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.
Despite mangled mythology, 'Thor: The Dark World' delivers the fun
With next year's Oscar race heating up on local screens, sometimes a critic just has to step away from the serious contenders and go have fun. Which for me this week meant slipping off to see Thor: The Dark World, a movie in little danger of snagging Academy gold, but which, after a rocky start, ratchets up the fun factor big time.