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February 20, 2014 | By Betsy Sharkey, Los Angeles Times Film Critic
There are two distinct images that open "Omar. " One is a face; one is a wall. Both are as resilient as resistant - defining elements and powerful metaphors for all that connects and divides us in Palestinian filmmaker Hany Abu-Assad's unnerving new drama. The film first drew attention during last May's Cannes Film Festival where it was the Un Certain Regard jury winner. Now it is in a tight race for the foreign-language Oscar. BEST MOVIES OF 2013: Turan  |  Sharkey  |  Olsen The face is Omar's, portrayed by newcomer Adam Bakri, an excellent find for the filmmaker who relies on him to carry the emotional weight of this difficult movie.
February 8, 2014 | By Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times Film Critic
Documentary filmmakers are known to go to extraordinary lengths to get their stories on film, but few have gone as far as Hubert Sauper. In order to achieve the unusual access to the reality of Africa he provides in his exceptional "We Come as Friends," which premiered last month at Sundance in Park City, Utah, and is screening Saturday at the Berlin International Film Festival, Sauper flew into the continent on a tiny ultra-light airplane he...
February 7, 2014 | By Steven Zeitchik
Early in the development of "The Lego Movie," Jill Wilfert, the executive who oversees Lego's licensing efforts in Southern California, had a question for her bosses at company headquarters in Denmark: Can we have a character die? "It wasn't something we ever had to really think about before," Wilfert said. "But we had to think about it now. " Their conclusion was yes, and it became one of a number of freedoms the company allowed Warner Bros., producer Dan Lin and writer-directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller in creating the most freewheeling and reference-packed picture to come out of film's branded-movie era. PHOTOS: Actors who've been turned down for famous roles "Lego"--which as of Thursday had garnered a rare 100% Fresh score on Rotten Tomatoes and was expected to open upward of $50 million this weekend--is a rare Big Hollywood entertainment with a playful subversiveness, the world's first postmodern toy film.
February 6, 2014 | Meghan Daum
Several months ago, I watched Woody Allen's 1979 film "Manhattan" for the first time since I was in my 20s and for perhaps the 10th time total. "He adored New York City," Allen's character, Isaac Davis, says in voice-over in the opening lines. "He idolized it all out of proportion. " Once upon a time, I idolized this movie all out of proportion. Though I was too young to see it when it was first released, I became obsessed with its Gershwin soundtrack and black-and-white, wide-screen cinematography in high school, right around the time I began romanticizing some mythic notion of becoming a New York sophisticate.
February 5, 2014 | By John Horn
George Clooney and Grant Heslov describe themselves as two of the least cynical people in Hollywood. But when the longtime collaborators looked back at their recent work, they realized the movies had an unshakable gloom: "The Ides of March," "Good Night, and Good Luck," "The American" and "August: Osage County" were hardly films that made you feel better about the world. So Clooney and Heslov decided to change course and put together a crowd-pleasing tale. The resulting work, Friday's "The Monuments Men," is a curious departure for the filmmakers - a sometimes lighthearted account of a largely untold chapter of World War II history that recalls some of the less serious movies about the conflict.
February 1, 2014 | By Glenn Whipp
Woody Allen's adopted daughter Dylan Farrow on Saturday repeated - and elaborated on - her assertion that the filmmaker sexually assaulted her when she was a child. Farrow's open letter, published on the New York Times website, is part of a renewed public scrutiny of allegations first leveled against Allen in 1992, shortly after the end of his relationship with actress Mia Farrow. In a Vanity Fair story published in October, Dylan Farrow (who now goes by another name) also laid out details of what she said happened to her. Allen, who has long maintained his innocence, could not be reached for comment Saturday.
January 30, 2014 | By Gary Goldstein
"The Great Flood," an all-archival clip documentary revisiting the events and effects of the devastating Mississippi River flood of 1927, is by turns hypnotic, playful, wildly evocative and even a bit trippy. But most of all it's a unique, highly immersing audio-visual experience that would be as at home in a museum as it is in a movie theater - and that's a first-order compliment. Experimental filmmaker Bill Morrison ("Decasia," "The Miners' Hymns") has masterfully assembled a collage of silent, monochrome archival footage of this largely forgotten catastrophe - call it the Hurricane Katrina of its day - in which the Mississippi's levees broke in 145 places, engulfing 27,000 square miles of land from southern Illinois to New Orleans.
January 26, 2014 | By Laura King
CAIRO -- A young Los Angeles man working in Egypt as a freelance translator and journalist was freed four days after being detained by Egyptian authorities, the U.S. Embassy said Sunday. Jeremy Hodge, 26, had been picked up on Wednesday at his Cairo apartment by police who also detained his Egyptian roommate, Hossam Meneai, a filmmaker. Meneai was still being held, according to friends of the two. A U.S. Embassy official confirmed Hodge's release, but had no further comment on the case because of privacy considerations.
January 24, 2014 | By Oliver Gettell
Dinesh D'Souza, the conservative author and filmmaker behind the critical documentary "2016: Obama's America," has been indicted in New York on charges he violated campaign finance laws, according to the Associated Press and other news outlets. Federal prosecutors charged D'Souza with directing $20,000 in illegal contributions to be made to Republican U.S. Senate candidate from New York Wendy Long, who lost to Democratic incumbent Kirsten Gillibrand in last year's election. D'Souza pleaded not guilty and was released on $500,000 bond Friday.
January 23, 2014 | By Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times Film Critic
"Like Father, Like Son" is a deceptively simple title for a film of considerable emotional complexity. Its children-switched-at-birth story sounds schematic, but what we see on screen is both meaningful and deeply moving. If you are familiar with the work of writer-director Hirokazu Kore-eda, none of this will come as a surprise. As one of Japan's most respected filmmakers (his earlier films include "After Life," "Nobody Knows" and "Still Walking"), there is a gentleness and delicacy of touch about his work that almost defies belief.
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