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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Movie Reviews
3:03 pm
Thu May 10, 2012

In Lebanon, Women Fight To Keep A Fragile Peace

Filmmaker Nadine Labaki plays the lead role of Amale, a widow who organizes women in a Lebanese village to help tamp down flaring sectarian tensions, in her film Where Do We Go Now?
Rudy Bou Chebel Sony Pictures Classics

Women's hard-won pragmatism contends with men's impulsive belligerence in Where Do We Go Now?, the second feature directed by Lebanese actress Nadine Labaki. It's the sort of well-meaning fable that's ultimately more admirable than persuasive.

Filmed in three small Lebanese villages, the movie never locates itself in a particular country. But, as in last year's similarly cautious Incendies, the place must be Lebanon; there are few places in the Middle East where Christians and Muslims mingle the way they do in this story.

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Movie Reviews
3:03 pm
Thu May 3, 2012

For Americans' Water, It's 'Last Call At The Oasis'

In building its case for the need to address flaws in current water management practices, the documentary Last Call at the Oasis shows the negative effects of such systems on communities, including this dry lake in Australia.
Participant Media

Eco-aware filmgoers won't learn much from Last Call at the Oasis, which follows the paths of such well-known water activists as Erin Brockovich. But writer-director Jessica Yu's documentary may be slick enough to reach people who aren't already familiar with such substances as "new water," atrazine and hexavalent chromium.

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Movie Reviews
3:03 pm
Thu April 26, 2012

'Elles': In Paris, Ladies Living Dangereusely

Anne (Juliette Binoche), a Parisian journalist writing for the women's magazine Elle, interviews two university students moonlighting as prostitutes. She develops a sisterlike rapport with Charlotte (Anais Demoustier), a young woman from the Paris suburbs.
Kino Lorber

In Elles, a Paris journalist has an eye-opening experience when she interviews two university students who moonlight as prostitutes. So do the movie's viewers, presented with beaucoup de nudite. No genitalia are on display, but there are a few kinky moments that justify the NC-17 rating.

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Movie Reviews
10:56 am
Thu April 26, 2012

Demanding 'Payback' That May Never Come

A migrant Florida tomato grower and member of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers drinks from a jug of water. As part of a larger discussion of societal thinking about debt, Payback looks at the sometimes harsh treatment by companies of migrant workers.
Zeitgeist Films

"Crime doesn't pay" is one of the hopeful cliches Margaret Atwood invokes in her essay collection Payback: Debt and the Shadow Side of Wealth.

Of course it does, filmmaker Jennifer Baichwal shows in Payback, a documentary that riffs on Atwood's themes. But crime doesn't always pay, and perhaps it will pay less well in the future. At least that's the suggestion made by the on-screen commentators who expand on Atwood's original theme.

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Movie Reviews
3:03 pm
Thu April 19, 2012

'Glory' Days: Intimate Experiences, But At A Price?

A man eyes some of the women working at the upscale Fish Tank brothel in Bangkok. The documentary Whores' Glory chronicles the experiences of sex workers in relatively clean establishments — and some living in de facto slavery.
Vinai Dithajohn Lotus Films

Originally published on Fri April 20, 2012 8:30 am

The world's oldest profession is one of cinema's oldest subjects, sometimes employed for pathos or political metaphor, but often glamorized. Austrian documentarian Michael Glawogger's Whores' Glory is no Pretty Woman. But neither does it qualify as an expose.

The movie, which shifts from Thailand to Bangladesh to Mexico, aspires to a cinema-verite style. Yet it's unusually well-lighted and -composed for on-the-fly footage, and includes scenes that appear to be staged.

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Movie Reviews
3:03 pm
Thu April 19, 2012

'Chimpanzee': Oh, The Humanity!

Chimpanzee's filmmakers, the young chimp at the center of the film is adopted by an older male chimp — a rare occurrence — after his mother is killed." href="/post/chimpanzee-oh-humanity" class="noexit lightbox">
Nicknamed "Oscar" by Chimpanzee's filmmakers, the young chimp at the center of the film is adopted by an older male chimp — a rare occurrence — after his mother is killed.
Disneynature

It's a classic scenario in sentimental fiction: An adorable orphan humanizes a crusty old codger. "Humanize" might not seem the obvious verb for what happens in Chimpanzee, Disneynature's latest kiddie documentary. But it's dead on; this escape to the planet of the apes is anthropomorphic to a fault.

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Movie Reviews
3:00 pm
Thu April 5, 2012

'Surviving Progress': Taking Overdevelopment To Task

The documentary Surviving Progress illustrates its arguments on the sustainability of human behavior in the context of environmental degradation with striking images of life in cities like Sao Paulo.
First Run Features

Originally published on Fri April 6, 2012 11:37 am

Not every human advance is a snare, according to Ronald Wright, author of A Short History of Progress. But some new techniques can lead to something the Canadian author calls a "progress trap" — a development that's ultimately more harmful than helpful.

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Movie Reviews
3:00 pm
Thu April 5, 2012

'We Have A Pope': Whoops, Maybe We Don't

Reluctant Papa: Michel Piccoli (center) plays Melville, a cardinal surprisingly elected pope by his peers. At a critical moment before he must address his new flock, Melville insists he can't take the job.
Philippe Antonello IFC Film

"God sees abilities in me I don't have," laments the protagonist of Italian writer-director Nanni Moretti's new movie. Such self-doubt is hardly novel, but Melville (Michel Piccoli) has a special stake in God's opinion of him — he's just been elected pope.

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Movie Reviews
3:00 pm
Thu March 29, 2012

'Womb': A Lost Love Reborn, But Not Quite Recovered

Never Let Me Go: After Rebecca (Eva Green) reconnects with Tommy (Matt Smith), a crush from her childhood — only to lose him soon after in an accident — she decides to give birth to his clone and raise him as her son.
Olive Films

Some people are just meant to be together — even after they're dead. That's the premise of writer-director Benedek Fliegauf's Womb, a movie whose slender narrative is little more than that premise, yet whose themes prove bigger than the story.

Love between the living and the undead is all the rage in Hollywood movies, but Womb is no Twilight. Shot in Germany by a Hungarian with an English-speaking cast, the movie is more akin to 2004's Birth.

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