Arts & Culture

Movie Reviews
4:03 pm
Thu September 27, 2012

'Vulgaria': Raunch Comedy With An Asian Accent

Guangxi gangster Brother Tyrannosaurus (Ronald Cheng, left) agrees to back a film for producer To Wai-Cheung (Chapman To) — with a few conditions.
China Lion Entertainment

Some men, it's said, think about only one thing. Hong Kong movie producer To Wai-Cheung, for example, is absolutely obsessive about film. Yet when he discusses it, he always seems to be talking about something else that's often on men's minds.

To (Chapman To) is the protagonist of Vulgaria, a Hong Kong movie-biz satire and sex comedy. Directed by Pang Ho-Cheung, the film boasts the spontaneity of a French New Wave romp, while including raunchy gags worthy of The Hangover and Clerks II.

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Movie Reviews
4:03 pm
Thu September 27, 2012

'Pitch Perfect': In Tune Where It Counts Most

The Bellas, an all-female a cappella group, battle the boys to sing their way to the top in Pitch Perfect.
Universal Pictures

When it's done right, there's nothing so miraculous as the sound of human voices blending into a creamy swirl of color, with neither the help nor the distraction of musical accompaniment. Pitch Perfect banks on that magic — the purely human wizardry of a cappella singing — though it also attempts to be several other things: a mild gross-out comedy, a paean to the awkward early stages of new love, a Mean Girls-style riff on campus hierarchies. That may be too much for one modest comedy to carry, but one thing's for sure: Pitch Perfect doesn't skimp on the singing.

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Movie Reviews
4:03 pm
Thu September 27, 2012

Time And Crime, Thoroughly Crossed Up In 'Looper'

Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Bruce Willis star as present and future versions of the same man in Looper.
Alan Markfield Sony Pictures

The main problem with time-travel movies is the many black holes that the plot can stumble into; for a certain kind of viewer, they can be more than a little distracting. While the story presses forward, we're stuck wondering, for instance, how a character can safely hang out with his future self in the same time period — an anomaly that, despite Spock's shenanigans in the 2009 Star Trek reboot, aficionados of Doctor Who know is a Very Bad Thing.

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Movie Reviews
3:12 pm
Thu September 27, 2012

'Looper': Time-Travel Nonsense, Winningly Played

Old Joe (Bruce Willis) and his younger self (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), two iterations of the same assassin, play a particularly personal game of cat and mouse in the time-travel thriller Looper.
Alan Markfield Sony Pictures

I adore time-travel pictures like Looper no matter how idiotic, especially when they feature a Love That Transcends Time. I love Somewhere in Time with Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour, The Time Traveler's Wife, even The Lake House with Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock in different years sending letters through a magic mailbox. So terrible. So good. See, everyone wants to correct mistakes in hindsight, and it's the one thing we cannot do. Except vicariously, in movies.

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Author Interviews
1:07 pm
Thu September 27, 2012

British Scientist Driven To Find 'Spark Of Life'

W. W. Norton & Company

Originally published on Tue October 2, 2012 2:47 pm

One night in 1984, British scientist Frances Ashcroft was studying electricity in the body and discovered the protein that causes neonatal diabetes. She says she felt so "over the moon" that she couldn't sleep.

By the next morning, she says, she thought it was a mistake.

But luckily, that feeling was wrong, and Ashcroft's revelation led to a medical breakthrough decades later, which now enables people born with diabetes to take pills instead of injecting insulin.

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