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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5:03pm

Thu April 9, 2015
Movie Reviews

Listening To The Ho-Hum Of The Machine

Originally published on Thu April 9, 2015 5:41 pm

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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5:03pm

Thu February 5, 2015
Movie Reviews

In 'The Voices,' The Dog And The Cat Talk, But The Film Says Little

Fiona (Gemma Arterton) and Jerry (Ryan Reynolds) in The Voices.
Lionsgate

A serial-killer spoof set in a parody of small-town U.S.A., The Voices wants desperately to be bizarre. But it manages just to be a little odd, and that's mostly because its vision of American gothic was crafted on a German soundstage by a Franco-Iranian director.

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10:16am

Fri January 2, 2015
Movie Reviews

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

Quinquin.
Kino Lorber

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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1:25pm

Fri December 5, 2014
Movie Reviews

A 'Wild' Trek Made A Bit Too Neatly

Reese Witherspoon plays Cheryl Strayed in Wild.
Anne Marie Fox Fox Searchlight Pictures

With a backstory that includes heroin use and zipless you-know-whats, Wild is a daring foray for its star and producer, the usually prim Reese Witherspoon. As an excursion into the untamed stream of human consciousness, however, the movie is less bold.

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5:03pm

Thu November 13, 2014
Music Reviews

The Slow-Talking 'Foxcatcher' Goes Long And Comes Up Short

Originally published on Thu November 13, 2014 8:17 pm

Steve Carell plays John du Pont in Foxcatcher.
Scott Garfield Sony Pictures Classics

The rich are different from you and me. They talk more slowly.

Speaking ... like ... this isn't the entire extent of Steve Carell's impersonation of John du Pont in Foxcatcher, which fictionalizes an odd case from the 1990s. The actor is also outfitted with a prosthetic nose that recalls the beak of his cartoon alter ego, Despicable Me's Gru.

"Most of my friends will call me 'Eagle,' or 'Golden Eagle,' " John claims, but he looks more a sedated canary.

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6:29am

Sat November 8, 2014
Movie Reviews

In 'The Theory Of Everything,' Science Takes A Back Seat

Originally published on Mon November 10, 2014 8:48 am

Eddie Redmayne plays astrophysicist Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything.
Liam Daniel Focus Features

British science is having a cinematic moment, with The Theory of Everything now and The Imitation Game soon. Yet neither film has much science in it. These accounts of Stephen Hawking and Alan Turing, respectively, are engaging and well-crafted but modeled all too faithfully on old-school romantic dramas.

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12:17pm

Thu October 30, 2014
Movie Reviews

In 'Goodbye To Language,' Jean-Luc Godard Seeks New Ways To Make Pictures

Jean-Luc Godard's dog Roxy appears in his new film, Goodbye To Language.
Kino Lorber

Even the most ordinary movies can be seductive, as Jean-Luc Godard knows all too well. In the 1960s, he was besotted with American commercial cinema, even as he rejected the U.S. policies that led it to make war in Vietnam.

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2:03am

Fri October 24, 2014
Movie Reviews

'Life Of Riley,' Alain Resnais' Final Film, Bids A Sunny Adieu

Hippolyte Girardot and Sabine Azéma play spouses in Life of Riley.
Kino Lorber

There are as many mysteries in Alain Resnais' final film, Life of Riley, as there are in the movies that made his reputation almost 60 years ago. But where Hiroshima, Mon Amour and Last Year at Marienbad were shadowed by history, this sunny adieu is set in a series of make-believe gardens.

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5:03pm

Thu October 16, 2014
Movie Reviews

'The Golden Era' Follows A Path From Northern China To Tokyo

Originally published on Fri October 17, 2014 9:55 am

Shaofeng Feng and Wei Tang in The Golden Era.
China Lion Film Distribution

Director Ann Hui's The Golden Era tells of a female novelist and poet who lived in, as the Chinese curse puts it, "interesting times": from 1911 to 1942. Simultaneously sweeping and intimate, the three-hour drama overcomes many of the usual difficulties of depicting writers on screen. But it can't finesse one major impediment for Western viewers: Few of them know anything of its heroine, Xiao Hong.

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10:04am

Tue October 14, 2014
Movie Reviews

'Kill The Messenger' Incompletely Unravels A Complex Tale

Originally published on Tue October 14, 2014 12:11 pm

Jeremy Renner plays Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Gary Webb.
Chuck Zlotnick Focus Features

Which is the better story: a massive conspiracy to use CIA connections to import cocaine into the United States, or the efforts of one reporter to uncover that intrigue?

Gary Webb, the protagonist of Kill the Messenger, pursued the first topic, and rightly so — even if it did destroy him. Director Michael Cuesta went with the second, probably because it's more manageable.

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