Mark Jenkins

Mark Jenkins reviews movies for NPR.org, as well as for reeldc.com, which covers the Washington, D.C., film scene with an emphasis on art, foreign and repertory cinema.

Jenkins spent most of his career in the industry once known as newspapers, working as an editor, writer, art director, graphic artist and circulation director, among other things, for various papers that are now dead or close to it.

He covers popular and semi-popular music for The Washington Post, Blurt, Time Out New York, and the newsmagazine show Metro Connection, which airs on member station WAMU-FM.

Jenkins is co-author, with Mark Andersen, of Dance of Days: Two Decades of Punk in the Nation's Capital. At one time or another, he has written about music for Rolling Stone, Slate, and NPR's All Things Considered, among other outlets.

He has also written about architecture and urbanism for various publications, and is a writer and consulting editor for the Time Out travel guide to Washington. He lives in Washington.

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Movie Reviews
5:03 pm
Thu May 28, 2015

'Gemma Bovery': Retelling A Classic With A Light Touch

Hervé (Niels Schneider) and Gemma (Gemma Arterton) in Gemma Bovery.
Jerome Prebois Music Box Films

French director Anne Fontaine's Gemma Bovery is a comic reworking of Madame Bovary, but that's merely the first of the movie's several layers. The bilingual film is adapted not from Flaubert's classic but from British cartoonist Posy Simmonds' graphic novel, set in contemporary times and with the Boverys as a London couple that just relocated to Normandy.

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Movie Reviews
5:33 pm
Thu May 21, 2015

In 'The Seeds Of Time,' One Man's Quest To Save Our Food Supply

Seeds of Time
Hungry, INC. Kino Lorber

Cary Fowler is an easygoing, soft-spoken Tennessee native who travels the world with an urgent message: The human race may starve to death. If that threat becomes likely, however, people can turn to the biological archive that director Sandy McLeod's documentary calls The Seeds of Time.

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Movie Reviews
5:03 pm
Thu May 7, 2015

'The D Train' Rumbles On With Another Hunk/Schlub Comedy

Henry Zebrowski (Craig), James Marsden (Oliver Lawless), and Jack Black (Dan Landsman) in Jarrad Paul and Andrew Mogel's The D Train.
Hilary Bronwyn Gayle IFC

"Inappropriate," today's foremost throat-clearing adjective, is the appropriate response to The D Train. This squirm-till-you-snicker comedy is about two immature males confronted with sexual possibilities they can't handle. One of the guys is 14; the other is his father.

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Movie Reviews
5:43 pm
Thu April 30, 2015

In 'Marie's Story,' A Tale Of Teaching And Faith

Ariana Rivoire and Isabelle Carré in Marie's Story.
Film Movement

Originally published on Fri May 1, 2015 4:47 pm

Marie Heurtin was born blind and deaf just five years after Helen Keller, and she experienced a similar liberation through the discovery of sign language. The French girl's tale is the harsher one, since Keller didn't lose sight and sound until she was 19 months old and was able to communicate in a limited way with another girl before the breakthrough dramatized in The Miracle Worker.

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Movie Reviews
6:03 pm
Thu April 23, 2015

'24 Days' Retells A Brutal Crime With Little Explanation

Zabou Breitman plays Ruth Halimi in 24 Days.
Menemsha Films

Originally published on Fri April 24, 2015 12:58 pm

24 Days recounts the grisly fate of Ilan Halimi, the young Jewish Parisian who in 2006 was kidnapped, held for ransom and tortured beyond what his body could endure. But it's not Ilan who addresses the camera at the beginning of the film. It's his mother, Ruth Halimi (Zabou Breitman).

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Movie Reviews
5:03 pm
Thu April 16, 2015

'Monkey Kingdom' Is Best When It's All Monkeys All The Time

Monkeys on Castle Rock from Disneynature's Monkey Kingdom.
Jeff Wilson Disney

Originally published on Fri April 17, 2015 4:44 pm

As much fun as a tree full of toque macaques, Monkey Kingdom is arguably the most entertaining of Disneynature's eight features. But purists will recoil as soon as The Monkees theme enters, and there are times when the story told by narrator Tina Fey probably doesn't reflect the extraordinary images directors Mark Linfield and Alastair Fothergill captured.

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Movie Reviews
5:41 pm
Thu April 9, 2015

Listening To The Ho-Hum Of The Machine

Sonoya Mizuno and Alicia Vikander in Ex-Machina.
A24 Films

The latest British movie to play the imitation game, Ex Machina, is the directorial debut of novelist-screenwriter Alex Garland. This time, the stakes are higher than the Nazi conquest of Europe. The talky sci-fi puzzler turns on nothing less than the potential displacement of humans by artificially intelligent cyborgs.

Then again, maybe the film is just another riff on the battle of the sexes.

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Movie Reviews
9:39 pm
Sat April 4, 2015

The Overstuffed, Overdone, Overlong, Cheerfully Absurd 'Furious 7'

At the end of The Fast and the Furious, Brian (Paul Walker) gives former enemy Dom (Vin Diesel) a car so he can drive alone into the sunset. Fourteen years and six films later, there's precious little alone time for the Furious clan. This lucrative franchise has so many recurring characters that they really should trade in their muscle cars and charter a team bus.

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Movie Reviews
5:03 pm
Thu March 26, 2015

Married Without Children, But With Overgrown Adolescents

Ben Stiller and Naomi Watts play married couple Cornelia and Josh in the Noah Baumbach film While We're Young.
Jon Pack A24

Noah Baumbach's best movie since 2005's The Squid and the Whale, While We're Young navigates into more mainstream territory while losing none of the writer-director's rueful wit. Oddly enough, the comedy's major weakness is that it's over-plotted, hardly an issue with such Baumbach flawed-character studies as Frances Ha and Greenberg.

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Movie Reviews
5:03 pm
Thu March 19, 2015

'Kumiko' Follows A Quest For A Film's Snowy Treasure

Rinko Kikuchi in Kumiko, The Treasure Hunter.
Sean Porter Amplify

Originally published on Thu March 19, 2015 8:36 pm

Withdrawn and inarticulate, the heroine of Kumiko, The Treasure Hunter lives primarily inside her own imagination. And during at least two crucial scenes, this deadpan comedy seems to crawl in there with her.

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Movie Reviews
5:03 pm
Thu March 12, 2015

Two Sisters And One Tax Inspector Make Up '3 Hearts'

Charlotte Gainsbourg and Chiara Mastroianni in 3 Hearts.
Thierry Valletoux Cohen Media Group

The man at the center of 3 Hearts has a unreliable ticker. That may seem a brazen contrivance, but the movie is a melodrama that relishes such narrative ploys. Shot with handheld camera, director and co-writer Benoit Jacquot's movie looks like a naturalistic drama. But the script says otherwise.

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Movie Reviews
5:03 pm
Thu March 5, 2015

'Unfinished Business' You're Better Off Not Even Starting

In the midst of a European business trip, Dan Truckman (Vince Vaughn) Timothy McWinters (Tom Wilkinson) and Mike Pancake (David Franco) somehow end up in a pasture.
Jessica Miglio Twentieth Century Fox

It's unclear what commerce is left undone in Unfinished Business, a fumbling mix of sentimental family fable and gross-out sex comedy. Maybe the movie was originally titled Unfunny Business, but someone decided that would be bad for, well, business.

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Movie Reviews
5:01 pm
Thu February 26, 2015

A Disorienting But Electrifying Look At The Troubles

British soldier Gary Hook (Jack O'Connell) is accidentally abandoned by his unit after a riot in Belfast.
Dean Rogers Roadside Attractions

Originally published on Thu February 26, 2015 6:11 pm

Grim, terse and jumpy, '71 effectively evokes the chaos of early-1970s Belfast. A little too effectively, perhaps, since some sequences are as bewildering as the four-way civil war the movie re-creates. American viewers may wish the film came with both subtitles and a study guide.

'71 can be recommended, though, to viewers who don't mind a little bewilderment in the cause of an authentically visceral experience. After all, Northern Ireland residents who lived through The Troubles were probably also confused much of the time.

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Movie Reviews
5:03 pm
Thu February 19, 2015

'Queen And Country' Follows A Familiar Protagonist Through A New War

Tamsin Egerton in Queen and Country.
Sophie Mutevelian BBC Worldwide North America

In John Boorman's first semi-autobiographical film, 1987's Hope and Glory, war came to the school-age protagonist's London. In Queen and Country, set roughly a decade later, the director's alter ego goes to war — except that he doesn't. As the Korean conflict rages, 19-year-old Bill Rohan (Callum Turner) is drafted, trained and sent into service as a typing instructor.

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Movie Reviews
5:03 pm
Thu February 12, 2015

'Gett' Follows A Years-Long Quest For Separation

Viviane (Ronit Elkabetz) in Gett.
Music Box Films

Seen mostly in a cell-like white room, the characters in Gett: The Trial of Viviane Amsalem circle each other fruitlessly, seeking a resolution that's probably unachievable. Both the scenario and its severity suggest a play by Sartre or Beckett. But these actors are trapped not in an existential void but a rabbinical one.

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Movie Reviews
5:04 pm
Thu January 29, 2015

'Timbuktu': Stories From A City Held, Then Freed

Toulou Kiki, Ibrahim Ahmed, Layla Walet Mohamed in Timbuktu.
Cohen Media Group

In one of Timbuktu's first vignettes, jihadists open fire on traditional sculptures, shredding wooden bodies with bullets. It's foreshadowing, of course: Human flesh will later face the same guns. But the moment is also a fine example of Abderrahmane Sissako's lyrical style. The Malian-Mauritanian director has made a film of unforgettable anger, yet tempered his outrage with humor, compassion and visual poetry.

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Movie Reviews
5:18 pm
Thu January 15, 2015

A Lead Performance Keeps 'Still Alice' Grounded

Julianne Moore plays Alice Howland, a linguistics professor diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer's disease.
Linda Kallerus Sony Pictures Classics

Originally published on Fri January 16, 2015 2:08 pm

A circumstance that might well qualify as a fate worse than death is to continue living after one side of the human equation — body + mind — has been canceled. For a jaunty account of an active brain in a withering physique, see The Theory of Everything; for a more anguished view of the opposite situation, there's Still Alice.

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Movie Reviews
10:03 am
Fri January 2, 2015

Murder, Cows And Bad Funerals In The Absurd Comedy Of 'Li'l Quinquin'

Quinquin.
Kino Lorber

Originally published on Fri January 2, 2015 10:16 am

Although set in Bruno Dumont's home region of northern France, L'il Quinquin finds the writer-director in unexpected territory. The film is a arguably Dumont's first comedy, and was made as a four-part TV miniseries.

Yet with its relaxed pacing, inconclusive plot and elegant widescreen cinematography, the movie doesn't feel much like TV. And its humor is less a matter of overt gags than bemused attitude, which shows that the Dumont of Humanite and Hors Satan has barely relocated at all.

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Movie Reviews
5:03 pm
Thu December 18, 2014

A Watery 'Goodbye To All That'

Paul Schneider and Heather Graham in Goodbye To All That.
Corey Walter IFC Films

Otto Wall, the protagonist of Goodbye to All That, is well-meaning, clumsy and a little dull. The movie embodies his character perfectly.

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Movie Reviews
3:19 pm
Fri December 12, 2014

An 'Exodus' With Extra Eyeliner And Crocodiles

Rhamses (Joel Edgerton) and Moses (Christian Bale) in Ridley Scott's Exodus: Gods and Kings.
Kerry Brown Twentieth Century Fox

The tale of Moses is not exactly fresh cinematic material, so anyone attempting an update would to be wise to have a theme. The subtitle of Exodus: Gods and Kings suggests that Ridley Scott intended just that. The director must have meant to contrast the decadent Egyptian pharaohs, who imagined themselves divine, with the humbler servant of the Hebrew G-d.

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