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Stories by Matthew Lickona

Don’t be a Dragula

Hipster vampires.

Only Lovers Left Alive is less a movie than an extended, deadpan, highly stylized rant from director Jim Jarmusch. Adam (Tom Hiddleston) is a vampire. Adam listens to vinyl, collects vintage electric guitars, and makes ...

Jude Law luxuriates in role of Dom Hemingway

The lyrical gangster.

Dom Hemingway opens with an extended (snicker) shot of a bare-chested and beefy Jude Law delivering an equally extended (snicker) panegyric on his penis. An encomium for his erection. A tribute to his tallywacker. On ...

Interview with Cuban Fury star Nick Frost

Nick Frost — perhaps best known as the Oliver Hardy to Simon Pegg’s Stan Laurel in the Cornetto trilogy (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, The World’s End) — salsas into the spotlight in the ...

Interview with Divergent stars Ben Lloyd-Hughes and Christian Madsen

In Divergent (opening this week), Shailene Woodley plays Tris, a young woman living in a post-war dystopian city that has been divided into five factions: Erudite, Dauntless, Abnegation, Amity, and Candor. At 16, all children ...

Whiskey notebook: 2 Gingers rolls into San Diego

Just in time for St. Pat's

It's an odd thing to hear an it-is-ya-know Irish accent filtered through Minnesota real-good-then. Almost as odd, perhaps, as encountering an Irish whiskey named after a couple of redheaded women, dreamed up in a Minneapolis ...

Try this one weird trick to enjoy The Grand Budapest Hotel

I liked The Grand Budapest Hotel better than my co-critic Mr. Marks. Even so, it takes only the merest whit of imagination and effort to set the film’s alpine chase sequence to the melodic strains ...

Life imitates art, cheesecake edition

On the left, a promo photo from 2012’s Spring Breakers. On the right, the cover of the 2014 Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue. Good artists borrow; great artists get the girls to go topless.

Presentation is all

It’s possible to accuse Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel of verging into self-parody. But I think Anderson is too self-conscious for that. And if you squint just so, you may be able to see ...

Try this one weird trick to enjoy 300: Rise of an Empire

Concentrate only on the fantastic, menacing set design. Or, you know, Eva Green's bosom.

Interview with As the Palaces Burn director Don Argott

Documentary delves into the trial of Lamb of God lead singer Randy Blythe.

Don Argott's documentary As the Palaces Burn tells two interconnected stories, but it started out to tell just one. The idea was to travel with the metal band Lamb of God on the world tour ...

Walking the Camino, an intermission

Near the end of Walking the Camino: Six Ways to Santiago — Lydia Smith’s finely observed documentary about travelers along Spain’s 500-mile pilgrim trail, the Camino de Santiago — one of the pilgrims makes a ...

"It depends on the copyright of the movie."

So The Spectacular Now is on YouTube. You can rent it for $4.99! Or you can watch it for free right here, in full Blu-ray resolution, because the Internet. Below, you can have a look ...

Guardian angel

Just in time for your post-Valentine’s low, In Secret serves up a murky bowl of curdled desire, soured by a generous dollop of good old-fashioned guilt. No, wait — come back! It’s good, honest! It’s ...

Cinematic arithmetic: Transcendence

Dying human put into machine, with attendant complications? Robocop. Intelligent consciousness in a machine, with attendant complications? Her. Dying human's intelligent consciousness put into a machine, with attendant complications? Transcendence. Here's a trailer.

Is RoboCop's Omnicorp really Apple?

Short answer: no, of course not. Apple doesn't manufacture weapons systems. But we have to think about SEO, you know? Because of Google. Which Omnicorp isn't, either. Longer answer: Hilariously, sort of, maybe! Or at ...

Aching loins, lonely heart

Brian got married “around age 28. We had Anthony about two years afterwards and had Adriana in ’94.” Though he didn’t relish the thought of being “50 years old and worrying about [my daughter’s] virginity,” ...

All About Shailene

Watch your back, J-Law.

Y'all have seen All About Eve, right? [Um, if you haven't, spoilers ahead.] It's a classic backstage story of a fame-hungry woman who decides that her best bet is to learn how to act. But ...

Philip Seymour Hoffman: one more loss

Of course, the real tragedy is the addiction and death. But there is also this: Hoffman could have been truly amazing in that great will-o-the-wisp of films, the adaptation of John Kennedy Toole's A Confederacy ...

Dear Doritos: You're welcome!

Is it possible no one's done this yet?

So over at Vanity Fair, there's a story about how Jennifer Lawrence's fondness for Doritos on the set of American Hustle resulted in some...wardrobe difficulties. Particularly when it came to this big lady-kiss scene in ...

Behold Oscar's shorts

Little ones

Another Oscar season, another opportunity to wonder aloud why it is that, in this age of supposedly dwindling attention spans, there has not been an explosion of interest in the short-film form. Tired of formulaic ...

Interview with Gimme Shelter writer-director Ron Krauss and Several Sources Shelter founder Kathy DiFiore

In 2009, filmmaker Ron Krauss (Puppies for Sale, Alien Hunter) paid a visit to his brother in New Jersey. While there, he learned about a shelter for young mothers, just a mile away. He decided ...

Blood on the page

A showcase from director-star Ralph Fiennes, he of the fierce visage and pleading eyes. First, it is a visual marvel — the framing is now theatrical, now unobtrusive, but always masterful and appropriate. Second, it ...

Dept. of Digital Correction

Everybody is oohing and aahing over this bit from Fight Club where Tyler Durden has been digitally edited out. Well and good. But when are they going to edit the rabbit into Harvey?

Robert Downey Jr.: A consideration

Deeper and deeper we go into the cinematic void that is January. The stygian emptiness is so encompassing by now that we must ask ourselves pointless, unanswerable questions just to keep going. So: will 2014 ...

Interview with The Legend of Hercules star Kellan Lutz

Because every demigod needs an origin story.

The Legend of Hercules is the first of this year's two Hercules films. The second, due in July, will star Dwayne Johnson, a suitably gigantic actor for the part of the original strongman. But Kellan ...

The digital divide of Her

Better than reality

At first glance, you might be tempted to think that Spike Jonze’s latest film is titled Her because it’s about her: Samantha, the sentient operating system (fetchingly voiced by Scarlett Johansson), who is purchased, befriended, ...

Film idea: Press junket with three fallen titans

So, over at Mr. Marks' Wolf of Wall Street review, the conversation has turned, as it does, to "Whatever happened to Robert De Niro?" For the longest time, my answer to that question has been, ...

Strong female characters

There has been some hubbub about director Peter Jackson's decision to inject "feminine energy" into his Hobbit adaptation through the inclusion of Tauriel, a lady elf. I thought it a lame decision in a movie ...

The cruelest month

It’s hard out there for a film critic. It’s especially hard right now — January. People say, “Happy New Year.” People think of new beginnings and better times. A chance to slough off the encrusted ...

Wise to the Hustle

Don't kid yourself.

I’m not sure American Hustle is the best picture of the year. I’m not even sure if it’s my favorite picture of the year. But I’m pretty sure it brought me more oh-hell-yes pleasure than ...

There be (lots of) dragons

A consideration of sources.

The hobbit in The Hobbit may get the title, but it's pretty clear by now that the real star of Peter Jackson's Hobbit trilogy is the dragon Smaug. This isn't exactly surprising; Jackson's roots are ...

The Hobbit's unreal things

There be dragons

My favorite moment in The Desolation of Smaug, part two of Peter Jackson’s epic expansion of J.R.R. Tolkien’s children’s book The Hobbit, came when the titular hobbit and his thirteen dwarvish companions were buried under ...

"So you see, Dr. Jones, it really is a small world after all."

Surely someone's done this already.

I mean, why else would Disney buy the aging Indiana Jones franchise unless Indy was close to discovering the truth?!?

The movie critic's measuring stick

Richard Brody's top 10 list is not the same as mine, which is fine, but also interesting.

I overheard a fellow critic at a screening recently saying what a terrible year it had been for movies. His conversational fellows seemed to agree. I haven't been playing the critical game long enough to ...

Jesus Christ. At the movies?

Spoilers ahead, folks. I need to see Gravity again before I can really go after my co-critic for his dismissal of a film that actually manages to dramatize the Christian notion of being “born again” ...

Paul Walker is dead, no word on The Fast & the Furious film franchise

"Oh, my God," said my friend, staring at her smartphone. "Paul Walker died in a fiery crash." For a split-second, it registered as maybe a joke. Paul Walker? The star of the Fast & Furious ...

Spike Lee's Oldboy lacks the original’s creepy heart

Spike Lee’s remake of Chan-wook Park’s celebrated tale of a man who is mysteriously imprisoned and then just as mysteriously released has plenty of spattered brain matter and sadistic gut-punches. What it lacks is the ...

Interview with Bruno Gunn and Meta Golding, the actors who play Brutus and Enobaria in The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

The Capitol is the villain

The stakes-raising gambit that The Hunger Games: Catching Fire plays in order to surpass the original Hunger Games is this: after Katniss's rebel-tinged victory in the 74th Games, President Snow decides to make the 75th ...

Life during wartime

A new study, published in the journal Pediatrics, has found that in 2012, the mean level of gun violence in PG-13 films exceeded the level of gun violence in R-rated films. That’s just gun violence ...

Thor: The Dark World party game

In case you're bored after the movie

Here's how to play: Thor: The Dark World steals from a lot of films. Like, a lot. Pick one of them. Then, change one of the famous lines from that film to make it into ...

Interview with Anchorman actor and comedian David Koechner

Champ Kind returns to San Diego for three nights at the American Comedy Company

David Koechner is probably best known for playing San Diego sportscaster Champ Kind in Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy and Michael Scott's obnoxious friend Todd Packer on The Office. Personally, I'm very fond of ...

New releases opening this week: 12 Years a Slave, Ender's Game, and more

Everybody loves 12 Years a Slave. Well, almost everybody. Look, I know what you're thinking. "Oh, Marks is just a contrarian from the School of Armond White. Of course he's not going to like a ...

Opening Shot: All Is Lost

Because a good opening shot tells you something, like a good opening sentence

The image above is actually the film's second opening shot. It's the opening of chapter one in the story. What comes before is a prologue. The prologue opens with a shot of an utterly calm ...

New releases opening this week: Bad Grandpa, The Counselor, and more

Never mind the middlebrow

Poor Scott. Forced to damn Bad Grandpa with faint praise. Only three stars, alas. For any other franchise save Marty Movies Inc., that would be high praise. Here, there is the unmistakable pungency of disappointment. ...

The Grinch helpfully illustrates the fortunes of Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit

Tom Clancy's corpse is barely cold, and already they're pissing on his creation

So word has just come that Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit has been bumped from a Christmas Day release date to...mid-January. Thank you, Mr. Grinch, for making it clear just what that means. Judging from the ...

Trailer Park: Captain America: Winter Soldier

a.k.a. Iron Man Lite

Not too much to say here, except maybe that this looks like a pretty terrible superhero movie and maybe a pretty good spy thriller, except for the godawful music. I mean, I enjoyed being a ...

The good old days

No, seriously: the good old days

The image above is taken from a Paramount Pictures ad that ran in Vanity Fair back in February of 1920. (The magazine is running a bunch of its old content on its website in celebration ...

Opening shot: The Counselor

Because a good opening shot tells you something, just like a good opening sentence

So, here you have a straight path, Route 54. But if you turn from the straight path, you wind up in Juarez, Mexico. What's in Juarez? Why drugs and drug violence, of course. And what ...

Trailer Park: That Awkward Moment

Actually, it's more of an "end that trend" bit, but still.

So, first up: this trailer is red-band for a reason. Proceed with caution. Right, then. For a few years in a child's life, any reference to poop or pee is inherently hilarious. The reference can ...