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" How come God hogs all the good followers and we get all the retards "
— John Leguizamo, Spawn

MRQE Top Critic

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Pic of the Week

Each week we pick a recommended "Pic" from our archives. Below are our most recent picks.

Paperboys

***2001, Mike Mills

A portrait of adolescent American males at the turn of the century

Paperboys are surely becoming rare in this country as circulations decline and more newspapers prefer to have adults to deliver their product. Filmmaker Mike Mills provides a 40-minute glimpse into this dying breed when he looks at the lives of six paperboys in Stillwater, MN.

The Grand Budapest Hotel

***2014, Wes Anderson

Whrilwind storytelling leaves the emotional core behind

Director Wes Anderson has a style all his own. If you know it (from films like Moonrise Kingdom and The Darjeeling Limited), and if you like it, you will be happy to see The Grand Budapest Hotel. But for this former Wes Anderson skeptic, it’s not his strongest work.

Mafioso

***1962, Alberto Lattuada

Try to connect the movie’s two parts: the spry comedy and the deadly serious piece of Mafia business

Rialto Pictures has been finding and restoring lost “classics” for ten years. Some are better than others, and I hesitate to use the word “classic” for any but the best of the best of them. But it is thanks in part to Rialto that there are new old movies at the art houses and on DVD.

Half Brothers

***2020, Luke Greenfield

The movie manages to rather deftly maintain a tone-morphing trick from start to finish.

Half Brothers packs enough heart and food for thought to make the road trip comedy’s occasional potholes a little less jarring.

Dark Star: H.R. Giger’s World

***1/22014, Belinda Sallin

The perfect fan-film

Dark Star is the perfect fan-film. It hits all the right notes, origins and highlights of the Swiss graphic artist H.R. Giger without getting entangled in any messy meanings of his dark airbrushed artwork or insight into the man himself. If you did not know who he was, this film would leave you wondering, “Who is this strange sad man?”

Project Greenlight/Stolen Summer

***1/22002, Pete Jones

Project Greenlight is a fascinating documentary of the process of making a movie

Ben Affleck and Matt Damon started a screenplay contest in which the prize would be a million dollar budget and studio support for making a movie. In return, Miramax gets an award-winning script, a cheap movie, lots of publicity, and a 12-part reality-TV show called Project Greenlight.

Stolen Summer, the film that came out of this project, only played in selected cities. And since not everyone has HBO, it was easy to miss both the movie and the TV program. Now Miramax is releasing both in a single, 4-disc set called Project Greenlight.

Oz the Great and Powerful

***2013, Sam Raimi

A great and powerful movie is buried in there, somewhere under the rainbow.

This Oz isn’t great and powerful – it’s more like grate and pictorial.

Aladdin (2019)

***1/2Guy Ritchie

Narrative nudges include Jasmine’s leadership ambitions and a romantic entanglement for the genie.

This time, it’s not so much the music as the cast that’s pitch perfect.

When the Cat’s Away

***1997, Cédric Klapisch

Chloe goes through life in a state of vague dissatisfaction. Her social life is practically nonexistent. The only man she feels comfortable with is her gay roommate who is too wrapped up in his own life to meet her needs. Her one true friend is her cat Gris-Gris.

When Chloe takes a vacation (which lasts about five seconds screen time), she entrusts Gris-Gris to an animal lover named Madame Renee. She returns to find that, much to her distress, and Madame Renee’s, Gris-Gris is missing.

Much to Chloe’s surprise, Madame Renee is able to mobilize their Paris neighborhood in search of Gris-Gris. Chloe is aided by a network of old ladies, a simple-minded Arab named Djamel who likes her, and others, who try to spread the word.

The real star of this movie is Chloe’s neighborhood. It is ethnically diverse and inhabited by interesting characters, such as Madame Renee’s network of old ladies, many of whom were played by non-actors. Even though old buildings are being torn down and the old ladies are being evicted in the name of gentrification, the area hasn’t yet lost its heart. It is still a place where one can go into a bar and take comfort in the company of friends or pause in an outdoor market to listen to live folk music.

By the time Gris-Gris turns up, he has become a symbol of friendship and of a sense of community. We realize that Chloe didn’t have to look that hard to find either.

Human Nature

***2001, Michel Gondry

Delivers zany humor mixed with an anything-goes mentality

Earth

***2007, Alastair Fothergill, and Mark Linfield

Amazing photography assuages fears about Barnum-esque nature documentaries

I grew up loving nature documentaries, but the adult cynic in me makes me question the value and honesty of such films. The bad ones are unrelated segments thrown together under a Barnum-esque narration. The very worst ones use captive animals to illustrate “nature” (Remember the lemmings!).

The Vast of Night

***2020, Andrew Patterson

What sets it apart and makes it special is how the simple story is told.

The Vast of Night is a filmmaking treat from a trio of new talent.

Wild Mountain Thyme

***2020, John Patrick Shanley

It’s a refreshing journey down a different path.

Wild Mountain Thyme feels like a badly needed Christmas hug.

Back in 1987, John Patrick Shanley made quite a splash as the Oscar-winning screenwriter of Norman Jewison’s Moonstruck. What followed has been an interesting ride through the theatrical and cinematic arts. A mere three years after Moonstruck, anticipation was sky high for Shanley’s directorial debut, Joe Versus the Volcano, which opened with a thud but has quietly gained a greater appreciation over the years.