"Blue Jasmine" is the 49th film directed and 71st film written by Woody Allen, including some shorts, in the 47 years since his first movie in 1966. He's already filming his next movie, an untitled feature scheduled for release in 2014.
Allen, noted for his hilarious social satires, has also made dramas, often including funny moments. "Blue Jasmine" is one such film.
"The Butler" is an eyewitness to history through the eyes of a White House employee during the presidential administrations of Dwight Eisenhower, John Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan.
In "The Butler" screenplay by Danny Strong (actor, "Mad Men"), the cauldron of the Civil Rights Movement is backdrop for the presidential procession as well as the story of Cecil Gaines (Forest Whitaker), a fictional White House butler inspired by the real-life Eugene Allen, who was on the White House staff for 34 years.
"Elysium" is a science fiction metaphor for the haves and have-nots of today.
In the year 2154, the super-rich live on a huge bicycle wheel-shaped space station orbiting Earth. It is a Garden of Eden. The wealthy are coddled in Boca-Raton meets Disney World surroundings. Health-care "med-pods" heal patients completely and quickly.
Down below, the whole Earth has become the Third World. Los Angeles is reduced to shanty towns such as those, for example, surrounding Mexico City.
"The Smurfs 2" is an amusing animated and live action feature film with excellent character voices, jokey dialogue and terrific animation that should be enjoyed by the pre-10 year-old set and hold the attention of most parents or guardians.
The characters were created by Peyo, aka Pierre Culliford, a Belgium comic-strip artist-writer. The name Smurf is a Dutch language translation of an invented French word, Schtroumpf, a made-up word for salt.
"The Wolverine" gets deeper into the psyche of Logan, aka Wolverine, the Marvel Comics superhero, thanks to an intense performance by Hugh Jackman, reprising his role as the title character, and thoughtful and compelling direction by James Mangold.
As the late theater critic Jack O'Brian (1914 - 2000) wrote in his syndicated column, "Voice of Broadway" and said on his afternoon interview show WOR-AM: "Always the young strangers."
It's uncertain whether the phrase was borrowed from the title of Carl Sandburg's 1953 book, but O'Brian used it to refer to new talent in break-through roles in Broadway shows.
The Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival (PSF) production of "Henry VIII," through Aug. 4, Schubert Theatre, Labuda Center for the Arts, DeSales University, Center Valley, is a curiosity.
The so-called history play, in its PSF debut (as is "Measure for Measure," also through Aug. 4), is said by some scholars to have been a collaboration between William Shakespeare and John Fletcher. "Henry VIII" was first performed some 400 years before no-fault divorce, June 29, 1613, at the Globe Theatre, which burned to the ground when a cannon in the play misfired and ignited the thatched roof.
Summer and blockbusters go hand in popcorn at the movies.
The watershed year for the summer blockbuster marketing mentality of the major Hollywood movie studios was 1975 with the release of director Steven Spielberg's "Jaws," which ushered in the summer blockbuster genre of big-budget, fast-paced, thrilling entertainment.
During the summer and Thanksgiving through Christmas and New Year's holiday season, there's "counterprogramming," whereby "indie" (independently-released) films are released, sometimes to critical and box office success.
"Despicable Me 2" has nearly all the things you would want to see and hear in an animated feature family comedy.
It has distinctive and charmingly-rendered characters, voice talent that is very expressive, an interesting and entertaining storyline, an overall attention to detail and, most importantly, a sense of fun.
"Despicable Me 2" ("DM2") is co-directed by Pierre Coffin and Chris Renaud.
Renaud is a Parkland High School, Class of '85, graduate who attended the Baum School of Art where he received a $1,000 scholarship.
The Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival production of "Measure for Measure," through Aug. 4, Labuda Center for the Performing Arts, DeSales University, Center Valley, is a marvelous feast of double-crossing stratagems, low comedy and high drama.
With Shakespeare, you usually get a drama or comedy. With the Bard's "Measure for Measure," you get both. The play could be regarded as the first of what is now known in TV and movie parlance as a "dramedy," or, more traditionally, a tragicomedy.