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The War Inside of “X-Men: Days of Future Past”

You cannot serve two masters. That’s what the old adage says, but comic book movies have mostly been able to prove it wrong over the last decade. Consider the complexity of their challenge: Each movie must do service to the legions of dedicated fan boys who comprise the genre’s base and are all too willing…

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If “Neighbors” Were “Townies”

By nearly any barometer, Neighbors is a successful movie. The frat comedy starring Seth Rogen, Zac Efron, and Rose Byrne took the top spot at the domestic box office last weekend (knocking The Amazing Spider-Man 2 off its perch), and it has even received mostly solid reviews from the critical community, which is rare for…

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“Neighbors” and the Limits of the Apatow Empire

Neighbors, a disappointing new frat comedy, was directed by Nicholas Stoller (The Muppets, The Five-Year Engagement), but it has the DNA of Judd Apatow all over it. Apatow is best known for writing and directing The 40-Year-Old Virgin and Knocked Up, but he also started a comedy empire that has spawned numerous other filmmakers. For…

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“Blue Ruin” is a Thrilling Comment on Movie Violence

Whenever movie mayhem comes under attack from concerned citizens – as it did after the Sandy Hook shootings in 2012 – filmmakers often justify their work by claiming that their depictions of violence are not endorsements. It’s hard to take that seriously, especially because they usually make gun play look so cool and leave out…

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How “Divergent” Co-opts the Revolution

The floodgates have now officially opened. The success of Divergent, a Hunger Games knock-off that grossed $54 million in its opening weekend, ensures that we’ll see many more of its kind in the coming years. In fact, we won’t have to wait that long. Later in 2014, The Maze Runner and The Giver will follow…

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“Veronica Mars” Plays to its Base

Well, the inevitable has finally occurred: Television and cinema have merged. For years, the line between the two was blurred mostly by the onscreen talent. TV stars have always been trying to make the jump to film; it’s only recently that the talent has begun to flow in the other direction (see True Detective for…