54: The Director’s Cut

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dvd of the week Mark Christopher’s 54 was an infamous bomb in 1998. Miramax had hired the young gay director to craft an ensemble piece about the fabulous and scandalous 1970s New York disco Studio 54. But when they saw his very gay film, they balked, forcing him to cut the homosexual sex and trim […]

Clouds of Sils Maria

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dvd of the week Olivier Assayas wrote and directed this gorgeous and slyly cerebral backstage drama about aging actress Maria Enders (Juliette Binoche) confronting her youth. In a play 20 years before, she became famous playing the ingénue who seduces an older woman, whose love and obsession drives her to suicide. Maria is asked to […]

Ex Machina

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dvd of the week Caleb (Domhnall Gleeson) wins a contest to spend a week with reclusive, eccentric genius Nathan (Oscar Isaac) at his estate in a nameless, northern mountain valley. Caleb, slight and pale and stereotypically nerdy, is perhaps more ill at ease by Nathan’s masculine aggression than his genius. He seems more comfortable with […]

Transamerica

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dvd of the week Transamerica, one the best and most subversive movies about transgender issues ever made, starred Felicity Huffman as Bree in an epic performance that should have won her an Oscar in 2006. Bree is an anti-heroine – proud, angry, funny and dishonest. She is deeply flawed and secretly fragile. Without Huffman’s performance, […]

Chappie

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dvd of the week Probably because of how great Neil Blomkamp’s first film District 9 was, critics were nasty that his third Chappie wasn’t as good. But I can’t fathom the hatred of the film, which I thoroughly enjoyed and found politically astute. Like District 9, Chappie takes place in a near-future South Africa ravaged […]

Focus

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dvd of the week In the stylish and slight Focus, Will Smith plays Nicky, an extremely successful and absurdly smooth conman who meets a blonde seductress named Jess (Margot Robie) when she tries to con him and fails miserably. Jess asks Nicky to teach her to be a better con artist, and while he is […]

Jupiter Ascending

dvd of the week It’s hard to claim that the Wachowskis’ sci-fi epic Jupiter Ascending is “good” but it’s certainly entertaining. Mila Kunis plays Jupiter Jones, a Russian immigrant housekeeper who is actually the genetic reincarnation of one of the richest people in the universe. After her death, her children Balem (Eddie Redmayne), Titus (Douglas […]

American Sniper

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dvd of the week Something about the wildly successful American Sniper struck a chord, and it’s not clear what. Pundits argued about its politics, about whether it was for or against the war in Iraq, whether the film is racist or just murderous, whether it’s true or not, whether or not it deserved to receive […]

Fifty Shades of Grey

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dvd of the week Dakota Johnson is Anastasia Steele, a college senior who goes to interview Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan), an insanely successful, absurdly hot and very young Seattle media tycoon who has been chosen as her commencement speaker. Obviously, they’re attracted to each other, but because Ana is not weird or crazy, she lets […]

Still Alice

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dvd of the week In her Oscar-winning role, Julianne Moore is Alice Howland, a renowned professor of linguistics at Columbia University, married to a handsome and successful scientist named John (Alec Baldwin), and mother to three children, slightly petulant Ann (Kate Bosworth), bright and handsome Tom (Hunter Parrish) and struggling actress Lydia (Kristen Stewart). When […]

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