At one point in "Oz The Great and Powerful," Oz (James Franco) says to China Doll, a Computer Generated Imagery (CGI) character voiced by Joey King, "One rule in show biz: Never work with kids or animals," adding, "I already have this ... ," as he gestures to another CGI character, Finley, a monkey in a bellhop suit voiced by Zach Braff.
To that show-business adage, it could be added, "Never work with CGI characters."
At least in "Oz the Great and Powerful," for James Franco and other live-action actors, it's a losing battle.
"Quartet" is a thoughtful, entertaining and fun film that hits all the grace notes.
The film is directed by Dustin Hoffman, who will be 76 on Aug. 8, in his feature film directorial debut.
One question: Why did he wait so long?
Well, Hoffman started directing "Straight Time" in 1978, but Ulu Grobard took it over.
The setting for "Quartet" is Beecham House, a home for retired musicians in England, for which the success of the annual gala concert to celebrate composer Giuseppi Verdi's birthday may determine whether the castle-like manse will stay open or close.
It's called "Burlesque to Broadway," but the song and dance revue, 7:30 p.m. March 2, State Theatre for the Arts, 453 Northampton St., Easton, is much more, according to its star.
"It's a celebration of women, from Burlesque to Broadway and beyond," says Quinn Lemley, star of the show with co-stars, Sara Brophy, portraying Raz, a Rosalind Russell character, and Amanda Brantley, portraying Gracie, based on Gracie Allen. They're backed by a 10-piece orchestra.
"The show is like a young Bette Midler meets 'Chicago,' " Lemley says.
Just when one thought that France's "Rust and Bone" set the mark for depressing cinema, there's "Amour."
"Amour" was nominated for five Oscars, picture, actress (Emmanuelle Riva), director (Michael Haneke), original screenplay (Haneke) and foreign-language film (Austria's entry). The film won the Palme d'Or at last year's Cannes Film Festival.
In "Amour," Georges (Jean-Louis Trintignant) and Anne (Riva) are retired music teachers who are in their 80s. After Anne has successive strokes, Georges promised her that he will not place here in a long-term care facility.
"Side Effects" is a good crime thriller with a twist that you probably won't see coming.
Jude Law plays Dr. Jonathan Banks, a psychiatrist who is paid as a consultant for a pharmaceutical company that is doing trials with a new drug.
One of his clients, Emily (Rooney Mara), is institutionalized after she negotiates an NGRI plea (Not Guilty For Reasons of Insanity) plea over the death of her husband Martin (Channing Tatum).
Law consults with Dr. Siebert (Catherine Zeta-Jones), Emily's previous psychiatrist, who may or may not be withholding information from him.
"Django Unchained," with five Oscar nominations, has been on my must-see list of movies in theatrical release.
Still, there was trepidation about seeing "Django Unchained." I delayed seeing Quentin Tarantino's latest opus and an opus it is because of advance word about its depiction of graphic violence and the extensive use of the "N" word.
That said, "Django Unchained" deserves the Oscar Picture, Original Screenplay, Supporting Actor (Christoph Waltz), Cinematography and Sound Editing nominations.
The French really know how to do depressing.
They also have a way of finding that silver lining in the most cloudy of lives and circumstances. Essentially, the French romanticize pain.
"Rust and Bone" ("De rouille et d'os"), directed by French film-maker Jacques Audiard, is inspiring, despite the tragedy that befalls its protagonist, Stephanie (Marion Cotillard).
"Zero Dark Thirty," an Oscar picrtue nominee and an American Film Institute movie of the year, is an intense cinema-going experience.
"Zero Dark Thirty" is nothing less than an account of the decade-long hunt for al-Qaeda terrorist leader Osama bin Laden following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and The Pentagon and bin Laden's killing by United States Navy S.E.A.L. Team 6 in May 2011.
Stephanie Gardner wrote her way into film-making.
Gardner, an Emmaus High School, Class of '04, graduate living in New York City, screens seven of her short films, 3 p.m. Jan. 26, The Barrister's Club, 1114 W. Walnut St., Allentown.
The event is free and open to the public. Donations will be taken for the production of Gardner's next short, "Paris in Winter," set to lens next month in Montreal, Canada. "It's meant to be the antithesis of the typical Paris love story," Gardner says.
"Silver Linings Playbook" is amazing, entertaining and profound.
Writer-Director David O. Russell draws from life experience to create a compassionate, funny and charming portrayal of Pat Solatano (Bradley Cooper), a young man with mental health problems who is trying to get his life back together.
He's released into the care of his Philadelphia area parents, Pat Sr. (Robert De Niro) and Dolores (Jacki Weaver). Pat Jr. only wants to get back with his estranged wife, Nikki. However, Pat Jr. meets a young woman, Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence), a widow who has her own problems.