Anyone with a parent or grandparent who remains stubbornly helpless in the face of new technology will appreciate the opening scene of “Ahead of Time,” which shows the documentary’s subject, Ruth Gruber, tapping nimbly away on her Mac. What makes this scene so surprising is that the journalist, author, photographer and world traveler is closing in on 100 years old. It’s a small but telling example of what’s to come — a look at the early decades in the life of a woman who was game for anything. Read More
Known best as a computer whiz unwittingly ushered into a life of international espionage as the star of NBC's "Chuck," Zachary Levi might not seem an obvious choice to play Rapunzel's roguish love interest in "Tangled," Disney's musical adaptation of the popular Brothers Grimm fairy tale.
As the voice of Flynn Rider, a thief who takes refuge in the golden-haired recluse's tower and ultimately wins her heart, Levi performs two duets with co-star Mandy Moore, who has sold more than 10 million records worldwide. Read More
Like the heroin-addicted cop he plays in “Faster,” the aggressive new thriller in which he co-stars opposite Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Billy Bob Thornton rarely minces words. So when he volunteers an assessment of American movies today, you can expect nothing less than brutal candor.
“We’re living in a time where we’re making the worst movies in history,” says Thornton, 55, the Oscar-nominated screenwriter and star of 1997’s “Sling Blade,” which he directed. Read More
Claire Denis, working behind the camera, and Isabelle Huppert, in front of it, are two of the most superb artists in French cinema, and they combine their gifts splendidly in “White Material.”
Grace, depth and exquisite enigma distinguish this Africa-set sizzler.
Denis is a mood maestro who avoids plotted narratives and instead immerses viewers in her characters’ routines and predicaments. She uses poetic imagery to reveal truths and builds suspense by giving scenarios an unsettling haziness. Read More
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson became a World Wrestling Entertainment legend not because of his extraordinary physique or his technical proficiency — he made himself memorable at the mike, tearing his opponents down to size with colorful trash talk and a challenging glare, punctuated by his cocked “people’s eyebrow.” Read More
Considering how many classic fairy tales Walt Disney adapted for his early animations, it is a wonder the Mouse House founder never followed through on his desire to do the same for “Rapunzel,” the Brothers Grimm’s account of a fair-haired maiden trapped in a tower high above the German countryside.Seventy years after Disney first sent the story into development, where it languished and seemingly died from neglect, comes “Tangled,” his empire’s 50th animated feature and one of its most rewarding since Pixar ushered the studio into the digital age with “Toy Story.” Read More
So closely associated are ETA Hoffmann’s 1816 story “The Nutcracker and the Mouse King” and everybody’s favorite 1892 Tchaikovsky ballet, it is downright shocking to find almost no dancing — except for an abstract motion-capture sequence — in Andrey Konchalovskiy’s 2010 “The Nutcracker in 3D.”There are no mice in the film either. Read More
Director Edward Zwick, recently in San Francisco to promote “Love & Other Drugs,” slightly balks upon trying to identify one or two characteristics common to his varied films, which range from “About Last Night” to “Glory” to “The Last Samurai” to “Blood Diamond.”
He settles on “relationships” and “ideas,” calling “Love & Other Drugs,” which opens Wednesday, a movie that challenges the current Hollywood notion of a romantic comedy. Read More
SAN FRANCISCO — Where’s that darn figgy pudding?! It may be the holidays, but Tinseltown isn’t offering much tinsel. Read More
For professional pastry chefs, people participating in bake-offs in the privacy of their own kitchens, and the vast majority of us who simply consume the sweet stuff, “Kings of Pastry” is mandatory viewing.A documentary with more life and suspense than many a swashbuckling saga, “Kings of Pastry” is an unusual, charming, funny, surprising and unexpectedly tense film about the competition for an award that’s the equivalent of the Medal of Honor for chefs. Read More