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By Chris Kaltenbach and Chris Kaltenbach,SUN MOVIE CRITIC | November 10, 2004
The Polar Express represents a technical advance that could revolutionize the film industry, all because Robert Zemeckis didn't want the fate of his next movie to ride on the shoulders of some 10-year-old. Friend and frequent collaborator Tom Hanks suggested about three years ago that Zemeckis adapt Chris Van Allsburg's streamlined children's classic, the illustrated story of a train taking skeptical children to the North Pole. But Zemeckis, who has rarely shied away from a technical challenge, balked - for reasons that were entirley human.
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By Chris Kaltenbach and Chris Kaltenbach,chris.kaltenbach@baltsun.com | August 28, 2009
From reviving an exuberant 1980s film and TV franchise about singing and dancing high-school students with "Fame," to bringing an all-time children's classic to the screen with Maurice Sendak's "Where the Wild Things Are," nervous Hollywood studio executives are trying a little bit of everything in an effort to weather, and maybe rise a little bit above, these uncertain economic times. Among the heavy guns being called into service: new movies from directors Joel and Ethan Coen ("A Serious Man")
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By Michael Ollove and Michael Ollove,SUN STAFF | July 11, 1997
"Contact," based on a novel by the late astronomer Carl Sagan, begins as wondrously as any movie in recent memory.The first camera shot shows a quarter view of Mother Earth, a cheery, aquamarine-colored ball of clay viewed from just outside hTC our atmosphere. We hear the crackle of television, radio and cellular transmissions and their cacophony of talk and music.Suddenly, the camera pulls back, and we're on the far side of the moon, and then farther out still as Mars skips by and then Jupiter and Saturn.
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By Michael Sragow | March 14, 2008
Horton Hears a Who! and Chicago 10, both opening today, and that international hit Persepolis demonstrate what animation lovers have known for a dozen years. The resurgence of full-length cartoons, like that of documentaries, owes less to technical innovation than to artists' - and audience's - needs to extend the range of contemporary moviemaking. The result has been features that try to slake our thirst for poetic ways of escape - and for transformative visions of reality. Since 2001, when Richard Linklater made Waking Life, animation has been moving on dual tracks, between the jolly, zoolike landscapes of most computer-generated animation - Horton is an ebullient example - and the brooding or eccentric textures of drawn artwork mixed with CGI or hybrid techniques like computer rotoscoping and motion capture, which digitize real physical performances - as in Chicago 10. The earthy, prickly side of new animation found an early masterpiece in Waking Life.
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By Michael Sragow and Michael Sragow,Sun Movie Critic | November 16, 2007
Owing more to the sword-and-sex-play fantasies of 12-year-olds than the traditions of Old English poetry, Robert Zemeckis' Beowulf will allow adolescents to have their cheesecake - and beefcake - and eat it, too. Old Hollywood's moviemakers used to set their toga sagas in Rome when Christianity was poised to usurp paganism, so they could exploit nude milk baths and gladiatorial combat while bewailing godless excess. Beowulf (Paramount Pictures) Starring Ray Winstone, Anthony Hopkins, Robin Wright Penn, Angelina Jolie.
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By David Kronke and David Kronke,Special to The Sun | July 6, 1994
Illusion jumps a light year or two in "Forrest Gump."Many of the effects in the movie -- a quirky, collective-memory history of the past four decades, as seen through the eyes of a simpleton (played by Tom Hanks) -- will easily go unnoticed. These merely augmented existing visuals -- adding helicopters to the sky in Vietnam scenes, circling the Reflecting Pool in Washington with thousands of war protesters, removing unwanted minutiae from the background shots.But the effect that will have audiences talking this summer is one in which Mr. Hanks' character is inserted seamlessly into old newsreel footage and is seen conversing and physically interacting with such luminaries as Presidents John Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon, as well as Dick Cavett and John Lennon.
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By Steven Rea and Steven Rea,Knight-Ridder | November 8, 1991
Bruce Willis, who not long ago said he was going to take a year off from the film business, has changed his mind. With a string of super-expensive disasters behind him ("Hudson Hawk," "The Bonfire of the Vanities"), his new film ("Billy Bathgate," in which he plays Bo Weinberg) plagued with problems from the start, and his Dec. 13 release ("The Last Boy Scout") getting not-so-great word-of-mouth, Willis will try to redeem himself and his box-office clout with a black comedy from director Robert Zemeckis ("Who Framed Roger Rabbit")
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By Chris Kaltenbach and Chris Kaltenbach,SUN STAFF | July 21, 2000
A mystery/thriller starring a gorgeous blonde in peril. A film in which a voyeur hero uses binoculars to spy on the neighbors. A major plot line that turns out to be a red herring. Where have we seen this before? What lies beneath "What Lies Beneath" is a nifty little thriller, featuring a wonderful star turn from Michelle Pfeiffer, that borrows shamelessly from the Hitchcock canon and goes on about 15 minutes longer than it should. Claire Spencer (Pfeiffer) seems to have a bucolic existence, including a handsome, loving husband (Harrison Ford, who seems to grow more wooden with each role)
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By Stephen Hunter and Stephen Hunter,Sun Film Critic | March 28, 1995
"Forrest Gump" proved that nice guys finish first, and that $315 million at the box office carries a lot of clout, as the story of the lovably lucky, but intelligence-impaired Alabaman on a cavalcade through modern American history won six Academy Awards last night.Besides the coveted and climactic Best Picture award, the movie also won for Best Actor (Tom Hanks), Best Director (Robert Zemeckis) Best Adapted Screenplay (Eric Roth), Best Visual Effects and Best Film Editing.Hanks became the first actor to win back-to-back Best Actor Oscars since Spencer Tracy in 1937-1938.
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By Chris Kaltenbach and Chris Kaltenbach,SUN MOVIE CRITIC | November 10, 2004
The Polar Express is like the coolest train set a kid ever had. It's not real and the faces on the toy people don't look human, but it has bells and whistles galore and will take you as far as your imagination allows. Based on the beloved children's book by Chris Van Allsburg, the movie depicts a boy on the cusp of one of the great tragedies of adolescence - the loss of belief in Santa Claus. Just when all seems lost, a magic train pulls up outside the boy's bedroom window and offers him a ride to the North Pole.
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By Michael Sragow and Michael Sragow,Sun Movie Critic | November 16, 2007
Owing more to the sword-and-sex-play fantasies of 12-year-olds than the traditions of Old English poetry, Robert Zemeckis' Beowulf will allow adolescents to have their cheesecake - and beefcake - and eat it, too. Old Hollywood's moviemakers used to set their toga sagas in Rome when Christianity was poised to usurp paganism, so they could exploit nude milk baths and gladiatorial combat while bewailing godless excess. Beowulf (Paramount Pictures) Starring Ray Winstone, Anthony Hopkins, Robin Wright Penn, Angelina Jolie.
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By Louis Sahagun | November 14, 2007
It began as a pagan poem told around shadowy campfires about a hero fighting the monster Grendel, the monster's mother and a dragon. Christendom's world of saints and sinners reinvented Beowulf as a soldier of God and branded Grendel one of Cain's evil kin. Lord of the Rings author and Old English scholar J.R.R. Tolkien reintroduced the story to the modern world in 1936 as an important work of literary art rather than an obscure artifact of Old English language. Since then, Beowulf has been resurrected in graphic novels, comic books, films and stage performances, including an opera and a dance theater production called My Beowulf.
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By Michael Sragow and Michael Sragow,Sun Movie Critic | June 3, 2007
Forty years ago this weekend the Beatles released their epochal concept album Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. Nearly everyone can tell you exactly where and when they first heard it. A second pop-cultural event called Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band occurred 11 years later, in July. With its gloppy small-town-vs.-evil-city story line and Norman-Rockwell-on-acid imagery, it may be the worst rock film ever made. And almost no one remembers it. In 1977 and 1978, producer Robert Stigwood was riding high on the success of Saturday Night Fever.
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By Michael Sragow and Michael Sragow,SUN MOVIE CRITIC | May 6, 2005
Barf-bag baroque - that's the new House of Wax, the third movie about a disfigured sculptor who uses real bodies to make wax sculptures. (The title comes from the 1953 3-D remake, which starred Vincent Price; the original and best was the 1933 Mystery of the Wax Museum.) This version plops the central gimmick into a slasher movie and then tries to improve on past success with excess: Every aspect of the plot gets doubled or embellished with ridiculous rococo. The mad artist, Vincent, now has an evil twin named Bo (Brian Van Holt plays both)
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By Chris Kaltenbach and Chris Kaltenbach,SUN MOVIE CRITIC | November 10, 2004
The Polar Express represents a technical advance that could revolutionize the film industry, all because Robert Zemeckis didn't want the fate of his next movie to ride on the shoulders of some 10-year-old. Friend and frequent collaborator Tom Hanks suggested about three years ago that Zemeckis adapt Chris Van Allsburg's streamlined children's classic, the illustrated story of a train taking skeptical children to the North Pole. But Zemeckis, who has rarely shied away from a technical challenge, balked - for reasons that were entirley human.
FEATURES
By Chris Kaltenbach and Chris Kaltenbach,SUN MOVIE CRITIC | November 10, 2004
The Polar Express is like the coolest train set a kid ever had. It's not real and the faces on the toy people don't look human, but it has bells and whistles galore and will take you as far as your imagination allows. Based on the beloved children's book by Chris Van Allsburg, the movie depicts a boy on the cusp of one of the great tragedies of adolescence - the loss of belief in Santa Claus. Just when all seems lost, a magic train pulls up outside the boy's bedroom window and offers him a ride to the North Pole.
FEATURES
By Michael Sragow and Michael Sragow,SUN MOVIE CRITIC | May 6, 2005
Barf-bag baroque - that's the new House of Wax, the third movie about a disfigured sculptor who uses real bodies to make wax sculptures. (The title comes from the 1953 3-D remake, which starred Vincent Price; the original and best was the 1933 Mystery of the Wax Museum.) This version plops the central gimmick into a slasher movie and then tries to improve on past success with excess: Every aspect of the plot gets doubled or embellished with ridiculous rococo. The mad artist, Vincent, now has an evil twin named Bo (Brian Van Holt plays both)
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By Chris Kaltenbach and Chris Kaltenbach,SUN FILM CRITIC | December 22, 2000
"Cast Away" proves a number of things, all of them good. It proves that Tom Hanks is indisputably the surest, most dependable -- if not the best -- actor of his generation. It proves that director Robert Zemeckis ("Forrest Gump," "Contact") can make a great film, one that doesn't rely on gimmicks or trickery. And it proves that a volleyball can command the screen like no one thought possible. "Cast Away" -- and that two-word, not one-word, title is key to understanding this film -- takes the worlds of "Gilligan's Island" and "Robinson Crusoe" and blows them apart.
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By P.J. Huffstutter and Jon Healey and P.J. Huffstutter and Jon Healey,SPECIAL TO THE SUN | July 20, 2002
NICASIO, Calif. - Oliver Stone stared in disbelief. Here he was, sitting in a velvet seat in George Lucas' private screening room, listening to the Star Wars director foretell the death of film. To Stone, director of such films as Platoon and JFK, Lucas' vision of digital moviemaking sounded like blasphemy. Around him, other A-list directors, including Steven Spielberg, Francis Ford Coppola and Robert Zemeckis - fidgeted as Lucas challenged a century of tradition, warning his colleagues to embrace the future or be left behind.
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By Chris Kaltenbach and Chris Kaltenbach,SUN FILM CRITIC | December 22, 2000
"Cast Away" proves a number of things, all of them good. It proves that Tom Hanks is indisputably the surest, most dependable -- if not the best -- actor of his generation. It proves that director Robert Zemeckis ("Forrest Gump," "Contact") can make a great film, one that doesn't rely on gimmicks or trickery. And it proves that a volleyball can command the screen like no one thought possible. "Cast Away" -- and that two-word, not one-word, title is key to understanding this film -- takes the worlds of "Gilligan's Island" and "Robinson Crusoe" and blows them apart.
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