Jason Blair
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Jason Blair

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Category: Film4

Year: 20091 20083

Popularity: Most Viewed Most Commented On Most Shared

Recent Articles

  • The Great Escape: Quiet baseball drama is a champ

      It's actually a baseball movie...Sugar, the new film by the directors of Half Nelson, begins and ends with our hero atop a pitcher's mound. Tucked in between is a minor league season, one that elapses with all the boredom and fury you'd expect from a modern baseball drama. But baseball is a side attraction in Sugar, as mature and empathetic as any sports flick in recent memory. In the era of Eastbound and Down - HBO's terrific spoof of a clueless ex-pro baseballer - we can expect a glut of baseball satire, given what the game has done to itself. Meanwhile, Sugar has other scores to settle. It's about how easily undone are the dreams of being among the best at something, and how in order to be the best, it can be necessary to leave those we love behind. Sugar works as an immigrant saga, a coming-of-age story and a coming-down-to-earth cautionary tale. In short, Sugar is pure and honest, which is more than we can say for baseball itself.
  • The Late Ones: Two siblings care for the father who never did

      Nothing like a good ol' fashioned awkward moment...The Savages, the title of which refers to the characters' names as well as their predicament, is not, as luck would have it, another bleak film about people behaving badly. It can't avoid being a grim picture in places, what with its subject matter - the death of a parent by dementia - likely to provoke nearly universal feelings of dread. But writer/director Tamara Jenkins (Slums of Beverly Hills) presents The Savages as a tale of survival, one in which Wendy (Laura Linney) and her brother Jon (Philip Seymour Hoffman) reshuffle their lives when the father who abandoned them can no longer care for himself. It's a savage undertaking, to be sure, but Jenkins isn't interested in death as much as how death reorganizes the lives it doesn't take.
  • Charlie Wilson's War

    Pretty Woman II: Dirty DebutantesEarly in Charlie Wilson's War, a speaker intones that without Charlie Wilson, history "would be largely and sadly different." Whether history
      Pretty Woman II: Dirty DebutantesEarly in Charlie Wilson's War, a speaker intones that without Charlie Wilson, history "would be largely and sadly different." Whether history would be largely different without Wilson - a U.S. Congressman from Texas for 25 years - is debatable but probably accurate, but the reference to sadness caught my attention. Wilson, a buoyant rascal, elevated revelry to an art form, so whether history would have been gloomier without him is beyond a shadow of a doubt. What makes the story of Charlie Wilson's War so irresistible is how a scoundrel and hard-drinking womanizer like Wilson (Tom Hanks) stumbles into the crossroads of history and, once there, has the good sense to stand his ground. What makes Charlie Wilson's War one of the year's best films is how artfully the screenplay plays Wilson's weaknesses into strengths.
  • Claws Out: Nothing Hurts You Like Family

    Among the best films of 2005 was The Squid and the Whale, a dark drama that happens to be wickedly funny. If it leans a
      Among the best films of 2005 was The Squid and the Whale, a dark drama that happens to be wickedly funny. If it leans a little heavily on Wes Anderson (Rushmore), it at least gives fans of Anderson a director to lionize in Noah Baumbach. Produced by Anderson, with whom Baumbach wrote The Life Aquatic, The Squid and the Whale is the story of Baumbach's parents' divorce, a bitter breakup told from the children's point of view. From the perspective of two awkward, bemused teenage boys, the arrogance and stubbornness of their parents - rival writers - feels unexpectedly light and whimsical. The script earned Baumbach an Oscar nomination and a number of passionate supporters. Now his follow-up, Margot at the Wedding, arrives with little fanfare but great expectations.

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