Scene Stealers

New reissues challenge views of the Holocaust and man's capacity for murder

Eric Melin

The famous German playwright Bertolt Brecht fled his home country when Hitler came to power, and in 1942 at the invitation of renowned film director Fritz Lang, co-scripted the only screenplay he ever wrote for Hollywood. The result is **“Hangmen Also Die,”** a stirring piece of anti-Nazi propaganda that blends ...

Take a 'Trip to Italy,' and a cult 'Raiders' remake comes to KU

Eric Melin

In 2010, British comedians **Steve Coogan** and **Rob Brydon** had an unexpected indie hit on their hands with “The Trip,” a road-trip comedy in which the actors played heightened versions of themselves — like Larry David in “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” albeit not as extreme. **“The Trip to Italy,”** opening at ...

Hoffman's last great lead performance, and local vampires in Paris!

Eric Melin

Shades of sadness and defeat simmer just below the surface of **Philip Seymour Hoffman**’s subtle performance in **“A Most Wanted Man,”** opening today at [Liberty Hall][1]. Knowing the late actor’s personal troubles while he was filming the spy thriller, it’s hard not to wonder how much of that informed his ...

Why the Blu-ray format is essential to film literacy, and a local 'Triumph'

Eric Melin

At no other time in the last hundred years have there been more movies available to the general public as there are right now. Thanks to streaming video, hundreds of thousands of movies from the dawn of film to today can be accessed and played back on all kinds of ...

Boy to man: 'Boyhood' captures 12 years in 2 and a half hours

Eric Melin

Now playing at Liberty Hall, **“Boyhood”** is the challenging new movie from writer/director **Richard Linklater**, and it follows 12 years of the life of a boy named Mason, who is first seen at age 6. **Ellar Coltrane**, who plays Mason, is the centerpiece of this ensemble movie, but the real ...

A predictable 'I Origins,' and a look back at the greatest movie of all time

Eric Melin

Nothing kills a movie that’s coveted a slow, methodical buildup more than a heavy dose of convenient plotting and characters that over-explain the film’s central idea. Thanks very much, **Michael Pitt**, but I already knew that your new sci-fi inflected drama **“I Origins”** was about the eternal science vs. spirituality ...

A 'Galaxy' worth exploring, and airing it out in K.C.

Eric Melin

**“Guardians of the Galaxy”** may have its connections — however slight — to the Marvel cinematic superhero universe that has been building for years, but it’s not a superhero movie at all. It has way more in common with George Lucas’ original 1977 space opera “Star Wars.” It isn’t quite ...

An interesting 'Ida,' and I loathe 'Lucy'

Eric Melin

There is a stigma associated with foreign films, especially ones that are shot in black and white and set in a historical period that most Americans are unfamiliar with: That they are long and boring and nothing ever happens. I’ll be the first to admit it: It’s hard to get ...

Ebert documentary examines 'Life Itself,' and the library ain't afraid of no ghosts

Eric Melin

The new documentary **“Life Itself”** opens with a quote from beloved late film critic **Roger Ebert:** “The movies are like a machine that generates empathy. It lets you understand a little bit more about different hopes, aspirations, dreams and fears. It helps us to identify with the people who are ...

Great 'Apes' and Guestploitation at Liberty Hall

Eric Melin

When a new technological breakthrough happens in the realm of motion-picture visual effects, it’s often the best thing about the movie. Sometimes it’s the only thing worth remembering. How many times have you walked away from a mediocre film and said, “Well, the special effects were good”? So it is ...

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