During the first months of each new year, movie theaters are overcrowded with generally dreadful films: throwaways with such less-than-appealing titles as A GOOD DAY TO DIE HARD and BULLET IN THE HEAD or moronic comedies like IDENTITY THIEF that somehow clean up at the box office or well-intentioned films like SIDE EFFECTS, a murder mystery which also explores the issue of prescription drug abuse but is way too fanciful and crammed with plot holes.
These days, movie-going can be an expensive proposition-- and I would hate to have to plunk down some hard-earned money in the hope of finding relaxation in a darkened movie theater and end up sitting through a comedy that is crass and unfunny or a thriller that simply is not thrilling, not to mention the very real possibility that the person sitting next to me will be yapping away on his or her cellphone while I am trying to soak in all the on-screen dialogue.
Two of the year’s very best films-- and these are must-see items-- are arriving in movie theaters at the tail-end of 2012. They are Quentin Tarantino’s DJANGO UNCHAINED and Kathryn Bigelow’s ZERO DARK THIRTY, and they are as different as TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD and a Hope-and-Crosby road picture. But DJANGO UNCHAINED and ZERO DARK THIRTY are not the only must-see films released during the year. Some also are big-budget items that feature A-list directors and major stars. Others are more modest independent titles or foreign films.
Only 57 miles outside New York City on the Hudson River, the city of Newburgh has fallen from the status of "All American City" awarded by Look Magazine in 1952, to in 1981 being put on a Federal list of most distressed areas in the United States.
Each year, so many downright awful movies make it into theaters. If you set out to compile a list of the ten-best films of a given year, you easily might cite the 25 worst films... or the 35... or the 50. And unfortunately, 2012 was no different.
Ken Burns' latest PBS series is The Dust Bowl, it chronicles the worst man-made ecological disaster in American history, in which the frenzied wheat boom of the "Great Plow-Up," followed by a decade-long drought during the 1930s nearly swept away the breadbasket of the nation.
Famed film critic, writer, and film historian Richard Schickel has written a retrospective of Spielberg’s career (Steven Spielberg: A Retrospective). We speak with him about the book and he shares his thoughts on the director’s latest film.
Film clip audio copyright DreamWorks Pictures and 20th Century Fox