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Please remember, if you would, the primal Lone Ranger joke. Whether it first appeared there is irrelevant; it seemed to smack perfectly, though, of Mad magazine in the 1950s.The Lone Ranger and his faithful companion Tonto are surrounded by a band of hostile, whooping indians (the expression “Native American” hadn’t yet become common currency). The Lone Ranger looks …

We love lists. We love horse races, especially the ones without horses .Put a list or a race result – even the most tentative one – in our sightlines and our eyes light up. Never mind how meaningless they can be. Take the current issue of Entertainment Weekly. Please, as that immortal Borscht Belt tail gunner Henny Youngman used to say. Or the current weekend box offic…

Despite an act of terrorism being the organizing principle for all that follows in “The Attack,” the film’s power exists more on an internal level than a political one.The film by Lebanese director Ziad Doueiri follows Amin (Ali Suliman), a Palestinian surgeon who must try to reconcile what he knew about his wife Siham (Reymonde Amsellem) with an action so horrible i…

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Melissa McCarthy, the latest in a line of actresses going back to Marilyn Monroe who have been filmed against the natural wonder of Niagara Falls, learned it’s hard to compete against the cascading water’s sonorous sound.“There’s a lot more water in the falls, and it’s louder,” McCarthy said Thursday after describing a climactic scene that had just wrapped on t…

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My favorite moment among many in Sarah Polley’s truly extraordinary “Stories We Tell” – one of the great films of the last 12 months – is the A-ha! moment when Polley reveals her indisputable discovery about her disputed parentage.We know that when the actress and magnificent director (“Away From Her,” for which her star Julie Christie was robbed of an Oscar)…

Movies

Give it up for Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy. You’ll never see them work harder at comedy than in “The Heat,” a stumbling, aggressively loud and profane cop buddy picture where they struggle to wring “funny” out of a script that isn’t.Plot? It’s more a collection of scenes that force the stars to riff and riff until something coarse and amusing comes ou…

If Abbas Kiairostami’s “Like Someone in Love” – an Iranian director’s film made in Japan – was the most impressive surprise of all the films I saw at last September’s Toronto Film Festival, Deepa Mehta’s “Midnight’s Children” was the most disappointing one.It’s from Salman Rushdie’s 1980 novel and its major claim to distinction is that it is Rushd…

1933January 31Produced by George Trendle and written by Fran Striker, right, the “Lone Ranger” is broadcast on WYXZ in Detroit.1949The Lone Ranger makes his television debut in a series starring Clayton Moore as the masked man and Jay Silverheels, right, as Tonto.1954George Trendle sells the Lone Ranger rights to Jack Wrather1956“The Lone Ranger,” the first Hollyw…

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It’s about time. There’s a line in Roland Emmerich’s rip-roaring and irresistible action thriller “White House Down” that explains why Emmerich is so drawn to architectural mayhem and the sight of national monuments blown to smithereens.There’s a point to all this it seems – a point, anyway, beyond instructing real terrorists how they might take the wind out …

When “The Heat” premieres in theaters Friday, it may show Melissa McCarthy changing movies yet again.McCarthy was part of the ensemble in “Bridesmaids” – and to many, the most memorable part – which showed that women could star in a successful movie that was as unapologetically raunchy as male fare like “Superbad” and “The Hangover,” but without the upp…

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Zombies were never the same after they met Pittsburgh.They were an entirely different thing 70 years ago in Hollywood – eerie, decorous and called forth with incompetent cloudland simulations of voodoo. See Jacques Tourneur’s B-movie semi-classic “I Walked With a Zombie.”Then came the original “Night of the Living Dead” by the cinematic auteur of Pittsburgh, Ge…

Movies

Academy-Award winning actresses Susan Sarandon and Kathy Bates, and Melissa McCarthy, star of the 2011 hit “Bridesmaids,” will be in Niagara Falls Thursday to shoot scenes for a movie.“Tammy,” a comedy, is about a woman, portrayed by McCarthy, who after losing her job and finding out her husband has been unfaithful, hits the road with her hard-drinking grandmother,…

Sofia Coppola’s “The Bling Ring” is a horror film. And one of the better ones in a while too.Of course, it’s not exactly meant to be that. It’s not in the “Paranormal” or “Saw” business after all.Coppola’s fifth film (her best, I think, was “Lost in Translation”) is a sharp little look at the horrors of a very real world she made herself familiar wi…

Something rather quietly wonderful is happening these days. Enormously bright young actresses are deciding that if the world won’t offer them the roles they want, they’ll write them themselves.Their young queen is Lena Dunham – a sort of mini-Oprah by virtue of her prominence as the creator and star of “Girls” on HBO. And in Noah Baumbach’s recent “Frances, H…

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It’s a good thing that bad Pixar is, at worst, just mediocre. Which means a bad Pixar movie is still an important rite in American movies. The reason is simple: American families need Pixar films. They need G-rated computer-animated features to which they can take the kids – ALL the kids – in perfect confidence.Which is going to make the newest Pixar “Monsters Univ…