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
8:03 pm
Fri July 24, 2015

'A Gay Girl' Who Was Not What She Seemed

A scene from A Gay Girl in Damascus.
IFC Films

Originally published on Sat July 25, 2015 1:53 am

Imagine discovering a blog written by an attractive, vivacious woman who lives in a city torn by civil war. Imagine corresponding with that woman, falling in love with her, and receiving erotic messages and nude photos from her. Then imagine hearing that this online lover has been kidnapped, probably by her repressive country's secret police.

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Movie Reviews
5:03 pm
Thu July 16, 2015

A Widely Praised Documentary Gets An Even Better Second Chapter

A scene from Joshua Oppenheimer's documentary The Look of Silence.
Drafthouse Films and Participant Media

Originally published on Thu July 16, 2015 5:23 pm

Almost three years ago, Joshua Oppenheimer unveiled The Act of Killing, a startling documentary about the 1965-66 mass killings in Indonesia. Its audacious ploy was to encourage unrepentant murderers to re-enact their deeds in the form of scenes from action flicks, a tactic that was extremely well-received by Western critics.

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Movie Reviews
5:03 pm
Thu July 9, 2015

Coming Back As A Better Slab Of Beef Isn't All It's Cracked Up To Be

Madeline (Natalie Martinez) and daughter Anna (Jaynee-Lynne Kinchen) with Young Damian/Edward (Ryan Reynolds) in Self/less.
Alan Markfield Gramercy Pictures

Originally published on Thu July 9, 2015 7:23 pm

The rich are different from you and me. They can buy fresh bodies when the old ones wear out.

Well, at least they can in Self/less, a movie that raises provocative questions about identity and then doesn't think about them at all. In this sci-fi fantasy, rebottling your soul in a new vessel begets not contemplation but chase scenes. Lots of chase scenes.

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Movie Reviews
5:37 pm
Fri July 3, 2015

Investigating The Drug Trade In 'Cartel Land'

Jose Manuel Mireles Valverde, spokesman for the Autodefensas, a militia organized against the Knights Templar mob.
The Orchard

Observing the consequences of the Mexican drug trade on both sides of the U.S. border, Cartel Land toggles between Arizona and the state of Michoacan, about 1,000 miles to the south. Only the latter of the twinned storylines really pays off, but that one is riveting.

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Movie Reviews
5:03 pm
Thu June 25, 2015

'Escobar: Paradise Lost' Finds Young Love Overshadowed By Violence

Josh Hutcherson and Benecio Del Toro in Escobar: Paradise Lost.
Radius

Filmmakers can struggle to prevent their swaggering villain from upstaging their innocuous hero. Writer-director Andrea Di Stefano clearly didn't worry about that when making Escobar: Paradise Lost. If he did, he wouldn't have cast Benicio del Toro as the bad guy.

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Movie Reviews
5:03 pm
Thu June 18, 2015

The House Music Of Paris Takes Center Stage In 'Eden'

Felix De Givry in Eden.
Broad Green Pictures

A subtle portrait of an EDM Adam, Eden is neither a star-is-born fable nor a soul-is-lost parable. In 1992, teenage Paul (Felix de Givry) gives his life to Paris' house-music scene. Two decades later, he reluctantly takes it back.

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Movie Reviews
5:03 pm
Thu June 11, 2015

A Poet Can Indeed Be Trouble In 'Set Fire To The Stars'

Elijah Wood in Set Fire To The Stars.
Strand Releasing

"How much trouble can one poet be?" That's literature professor John Malcolm Brinnin's rhetorical response to his buttoned-way-down colleagues' fears about a writer's proposed visit to New York in 1950. Today, the query can't be heard as anything other than an inside joke. For the poet is Dylan Thomas, who was trouble for most of his 39 years.

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Movie Reviews
5:01 pm
Thu June 4, 2015

A Simplified Brian Wilson In 'Love And Mercy'

Paul Dano plays a young Brian Wilson in Love and Mercy.
Francois Duhamel Roadside Attractions

Originally published on Fri June 5, 2015 12:37 pm

Wouldn't it be nice if Beach Boy Brian Wilson's troubled life were as easily understood as Love & Mercy makes it appear? Where the Pet Sounds auteur is known for multi-part harmonies, director Bill Pohlad's biopic is a series of simple duets.

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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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