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
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 β€” 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 β€” 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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Movie Reviews
3:02 pm
Wed August 28, 2013

Dark Wings Over Tokyo, With A Dash Of Feline Mystery To Finish

More than 20,000 crows, by recent estimates, live alongside the 13 million human inhabitants of Tokyo; Tokyo Waka tells their story β€” and meditates on the meaning of their persistence in one of the world's greatest cities.
Stylo Films

Originally published on Tue August 27, 2013 5:14 pm

Western movies usually film Tokyo through a lens clouded by preconceived notions. California documentarians John Haptas and Kristine Samuelson sidestep that pitfall by downplaying human views. Their Tokyo Waka: A City Poem looks at the Japanese megalopolis from the vantage point of its abundant crows.

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Movie Reviews
12:24 pm
Wed August 21, 2013

Good Vs. Evil, Once More With (So Much) Feeling

Jace helps Clary as she sets about uncovering the truth about her unsuspected heritage as one of the chosen few who defend humans from things supernatural, and also he is pretty and blond and dreamy and distracting.
Rafy Sony/Screen Gems

Originally published on Fri August 23, 2013 12:22 pm

It's time for mom and Clary to have the talk.

No, not that talk. Jocelyn (Lena Headey) needs to tell teenage Clary (Lily Collins) about angels and demons, vampires and werewolves, magic chalices and sacred blood β€” not to mention hidden sanctuaries, interdimensional portals, the identity of her father and the existence of an unknown brother. Plus something nutty about J.S. Bach.

No wonder she's been putting it off.

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Movie Reviews
8:08 pm
Sat August 17, 2013

Lives And History, Through The Eyes Of Big And Small

Forest Whitaker turns in a reserved performance as Cecil Gaines, butler to eight U.S. presidents, including Robin Williams' Dwight D. Eisenhower, in a Lee Daniels drama based on the true story of a White House veteran.
Anne Marie Fox The Weinstein Co.

Originally published on Thu August 15, 2013 5:59 pm

In their approaches to history, Joshua Michael Stern's Jobs and Lee Daniels' The Butler could hardly be less similar. The former is an example of Victorian-style great-man biography, updated for the iThings era. The latter observes monumental events, mostly involving the civil rights movement, from an Everyman's perspective.

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Movie Reviews
12:40 pm
Tue August 13, 2013

'Deep Throat's' Lovelace, And The Linda She Used To Be

Amanda Seyfried plays girl-next-door porn star Linda Lovelace, who'd become a sensation in 1972's Deep Throat but later denounce her manager-husband (Peter Sarsgaard) as abusive and manipulative.
Dale Robinette Radius TWC

Originally published on Fri August 9, 2013 10:25 am

Cinema routinely peddles images of beautiful people in romantic situations, not to mention gauzily idealized visions of passion and intimacy. So it's a little counterintuitive when filmmakers depict sex as perilous β€” even when that's exactly what they've signed up to do.

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Movie Reviews
5:13 pm
Wed August 7, 2013

Washington, Wahlberg Are Bad Boys, And Whatcha Gonna Do?

Bobby and Stig (Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg) are two hypermacho hoods who've teamed up to rob a bank β€” but wait, are they really the bad guys they say they are?
Patti Perret Universal

Originally published on Thu August 1, 2013 4:53 pm

Hypermacho but tongue-in-cheek, the first 20 minutes of 2 Guns are enormous fun. Tough guys Bobby and Stig (Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg) bicker and flirt β€” with a pretty diner waitress, and with each other β€” while casing a small-town Texas bank.

Then they set the diner on fire, don masks, and knock over the bank for $43 million, all while taking care to save any cops from getting hurt and even kissing an available baby. The heist, it would seem, has gone according to plan. Yet something's a little off.

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Movie Reviews
5:11 pm
Wed August 7, 2013

Beyond Earth's Gravity, A Space Opera Goes Flat

Daniel Luxembourg (Christian Camargo) is chief scientist on a doomed mission to one of Jupiter's moons in Europa Report, a found-footage whatdunnit with sci-fi-thriller ambitions.
Magnolia

Originally published on Thu August 1, 2013 4:03 pm

In space, not many people can hear you scream. In fact, traveling in a manned spacecraft is probably a bit like working on a soundproof movie set β€” which is plainly where Europa Report was shot.

Tricked up with split screens and digital-video glitchery, this low-budget sci-fi saga emphasizes the claustrophobia and monotony of a long journey beyond Earth's gravity. But it also borrows gambits from horror movies, withholding information and eliminating characters one by one.

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Movie Reviews
10:53 am
Tue July 30, 2013

Crime And Punishment, Mainland China Style

When it is discovered that Timmy Choi (Louis Koo) has been manufacturing meth, he's sentenced to death and put in the custody of Capt. Zhang. His only shot at redemption? Helping Zhang shut down his cartel.
Variance

Originally published on Thu July 25, 2013 5:13 pm

Hong Kong action-crime maestro Johnnie To makes films about good and evil, but he's not in the habit of neatly distinguishing the two. So he might seem at a disadvantage in mainland China, where the censors don't tolerate moral ambiguity. With the canny Drug War, however, the director proves himself entirely up to the challenge.

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Movie Reviews
10:40 am
Fri July 12, 2013

Adam Sandler, Insisting Again That He's A Really Great Guy

Improbably or not, Salma Hayek (left) and Adam Sandler (far right) are a couple again in Grown Ups 2. Billed as a comedy, the film also features Kevin James, Alexys Nicole Sanchez, Chris Rock, Maria Bello and David Spade, who in this scene are all pretending to laugh at something that in all likelihood involves poo.
Tracy Bennett Sony Pictures

Originally published on Thu July 11, 2013 4:03 pm

Two decades ago, when stupid Hollywood comedies were relatively smart, they lampooned their own sequelitis with titles like Hot Shots! Part Deux. The genre has become less knowing since then, so the follow-up to 2010's Grown Ups is named simply Grown Ups 2.

Grown Ups Minus 2 would be more apt.

Like its predecessor, this is a vehicle for Adam Sandler, his pals and whatever they think they can get away with. That means some creepy sexual insinuations, if not so many as the first time.

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