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NEW YORK – It’s apocalypse season again, those fun few summer months when instead of wearing white the Hollywood movies are clad in artfully tattered rags. This June alone, in addition to Will and Jaden Smith’s “After Earth,” we have Brad Pitt leading us through the CGI carnage of “World War Z” and the maestro of world-ending mayhem himself, Roland Emmerich …

You don’t want to think of Superman as a bully. At least I don’t. But that’s what Zack Snyder’s “Man of Steel” is.No, I don’t mean the fictional character is a bully in the movie (though at odd moments when he’s not keeping his super powers hidden, his concern for vulnerable humans is worrisomely minimal). And no, I don’t mean there’s anything remotely …

It began 18 years ago. That’s in what we now quaintly call “real time,” i.e., the time that passes as the clock ticking (or humming) next to you registers the seconds and the minutes.The movie was called “Before Sunrise.” That’s when the two fictional lovers met on a train to Vienna. And couldn’t seem to part.Then, in 2004, came its sequel with the same actor…

I was 4, maybe 5. It was my first movie. The theater was the North Park.The name of the movie was “Dynamite!” – a “truth in packaging” title if ever there was one.My older brother and I had somehow arrived late so we had to sit in one of the first five rows. The movie began with a guy setting a dynamite charge on a mountain and getting his foot trapped between tw…

ORLANDO, Fla. – Nathan Fillion is the star of a popular TV show – “Castle.” And every show has its share of fanatical fans. He was on a soap opera for years, whose enthusiasts take “fan” to a “whole different level.” But that’s nothing compared to the devotion that comes from a TV show (“Firefly”) he briefly did with Joss Whedon (“Buffy the Vampire …

You have to love Greta Gerwig to love Noah Baumbach’s “Frances Ha.” Certainly Baumbach did. You don’t need a New Yorker profile to tell you that whatever official “romance” was or was not going on when the film was being shot, the director was, at the very least, professionally smitten with his star and co-writer (who had previously been one of the bright spots…

If it is true that you can’t judge a book by its cover, then it also stands to reason that you shouldn’t judge a movie by its title.If you did, you might pass right over the limply named “Love Is All You Need,” figuring it for just some skimpy, formulaic rom-com starring the latest graduate of the Disney Channel. And if you did that, you would miss out on something…

They didn’t let the queen down. But then, how could they? When Daniel Craig and the International Olympic Committee somehow got the Queen of England to agree to a good-humored cameo as the grandest “Bond Girl” of all time – wherein doubles for her and Craig parachuted out of a plane to Bondian music into London’s Olympic Stadium – the Bond franchise couldn’t …

Ingrid Bergman refused to cap her teeth or pluck her eyebrows to satisfy studio heads, but when it came to her craft, she didn't hesitate to chop her hair to play Maria in "For Whom the Bell Tolls." Ava Gardner rebuffed requests to fill in a facial dimple with plastic surgery. Sophia Loren gave a firm "no" when she was told to get a nose job after her first screen test.…

Talk about a movie that's "pre-sold": the title alone on the big screen elicited fond applause at the advance screening of "King Kong." In the middle of the film, there was applause for the original 10,000-pound gorilla when he took on three T-Rexes with only one hand (the other was holding -- and protecting -- the screaming blond heroine) and, after a battle royal, dem…

"Confessions of a Dangerous Mind" was the stealth candidate for great movie of 2002. It opened in New York and Los Angeles on the final days of the year and wasn't heralded by any of the kind of big, puffed-up prestige publicity that always accompanies Oscar magnets and Top 10 dwellers. "The Hours"? "Gangs of New York"? "Chicago"? "Adaptation"? (Which is the fraterna…

It can't be easy being Kathryn Bigelow. For many years now, she has been called Hollywood's only certifiable female action film director ("Blue Steel," "Strange Days") -- despite the recent entrance of Mimi Leder into the field with "Deep Impact" and "The Peacemaker." And yet if you ask her about it, she is clearly uneasy and evades discussion of both gender and genre a…

OCEAN'S COMMOTION "Ocean's Eleven" is the first disappointment of a holiday movie season that's going to see a few more of them before it's over. Let me rush madly to add that it's nothing if not an enjoyable and winning movie. The trouble is that it was a truly GREAT idea for a movie - a remake of the Sinatra Rat Pack Vegas mega-heist movie with Steven Soderbergh…

Julia Roberts is sensational in "Erin Brockovich," the best she's been, by far, since she took the world by storm in "Pretty Woman." In most of those intervening movies - some very good, some very bad - she's been hugely appealing, no matter how dismal the film. ("Mary Reilly," anyone?) What she hasn't done again in the decade since "Pretty Woman" is present the audienc…