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May. 16 2012


By WBJC | Posted in Movie Reviews | Comments Off on DARK SHADOWS, THE BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL, Sound of My Voice


From a 1960’s afternoon soap opera, comes Dark Shadows with Johnny Depp as the cursed vampire Barnabus Collins.  His 18th century love, Josette (Bella Heathcote), died under the spell of Angelique (Eva Green).  Segue to 1972 and Barnabus is freed when construction workers discover his buried coffin and his thirst is quenched on their blood.  Angelique’s antagonist, Elizabeth (Michelle Pfeiffer), is the matriarch of the famous Collins family and their decaying 200 year old mansion, Collinswood.  Barnabus enters his old haunt and meets the family and the new nanny, Victoria (also Heathcote).  Of course, his appearance creates a new spell of curses, animals of the night and the demise of a band of hippies.  I was very entertained by Dark Shadow and it is the easy, quizzy nature of Depp mixed with Tim Burton’s artful direction in their eighth collaboration (the first was the unique Edward Scissorhands) that kept me captivated.  The rich photography, the crumbling house on the hill, the scintillating performances by an all-star cast and more than a few laughs added up to success.



Formerly, the British escaped to Italy or a Greek Island when they wanted to depart the Isles, but here, it is India and the hope for a growing nation in the midst of modernization.  Reality has a way of destroying the myth in a hurry as this great cast led by Judi Dench, Tom Wilkinson and Maggie Smith. The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is a rundown and torn apart shell owned by the optimistic and energetic son of the former owner.  That each finds him and herself willing to alter their uncomfortable life situations as their surroundings slowly improve.  This movie is a positive addition in a genre void of quality in recent years.  The standard has been Julia Robert’s “Eat, Pray, Love,” which undercuts its own themes.  Exotic is sometimes subtle and witty and a bit less glossy in a good way.  It is a drama with comedy just outside the bounds of cliché.


Sound of My Voice

Here is a piece of fiction loaded with the evocative.  It is difficult to describe the emotions of the two documentary film makers (Christopher Denham and Nicole Vicius) who set out to explore a new cult.  Maggie (Brit Marling), who claims to be from the future, is the brain behind this tightly knit.  Through rituals, forbearance and a complicated handshake, the interlopers find themselves uncomfortably drawn in by the anticipation of the future and Maggie’s unsettling mystique.  True, Sound of My Voice does contain elements of several novel and movie plots, but this one is fresh and one I won’t soon forget.

Burt Shapiro

Burt Shapiro


Burt Shapiro was WBJC’s Program Guide Editor, Music Host and Movie critic for nearly 3 decades. He passed away in July of 2014, and is greatly missed. Burt had seen 11,000 different films ranging from Calamity Jane and Rear Window (when originally released, at the Crest and the Uptown in Baltimore) through Orphens of the Storm to Sound of My Voice and back again. He continued to pursue his interests while achieving lousy grades in high school and as an undergraduate at Maryland. While living and working in New York, he was accepted by the NYU School of Cinema Studies. It was when the screening room was over the Fillmore East on Second Avenue and in William Everson’s living room, a locale for the very hard core. He watched hardly-ever-seen films before VHS, Beta, laser disc, DVD and bluray. His time in New York also gave him a life shattering shock when a Saturday Museum of Modern Art screening of A Condemned Man Escapes offered his most electric moment. Applause shattered the silence before “Fin” even filled the screen. The same can be said about his toddler granddaughter, Sophie, when she picks up the microphone to sing.

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