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“Les Miserables” Directed by Tom Hooper Starring: Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Anne Hathaway Grade: D- During the climax of “Les Miserables,” directed with stunning ineptitude by Tom Hooper, characters are shown wading, splashing and sputtering through pools of excrement. A break from my indignation, I smiled at what was as apt a visual representation as any of my experience with this film. In the case of his Oscar-winning previous effort “The King’s Speech,” Hooper’s direction...

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“Titanic” (1997) Directed by James Cameron Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet, Gloria Stuart Grade: A  In crafting his 1997 blockbuster masterpiece “Titanic,” writer-director James Cameron could have taken what one might call the History Channel approach, wherein historical accuracy and anecdotes reign. That method would have undoubtedly sufficed for many, given the drama inherent in Titanic’s sinking. And, in a sense, Cameron did craft that film. With a few liberties taken, “Titanic” contains a recreation...

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Note: I don’t watch everything. This year in particular, I’ve fallen behind on a number of shows I like. Of what I did watch, here’s what I most enjoyed: 10. Chuck (NBC) The little spy comedy that could, “Chuck,” by all logic, shouldn’t have lasted two seasons, let alone five. Its survival is a testament to NBC’s ratings struggles, shameless product integration, and, above all else, a passionate fanbase. The latter, of course, doesn’t come...

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I’ve only seen one episode of “Nashville,” embedded above, but I wanted to offer a few first impressions, as I did with the comedy pilots last month. Set in the eponymous country music capital, “Nashville” tells the story of aging country music star Rayna Jaymes (the wonderful Connie Britton of “Friday Night Lights”) and Juliette Barnes (Hayden Panettiere, reasonably successful at mixing vulnerability with bitchiness), the hot young idol impeding on Rayna’s territory. Also in...

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As I read the opening pages of J.K. Rowling’s “The Casual Vacancy,” I felt the onset of an all-too-rare pleasure: the joy of being placed in the hands of a trusted storyteller, an artist with a proven voice. With so much pre-release emphasis placed on the book’s status as a “novel for adults” (whatever that means), I had prepared myself for “The Casual Vacancy” to be written by a J.K. Rowling very different from the author...

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Reviewing television pilots is a tricky practice–how much weight should be placed on a single television episode that may or may not be representative of the series that follows? Some shows start poorly and evolve into something great (“Parks and Recreation”). Others may have a fantastic premiere episode and fizzle quickly (“Glee” became unwatchable in record time). The following reviews are nothing more than first impressions and I’m willing to give any of these shows...

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Writer-director David Koepp’s latest film, “Premium Rush,” has been advertised with the tagline “Ride Like Hell.” This is, perhaps, to its detriment–I’m not sure high-speed bicycling  constitutes much of a box office draw in today’s cultural landscape, nor would it seem to make for a very appealing film, but, regardless, it sums up “Premium Rush” rather well. The majority of the film consists of characters simply riding their bikes really, really fast. The audience watches...

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I doubt I’m alone in feeling that this summer was rather unremarkable in terms of the films released. The sole box office knockout was Joss Whedon’s “The Avengers,” having grossed over $600 million to date, but, for striking such a chord with audiences, the film was a bit of a bore that suffered from the usual flaws found in films of its genre. The release of the summer’s most anticipated film, Christopher Nolan’s “The Dark...