Tony Curtis, R.I.P.

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I was sorry to hear the news of Tony Curtis’ death earlier today. Always woefully underrated, the star was only Oscar-nominated once and not for his best work, in the 1957 drama “Sweet Smell of Success.” In typical Hollywood fashion, Curtis was nominated the following year for the earnest Stanley Kramer picture “The Defiant Ones.”  […] [Read More]

Porno blackmail in harrowing based-on-fact ‘Daniel & Ana’

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Yesterday’s news included a terrible story out of Rutgers University in which a student committed suicide after other students hid a web cam in his room that caught him having sex. The invasion of privacy in this sort of case is tantamount to rape. In a weird coincidence, just before I heard about the New Jersey […] [Read More]

Arthur Penn, R.I.P.

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Stage and screen director Arthur Penn died yesterday at the age of 88 — his birthday was Tuesday — leaving behind the landmark 1967 film “Bonnie & Clyde.” Penn was already a veteran of Broadway and Hollywood when producer Warren Beatty hired him to direct an offbeat, French New Wave-influenced gangster drama that would go […] [Read More]

‘Human Centipede’: the horror movie that made Eli Roth sick

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Envelope-pushing has been part of the lure of horror movies for many decades. In the 1950s and ’60s there were would-be shockers that were hyped as being so scary that audience members were insured in the event that they should die of fright (no one did). By the end of the 1960s, Alfred Hitchcock’s “Psycho” had upped […] [Read More]

Rent it now: The still fresh ‘An Unmarried Woman’

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After I saw “Eat Pray Love” in August, I kept thinking that the movie touched on a lot of the same material that writer-director Paul Mazursky had dealt with in “An Unmarried Woman” 32 years ago. Except that the Mazursky film dug much deeper into the story of a woman trying to find meaning in […] [Read More]

The sheer authority of Michael Douglas in “Money Never Sleeps”

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What a blast it is to watch Michael Douglas reconnect with the role of Gordon Gekko in the new “Wall Street” sequel “Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps.” The movie is flawed in terms of plotting and tone — so was the first one — but the authority that Douglas brings to his performance blotted out […] [Read More]

‘We Have Always Lived in the Castle’: who poisoned the sugar?

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One of the most exciting developments in the theater in recent years has been the way that serious playwrights have begun to expand our notions of musical theater. Tony (“Angels in America”) Kushner worked on the magnificent “Caroline, or Change.” Doug Wright followed his Pulitzer Prize-winning play “I Am My Own Wife” with the book […] [Read More]

More baggage for Liza Minnelli to carry

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Although there has been confusion about the release date — some say it was last Tuesday, the record label’s press release says it will “drop” Sept. 28 — the new Liza Minnelli CD “Confessions” wouldn’t be likely to find much favor with fans or non-fans whenever it appeared. Presented without the sort of production “protection” she […] [Read More]

‘Spartacus’: somewhere Cecil B. DeMille is smiling

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There is a long Hollywood history of using Biblical tales and adventures in ancient Rome and Greece as an excuse for showing off a lot of skin and indulging in violence that might not go down so easy in a contemporary story. Master showman Cecil B. DeMille wasn’t the only canny director who — when […] [Read More]

The long, downward spiral of M. Night Shyamalan

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How long can writer-director-producer M. Night Shyamalan continue to coast on the well-deserved success of “The Sixth Sense” 11 years ago? The Philadelphia-based filmmaker displayed great visual style, and extremely clever storytelling in a smash hit that had some critics speculating that Shyamalan could be an heir to Alfred Hitchcock. Sadly, hubris set in almost […] [Read More]