Diversions

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 […]

Dr. Seuss spinoff ‘The Lorax’ doesn’t conceal its bias

Dr. Seuss spinoff ‘The Lorax’ doesn’t conceal its bias

For those unfamiliar with The Lorax, the 1971 children’s book on which the new film Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax is based: It’s an environmentalist parable told by a mysterious character called The Once-ler. Once an industrialist, The Once-ler is now a recluse living in a wasteland of his own making. He and his family chopped […]

Arietty’ already Top 10-bound

Arietty’ already Top 10-bound

Even if, like me, you’re not an especially big fan of the Japanese anime style, don’t miss The Secret World of Arietty. We’re only in February, but I would have to have an outstanding year at the movies indeed for this 2-D animated feature from Japan’s Studio Ghibli not to be somewhere on my 2012 […]

‘Moonstruck’ a perfect pick for your Valentine

‘Moonstruck’ a perfect pick for your Valentine

A woman falls in love with her fiancé’s estranged brother. An aging, successful businessman cheats on his wife. These are the plot and subplot, respectively, of Moonstruck, which turns 25 this year. To someone who’d never seen the film, that description might sound more like the basis for a sordid melodrama with a violent, tragic […]

‘Extremely Loud’ gives fine acting

‘Extremely Loud’ gives fine acting

Despite the title, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close is a mostly quiet movie, and for quite a while it keeps its emotional distance, too. The central character, Oskar Schell (Thomas Horn), the son of a Manhattan jeweler (Tom Hanks), speaks in a direct, declarative manner, even when, a couple of times, he raises his tone […]