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 August 2, 2012
Movie Reviews

In A Decrepit Future, An Identity Crisis Multiplies

Doug Quaid (Colin Farrell) visits Rekall, a company that implants memories in its customers, in an attempt to explain a series of recurring dreams. Farrell plays the role originally portrayed by Arnold Schwarzenegger in the 1990 film of the same name.
Michael Gibson Columbia Pictures

Set in a high-tech yet shabby future, the remake of Total Recall is a fully realized piece of production design. But its script, credited to six authors, is more like a preliminary sketch.

Directed by Underworld franchise veteran Len Wiseman, the movie retains some elements of Paul Verhoeven's friskier (and more graphically violent) 1990 original. Yet it also makes lots of changes, notably by downplaying the brain-bending aspects of the scenario in favor of thought-free action. (Also, it never leaves a devastated Earth for Mars.)

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5:08pm

Thu July 26, 2012
Movie Reviews

'Ai Weiwei': A Defiant Artist Pushes Back In China

Originally published on Thu July 26, 2012 6:44 pm

Ai Weiwei is one of the biggest stars of the international art world, but Alison Klayman's documentary Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry focuses more on the significance of his politics than of his artwork.
Ted Alcorn IFC Films

Cage-rattling Chinese artist Ai Weiwei lives in a Beijing complex with his wife and some 40 cats and dogs. Only one of the animals — a cat — has figured out how to open the door to the outside. This ready-made metaphor arrives early in Alison Klayman's documentary Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry and is never mentioned again. But it underlies the tale of one of the few contemporary Chinese who publicly defies the government.

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5:03pm

Thu July 19, 2012
Movie Reviews

'Hara-Kiri': A Samurai's Bluff Hides A Revenge Plot

Hara-Kiri: Death of a Samurai is set in an era in which some underemployed warriors would bluff their willingness to commit ritual suicide, hoping for money or employment from wealthy families who didn't want to deal with the mess. Hanshiro's (Ebizo Ichikawa) own bluff in the film, however, goes deeper.
Tribeca Film

Japanese cinematic extremist Takashi Miike is known for movies that go too far — often because they can't figure out where else to go. So it was revealing when last year's 13 Assassins, a remake of a 1963 samurai adventure, demonstrated a traditionalist streak in Miike's tastes. But that movie is a crystal-meth freakout compared with the director's latest effort, the stately Hara-Kiri: Death of a Samurai.

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5:03pm

Thu July 12, 2012
Movie Reviews

A Humble Servant, Watching As The Throne Totters

Gabrielle de Polignac (Virginie Ledoyen, left) is the close, possibly intimate, friend of Marie Antoinette (Diane Kruger) — and the two are the bane of the approaching revolutionaries in Farewell, My Queen.
Carole Bethuel Cohen Media Group

In 1995's A Single Girl, probably his best known film in the U.S., Benoit Jacquot tracks a young chambermaid through one workday as she ponders a big decision. The French writer-director's smart and ultimately wrenching Farewell, My Queen takes a similar course — only this time the protagonist toils for Queen Marie Antoinette, and the story opens on July 14, 1789.

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5:03pm

Thu July 12, 2012
Movie Reviews

Science And The Paranormal, At Odds To The Finish

In Red Lights, Simon Silver (Robert De Niro) is a psychic who comes out of retirement and poses a threat to two academics, Margaret Matheson (Sigourney Weaver) and Tom Buckley (Cillian Murphy), who are wary of all claims to the supernatural.
Millennium Entertainment

Of all the hustlers who present cheap tricks as "magic," few are more shameless than filmmakers. Under the cover of "It's only a movie," directors and screenwriters exhort the gullible to believe in ghosts, telekinesis, extraterrestrials and such.

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5:01pm

Thu July 5, 2012
Movie Reviews

Father And Son, On The Lam In The Outback

Hugo Weaving and Tom Russell as Kev and Chook in Last Ride. Chook's love of animals and lesser propensity for the outdoors clash with the life lessons Kev tries to teach him in the Australian wilderness.
Rhys Graham Music Box Films

Kev, the man at the center of Last Ride, has a very particular skill set: He can lift wallets, steal cars and survive in the Australian bush, sleeping under the stars and dining on fresh wild rabbit. Taking care of his 10-year-old son, however, comes less naturally to him.

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5:01pm

Thu July 5, 2012
Movie Reviews

California Peaceniks In A Drug War Full Of 'Savages'

Originally published on Fri July 6, 2012 11:54 am

In Savages, two drug dealers — Chon (Taylor Kitsch, left), a former Navy SEAL, and Ben (Aaron Johnson), a pacifist — are forced to take up arms when they anger the head of a Mexican cartel.
Francois Duhamel Universal Pictures

Both factions in Oliver Stone's new movie refer to each other, not without reason, as "savages." But this drug-war thriller is not nearly so feral as such previous Stone rampages as U-Turn and Natural Born Killers. Occasionally, it even seems righteous.

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5:26pm

Tue June 26, 2012
Movie Reviews

'Gypsy': Something's Rotten, This Time In Slovakia

Adam (Jan Mizigar, left) sits with his glue-sniffing brother, Marian (Martin Hangurbadzo). Adam tries to avoid a path of crime in Gypsy, but family regularly draws him into one.
In Film

Dad just died violently. Mom married the man who might be his killer. And now the dead man's ghost is appearing to his son.

That plot comes from Hamlet, of course, but Slovak director Martin Sulik's Gypsy is not otherwise Shakespearean. There are no soliloquies and little dialogue. The prince is 15 and inarticulate, and his Ophelia is entirely sane. She's about to be exiled from her community for the same reasons that nearly everyone else in this tale is victimized: poverty and prejudice.

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5:03pm

Thu June 21, 2012
Movie Reviews

The Visible Costs Of The Military's 'Invisible War'

Originally published on Thu March 21, 2013 11:55 am

Kori Cioca is the linking thread among many stories in The Invisible War. Kirby Dick's documentary reveals a shocking culture of sexual assault in the U.S. military.
Cinedigm/Docurama Films

In documentaries, showing is almost always more effective than telling. But The Invisible War, an expose of sexual assault in the U.S. military, is compelling despite being all talk. Footage of the many crimes recounted in the film is, of course, nonexistent — and would be nearly unwatchable if available.

So director Kirby Dick addresses the subject directly, without gimmicks or gambits. Stylistically, The Invisible War is conventional and plainspoken, from its opening clips of vintage recruitment ads for women to its closing updates on the central characters.

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5:03pm

Thu June 21, 2012
Movie Reviews

Two Couples Bunk Up For 'A Burning Hot Summer'

in Philippe Garrel's A Burning Hot Summer, Angele (Monica Bellucci) and Frederic (Louis Garrel) make up the more tempestuous of two couples living together in Rome.
IFC Films

Lovely people, beautiful places, a suicide attempt and echoes of a French New Wave classic — these ingredients seem to promise lots of passion in A Burning Hot Summer. But this existential-romantic roundelay barely simmers, and certainly doesn't scorch.

Veteran director Philippe Garrel's latest film opens with apparently parallel events: a woman reclines naked, alone in a room, as a man guns his car, heading straight for a tree.

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