Scene Stealers

'It Follows' a different kind of teenage horror flick

Eric Melin

There’s a lot of dread associated with sex when you’re a teenager. Your body is changing, you’re experiencing urges for the first time, there’s and cultural and peer pressure to start experimenting. Meanwhile, the threat of AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases looms heavy over every thought. If these feelings ...

What lives in the shadows? Goofy vampires

Eric Melin

The New Zealand-shot mockumentary comedy **“What We Do in the Shadows,”** now playing at [Liberty Hall,][1] is proof that vampires are alive and well (or undead and loving it) in the collective imagination. Thanks to “Underworld,” “True Blood” and the “Twilight” series (and no thanks to “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter”), ...

Stream away the March movie blues with great suspense thrillers

Eric Melin

The mid-March blues are officially in full swing, film fans. If this post-Oscar, pre-summer netherworld of humdrum movie releases has got you down, it might be a good time to catch up on some home viewing. Nothing can cure this feeling quite like a solid, enthralling suspense thriller, so here’s ...

One way to escape sequel onslaught? Marx Madness!

Eric Melin

Playing this week at [Liberty Hall][1] is that oh-so-rare of beasts, the art-house sequel. **“The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel,”** starring Judi Dench, Maggie Smith and Bill Nighy, again sees a gaggle of distinguished British senior actors get their groove on at an Indian hotel. Come to think of it, ...

'Mr. Turner' not the usual paint-by-numbers biopic

Eric Melin

Early-19th-century artist J.M.W. Turner is now regarded as an innovator, elevating landscape and maritime paintings to high art. But by the time of his death in 1851, his work had fallen out of favor for being too abstract. Director **Mike Leigh**’s biopic of Turner isn’t exactly abstract, but it’s definitely ...

A model 'Citizen,' and why I hope 'Boyhood' wins Best Picture

Eric Melin

Sometimes when the camera is rolling, your true self comes out. So I'll just admit it freely: the scene in **"Birdman"** where the New York Times theater critic (**Lindsay Duncan**) tells Riggan Thomson (**Michael Keaton**) that she's going to pan his stupid play, no matter how good it is, makes ...

Julianne Moore shines in 'Still Alice,' and a showcase of Oscar shorts

Eric Melin

Words are Alice Howland’s life, yet lately she hasn’t been able to string them together to form meaning the way she intends. She is a linguistics professor at Columbia University, but she draws a blank during one of her lectures. She’s also getting lost during her runs and having trouble ...

'Jupiter Ascending' a glorious mess of unbridled creativity

Eric Melin

**Andy and Lana Wachowski** are risk-taking filmmakers with vision that cannot be contained, at least not within the confines of a big-studio picture. After the kinetic, layered unreality of their underappreciated live-action adaptation of “Speed Racer” and the big-theme ensemble of “Cloud Atlas” — which spans [hundreds of years into ...

Burroughs on the big screen

Eric Melin

Much has been written and filmed about author/artist **William S. Burroughs**, who moved in Lawrence in 1981 and lived here for the remainder of his life. But any trace of 1983’s **“Burroughs: The Movie,”** considered to be the definitive documentary on his life and work, had been considered missing. The ...

The controversy over 'American Sniper,' and the uniquely American 'Whiplash'

Eric Melin

It made me grin from ear to ear when I heard the news. **J.K. Simmons**, the longtime working character actor — who is most visible right now as the guy from those [Farmers Insurance commercials][1] — is hosting “Saturday Night Live” next weekend. It is a testament to the power ...

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