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By Chris Kaltenbach and Chris Kaltenbach,SUN MOVIE CRITIC | May 18, 2007
Movies centering on Alzheimer's are extraordinarily tough to pull off, so easily does the subject lend itself to mawkish sentiment or cheap melodrama. Away From Her, with Julie Christie as the wife fading away and Gordon Pinsent as the husband loathe to let her go, avoids all such problems by never substituting pathos for poignancy, by never insisting on that one big emotional scene guaranteed to shake the rafters, and by relying on an experienced cast to make its points without histrionics.
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By Michael Sragow and Michael Sragow,michael.sragow@baltsun.com | September 18, 2009
Writer-director Atom Egoyan's "Adoration" plays like a post-9/11 talk show done as modernist cinema. All it does is relentlessly pose questions about terrorism, prejudice, family dynamics, the subjectivity of experience, the objectivity of facts, and the speed and shallowness of communication on the Internet. The movie's fractured structure and contrived subplots obscure a potentially affecting story and do nothing to advance the debate on any of its incendiary issues. Egoyan hooks the audience with a fiction within a fiction.
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By J. Wynn Rousuck | September 26, 2002
Philip Yordan wrote his 1940s melodrama, Anna Lucasta, about a Polish immigrant family. But the play is best known in its African-American version, first mounted by the American Negro Theatre in Harlem in 1944 and released on film five years later. Directed by Jennifer Nelson, this version - which helped launch the careers of Sammy Davis Jr., Eartha Kitt, Ruby Dee, Ossie Davis and Sidney Poitier - opens the season tomorrow at Rep Stage in Columbia. The cast is headed by Deidra LaWan Starnes in the title role of a young woman whose circumstances drive her to a life as a streetwalker.
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By Michael Sragow | July 17, 2009
Public Enemies *** 1/2 ( 3 1/2 ) Every time a movie doesn't state its thesis, it's accused of "not being about something." But Michael Mann's account of the last 14 months in the life of Great Depression bank robber John Dillinger raises Maileresque questions about the tactics and connections of cops, Feds and crooks while treating "the golden age of bank robbery" in the folkloric manner of Jesse James films. And as Dillinger and his true love, Johnny Depp and Marion Cotillard really ignite the romantic melodrama - the ending is a killer in a good way. Opening next Friday 500 Days of Summer: (Fox Searchlight)
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By Chris Kaltenbach and Chris Kaltenbach,SUN MOVIE CRITIC | February 25, 2005
Diary of a Mad Black Woman is an uneasy mix of comedy, drama and good old-fashioned religious fervor. The humor, honed by writer-actor Tyler Perry during years on the stage in urban venues throughout the country, is plentiful, but the drama is obvious, mawkish and too sincere for its own good. Still, the movie is so unapologetically suffused with compassion and good feelings that its shortcomings are hard not to forgive. Diary is the story of poor Helen McCarter (Woman, Thou Art Loosed's Kimberly Elise)
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By J. Wynn Rousuck and J. Wynn Rousuck,Theater Critic | February 27, 1992
The Devil's Disciple" is a play in which the great George Bernard Shaw latched onto the lowly form of melodrama and had his way with it.This sounds like a can't-miss combination: The tried-and-true devices of melodrama peppered with Shavian wit and wisdom. Something for everyone.But it's easy to go wrong with melodrama. If you overdo it, it quickly becomes ludicrous.There's no danger of that in Theatre Hopkins' current production, directed by Suzanne Pratt. You realize the production is on firm ground as soon as Mark E. Campion makes his commanding entrance.
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By David Zurawik and David Zurawik,Sun Television Critic | October 16, 1990
"Danielle's Steel's Fine Things" is certainly better than last night's "Danielle Steel's Kaleidoscope." But is it better than the World Series?That probably depends on what viewers are looking for in the way of television tonight."Fine Things," which airs at 8 tonight on WMAR-TV (Channel 2), is NBC's attempt to counterprogram the World Series on CBS, which begins at 8 tonight on WBAL-TV (Channel 11). The very old-timey thinking at NBC is that women don't want to watch baseball and will turn to Danielle Steel in droves.
ENTERTAINMENT
By Nancy Spiller | July 24, 1992
RUBYColumbia TriStar (1992)Rated ROnce again I approached a film starring Danny Aiello with high hopes that the actor would have chosen a script worthy of his talent. Once again I was disappointed.His warm, sandy-voiced Everyman is cooling into earnest shtick. I also watched "Ruby" with the hopes that it would further illuminate the puzzle surrounding the Kennedy assassination, wanting it to be as entertaining and informative as "JFK." I was wrong on that count as well."Ruby" is a study in how not to dramatize the circumstances surrounding that day in Dallas in November 1963.
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By Winifred Walsh and Winifred Walsh,Contributing Writer | March 12, 1992
The mysterious masked figure of Gaston's Leroux's popular 1911 novel, "The Phantom of the Opera," whose ghastly disfigurement has made him an outcast, has been the intriguing subject over the years of a series of sensational films and stage productions.Most notable of the stage works is Andrew Lloyd Webber's Tony Award-winning adaptation.Now a new musical rendition of the enduring tale, boasting an outstanding score inspired by the music of Peter Tchaikovsky, is being staged by the Harlequin Dinner Theatre in Rockville through April 12.Differing from the dark romanticism of the Webber musical, the fresh adaptation composed by David H. Bell, Tom Sivak and Cheri Coons for Chicago's Drury Lane Theatre is more of a broad comic melodrama than a moody, serious story.
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By Michael Sragow and Michael Sragow,SUN MOVIE CRITIC | September 5, 2003
The best line in the hot teen-angst movie of several years ago, The Virgin Suicides, comes when a doctor tells a girl who'd attempted suicide that she doesn't even know yet just how bad life can get. The girl answers, "Obviously, doctor, you've never been a 13-year-old girl." The hot teen-angst movie of this year, Thirteen, boasts a screenplay by someone who was a 13-year-old girl during its writing - Nikki Reed (now 15), who also co-stars - and was directed by a woman, Catherine Hardwicke, who desperately wants to be true to her junior-high-school vision.
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By Diane Cameron | August 13, 2008
Picture this: Your life has just gone down the drain, so you swallow a lethal dose of poison. Just as your nervous system begins to fail, you sing a moving and beautiful song. Crazy? Not at all; just another summer night at the opera. As an opera fan, I'm used to hearing, "How can you like opera?" Friends complain that opera is unrealistic: "Who sings when they are dying?" They imagine, as I once did, that opera is for the old or the rich. It's true that opera isn't for everyone. It's an acquired taste.
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By Michael Sragow and Michael Sragow,Sun Movie Critic | February 29, 2008
City of Men is a lower-depths shoot-'em-up about a pair of young Brazilian men who struggle to walk the straight and narrow even though drug-dealing gangs warp their environment. It's like a James Cagney crime melodrama -- say, Angels With Dirty Faces -- done with documentary flavor and refitted for the hivelike hillside slums, or favelas, of contemporary Rio de Janeiro. Ace (Douglas Silva) and Wallace (Darlan Cunha) are childhood friends who've grown up without fathers. In the course of the film, Ace struggles to be a young father himself, Wallace locates his ex-convict dad, and both get caught in a gang war that sweeps across the neighborhood of Dead End Hill.
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By Chris Kaltenbach and Chris Kaltenbach,SUN MOVIE CRITIC | May 18, 2007
Movies centering on Alzheimer's are extraordinarily tough to pull off, so easily does the subject lend itself to mawkish sentiment or cheap melodrama. Away From Her, with Julie Christie as the wife fading away and Gordon Pinsent as the husband loathe to let her go, avoids all such problems by never substituting pathos for poignancy, by never insisting on that one big emotional scene guaranteed to shake the rafters, and by relying on an experienced cast to make its points without histrionics.
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By Tim Smith and Tim Smith,sun music critic | May 7, 2007
Operatic melodrama doesn't come any juicier than in Puccini's Tosca. The plot-fueling bursts of jealousy, lust and hatred in this work can pretty much take all the emotion you can dish out, and there's no shortage in the Baltimore Opera Company's season-ending production. Add in some fiery singing, and you've got a torrid little Tosca. Saturday's opening night at the Lyric Opera House did not quite hit the ideal trifecta of any Tosca - three closely matched artists, with the soprano in the title role coming in first by a note - but it didn't matter that much.
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By Michael Sragow and Michael Sragow,Sun Movie Critic | December 8, 2006
Abandon hope, all ye who enter Apocalypto. As Mel Gibson tells us in the portentous TV ads, the title means "a new beginning," but the movie returns to the beginnings of movie melodrama. Although it's told in a Mayan dialect, with English subtitles, the movie is just an arthouse film for jocks. Only the surface is exotic: the Mayan empire in its late-decadent phase. Otherwise, it's as if Gibson feels the audience has never seen a film before. The life-or-death jeopardy is so basic, he might as well be filming a good guy trying to stop a train before it hits the damsel tied by the bad guys to the railroad tracks.
NEWS
By Michael Sragow and Michael Sragow,Sun Movie Critic | November 22, 2006
Robert Altman, whose inventiveness and independence revolutionized American moviemaking, has died at 81 of complications from cancer. In March, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences awarded the maverick director an honorary Oscar for his iconoclastic career. He never stopped directing at peak form. In the spring, he released his last movie, A Prairie Home Companion, a lyric valentine to performers of lost radio arts. Although Mr. Altman's films could express cynicism and rage, he was "a major humanist and just a great, great American guy in his candor and his warmth," said director and friend Jonathan Demme.
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By PHIL GREENFIELD and PHIL GREENFIELD,SPECIAL TO THE SUN | October 6, 1995
The Other Little Theater, in its fifth year of residence at the Naval Station on Greenbury Point, has carved out a nice little niche for itself among our local dramatic troupes, and its current production of "The Shame of Tombstone," a hilarious melodrama, is a cute one that deserves an audience.As folks are reminded at the beginning of the show, melodrama is not a passive genre. Viewers must be prepared to ooh and aah for the heroine, and hiss and boo the villain within an inch of his life.
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By David Zurawik and David Zurawik,SUN TELEVISION CRITIC | October 7, 1998
Now what in the world would ever make Aaron Spelling think a series with three beautiful women fighting bad guys would be a hit?No, it's not Sabrina, Kelly and Jill brought back two decades later now that Charlie's found Viagra and decided to reunite with his "angels" and reopen the agency at age 80.But "Charmed" is close enough.It's about Prue (Shannen Doherty), Piper (Holly Marie Combs) and Phoebe (Alyssa Milano) Halliwell, three sisters who are witches living together in San Francisco and getting in touch with their supernatural selves at the expense of any guy foolish enough to cross them.
NEWS
November 5, 2006
The Historian By Elizabeth Kostova In this smart retelling of the Dracula story -- a 2005 bestseller -- a young girl's discovery of a mysterious book, blank save for a sinister woodcut of a dragon, impels her father to divulge, reluctantly, details of his vampire-hunting days back in grad school. Halfway through his tale, which is told over several sessions in various atmospheric European locations, he vanishes. His daughter's quest to find him is interwoven with letters that reveal the past in full.
SPORTS
By JOHN EISENBERG | September 30, 2006
In the middle of Wednesday's Terrell Owens melodrama, the Ravens opened their locker room for interviews. Reporters rushed in and asked players about Owens instead of the Ravens' upcoming game against the San Diego Chargers. It was a familiar scene. Over the years, the Ravens have endured more than their share of off-field controversies that dominated conversations and distracted players. The difference this time, of course, was it was another team's player, not a Raven, who was making the wrong kind of news.
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