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.

5:03pm

Thu March 20, 2014
Movie Reviews

It's Faction Against Faction In A Grim Future Chicago

Tris (Shailene Woodley) and Four (Theo James) train hard as part of the warrior faction Dauntless in Divergent, based on the novel by Veronica Roth.
Jaap Buitendijk Summit Entertainment

The latest teen-girl fiction series to become a movie franchise, Divergent delivers adolescent viewers some bad news and some good news. The bad is that the dystopian future will be just like high school, with kids divided into rigid cliques. The good is that adulthood will be just like high school, so teens face no major surprises.

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5:03pm

Thu February 27, 2014
Movie Reviews

In 'Stalingrad,' Where The Fog Of War Is Plenty Thick

Teenage civilian Katya (Mariya Smolnikova) shares a ruined apartment with a gang of Soviet soldiers during the battle of Stalingrad in Fedor Bondarchuk's Stalingrad.
Sony Pictures

If you're only going to see one film about the Battle of Stalingrad — and there are many — Stalingrad would be the wrong choice. Russian director Fedor Bondarchuk's treatment of the World War II turning point is shallow and contrived, if sometimes impressively staged. The movie wins points, however, for sheer wackiness.

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5:03pm

Thu November 8, 2012
Movie Reviews

'Dangerous Liaisons' Gets A Far-East Makeover

Xie Yifan (Jang Dong-gun) sets out to seduce a young widow, Du Fenyu (Zhang Ziyi), at the behest of his former flame.
Well Go USA

Relocating Dangerous Liaisons, the 18th-century French erotic intrigue, to 1930s Shanghai is a bold move. And yet it's not especially surprising. In Chinese movies, that city in that decade frequently serves as shorthand for decadence. And what could be more decadent than two debauched ex-lovers cold-heartedly planning to destroy the innocence of not one but two virtuous women?

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5:03pm

Thu October 11, 2012
Movie Reviews

A 'Big Picture' Intently Focused On The Details

Paul (Romain Duris), an aspiring photographer, assumes another man's identity to escape his job, marriage and dull life.
MPI Media Group

The original French title of The Big Picture — an adaptation of a novel by American expatriate writer Douglas Kennedy — means "the man who wanted to live his life." That's pointedly ironic, since this existential thriller is about a person who seeks personal freedom by becoming somebody else.

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5:01pm

Tue June 21, 2011
Movie Reviews

'Passione' Project: A Tribute To Neapolitan Music

Enter Sandmen: Musical performances make up the bulk of Passione, and director John Turturro often can't resist getting in on the action. Max Casella (from left), Fiorello, an unnamed dancer and Turturro search for Neapolitan oil in the song "Caravan Petrol."
Beta Cinema

"O Sole Mio" and Enrico Caruso aren't simply Italian. They're Neapolitan, the product of a city whose music is worldly, carnal and more closely linked to Andalucia than to Rome or Milan.

Even devotees who know all that are likely to learn a few things from Passione, John Turturro's cinematic rhapsody to the music of the city he, with affable pretentiousness, calls "Napoli." But the information doesn't come from cultural historians and ethnomusicologists.

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5:01pm

Thu June 16, 2011
Movie Reviews

Lawful Land Grab Sparks A 'Battle For Brooklyn'

Stomp The Yards: Graphic designer Daniel Goldstein turned neighborhood rabble-rouser to take on Brooklyn's proposed Atlantic Yards project, which would have demolished his condo to make room for 16 skyscrapers and a new basketball arena.
Tracy Collins Rumur

When Brooklyn's Atlantic Yards project was announced some seven years ago, its boosters — who included Mayor Michael Bloomberg, U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer and Borough President Marty Markowitz — touted the scheme's extraordinary potential. But there was nothing unusual about the developer-politician alliance recounted by Battle for Brooklyn. The way this deal went down exemplifies how urban redevelopment is done all over the United States.

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9:14pm

Thu June 9, 2011
Movie Reviews

'One Lucky Elephant' Is One Engaging Character

Trunk Show: Circus ringmaster David Balding treated his teenage elephant, Flora, like a surrogate daughter. Lisa Leeman followed their saga for 10 years as Balding traveled from Tennessee to Botswana to find Flora an acceptable retirement home.
OWN Documentaries

Like dolphins, elephants are too playful for their own good. They like to learn tricks, and to please their new human friends. Next thing they know, they're in showbiz.

That's what happened to Flora, an orphaned baby elephant purchased in 1984 by David Balding for his one-ring circus. In one sense, Flora is indeed One Lucky Elephant, the title of Lisa Leeman's engaging documentary. The Missouri ringmaster had always wanted an elephant, and as a childless bachelor he treated Flora as a surrogate daughter. He even named the circus after her.

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5:00pm

Thu May 26, 2011
Movie Reviews

A 'Puzzle' For A Woman In Danger Of Going To Pieces

Natural Born Puzzler: Bored housewife Maria (Maria Onetto) discovers a knack for jigsaw-solving and befriends an enthusiast (Arturo Goetz) who helps her hone her craft — and rediscover herself in the process.
Sundance Selects

In the opening sequence of Puzzle, director Natalia Smirnoff quietly introduces both her intimate style and her protagonist's plight. Reduced to bustling hands and a worried face by a series of a close-ups, a woman single-handedly makes and serves a birthday dinner. It's only when Maria (Maria Onetto) brings out the cake that we realize she's been slaving on her own birthday.

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5:01pm

Thu May 19, 2011
Movie Reviews

In Booming Beijing, A Bad Girl Meets A Good Cop

A Prodigal Girlfriend: Opportunistic beauty Peiru (Shu Qi) exploits Beijing policeman Zhendong (Liu Ye) financially and emotionally, only to discover — too late? — that she's in love with him.
China Lion Films

Famous for cunningly wrought crime stories — his Infernal Affairs series begat Martin Scorsese's Oscar-winning The Departed — the Hong Kong director Andrew Lau scouts new territory, both emotional and geographical, in the Beijing-set melodrama A Beautiful Life. He successfully balances satire and sentimentality in the first half, but loses his bearings in the sappier second part.

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10:25pm

Thu May 12, 2011
Movie Reviews

An 'Untouchable' Sister Act, Affectionately Drawn

Lynda (left) and Jools use goofy characters in their folk act to highlight political and social causes.
Argot Pictures

One of New Zealand's most popular live-entertainment acts is a set of small-town lesbian leftist twins who've been involved in just about every political issue that roiled their homeland over the last three decades, from apartheid to the nuclear-free zone to Maori land rights. (And, unsurprisingly, gay rights.) Yet somehow Jools and Lynda Topp remain as about as controversial as Bert and Ernie.

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11:27pm

Thu April 28, 2011
Movie Reviews

For '13 Assassins,' An Epic Old-School Adventure

It's a tad more grotesque than the greatest examples of the samurai genre, but basically 13 Assassins proceeds in classic Japanese sword-battle mode. There's nothing unexpected in this well-made picture, aside from the name of the director: Takeshi Miike.

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9:47pm

Thu April 14, 2011
Movie Reviews

A 'Conspirator' On Trial, Along With The System

A better history lesson than it is a drama, The Conspirator acknowledges the 150th anniversary of the American Civil War in a studious, almost reverent mode. History buffs will recognize the name of Mary Surratt, the title character, but many Americans have heard only of her more notorious acquaintance: John Wilkes Booth.

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5:00pm

Thu March 24, 2011
Movie Reviews

'Miral': For Schnabel, A Muse Run Amok In Israel

From 1996's Basquiat to 2007's The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, painter-turned-filmmaker Julian Schnabel has steadily advanced his skills. But his new Miral stumbles, both thematically and stylistically. The two things that undermine the director's balance? Peace and love.

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