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Worth a Look: The American (2010)

  Let's hope we will be able to get back to experiencing films like they should be experienced -- in the theaters. Until then, you're likely getting the most out of your streaming services. So in this series, "Worth a Look," these may not be the most critically acclaimed films. But they are still worth your time. The American Three and a half stars Director: Anton Corbijn. Stars: George Clooney, Violante Placido, Paolo Bonacelli, Irina Bjorklund, Thekla Reuten. Rated: R (for violence, sexual content and nudity). Running time: 1:43 “The American” is the anti-action action flick.   It’s about an assassin hiding out and waiting for instructions for his next job. But there are aren’t elaborate, massive shoot outs; no big explosions and only one small chase scene. Even the dialogue is sparse. But director Anton Corbijn takes this script based on the novel “A Very Private Gentleman” by Martin Booth and illustrates a more subdued story, a terrific antidote for
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Worth a Look: Scott Pilgrim vs. The World (2010)

  Let's hope we will be able to get back to experiencing films like they should be experienced -- in the theaters. Until then, you're likely getting the most out of your streaming services. So in this series, "Worth a Look," these may not be the most critically acclaimed films. But they are still worth your time. Scott Pilgrim vs. The World Three stars Director: Edgar Wright Stars: Michael Cera, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Kieran Culkin, Allison Pill, Ellen Wong, Anna Kendrick. Rated: PG-13 (for stylized violence, sexual content, language and drug references. Running time: 1:48. I had ambivalent feelings about seeing “Scott Pilgrim vs. The World” simply because I was teetering on the point of Michael Cera saturation. Could I really take another film where he plays the lovable schlub with the dry wit? Yet, Edgar Wright -- yes he of “Shaun of the Dead” and “Hot Fuzz” – sat in the captain’s chair for this one and those two of his previous films are indie favorit

Great Films of the 21st Century: Up in the Air (2009)

  With theaters still not operating fully, for the most part, many of us have turned to streaming services to watch movies, whether they're new or not so new. "Great Films of the 21st Century" explores the films I have seen in my career as a film critic and consider to be the best thus far. Be sure to check them out on whatever streaming service you subscribe to. Up in the Air  Director: Jason Reitman  Stars: George Clooney, Vera Farmiga, Anna Kendrick, Jason Bateman Rated: R (for language and some sexual content) You could make a case that novelist Walter Kirn and director Jason Reitman deserve a place right alongside literary naturalists Theodore Dreiser and Frank Norris.  Kirn’s novel, which is the inspiration for this screen adaptation, isn’t naturalism in its purest sense. But it does take elements of this philosophy and makes it more accessible.  Take lead character Ryan Bingham (George Clooney). He is most comfortable keeping everyone at an arm’s distance. He’s at

Great Films of the 21st Century: The Hurt Locker (2009)

  With theaters still not operating fully, for the most part, many of us look to streaming services to watch movies, whether they're new or not so new. "Great Films of the 21st Century" explores the films I have seen in my career as a film critic and consider to be the best thus far. Be sure to check them out on whichever streaming service you subscribe to.  The Hurt Locker  Director: Kathryn Bigelow  Stars: Jeremy Renner, Anthony Mackie, Brian Geraghty, Guy Pearce, David Morse, Ralph Fiennes.  Rated: R (for war violence and language).  In an early scene of “The Hurt Locker,” Army Sgt. Will James (Jeremy Renner) takes off a massive protective suit before trying to defuse a bomb in Iraq . The suit is meant to take the brunt of a blast should his attempts fail. Mind you the suit makes him look like the Michelin Man and he’s having to wear this in 100+ degree temperatures.  His reason for doing away with protocol? If he’s going to die, he may as well die while comfortable, h

Worth a Look: Ghost in the Shell (2017)

  This film is part of a group of films I will call “Worth Checking Out” --   films that may not have garnered widespread critical acclaim, but I found them to be worthwhile despite their flaws. The pandemic hasn’t quite subsided enough that we can flock to theaters en masse. So if you’re still staying in and can find one of these films in your streaming service, give these a look. Ghost in the Shell (2017) Three stars Director: Rupert Sanders Stars: Scarlett Johansson, Pilou Asb æk, Michael Pitt, Juliette Binoche, Chin Han, Takeshi Kitano I haven’t often been impressed by films that center around cyborgs. You’re familiar with the term cyborg: cybernetic organisms. Part human, part robot. But “Ghost in the Shell” sets itself apart. It not only benefits from better computer generated graphics than previous films in the same genre, but the enhanced visual technology affords the filmmakers an opportunity to tell a different story – one that allows us to picture the possibilities o

Time Capsule: The 10 Best Films of 2008

  Time capsule: 2008 So 2008, yay or nay? We were in the middle of what would be a landmark Presidential campaign, but also mired in a recession following the collapse of the housing market. The stock market plunged and throughout the year, the rest of the world felt the fallout of this financial crisis, forcing numerous national economies into recession. But there were some pleasant distractions along the way that could give us a little respite. “Breaking Bad” debuted on AMC. Seth MacFarlane reached a four-year agreement with Fox to keep “Family Guy” and “American Dad” on the air at least until 2012. "Mad Men" and "30 Rock" were the big winners at the Emmy Awards. Elon Musk’s SpaceX launched the first ever private spacecraft into orbit, while the Large Hadron Collider powered up in Geneva, Switzerland. The New York Giants became Super Bowl champs by beating the New England Patriots. The Philadelphia Phillies beat the Tampa Bay Rays for the World Series title,

Great Films of the 21st Century: The Station Agent (2003)

  With theaters still not operating, for the most part, many of us are looking to streaming services to watch movies, new and not so new. With this category on this blog, I will explore the films I believe are the absolute best of the 21st Century so far. Be sure to check them out on whichever streaming service you subscribe to.    The Station Agent Director: Tom McCarthy Stars: Peter Dinklage, Patricia Clarkson, Bobby Cannavale, Paul Benjamin, Michelle Williams Finbar McBride (Peter Dinklage) is a little person who leads a rather solitary existence. He has shut himself off from the rest of the world seemingly because he is constantly subject to ridicule, subtle and overt, because of his height. He appears to live in a rather small town and works at a hobby store devoted to model trains. He also belongs to a group that loves to watch actual vintage trains. Despite hosting the meetings of his fellow train watchers, Fin doesn’t seem to be particularly close to any of them. Th