What Disney Princess movies say about gender, culture and romance
What would the holidays be without a new Disney feature cartoon? With Frozen, the studio is in full "Disney Princess" mode—the line of femme-centric fairy tale movies designed to market Mattel Co. dolls, outfits and accessories to little girls, especially now, as the holiday buying season ramps up. A marketing ploy made all the more obvious when the movie is animated via CGI, and all the characters already look like plastic dolls, with their smooth, unlined skin and dimensional shading.
Reading an antidote to war in beautifully acted 'Book Thief'
You need not have read Markus Zusak's bestselling young adult novel to be drawn to The Book Thief. Bibliophiles, in particular, will find the premise of a child who steals books because she is so addicted to reading just about irresistible. As usual with literary adaptations, there's a lot more going on in Zusak's 500-plus-page novel than ever makes it to the screen. But the essence of Zusak's story about a girl whose love of books helps her to survive devastating times—the rise of the Nazis in a World War II-era German town—retains its power.
Sex, poetry and murder fuel kinetic but overwrought 'Kill Your Darlings'
Rookie director John Krokidas knows how to get a party started. The opening moments of his feature debut, Kill Your Darlings, are a kaleidoscope of bloodstained death, a volatile confrontation through prison bars between two attractive, very young men in extreme close-up, and a barrage of spoken poetry. Viewers who may have been expecting a well-behaved, intellectual period drama about the birth of the Beat movement in the mid-1940s have no idea what's going on, but we're suddenly primed to find out.
McConaughey's crusading AIDS patient powers 'Dallas Buyers Club'
It's hard to imagine a less likely crusader in the fight against AIDS than Ron Woodroof. A coke-snorting, womanizing, blue-collar Texan, Woodroof was diagnosed as HIV-positive in the mid-1980s and given 30 days to live—a death sentence he defied for years to become a pioneer in making "unapproved" drugs from out of the country available to his local AIDS community. It's a true story that unspools as a tale of bizarre alliances and unexpected heroism in the pugnacious, yet affecting drama, Dallas Buyers Club.