Scene Stealers

'Mr. Turner' not the usual paint-by-numbers biopic

Eric Melin

Early-19th-century artist J.M.W. Turner is now regarded as an innovator, elevating landscape and maritime paintings to high art. But by the time of his death in 1851, his work had fallen out of favor for being too abstract. Director **Mike Leigh**’s biopic of Turner isn’t exactly abstract, but it’s definitely ...

A model 'Citizen,' and why I hope 'Boyhood' wins Best Picture

Eric Melin

Sometimes when the camera is rolling, your true self comes out. So I'll just admit it freely: the scene in **"Birdman"** where the New York Times theater critic (**Lindsay Duncan**) tells Riggan Thomson (**Michael Keaton**) that she's going to pan his stupid play, no matter how good it is, makes ...

Julianne Moore shines in 'Still Alice,' and a showcase of Oscar shorts

Eric Melin

Words are Alice Howland’s life, yet lately she hasn’t been able to string them together to form meaning the way she intends. She is a linguistics professor at Columbia University, but she draws a blank during one of her lectures. She’s also getting lost during her runs and having trouble ...

'Jupiter Ascending' a glorious mess of unbridled creativity

Eric Melin

**Andy and Lana Wachowski** are risk-taking filmmakers with vision that cannot be contained, at least not within the confines of a big-studio picture. After the kinetic, layered unreality of their underappreciated live-action adaptation of “Speed Racer” and the big-theme ensemble of “Cloud Atlas” — which spans [hundreds of years into ...

Burroughs on the big screen

Eric Melin

Much has been written and filmed about author/artist **William S. Burroughs**, who moved in Lawrence in 1981 and lived here for the remainder of his life. But any trace of 1983’s **“Burroughs: The Movie,”** considered to be the definitive documentary on his life and work, had been considered missing. The ...

The controversy over 'American Sniper,' and the uniquely American 'Whiplash'

Eric Melin

It made me grin from ear to ear when I heard the news. **J.K. Simmons**, the longtime working character actor — who is most visible right now as the guy from those [Farmers Insurance commercials][1] — is hosting “Saturday Night Live” next weekend. It is a testament to the power ...

'Foxcatcher' a twisted American dream, and a mini Free State Festival

Eric Melin

There’s a nearly wordless scene early on in the disturbing tragedy **“Foxcatcher,”** now playing at [Liberty Hall,][1] that beautifully sets up the relationship between brothers and wrestlers Mark Schultz (**Channing Tatum**) and Dave Schultz (**Mark Ruffalo**). They grapple with one another during a training exercise at their blue-collar gym, and ...

'Selma' is as relevant as 'Inherent Vice' is difficult

Eric Melin

There are films that are “important,” and there are films that are personal, and it's rare the two intersect. I put the word “important” in quotation marks because that connotation denotes somebody second-guessing what they think an audience needs to see. Most “important” movies have a historical aspect to them, ...

Why 'The Interview' is a legitimate and hilarious threat

Eric Melin

Last week when I posted a news item on Facebook about the controversial film **“The Interview”** being reinstated into 331 theaters and VOD on Christmas Day, my friends were split into two camps. About half wondered if the Sony hack had all been a part of some long-term marketing campaign/conspiracy. ...

'Unbroken' too slick to sink in; local music short film 'Bitter Thing' to premiere

Eric Melin

“Unbroken,” the WWII drama directed by **Angelina Jolie** now playing at Southwind 12, is based on the best-selling nonfiction book by **Laura Hillenbrand** — which itself is based on the extraordinary story of **Louis Zamperini**, who died this summer at age 97. The movie wants to be about courage and ...

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