz — soft porn and punk rock, respectively. But somehow the new movie, though it doesn't skimp on the nudity, the cocaine or the Britpop, is the blander of the two.

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Movie Reviews
7:43 am
Mon July 1, 2013

In Vienna, A Gallery Of Hours That Add Up To Art

Bobby Sommer is Johann, an "invisible" Vienna museum guard who becomes profoundly connected to a frequent visitor after she starts to take notice of him.
Cinema Guild

Originally published on Thu June 27, 2013 4:00 pm

During his 20-year career, Jem Cohen has shown his films in museum auditoriums more often than in commercial theaters. So it's fitting that Museum Hours, the arty documentarian's latest feature-length effort, is so indebted to Vienna's Kunsthistorisches Museum. Cohen likes to happen upon stories and images, and the 19th-century Austrian culture palace is brimming with both.

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Movie Reviews
10:11 pm
Sat June 22, 2013

In Tel Aviv, An 'Attack' With Consequences For The Heart

Ali Suliman, noted for his role in the Oscar-nominated film Paradise Now, plays Amin Jaafari, an Arab-Israeli surgeon whose world is rocked in the wake of a Tel Aviv bombing.
Cohen Media Group

Originally published on Sun June 23, 2013 8:28 am

As The Attack begins, the prosperous, successful Dr. Amin Jaafari (Ali Suliman) is missing just one thing: his wife's presence as he becomes the first Arab-Israeli to win a prestigious national medical prize.

Even as the Tel Aviv physician accepts the award, however, his life is unraveling. And by the time director and co-writer Ziad Doueiri's drama is done with him, Amin has lost it all — including his illusion of having a homeland.

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Movie Reviews
9:42 pm
Sun June 16, 2013

'More Than Honey' Sees A World Without Bees

In More Than Honey, Attica Boa's striking close-up photography helps visualize a story whose urgency needs no amplification: With global honeybee populations threatened, the world's food supply could be seriously endangered.
Kino Lorber

Originally published on Thu June 13, 2013 4:04 pm

An amiably shaggy combination of science lesson, whimsical musing and alarm bell, More Than Honey isn't as urgent as its eco-catastrophic subject — the possible destruction of the world's critically important honeybee populations — might seem to require. But the documentary's most memorable vignette is suitably unnerving: a visit to northern China, where the threatened disappearance of bees has already come to pass, leaving workers to pollinate fruit trees ... by hand.

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Movie Reviews
7:17 pm
Thu May 30, 2013

Teenage 'Kings Of Summer' Rule A Predictable Sitcom World

The Kings Of Summer stars (from left) Gabriel Basso as Patrick, Moises Arias as Biaggio and Nick Robinson as Joe. The three teenagers escape from their constrictive parents to build a house of their own in the woods.
Courtesy Toy's House Productions

Originally published on Thu May 30, 2013 4:02 pm

Like the recent Mud, The Kings of Summer is a tale of feral adolescent pals in search of freedom and adventure. The movies even share essentially the same awkwardly contrived climax. But of the two films, The Kings of Summer is more of a comedy, with a depiction of the eternal war between teen and parent that's downright farcical.

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Movie Reviews
7:15 pm
Thu May 30, 2013

Will, Jaden Smith In Space, Without Fun

Will Smith (left) and Jaden Smith star in After Earth, an unfortunately humorless film.
Courtesy of Columbia Pictures.

Originally published on Thu May 30, 2013 2:00 pm

A disastrous father-son endeavor about a calamitous father-son expedition, After Earth doesn't play to the strengths of any of its major participants.

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Movie Reviews
11:45 am
Fri May 24, 2013

'We Steal Secrets': A Sidelong Look At WikiLeaks

Source material: As a virtual prisoner these days, he doesn't supply much in the way of fresh information — but WikiLeaks overlord Julian Assange is very much at the center of Alex Gibney's documentary We Steal Secrets.
Jo Straube Universal Pictures

Originally published on Thu May 23, 2013 6:52 pm

Current-events buffs probably think they know the tale of WikiLeaks and its founder, Julian Assange. Prolific filmmaker Alex Gibney may have thought the same when he began researching his film We Steal Secrets. But this engrossing documentary soon diverges from the expected.

Even the movie's title, or rather the source of it, is a surprise. Not to spoil the fun, but it's neither Assange nor one of his allies who nonchalantly acknowledges that "we steal secrets."

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Movie Reviews
12:09 pm
Mon May 20, 2013

'Bidder 70,' Still Raising His Hand To Be Heard

Supporters of environmental activist Tim DeChristopher picket outside his criminal trial. The economics student ran into trouble with the federal government when he bid on — and won — mineral rights he had no intention of exploiting.
First Run Features

Originally published on Thu May 16, 2013 4:03 pm

In its final months, the George W. Bush administration hastily organized a mineral-rights auction for federal land in Utah, much of it near national parks. Environmentalist and economics student Tim DeChristopher attended the sale and — impulsively, he says — bid on and won 22,000 acres he had no intention of exploiting.

The feds came down on him like a ton of oil derricks. DeChristopher was threatened with as many as 10 years in prison, and ultimately spent 21 months behind bars.

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Movie Reviews
12:08 pm
Mon May 20, 2013

'Augustine' And Her Diagnosis Get Another Look

Augustine (the French singer-actress billed as Soko) was a 19th-century Paris housemaid diagnosed with the then-fashionable condition known as "hysteria" — a catchall used to label many ailments women suffered in that age.
Jean Claude Lother Music Box Films

Originally published on Thu May 16, 2013 4:03 pm

Onstage, in front of an audience, the young woman seemingly goes into a trance, overcome by a power that shakes and contorts her. The commotion appears profoundly sexual; she grabs at her crotch as she writhes. When the woman reaches some kind of release, the spell is broken, and she becomes calm. She leaves the stage to enthusiastic applause.

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