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 August 15, 2013

Lives And History, Through The Eyes Of Big And Small

Forest Whitaker turns in a reserved performance as Cecil Gaines, butler to eight U.S. presidents, including Robin Williams' Dwight D. Eisenhower, in a Lee Daniels drama based on the true story of a White House veteran.
Anne Marie Fox The Weinstein Co.

Originally published on Thu August 15, 2013 6:59 pm

In their approaches to history, Joshua Michael Stern's Jobs and Lee Daniels' The Butler could hardly be less similar. The former is an example of Victorian-style great-man biography, updated for the iThings era. The latter observes monumental events, mostly involving the civil rights movement, from an Everyman's perspective.

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Movie Reviews
5:03 pm
Thu August 8, 2013

'Deep Throat's' Lovelace, And The Linda She Used To Be

Amanda Seyfried plays girl-next-door porn star Linda Lovelace, who'd become a sensation in 1972's Deep Throat but later denounce her manager-husband (Peter Sarsgaard) as abusive and manipulative.
Dale Robinette Radius TWC

Originally published on Fri August 9, 2013 11:25 am

Cinema routinely peddles images of beautiful people in romantic situations, not to mention gauzily idealized visions of passion and intimacy. So it's a little counterintuitive when filmmakers depict sex as perilous — even when that's exactly what they've signed up to do.

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Movie Reviews
5:53 pm
Thu August 1, 2013

Washington, Wahlberg Are Bad Boys, And Whatcha Gonna Do?

Bobby and Stig (Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg) are two hypermacho hoods who've teamed up to rob a bank — but wait, are they really the bad guys they say they are?
Patti Perret Universal

Hypermacho but tongue-in-cheek, the first 20 minutes of 2 Guns are enormous fun. Tough guys Bobby and Stig (Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg) bicker and flirt — with a pretty diner waitress, and with each other — while casing a small-town Texas bank.

Then they set the diner on fire, don masks, and knock over the bank for $43 million, all while taking care to save any cops from getting hurt and even kissing an available baby. The heist, it would seem, has gone according to plan. Yet something's a little off.

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Movie Reviews
5:03 pm
Thu August 1, 2013

Beyond Earth's Gravity, A Space Opera Goes Flat

Daniel Luxembourg (Christian Camargo) is chief scientist on a doomed mission to one of Jupiter's moons in Europa Report, a found-footage whatdunnit with sci-fi-thriller ambitions.
Magnolia

In space, not many people can hear you scream. In fact, traveling in a manned spacecraft is probably a bit like working on a soundproof movie set — which is plainly where Europa Report was shot.

Tricked up with split screens and digital-video glitchery, this low-budget sci-fi saga emphasizes the claustrophobia and monotony of a long journey beyond Earth's gravity. But it also borrows gambits from horror movies, withholding information and eliminating characters one by one.

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Movie Reviews
5:18 pm
Thu July 25, 2013

Crime And Punishment, Mainland China Style

When it is discovered that Timmy Choi (Louis Koo) has been manufacturing meth, he's sentenced to death and put in the custody of Capt. Zhang. His only shot at redemption? Helping Zhang shut down his cartel.
Variance

Originally published on Thu July 25, 2013 6:13 pm

Hong Kong action-crime maestro Johnnie To makes films about good and evil, but he's not in the habit of neatly distinguishing the two. So he might seem at a disadvantage in mainland China, where the censors don't tolerate moral ambiguity. With the canny Drug War, however, the director proves himself entirely up to the challenge.

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Movie Reviews
5:03 pm
Thu July 11, 2013

Adam Sandler, Insisting Again That He's A Really Great Guy

Improbably or not, Salma Hayek (left) and Adam Sandler (far right) are a couple again in Grown Ups 2. Billed as a comedy, the film also features Kevin James, Alexys Nicole Sanchez, Chris Rock, Maria Bello and David Spade, who in this scene are all pretending to laugh at something that in all likelihood involves poo.
Tracy Bennett Sony Pictures

Two decades ago, when stupid Hollywood comedies were relatively smart, they lampooned their own sequelitis with titles like Hot Shots! Part Deux. The genre has become less knowing since then, so the follow-up to 2010's Grown Ups is named simply Grown Ups 2.

Grown Ups Minus 2 would be more apt.

Like its predecessor, this is a vehicle for Adam Sandler, his pals and whatever they think they can get away with. That means some creepy sexual insinuations, if not so many as the first time.

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Movie Reviews
5:03 pm
Tue July 2, 2013

In Swinging-'60s London, A Frisky 'Look Of Love'

The high life catches up with pop-culture impresario Paul Raymond (Steve Coogan, right) and his daughter Debbie (Imogen Poots) when nudie-mag editor Tony Power (Chris Addison) introduces them to drugs.
IFC

Originally published on Tue July 2, 2013 5:33 pm

The fourth collaboration between actor Steve Coogan and director Michael Winterbottom is much like their first: Both The Look of Love and 2002's 24 Hour Party People are antic, self-conscious film bios about impresarios on the fringes of showbiz — soft porn and punk rock, respectively. But somehow the new movie, though it doesn't skimp on the nudity, the cocaine or the Britpop, is the blander of the two.

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Movie Reviews
5:00 pm
Thu June 27, 2013

In Vienna, A Gallery Of Hours That Add Up To Art

Bobby Sommer is Johann, an "invisible" Vienna museum guard who becomes profoundly connected to a frequent visitor after she starts to take notice of him.
Cinema Guild

During his 20-year career, Jem Cohen has shown his films in museum auditoriums more often than in commercial theaters. So it's fitting that Museum Hours, the arty documentarian's latest feature-length effort, is so indebted to Vienna's Kunsthistorisches Museum. Cohen likes to happen upon stories and images, and the 19th-century Austrian culture palace is brimming with both.

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Movie Reviews
5:03 pm
Thu June 20, 2013

In Tel Aviv, An 'Attack' With Consequences For The Heart

Ali Suliman, noted for his role in the Oscar-nominated film Paradise Now, plays Amin Jaafari, an Arab-Israeli surgeon whose world is rocked in the wake of a Tel Aviv bombing.
Cohen Media Group

Originally published on Sun June 23, 2013 9:28 am

As The Attack begins, the prosperous, successful Dr. Amin Jaafari (Ali Suliman) is missing just one thing: his wife's presence as he becomes the first Arab-Israeli to win a prestigious national medical prize.

Even as the Tel Aviv physician accepts the award, however, his life is unraveling. And by the time director and co-writer Ziad Doueiri's drama is done with him, Amin has lost it all — including his illusion of having a homeland.

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Movie Reviews
5:04 pm
Thu June 13, 2013

'More Than Honey' Sees A World Without Bees

In More Than Honey, Attica Boa's striking close-up photography helps visualize a story whose urgency needs no amplification: With global honeybee populations threatened, the world's food supply could be seriously endangered.
Kino Lorber

An amiably shaggy combination of science lesson, whimsical musing and alarm bell, More Than Honey isn't as urgent as its eco-catastrophic subject — the possible destruction of the world's critically important honeybee populations — might seem to require. But the documentary's most memorable vignette is suitably unnerving: a visit to northern China, where the threatened disappearance of bees has already come to pass, leaving workers to pollinate fruit trees ... by hand.

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Movie Reviews
5:01 pm
Thu June 6, 2013

Resnais' Lively, Metatheatrical Look At Death

Sabine Azema (left) and Pierre Arditi are two of the veteran actors drawn into a convoluted retelling — and reimagining — of the Orpheus and Eurydice story in Alain Resnais' You Ain't Seen Nothin' Yet.
Kino Lorber

As a relatively young man, French director Alain Resnais made films about loss, remembrance and the ghosts of a recent history that included the Holocaust, Hiroshima and the brutal Franco-Algerian war. He was 89 when he directed his latest film, You Ain't Seen Nothin' Yet, which also considers the presence of the past. But the director's concern with real-life horrors has been replaced here by an outlook that's both playful and explicitly theatrical.

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Movie Reviews
5:02 pm
Thu May 30, 2013

Teenage 'Kings Of Summer' Rule A Predictable Sitcom World

The Kings Of Summer stars (from left) Gabriel Basso as Patrick, Moises Arias as Biaggio and Nick Robinson as Joe. The three teenagers escape from their constrictive parents to build a house of their own in the woods.
Courtesy Toy's House Productions

Like the recent Mud, The Kings of Summer is a tale of feral adolescent pals in search of freedom and adventure. The movies even share essentially the same awkwardly contrived climax. But of the two films, The Kings of Summer is more of a comedy, with a depiction of the eternal war between teen and parent that's downright farcical.

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Movie Reviews
3:00 pm
Thu May 30, 2013

Will, Jaden Smith In Space, Without Fun

Will Smith (left) and Jaden Smith star in After Earth, an unfortunately humorless film.
Courtesy of Columbia Pictures.

A disastrous father-son endeavor about a calamitous father-son expedition, After Earth doesn't play to the strengths of any of its major participants.

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Movie Reviews
5:48 pm
Thu May 23, 2013

'We Steal Secrets': A Sidelong Look At WikiLeaks

Source material: As a virtual prisoner these days, he doesn't supply much in the way of fresh information — but WikiLeaks overlord Julian Assange is very much at the center of Alex Gibney's documentary We Steal Secrets.
Jo Straube Universal Pictures

Originally published on Thu May 23, 2013 7:52 pm

Current-events buffs probably think they know the tale of WikiLeaks and its founder, Julian Assange. Prolific filmmaker Alex Gibney may have thought the same when he began researching his film We Steal Secrets. But this engrossing documentary soon diverges from the expected.

Even the movie's title, or rather the source of it, is a surprise. Not to spoil the fun, but it's neither Assange nor one of his allies who nonchalantly acknowledges that "we steal secrets."

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Movie Reviews
5:03 pm
Thu May 16, 2013

'Bidder 70,' Still Raising His Hand To Be Heard

Supporters of environmental activist Tim DeChristopher picket outside his criminal trial. The economics student ran into trouble with the federal government when he bid on — and won — mineral rights he had no intention of exploiting.
First Run Features

In its final months, the George W. Bush administration hastily organized a mineral-rights auction for federal land in Utah, much of it near national parks. Environmentalist and economics student Tim DeChristopher attended the sale and — impulsively, he says — bid on and won 22,000 acres he had no intention of exploiting.

The feds came down on him like a ton of oil derricks. DeChristopher was threatened with as many as 10 years in prison, and ultimately spent 21 months behind bars.

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Movie Reviews
5:03 pm
Thu May 16, 2013

'Augustine' And Her Diagnosis Get Another Look

Augustine (the French singer-actress billed as Soko) was a 19th-century Paris housemaid diagnosed with the then-fashionable condition known as "hysteria" — a catchall used to label many ailments women suffered in that age.
Jean Claude Lother Music Box Films

Onstage, in front of an audience, the young woman seemingly goes into a trance, overcome by a power that shakes and contorts her. The commotion appears profoundly sexual; she grabs at her crotch as she writhes. When the woman reaches some kind of release, the spell is broken, and she becomes calm. She leaves the stage to enthusiastic applause.

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Movie Reviews
5:03 pm
Thu May 2, 2013

'In The Air,' A Sense Of Stakes For A '70s Youth

Christine (Lola Creton) and Gilles (Clement Metayer) are the sometime couple at the center of Olivier Assayas' smart, clear-eyed examination of a still-painful period in France's recent past.
Carol Bethuel MK/Sundance Selects

In the opening minutes of Something in the Air, the protagonist carves an "A" (for anarchy) into his school desk, and participates in a street demonstration that ends in a punishing flurry of police billy clubs. "The revolution's near," apparently — to quote the 1969 Thunderclap Newman hit that provides the film's title.

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Movie Reviews
5:03 pm
Thu April 25, 2013

'Arthur Newman': A Bored Man's Bland Ambition

Mike (Emily Blunt) and Wallace (Colin Firth) try on new clothes — and new identities — in the unconvincing comedy Arthur Newman.
Cinedigm Entertainment Group

Being a movie actor is glamorous servitude. On the silver screen, the actor's presence is necessarily bigger than life — yet it's often yoked to parts that are much smaller.

The dreary Arthur Newman inspires such musings not just because it's about role-playing, but also because its two principals are so clearly acting — if for no other reason than they're famous Brits playing ordinary Yanks. This is a movie that wants viewers to believe that Colin Firth, best known to filmgoers as King George VI, is a nobody from nowheresville.

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Movie Reviews
5:03 pm
Thu April 25, 2013

In 'Paradise,' Pursuing Something Less Than Love

Teresa (Margarethe Tiesel) travels to a beach resort in Kenya for vacation, where she dabbles in sex tourism with a series of local men.
Strand Relesasing

The opening sequence of Paradise: Love doesn't really have anything to do with what follows, but it does establish director Ulrich Seidl's unflinching eye. At a pavilion somewhere in Austria, a group of cognitively challenged children, many apparently with Down syndrome, ride bumper cars under the supervision of Teresa (Margarethe Tiesel). There's no hint of sentimentality, no attempt at reassurance.

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Movie Reviews
5:03 pm
Thu April 18, 2013

Building A Home For A Client Who Can't Live In It

Artist Jackie Sumell set out to build a dream home for bank robber Herman Wallace, whose additional conviction for killing a prison guard is the subject of a long-running dispute.
First Run Features

The off-screen protagonist of Herman's House, Herman Wallace, already has a dwelling for his body: a 6-foot-by-8-foot cell at the Louisiana State Penitentiary, aka Angola. But the documentary's on-screen protagonist, Jackie Sumell, wants him also to have a place for his soul: a dream house for a man who desperately needs dreams.

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