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Review: Depp indulges inner clown in charmless ‘Mortdecai’

Lionsgate photo by DAVID APPLEBY -- Gywneth Paltrow, left, and Ewan McGregor star in 'Mortdecai,' opening Friday.

Any film credited with its own “mustache wrangler” really should have been much more fun than Johnny Depp’s latest misfiring action-comedy. Mostly set in contemporary England, but aiming for the zingy retro feel of a vintage Peter Sellers or Terry-Thomas feature from the Swinging Sixties, “Mortdecai” is an anachronistic mess that never succeeds in re-creating the breezy… Continue reading →

Review: ‘Boy Next Door’ way too predictable

This photo released by Universal Pictures shows, Ryan Guzman as Noah seducing Jennifer Lopez as Claire Peterson in a scene from the film,

No good adulterous affair goes unpunished in Hollywood movies. The latest proof is J.Lo starrer “The Boy Next Door,” a gender-reversing B-movie spin on “Fatal Attraction” that sets suburban family values against that one night of misguided, irresistible passion. An economically told popcorn pic built from horror-movie tropes, the film stars Jennifer Lopez and Ryan Guzman as, respectively,… Continue reading →

New movies in New Orleans this week, Jan. 22-29, 2015

Photo provided by Lucasfilm -- Dawn (voice of Meredith Anne Bull) and her sister Marianne (Evan Rachel Wood) are shown in a scene from 'Strange Magic,' a madcap fairy tale told through pop songs from the past six decades.

“MORTDECAI”: Johnny Depp plays Charlie Mortdecai, a debonair art dealer who travels the globe in a race to recover a stolen painting rumored to contain the code to a lost bank account filled with Nazi gold. Gwyneth Paltrow, Ewan McGregor and Jeff Goldblum co-star. “STRANGE MAGIC”: A computer-animated fairy tale musical inspired… Continue reading →

‘Nightwatch’ takes over while New Orleans sleeps

A&E photo by RICHARD KNAPP -- EMTs Titus Tero, at back of gurney, and Dan Flynn, in front, are seen answering a call on A&Es new original series, 'Nightwatch.'

The debut episode of “Nightwatch” ends as it begins, with an unidentified woman’s chilling chant: “I have yet to see the rain fall on just one man’s house, and I will say a prayer for my city, because one day this rain will have to stop falling on New Orleans.” Her battle cry against the deadly… Continue reading →

American Idol’s New Orleans auditions: Find out if locals made the cut

Fox photo by MATTHIAS VRIENS-MCGRATH -- 'American Idol' judge Harry Connick Jr., third from left, is back in his hometown of New Orleans with host Ryan Seacrest and fellow judges Jennifer Lopez and Keith Urban for Thursday's show.

Looking for talent for its 14th season, “American Idol” again headed to judge Harry Connick’s hometown, New Orleans, this summer. One of six audition cities — the reality competition show also visited Kansas City, Missouri; Long Island, New York; Minneapolis; Nashville, Tennessee; and San Francisco — the musical Big Easy again offered loads of hopefuls, including Anjelika Joseph, who… Continue reading →

USA Today box office report: Records fall during ‘American Sniper’s’ first weekend

In this image released by Warner Bros. Pictures, Kyle Gallner, left, and Bradley Cooper appear in a scene from

Clint Eastwood’s American Sniper took off during the holiday weekend smashing January records as it reeled in $90 million in box office receipts in three days. The previous record had been James Cameron’s Avatar, which tallied $68 million during the same time period in 2010. Continue reading full story at USAToday.Com.Continue reading →

Review: Chilling ‘Foxcatcher’ wins with talent, direction

Photo by SCOTT GARFIELD -- Channing Tatum, left, and Mark Ruffalo star in 'Foxcatcher.'

“Foxcatcher” tells a strange, tragic, based-in-fact story about an eccentric multimillionaire and the Olympic gold medal-winning brothers he tears apart. Steve Carell, who gained fame through comic TV and film work prior to his recent dramatic roles, solemnly assumes the part of John Eleuthère du Pont, a man of privilege and member of a powerful… Continue reading →

Review: ‘Blackhat’ botches shot at great cyberdrama

Universal Pictures photo by Frank Connor -- Chris Hemsworth, left, and Chen Lien star in the cybercrime action movie ‘Blackhat.’

Following the recent cyberattack on Sony Pictures, months of attacks against major retailers and this week’s strike against the United States Central Command’s Twitter account, hacking and cybercrime are ripe for dramatization. But “Blackhat,” a shaky action flick directed by Michael Mann (“Heat,” “The Insider,” “Public Enemies”), botches its shot at being the of-the-moment… Continue reading →

Review: Sweet, clever and cuddly, ‘Paddington’ is just right

This image released by The Weinstein Company shows Hugh Bonneville in a scene from

Paddington Bear. How well we know him. He’s cuddly, he’s loyal, he’s sensitive. He’s well-traveled — but loves to stay home, too. And he can whip up a mean homemade marmalade. As Mom would say, what’s not to love? And one can say precisely the same of the engaging new “Paddington,” written and directed by Paul… Continue reading →

Review: Kevin Hart rings wedding bells in ‘The Wedding Ringer’

Screen Gems photo by MATT KENNEDY-- Kevin Hart, left, and Josh Gad star in 'The Wedding Ringer.'

Kevin Hart is a brand name. Employing his rapid-fire delivery and manic, irreverent presence, he’s in the driver’s seat again for his latest comedy romp, “The Wedding Ringer.” The standout star of such previous films as “Think Like a Man,” “Think Like a Man Too” and “About Last Night,” Hart largely sticks to what worked for… Continue reading →

‘American Sniper’ an action-packed military drama

Photo provided by Warner Bros. Pictures -- Bradley Cooper is Navy SEAL Chris Kyle in 'American Sniper.'

“American Sniper” joins the earlier “Zero Dark Thirty” and “The Hurt Locker” as one of the most incisive military dramas of the post-9/11 era. Clint Eastwood, the 84-year-old Oscar-winning director of “Unforgiven” and “Million Dollar Baby,” helms the film, a tense, action-filled story of war abroad and trouble at home, with an unflinching hand.… Continue reading →

New movies in New Orleans, Jan. 15-22, 2015

Photo provided by the Weinstein Company -- Ben Whishaw provides the voice of a lost bear in 'Paddington.'

“AMERICAN SNIPER”: Oscar-winning director Clint Eastwood helms this gripping biopic about Chris Kyle, the most effective sniper in U.S. military history. Bradley Cooper (“American Hustle,” “Silver Linings Playbook”) beefs up his physique to play the Navy SEAL from Texas whose peers nicknamed him “The Legend.” Sienna Miller co-stars as Kyle’s wife, Taya. Continue reading →

Review: ‘Selma’ a history lesson that throbs with the present

Photo by ATSUSHI NISHIJIMA -- From left, André Holland as Andrew Young, David Oyelowo as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and New Orleans native Wendell Pierce as the Rev. Hosea Williams are featured in a scene from 'Selma.'

To say Ava DuVernay’s “Selma” feels relevant is a mammoth understatement. It’s altogether animated, propelled and enlivened by its contemporary urgency. “Selma” is a history lesson that throbs with today. DuVernay, a former publicist with two low-budget dramas to her name, dramatizes the events around the 1965 Civil Rights march through Alabama, from Selma to Montgomery,… Continue reading →

Review: Tommy Lee Jones’ ‘Homesman’ transcends Western genre

Photo by DAWN JONES -- Hilary Swank and Tommy Lee Jones in ‘The Homesman.'

Two heroic characters resonate poignantly through “The Homesman.” Oscar-winner Tommy Lee Jones directed the drama, set in the Nebraska Territories in 1855, and co-wrote the screenplay, which is based on the 1988 novel by Glendon Swarthout. Doing triple duty for “The Homesman,” Jones also co-stars in the prairie… Continue reading →

Review: Engaging ‘Vice’ shows off director’s period penchant

Photo provided by Warner Bros. Pictures -- Joaquin Phoenix, left, and Josh Brolin star in 'Inherent Vice.'

The scene: Los Angeles, 1970. The characters: a hippie private eye; his imperiled ex-girlfriend; a Los Angeles police detective who longs for celebrity; a musician and snitch who’s supposed to be dead; a supposedly straight deputy DA who spends her evenings with the pot-smoking hippie private eye; and many more. In “Inherent Vice,” director… Continue reading →

Bruce Campbell from ‘Evil Dead,’ Norman Reedus from ‘The Walking Dead’ among celebrities at this weekend’s Comic Con

Advocate staff photo by MATTHEW HINTON -- A green alien from 'Star Trek' parades with the Intergalactic Krewe of Chewbacchus, a science fiction themed Mardi Gras Krewe, at the Wizard World New Orleans Comic Con in New Orleans in 2014.

Bruce Campbell has 114 acting credits plus dozens of producer, director and writer credits. Despite his vast and varied film and TV work, Campbell’s starring role as Ashley J. “Ash” Williams in horror master Sam Raimi’s “Evil Dead” film trilogy dominates the many Comic Con appearances he makes throughout the country. “They’ve been relentless,” the actor… Continue reading →

New movies for the week of Jan. 8, 2015

“DEAR WHITE PEOPLE”: The unexpected election of activist Samantha White as head of a traditionally black residence hall sets up a college campus culture war that challenges conventional notions of what it means to be black. Starring Kyle Gallner and Dennis Haysbert. Opens Friday at Chalmette Movies. “INHERENT VICE”: Joaquin Phoenix stars… Continue reading →

New Movies for the week of Jan. 1, 2015

Photo NICK WALL -- Amelia Pidgeon in a scene from 'The Woman in Black: Angel of Death.'

“THE WOMAN IN BLACK 2: ANGEL OF DEATH”: After a group of orphaned children is forced to leave London, caretakers Eve (Phoebe Fox) and Jean (Helen McCrory) transport the poor dears to the obviously haunted Eel Marsh House. In this sequel to the Daniel Radcliffe-starring “The Woman in Black,” the poorly chosen house of refuge reveals… Continue reading →

Review: ‘The Interview’ dives into geopolitics

Photo provided by Columbia Pictures -- Seth Rogen, center, and James Franco, right, star in 'The Interview.'

Huzzah! Our right to see James Franco blast Katy Perry with Kim Jong Un has been successfully defended. With Sony Pictures Entertainment’s announcement Tuesday that “The Interview” will, after all, be released in limited theaters on Christmas, here follows an updated review of the film: ——— “The Interview” will go down as the satire that provoked… Continue reading →

‘Into the Woods’ can’t conjure magic of its fairytale source material

Photo by Peter Mountain -- The Baker (James Corden) and his Wife (Emily Blunt) meet Jack (Daniel Huttlestone) and his cow, Milky Way, in Disney's 'Into the Woods.'

The film adaptation of a fairytale-turned-upside-down musical from composer/lyricist Stephen Sondheim and playwright James Lapine, “Into the Woods” has all the ingredients of an awards-courting, prestige production. A bevy of award-winning talent toils in front of and behind the camera. Lapine wrote the screenplay. Big names fill the cast. The film, photographed by Oscar winner… Continue reading →

‘Imitation Game’ shows a brilliant codebreaker who helped the Allies win WWII as unlikely hero

The Weinstein Company photo by JACK ENGLISH -- Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch star in 'The Imitation Game.'

Alan Turing, an ingenious British mathematician, cryptanalyst and, as presented in “The Imitation Game,” difficult personality, seems an unlikely hero. Yet the history-based Turing biopic convincingly portrays this conflicted bundle of brilliance and repression as a key player in the Allies’ World War II victory. British actor Benedict Cumberbatch gives an empathy-stirring performance as Turing. A… Continue reading →

Review: Don’t bet on this oddly lifeless ‘Gambler’ remake

In this image released by Paramount Pictures, Mark Wahlberg appears in a scene from

“If you’re not a genius, don’t bother,” the English professor played by Mark Walhberg in “The Gambler” blithely tells his students. That should be one clue that you’re not gonna like this guy. But there’s a bigger problem with that line, because it inadvertently makes us think: If you’re not doing a genius remake of an old… Continue reading →

Artist’s biopic ‘Big Eyes’ doesn’t show the full picture

Photo by LEAH GALLO -- Amy Adams plays artist Margaret Keane in 'Big Eyes.'

Margaret Keane’s paintings of melancholy waifs with faces punctuated by big, dark, comically sad eyes were among the 1960s’ most famous images. In “Big Eyes,” director Tim Burton and screenwriters Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski tell the story behind the big eyes. But their Keane biopic feels tentative and incomplete, especially alongside Burton’s 1994 biopic about… Continue reading →

‘Unbroken’s’ tale of survival against all odds leaves hows and whys unanswered

Photo provided by Universal Pictures -- The Bird (Miyavi) torments Louis 'Louie' Zamperini (Jack O'Connell in 'Unbroken.'

The Angelina Jolie-directed World War II drama “Unbroken” tells a very human story. Louis “Louie” Zamperini, a former high school track star and Olympic athlete, joins the U.S. Army Air Corps and becomes a bombardier in the Pacific. Later, Zamperini, played by British actor Jack O’Connell, is one of only three crewmembers who survive their… Continue reading →

Chef Sánchez and friends bring new ‘Taco Trip’ series to N.O.

Photo provided by Cooking Channel -- Chefs Aaron Sanchez, right, and John Besh prepare to taste a squash blossom taco, a taco with Burrata cheese, pico de gallo and herb pesto on a flour tortilla, one of the dishes on the menu at Johnny Sanchez, their taqueria in New Orleans.

Tacos trending in New Orleans? Definitely, chef Aarón Sánchez says. Host of the new Cooking Channel show “Taco Trip,” Sánchez heads to his part-time home, the Crescent City, for Tuesday’s episode, visiting taco trucks, taquerias and his new Poydras Street restaurant, Johnny Sánchez. He owns the 2-month-old eatery, and another location in Baltimore, with… Continue reading →

Southern film critics name ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’ top film

Photo provided by Fox Searchlight -- Ralph Fiennes, left, and Tony Revolori star in 'The Grand Budapest Hotel.'

The Southeastern Film Critics Association named “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” writer-director Wes Anderson’s ensemble comedy set in central Europe between the world wars, its top movie of 2014. Writer-director Richard Linklater’s “Boyhood,” an epic story of a boy filmed over a 12-year period, placed second in SEFCA’s Top 10 and Mexican director Alejandro González Iñárritu’s “Birdman,”… Continue reading →

Sweet ‘Night at the Museum’ bids farewell to Williams

Twentieth Century Fox photo by Kerry Brown -- From left, Atilla the Hun (Patrick Gallagher), Teddy Roosevelt (Robin Williams), Larry Daley (Ben Stiller) and Ahkmenrah (Rami Malek) react to an unexpected turn of events in 'Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb.'

Take heed: There are at least two acutely sad moments involving Robin Williams’ Teddy Roosevelt in the latest “Night at the Museum.” The movie, subtitled “Secret of the Tomb,” is imbued with the unshakable inevitability that even though we’re still having fun, it’s time to move on—a narrative made only more poignant by Williams’s sudden and shocking… Continue reading →

Review: Louisiana actress Quvenzhané Wallis shines in ‘Annie’ remake

Columbia Pictures photo by BARRY WETCHER -- Quvenzhané Wallis, an 11-year-old actress from Houma, received a Golden Globe nomination for her starring role in the musical 'Annie.'

“Annie,” the Depression era-set Broadway musical previously adapted into a 1982 film and 1999 TV movie, gets its biggest makeover yet with the 2014 film version of the story. Houma native Quvenzhané Wallis, the 11-year-old actress who received an Oscar nomination for her debut performance in 2012’s Louisiana-set drama “Beasts of the Southern Wild,” stars… Continue reading →

Review: Reese Witherspoon’s ‘Wild’ among the best redemption movies

Fox Searchlight photo by ANNE MARIE FOX -- Reese Witherspoon plays a young woman on an epic journey in 'Wild.'

Redemption movies often aren’t as inspirational as they’d like to be. They are more likely chores to watch. Not so “Wild.” The immersive, moving “Wild” is among the best redemption movies. Reese Witherspoon plays Cheryl Strayed, a reckless young woman who’s reached the edge of a psychological cliff. After a troubled life that… Continue reading →

Review: ‘The Babadook’ a brilliant, creepy film

Photo provided by IFC Films -- Essie Davis, left, and Noah Wiseman star in a scene from the horror film ‘The Badadook.’

Six-year-old Samuel’s disruptive, dangerous behavior convinces his school that he’s a child out of control. The school’s administration wants to separate the boy from the other children. His single-parent mother, Amelia, will have none of it. She pulls her child out of school instead. Increasingly, though, in Amelia’s own interactions with Samuel, he’s becoming a problem… Continue reading →