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Nick Schager

Film, "Fury": Who Wouldn't Want to Spend Time in a Tank with Brad Pitt During a War?

"Fury": Who Wouldn't Want to Spend Time in a Tank with Brad Pitt During a War?

Conventional but rousing, Fury paints a bleak and brutal portrait of World War II combat through the turret of a battle-scarred American tank. In 1945 Germany, Staff Sergeant Don "Wardaddy" Collier (Brad Pitt) commands a squadron of men (Shia LaBeouf's…
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Film, "Gone Girl": Marital Bliss Gets the Fincher Treatment

"Gone Girl": Marital Bliss Gets the Fincher Treatment

Marriage is a minefield in Gone Girl, David Fincher's expertly executed, mordantly funny adaptation of Gillian Flynn's 2012 novel, about a writer named Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck) whose wife Amy (Rosamund Pike, in a breakout performance) suddenly goes missing. Its…
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Film, "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes": Occupy: Damn Dirty Apes

"Dawn of the Planet of the Apes": Occupy: Damn Dirty Apes

Apes continue their ascent up the evolutionary ladder in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, a sequel to 2011's franchise reboot; like its predecessor, Dawn is more notable for its impressive CG work than its narrative depth. With most…
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Film, "Earth to Echo": Kids Sure Do Love Sending Cute Aliens Home

"Earth to Echo": Kids Sure Do Love Sending Cute Aliens Home

A tween-age hybrid of E.T. and The Goonies distinguished by its found-footage conceit, Earth to Echo details the nightlong efforts of three best friends to help a stranded alien get back home. On the evening before their suburban Nevada community…
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Film, "22 Jump Street": Celebrating the Derivative!

"22 Jump Street": Celebrating the Derivative!

Self-reflexive silliness prevents sequelitis in 22 Jump Street, a deft and delirious follow-up to 2012's TV-show adaptation that mocks its very duplicative nature at every turn. As in the original, directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller (The Lego Movie) indulge…
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Film, "How to Train Your Dragon 2": Once Everyone's Got One, It's Just Not as Cool Anymore

"How to Train Your Dragon 2": Once Everyone's Got One, It's Just Not as Cool Anymore

Everyone and her mother has already trained her dragons in How to Train Your Dragon 2, thereby turning this superfluous animated sequel into a hodgepodge of empty platitudes and aerial mayhem. Having transformed his village into a dragon-friendly haven where…
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Film, "Edge of Tomorrow": Tom Cruise's No Good, Very Bad, End-of-All-Life Day

"Edge of Tomorrow": Tom Cruise's No Good, Very Bad, End-of-All-Life Day

Tom Cruise dies over and over again to save the lives of billions in Edge of Tomorrow, a sturdy sci-fi extravaganza (based on Hiroshi Sakurazaka's novel All You Need Is Kill) that functions like a cross between Groundhog Day and…
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Film, "The Fault in Our Stars": A Teen Cancer Love Story That Skillfully Separates Your Face from Its Tears

"The Fault in Our Stars": A Teen Cancer Love Story That Skillfully Separates Your Face from Its Tears

Teen romances don't come much weepier than The Fault in Our Stars, director Josh Boone's adaptation of John Green's popular YA novel about the budding relationship between two terminally ill kids. Suffering with incurable lung cancer that keeps her permanently…
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Film, "A Million Ways to Die in the West": Seth MacFarlane Continues to Inflict Himself Upon the Culture

"A Million Ways to Die in the West": Seth MacFarlane Continues to Inflict Himself Upon the Culture

Surround Seth MacFarlane with an illustrious cast of stars — including Charlize Theron, Liam Neeson, Amanda Seyfried, Neil Patrick Harris, Sarah Silverman, and Giovanni Ribisi — and he's still a terrible actor. Such is the central problem with A Million…
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Film, "Fed Up": A Spoonful of Sugar Helps the Diabetes Go Down

"Fed Up": A Spoonful of Sugar Helps the Diabetes Go Down

Alternately depressing, infuriating, and terrifying, Fed Up tackles the issue of American obesity with clear-sighted reasoning that makes it the rare agitprop documentary to convince through activist outrage. Stephanie Soechtig's film (narrated by Katie Couric) addresses only one side of…
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Film, "The Amazing Spider-Man 2": At Least As Many Villains As the <i>Other</i> Second Spider-Man Movie

"The Amazing Spider-Man 2": At Least As Many Villains As the Other Second Spider-Man Movie

The demands of developing a serialized franchise take precedence over coherent drama in The Amazing Spider-Man 2, a scatterbrained sequel that's so busy establishing future installments — and the dynamics that will drive them — that it functions as an…
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Film, Enemy film review

Enemy film review

Jake Gyllenhaal is forced to confront himself — both figuratively and literally — in Enemy, a haunting Kafkaesque tale about identity (loosely adapted from a José Saramago novel) about a schoolteacher named Adam (Gyllenhaal) who while watching a movie discovers…
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Film, "Winter's Tale": A Thief Saves a Dying Girl, Travels Through Time, Rides a Flying Horse, Because Romance

"Winter's Tale": A Thief Saves a Dying Girl, Travels Through Time, Rides a Flying Horse, Because Romance

A magic-realist love story that flitters about in increasingly arbitrary directions, Winter's Tale blathers on and on about the interconnectedness of life in a way that would embarrass even its kindred era-hopping spirit, Cloud Atlas. In 1916 New York City,…
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Film, "The Monuments Men": This Time, Ocean's Boys Take on the Third Reich!

"The Monuments Men": This Time, Ocean's Boys Take on the Third Reich!

Rousing history lessons don't come more cartoonish than The Monuments Men, a thoroughly stilted, atonal and all-around one-dimensional Ocean's Eleven-style saga about the experts who joined the army during WWII to save the world's art classics from the Nazis. Lurching…
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Film, "Labor Day": This Drifter Is Your New Daddy!

"Labor Day": This Drifter Is Your New Daddy!

Baking a peach pie is the key to a woman's heart — and a boy's coming-of-age — in Labor Day, a howlingly embarrassing misfire about a 1987 holiday-weekend hostage crisis. Divorced New England shut-in Adele (Kate Winslet) and her son…
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Film, "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire": A Girl Torn Between Two Boys and an Evil President

"The Hunger Games: Catching Fire": A Girl Torn Between Two Boys and an Evil President

The seeds of rebellion take root in The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, an across-the-board superior sequel thanks in part to the stewardship of Francis Lawrence. Ditching predecessor Gary Ross' ceaseless shaky-cam, Lawrence's direction has a clean precision that amplifies the…
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Film, "Nebraska": Alexander Payne Launches Another Offensive on the Midwest

"Nebraska": Alexander Payne Launches Another Offensive on the Midwest

The films of Alexander Payne (Election, The Descendants) routinely walk a fine line between exhibiting empathy and condescension for their characters, and with Nebraska, that balance swings toward the latter. Shot in stark, beautiful black-and-white that amplifies its atmosphere of…
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Film, "Dallas Buyers Club": When the Illegal Drugs Are Medicine

"Dallas Buyers Club": When the Illegal Drugs Are Medicine

Having lost 40 pounds to embody AIDS activist Ron Woodroof, Matthew McConaughey may resemble a shadow of his former self in Dallas Buyers Club, but his outsized charisma — here colored with subtle vulnerability — is nonetheless the spark that…
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Film, "The Motel Life": Down and Out in One of These Kinds of Stories

"The Motel Life": Down and Out in One of These Kinds of Stories

Accomplished direction can't compensate for hazy scripting in The Motel Life, Alan and Gabe Polsky's adaptation of Will Vlautin's novel about two Reno brothers, Frank (Emile Hirsch) and Jerry Lee (Stephen Dorff), forced to hit the road after Jerry Lee…
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Film, "Elysium": In Space, No One Can Hear You Be the 99 Percent

"Elysium": In Space, No One Can Hear You Be the 99 Percent

As didactic as science fiction gets, Elysium delivers an allegory about the haves and have-nots — and the plight of illegal immigrants — that's so blunt, it operates as little more than a cacophonous CG-ified lecture. Working in the same…
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