Diversions

McConaughey lethally convincing as ‘Killer Joe’

McConaughey lethally convincing as ‘Killer Joe’

What happens when the hit man you hire to murder your mother falls in love with your younger sister? That’s the major dramatic question of William Friedkin’s new film Killer Joe, opening this weekend at Camelview. The answer isn’t pretty. Chris (Emile Hirsch), a small-potatoes Texas drug dealer, lives with his mother.  His slow-thinking father […]

‘Super-villainy’ as real in life as in film depiction

‘Super-villainy’ as real in life as in film depiction

Just as it was difficult to discuss 2008’s The Dark Knight out of the shadow of the heartbreaking loss of Heath Ledger, so it’s likely to be difficult, for a while at least, to discuss The Dark Knight Rises out of the context of the horror at the multiplex in Colorado. As it happened, I […]

Spider-man spins a new web of intrigue

Spider-man spins a new web of intrigue

Andrew Garfield looks like a spider—a daddy longlegs. That is to say, he looks like a daddy longlegs with the head of a Byronic poet. As the title character in The Amazing Spider-Man, the young actor, who previously made an impression as Eduardo Saverin in The Social Network, commands an inhumanly svelte torso, like a […]

Pixar’s ‘Brave’ no cookie-cutter cutie

Pixar’s ‘Brave’ no cookie-cutter cutie

The newest Disney princess, Merida, loves to ride her horse and shoot arrows, often at the same time. She has wild red curls and a puckish smirk, and she climbs cliffs in a way that I hope the young audience members of Disney/Pixar’s Brave don’t try to imitate. Merida, voiced by Kelly MacDonald, takes after […]

Solid performances, witty plot ‘Guaranteed’ here

Solid performances, witty plot ‘Guaranteed’ here

Source material for film has ranged from, at the prestigious end, masterpieces of world literature and drama and momentous historical events, down the slide to pulp fiction and comic books to, in recent years, old TV shows and video games and even theme park rides. I suppose it was inevitable than sooner or later somebody […]

‘Color of Stars’ Childsplay’s salute to smalltown America

To celebrate its 35th birthday, Childsplay, the resident theater company for young people at Tempe Center for the Arts, is once again doing a show that isn’t entirely, well, child’s play. “The Color of Stars” is a mystery/drama set in small-town America during WWII, involving both the suspicion and paranoia of such communities and such […]

Taking aim at a moving target in ‘Hunger Games’

Taking aim at a moving target in ‘Hunger Games’

Wild turkeys have been a recurring theme in my life recently. I missed the screening of The Hunger Games, still mopping up at the box office two weeks after its opening, because I was back East. Among other places, I visited a honey farm in West Virginia, where I saw a small flock of the […]

Visual authenticity doesn’t save ‘Carter’

Visual authenticity doesn’t save ‘Carter’

Maybe the highest compliment that can be paid to John Carter, the long-awaited version of A Princess of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs, is that it looks just like it ought to look. Again and again, watching it, I was struck by how seamlessly the filmmakers had captured the visual flavor of the cover paintings […]