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Defender Picks


Film Review: Zero Theorem

Heath Ledger's death midway through shooting marred his Terry Gilliam's last effort. Watching his first work since proved a joyless exercise. Though he's been on a slide since his splendid Time Bandits [1981], the American who worked his way into Monty Python via animation once offered visually unique, deeply flawed films that are fun to argue over. Can anyone who doesn't have a drug dependency really like The Fisher King [1991]?  Is Baron Munchausen [1988] good or just pretty in spots?  Unfortunately, The Zero Theorem, though better than his disastrous Jabberwocky [1977], looks far too much like Brazil [1985].

Film Review: Frank

After a run of crummy movies, Frank feels far superior than it actually is. Brendan Gleeson's son, Domhnall, plays Jon, a wannabe songwriter/keyboardist. Drifting through humdrum, he discovers an unpronounceable assembly of letters announcing the strangest band you'd expect in a Sundance-independent quirky comedy. Of course, Sundance-independent means that Michael Fassbender (lead vocalist/wearer of huge fiberglass head) and Maggie Gyllenhaal (weird electric cat howler/backing vocals) lead the band.

Film Review: The November Man

Now is the winter of our discontent, made inglorious summer by another appalling, jejune movie. Films spotlighting a lone middle-age man kills dozens of people while taking a young woman somewhere should not be produced anymore. Alas, the previews for the disapointment that is Novemebr Man promise at least another two films of the formula. Hollywood now makes movies the same way GM makes cars. Sheer size, tradition and intermittent government assistance keep the assembly lines of shoddy products churning.

Film Review: Sin City: A Dame To Kill For

I must concede I would have enjoyed this second Sin City had it run 20 minutes. The complex visual composition of the movie alone keeps your attention for that long. Credit Frank Miller and Robert Rodriquez for having a specific vision for each scene. I often chide films for being cartoons. However, cartoons take skill to create, and this one has been created with consummate expertise.

Convent Confidential

Review: Saints and Sisters: Nuns with Guns in Old New Orleans

It’s a good thing feisty, can-do sisters Jessica and Jasmine James have a destiny to fulfill. Otherwise they’d snipe affectionately and banter forever, telling one another things each should already know so the audience can find out too. But a visit to a speakeasy presided over by Pappy, an extremely well-informed bartender (and populated by a batty old drunk lady, for fun) sends them to the door of the Ursuline Convent. There, they are ushered into a hidden society of ninja nuns devoted, so they claim, to the protection of New Orleans, presided over by a mysterious Mother Superior and her lackey priest.

Film Review: The Vivian Maier Mystery

If fine art has a consistent ancillary joy, it's finding great talent suddenly, in quantity. Five years ago, a number of storage locker hunters discovered photographer Vivian Maier. While the elderly Maier lay dying in a Chicago hospital, her life's work got divided a and auctioned off. Buyers wanted not her art, but her suitcases, clothes, the hope of finding hidden antiques. Maier had been a hoarder for decades. She stashe ad more and more items into storage lockers until she finally couldn't afford the bills. Her mental illness and penury are the only reasons she's now had a career ascent akin to Diane Arbus in the early seventies.

Head Bugs

Review: Tracy Letts' Bug at AllWays

Ian Hoch is the closest to a chameleon that NOLA’s acting scene has to offer. Although I’ve seen his stage work several times, there’s usually an “Is that Ian?” moment upon his first entrance. Whatever alchemy allows him to shapeshift from handsome to goofy, childlike to malevolent, his elusiveness is essential to the power of Tracy Letts’ paranoid love story, Bug, now in its local premiere at the AllWays Theatre.

Film Review: Boyhood

Blessed Lord Almighty is Boyhood bad: nearly three hours of scene after scene going nowhere powered by tedious, superficial chit-chat. At the two-hour, twenty-six minute mark, Ethan Hawke gets asked "What's the point?" by-then-former-child-actor Ellar Coltrane (perhaps it was the other way around-- I could barely focus on the film by this point). I can't give you a memorable quote in response to this all-too-valid question, and it's a dull, uninspired scene. 

Film Review: Locke

Must everyone mischaracterize Locke? Before I saw it, the poster left me thinking Tom Hardy would give his best Ryan Gosling in Drive impression. Critics classified it with Buried starring Ryan Reynolds. No, no, no: such lazy analysis will never do. Locke has a richer purpose than being a one-man Collateral.  In fact, it's a closer to the play Talk Radio than a thriller or, in one colleague's erroneous description, "a gimmick film".

Southern Styles

Ogden Continues Retrospective with 'Sense of Place II'

“A Sense of Place II” is only up at the Ogden Museum of Southern Art for another few weeks. This second installment of the Ogden’s 10th Anniversary show began in late April and will continue through July 20th. The exhibit is not a sequel to “Sense of Place.” It is a testament to just how much remarkable work the Ogden houses. From the collection Roger Ogden started in 1966, through acquisitions up to its anniversary in August of 2013, the exhibit en tout is a celebration of the Ogden itself. “A Sense of Place II” occupies 7 small galleries on the 4th floor, and boasts nearly 70 works . . . in this installment alone.  

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Renard Boissiere, Evan Z.E. Hammond, Naimonu James, Wilson Koewing, J.A. Lloyd, Nina Luckman, Dead Huey Long, Alexis Manrodt, Joseph Santiago, Andrew Smith, Cynthia Via, Austin Yde


Art Director

Michael Weber, B.A.


Listings Editor

Linzi Falk

Editor Emeritus

Alexis Manrodt

B. E. Mintz

Stephen Babcock

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