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 December 5, 2013
Movie Reviews

A 'Furnace' Fueled By Manly Malice

When his younger brother disappears after getting entangled with a rough customer, Russell (Christian Bale) grabs a gun and heads out to hunt for him.
Kerry Hayes Relativity Media

Both literally and thematically dark, Out of the Furnace simmers with manliness like a slow-cooking pot of venison chili. This is the sort of movie where character is revealed by what the protagonist decides to hunt and possibly kill.

A noble buck in the Pennsylvania woods? Maybe not. A murderous, meth-dealing bare-knuckle-boxing promoter? Bang!

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5:03pm

Thu November 28, 2013
Movie Reviews

A 'Long Walk' With Mandela, But It Shorts His Story

Originally published on Fri November 29, 2013 7:10 pm

Idris Elba plays Nelson Mandela in a biographical film based on the former South African president's memoir.
Keith Bernstein The Weinstein Company

Some movies try to underscore their authenticity by flashing dates, names and locations on the screen. Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom offers some dates and locations, but not much in the way of names. The result is a history of national transformation in which only two people really seem to matter.

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5:03pm

Thu November 28, 2013
Movie Reviews

A Gospel Story, Reframed (Again) In 'Black Nativity'

Originally published on Fri November 29, 2013 8:55 pm

Jacob Latimore (from left), Angela Bassett, Jennifer Hudson and Forest Whitaker power through the season in Kasi Lemmons' Black Nativity, a Christmas movie musical based on Langston Hughes' gospel oratorio.
Phil Bray Fox Searchlight Pictures

Like Eve's Bayou, her best-known movie, Kasi Lemmons' Black Nativity presents a child's view of a troubled family. The latter film is sweeter and slenderer, but that's only to be expected: Black Nativity is a musical, after all, as well as a credible attempt at an African-American holiday perennial.

The original Black Nativity is a gospel-music oratorio, conceived by poet Langston Hughes and first performed in 1961. It pairs the Christian Nativity story with traditional spirituals and African drumming.

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5:03pm

Thu November 21, 2013
Movie Reviews

A Foray Into The Blood-Soaked 'Cultura' Of Mexico's Cartels

Originally published on Fri November 22, 2013 3:03 pm

In Narco Cultura, director and photojournalist Shaul Schwarz interrogates the collision of pop culture and Mexico's drug cartels — as personified by bands like Los Bukanas de Culiacan (above), who perform narcocorridos, or songs glorifying the drug trade.
Shaul Schwarz Cinedigm

Following police through Mexico's Ciudad Juárez — reputedly the world's homicide capital — the Israeli filmmaker Shaul Schwarz finds mutilated corpses and gutters running with blood. But the resulting documentary, Narco Cultura, is not nearly so vivid as its most gruesome footage.

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5:02pm

Thu November 14, 2013
Movie Reviews

Alexander Sokurov, Seeking New Shadows In A Dark Classic

The man who makes the deal with the devil, played by Johannes Zeiler, is back onscreen in a new interpretation of the Faust story from director Alexander Sokurov.
Leisure Time Features

Siberia-born director Alexander Sokurov is best known in the West for 2002's Russian Ark, a cinematic waltz through the Hermitage Museum that also functions as a primer on Russian history. The filmmaker is an idiosyncratic historian, though, as he demonstrates yet again with a version of Faust that completes his "tetralogy of power."

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5:03pm

Thu November 7, 2013
Movie Reviews

The End Of The World, As She Knows It

Daisy (Saoirse Ronan) is just a typical teen struggling with boys, family and growing up — and also what might be the apocalypse.
Nicola Dove Magnolia Pictures

Because it serves up Armageddon with a side order of teen romance, How I Live Now is not always credible. But as a portrait of a surly 16-year-old whose internal crisis is overtaken by an external one, the movie is persuasive.

For that, credit goes partly to director Kevin Macdonald, but mostly to his star, Saoirse Ronan. Playing a neurotic urbanite who learns to survive in a war-ravaged landscape, the actress is, appropriately enough, a force of nature.

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5:03pm

Thu October 31, 2013
Movie Reviews

'Tai Chi' Master: Keanu Reeves Takes The Director's Chair

Making his directorial debut with Man of Tai Chi, Keanu Reeves also appears as the film's rich, ruthless villain.
RADiUS-TWC

Keanu Reeves' directorial debut, Man of Tai Chi, is basically the anti-Kill Bill. Both movies are quilted together from their auteurs' favorite Asian action flicks, but where Tarantino's was overheated, Reeves' is elegantly iced. It's martial-arts mayhem with a touch of zen.

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5:03pm

Thu October 24, 2013
Movie Reviews

'The Square': Egypt In Crisis, And Its People In Focus

The documentary follows the political turmoil in Egypt since 2011 but focuses on the story of just a handful of young revolutionaries, among them Ahmed Hassan.
Noujaim Films

Several times during The Square, Jehane Noujaim's account of Egypt's unfinished revolution, the camera gazes down on Tahrir Square, teeming with multitudes. Yet ultimately, one of the principal appeals of the D.C.-born Egyptian-American filmmaker's documentary is its intimacy.

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5:03pm

Thu October 17, 2013
Movie Reviews

WikiLeaks Gets A Hollywood Gloss In 'Fifth Estate'

Benedict Cumberbatch (left), sporting the white-blond mop of the real Julian Assange, and Daniel Bruhl, who plays Daniel Domscheit-Berg, take on the story of WikiLeaks in The Fifth Estate.
Frank Connor DreamWorks II

The saga of Julian Assange and WikiLeaks is too large a data dump for a two-hour drama. Yet director Bill Condon seeks to complicate as well as simplify in The Fifth Estate, an entertaining if inevitably unreliable current events romp.

The opening credits present a pocket history of textual communication, from cuneiform to the Internet. Condon, who took a similarly breathless approach with Kinsey, is announcing that his subject is nothing less than how the Web transformed communication.

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5:03pm

Thu October 10, 2013
Movie Reviews

Punk History, Embroidered Here And There

Originally published on Fri October 11, 2013 3:54 pm

Malin Akerman, who plays Blondie singer Debbie Harry, is just one of many actors and musicians lip-syncing to the tracks of '70s punk legends in the loose but lively CBGB.
Beau Giann XLrator Media

Loose, lively and agreeably unsolemn, the alt-culture biopic CBGB is an account of that Manhattan punk-rock crucible whose audience will likely be even smaller than the crowd that actually went to the club in the 1970s.

That's because to really enjoy Randall Miller's film, viewers not only probably need to have experienced the club in its formative years; they'll also need not to be too terribly invested in their own versions of what happened there. This is not a film for purists or quibblers.

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