Lucy starts with the dubious premise that humans use only 10% of their brains and soon becomes even more dubious as a young woman gradually increases her utilization far beyond that amount. Scarlett Johansson stars as Lucy, the innocent girlfriend of a stupid drug courier. When she accidentally gets involved with Taiwanese drug dealers and overdoses on a freaky new substance, her brain goes hyperactive and develops unbelievable new abilities. Most of them defy any extrapolation of existing abilitiesbut hey, this is a summer action flick, not a science documentary, despite some scenes in which Morgan Freeman plays a brain expert delivering a college lecture. Some people interpret this film as an allegory of female empowerment. But it would serve that role better if Lucy used her new mental skills to outthink her foes instead of overwhelming them with brute-force telekinesis. Nevertheless, it's entertaining if you don't mind the fantasy and some gory violence.
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Magic in the Moonlight is an entertaining "Woody Allen movie," which means it's a light romantic comedy that sometimes veers philosophical. Actually, this one is more philosophical than most. It explores the conflict between reason and faith, and it pits the stagecraft of illusionist magic against hopeful belief in the supernatural. Colin Firth plays a famous English magician recruited to debunk a young, attractive psychic (Emma Stone in an equally fine performance). There's some intrigue, and some surprises, but the overall tone is carefully reserved, in keeping with the refined upper-class characters and historical setting (south of France, 1928). As with nearly all Woody Allen movies, this is a skillfully made actor's film that will please his fans.
Godzilla updates the 1954 originalagain!with a bigger incarnation of the monster and better special effects. This time, however, Godzilla is almost a minor character. Two other prehistoric monsters revived by radiation take center stage as the main baddies, leaving a trail of destruction from Tokyo to Honolulu to San Francisco. Godzilla, their natural predator, pursues them toward a climactic showdown. The human star is Aaron Taylor-Johnson, who plays a U.S. Navy ordnance-disposal specialist amazingly cross-trained as a HALO paratrooper and Minuteman ICBM expert. But realism isn't the point of this movie; it's pure summer blockbuster fun. Still, I miss the Japanese guy in the rubber Godzilla suit.
Begin Again is a great example of a modern musicala film centered on music that doesn't interrupt the story with unrealistic song-and-dance numbers. Keira Knightley stars as a young singer-songwriter in the shadow of her rock-star boyfriend. Mark Ruffalo co-stars as a down-and-out record producer who discovers her latent talent on open-mike night at a noisy bar. Both characters are in the dumps and looking for an escape route. They find it in her music, which is more like ore than gold but is ready to shine. The redemptive quality of music carries this film, although it glosses over some problems (alcoholism, a broken marriage) that aren't so easily solved. Irish writer/director John Carney builds on his previous success with a musical movieOnce (2006), which launched the Oscar-winning song "Falling Slowly." Begin Again is a bigger production that borders on the formulaic but has enough charm to overcome its clichés.
>> See more mini-reviews, including Edge of Tomorrow ... Maleficent ... Finding Vivian Maier ... The Grand Budapest Hotel ... The Monuments Men ... 12 Years a Slave ... Her ... August: Osage County ... Lone Survivor ... The Wolf of Wall Street ... American Hustle ... Inside Llewyn Davis ... Nebraska ... The Hunger Games: Catching Fire ... All Is Lost ... Ender's Game ... Captain Phillips ... The Fifth Estate ... Gravity ... and many more!
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Here is an index to more than 180 of Tom's computer articles from BYTE Magazine published from 1992 to 1998. (BYTE ceased publication in June 1998.) Most articles are still available online and include the original photographs, figures, and screen shots.
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