Movie Review

Veteran movie reviewer Jim Erickson shares his no-holds-barred opinions on Hollywood's best efforts. Tune in every Thursday for the latest review.

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August: Osage County suffers only from too-close similarity to an all-time classic, Eugene O’Neill’s Long Day’s Journey into Night, filmed by director Sidney Lumet with Ralph Richardson and Katharine Hepburn in 1962.

Again we have the story of a disharmonious family revealing its emotional strains during a short reunion, with startling revelations of character but no real plot, made notable by excellent writing and marvelous acting, with this time a touch of unnecessary melodrama toward the end.

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Her is certainly one of the most unusual love stories ever filmed, with Scarlett Johansson as a computer voice and an unrecognizable Joaquin Phoenix as a sort of nerd who falls in love with her, with Rooney Mara and Olivia Wilde in little support parts, and Amy Adams very effective in not much more.

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Nebraska is a terrific movie, and not just because of Bruce Dern's Oscar-worthy performance, which is unlike anything I've ever seen before.

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The Wolf of Wall Street is a welcome return to those old-time movies such as Bette Davis used to recommend, in which all the colors are a little brighter than real life, the Ferraris are spanking new, the women are drop-dead gorgeous, the clothes are the peak of fashion, and everything from the tableware to the picture windows are sparkling clean.

In other words, everything is a little more exciting than real life.

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American Hustle is an old-fashioned intrigue comedy in the tradition of The Sting, but with more concentration on complications of plot, as smart crooks eventually outsmart themselves-- if you read the story that way.

It starts with Christian Bale in charge of a fair-sized scam, and then his partner, Amy Adams, more or less takes over, and then a rather dubious FBI man played by Bradley Cooper gets involved, and from there we proceed to complications that eventually pretty much left me behind.

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The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug is a visual delight and a miracle of special effects and CGI.

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Out of the Furnace is rated by Entertainment Weekly as the eighth-best movie of the year, and it is well written, well photographed, well acted, and generally worth a lot of praise. It is a serious drama for grownup audiences.

But it is also thoroughly unpleasant, with unsympathetic characters, occasional ugly violence and some artsy camerawork that implies subtlety that isn't there.

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To start with, two bits of advice: if you like grownup, realistic character drama, by all means, see Philomena. And if you have a hearing problem like mine, ask to borrow a pair of earphones the theater has that will enable you to adjust the sound to the volume you need. Because a lot of the dialogue is murmured or even whispered, very confidential, and what I could hear of it convinced me that I wished I could hear it all.

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Dallas Buyers Club is built on the unusual premise of an apparently bad guy being seduced by circumstances into acting like a good guy whether his heart is in it or not.

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All Is Lost is just Robert Redford and his boat, period.

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