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Marjorie Baumgarten

Contributing Writer, Film

TWITTER: @moviemarge

Marjorie Baumgarten is a film critic and contributing writer at The Austin Chronicle, where she has worked in many capacities since the paper's founding in 1981. She served as the Chronicle's Film Reviews editor for 25 years.

102 articles in 2008   •   page 1 of 3


Meryl Streep, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and Amy Adams star in the film version of John Patrick Shanley's Pulitzer- and Tony Award-winning play.

Film Review, Dec. 26, 2008


Ron Howard presents us with Richard M. Nixon – the Christmas gift that keeps on giving.

Film Review, Dec. 26, 2008

The Tale of Despereaux

Despite this animated film's overabundance of vocal talent and source material that won the Newberry Medal in 2004, The Tale of Despereaux is a multispecies offender.

Film Review, Dec. 19, 2008

Cadillac Records

The story of the birth of Chicago blues is well-told through this ensemble portrait of Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf, Chuck Berry, Etta James, Little Walter, and their label, Chess Records.

Film Review, Dec. 12, 2008

Punisher: War Zone

Marvel Comics' Frank Castle again comes to the screen as a one-man vengeance machine in this stylishly violent and gory opus.

Film Review, Dec. 5, 2008

Fear(s) of the Dark

This French anthology of six short animated films, which are thematically linked by their dark tonalities and stirrings of dread, has greater appeal for animation buffs than horror hounds.

Film Review, Nov. 28, 2008


Jean-Claude Van Damme is the JCVD of the title, and in this career-adjusting film, the Muscles From Brussels advances from laughingstock to smart, respectable action-film star.

Film Review, Nov. 21, 2008

Synecdoche, New York

Screenwriter Charlie Kaufman’s first venture as a director is audacious, ambitious, and amazing; it’s also intricate, self-referencing, and all-encompassing: in a word, a masterpiece.

Film Review, Nov. 13, 2008

Filth and Wisdom

Madonna's film-directing debut, which stars Gogol Bordello charismatic frontman Eugene Hutz, is a slight and philosophically dubious effort.

Film Review, Nov. 7, 2008

Zack and Miri Make a Porno

Kevin Smith finds a new soulmate in actor Seth Rogen, who stars in this movie that blends Smith's telltale comedic raunch with large dollops of sweetness.

Film Review, Oct. 31, 2008

Trouble the Water

This film about the human toll of Hurricane Katrina is one of the best and most inspirational things to come out of the disaster.

Film Review, Oct. 31, 2008

High School Musical 3: Senior Year

College approaches, but that's no reason to stop singing and dancing.

Film Review, Oct. 31, 2008

Pride and Glory

Edward Norton and Colin Farrell top this predictable police procedural about clean and dirty cops who are also brothers in a family of Irish cops.

Film Review, Oct. 24, 2008


This documentary manages to do something damn near impossible: make the subject of the U.S. national debt understandable and, moreover, render it interesting and urgent.

Film Review, Oct. 24, 2008

My AFF Friday

From a sunny barbecue to a film about the shrouded mysteries of Sonny Liston's boxing career in Phantom Punch to the comedy Shallow Grave that's just about as dark as they come

Screens Daily, Oct. 19, 2008 3:41 PM

Year of the Fish

Year of the Fish is an animated fairy tale for adults that transposes the story of Cinderella to a Chinatown massage parlor.

Film Review, Oct. 17, 2008

The Secret Life of Bees

Despite the sincere coming-of-age story at the heart of this movie rife with singers-turned-actresses, there's no denying the pleasures found in the film's soulful matriarchy.

Film Review, Oct. 17, 2008

Body of Lies

Leonardo DiCaprio and Russell Crowe star in Ridley Scott's new film about the different types of CIA operatives fighting the global war on terrorism.

Film Review, Oct. 10, 2008

An American Carol

Michael Moore and left-leaning Hollywood are the subjects of this spoof that's missing only one thing: comedy.

Film Review, Oct. 10, 2008

A Writer's Best Friend

Extraordinary Contribution to Filmmaking Award honoree Danny Boyle

Screens Feature, Oct. 10, 2008


Bill Maher walks with the angels in this documentary, which he uses as his pulpit to proselytize the gospel of doubt.

Film Review, Oct. 3, 2008

Johnny Got His Gun

Austin-bred actor Ben McKenzie stars in this one-man show of Dalton Trumbo's timeless anti-war novel.

Film Review, Sep. 26, 2008


Alan Ball's film is guaranteed to discomfit and dismay with its dangerous plunge into an adolescent girl's discovery of sexuality and self-identity.

Film Review, Sep. 26, 2008

The Lucky Ones

Tim Robbins effectively heads an engaging threesome of Iraq war vets as they travel across America on a road to personal growth.

Film Review, Sep. 26, 2008

Miracle at St. Anna

Spike Lee fights the good fight but loses the battle in his bloated and muddled World War II epic that pays tribute to the Army's Buffalo Soldiers.

Film Review, Sep. 26, 2008

Can't Tell the Flix Without the Pics

Fantastic Fest's pictograph reference guide to the films is an endlessly fun diversion

Screens Daily, Sep. 24, 2008 7:32 PM

Porno Presented at the Paramount

Kevin Smith at opening night of Fantastic Fest

Screens Daily, Sep. 20, 2008 5:23 PM

Continental Drift

Scenes from the 2008 Toronto International Film Festival

Screens Feature, Sep. 19, 2008

Frozen River

In order to make ends meet, two women in upstate New York smuggle illegal aliens across the St. Lawrence River into the U.S. in this unusually thoughtful and expertly acted movie.

Film Review, Sep. 5, 2008

Patti Smith: Dream of Life

Fashion photographer Steven Sebring made this impressionistic documentary over the course of 12 years with Smith's full participation.

Film Review, Aug. 29, 2008


With Woody Harrelson, Emily Mortimer, and Ben Kingsley, this train-set suspense movie also is full of sharp character studies.

Film Review, Aug. 29, 2008

Before I Forget

Screens Feature, Aug. 29, 2008


In this smart adaptation of Philip Roth's A Dying Animal, Ben Kingsley and Penélope Cruz turn the table on the standard May-December romance.

Film Review, Aug. 22, 2008


Spooky stuff crosses over from the mirror world to the real world, and it places Kiefer Sutherland in a world of hurt.

Film Review, Aug. 22, 2008

Mister Foe

Equal parts sweet and perverse, this Scottish coming-of-age story about a teenage voyeur is unpredictable and compelling and premieres exclusively in Austin.

Film Review, Aug. 22, 2008

Tropic Thunder

Instead of entering the jungle to find the heart of darkness, Ben Stiller goes in to take aim at the Achilles' heel of Hollywood: its utter pomposity and self-importance.

Film Review, Aug. 15, 2008

Bottle Shock

Stuff the cork back in: This wine movie was sold before its time.

Film Review, Aug. 15, 2008


Take, with a very good performance by Minnie Driver, is a dreadfully misguided movie whose story of redemption is utterly irredeemable.

Film Review, Aug. 15, 2008

American Teen

A princess, jock, rebel, heartthrob, and geek: It could be The Breakfast Club, but American Teen is instead a documentary that ducks the consequences of its own making.

Film Review, Aug. 8, 2008

The Midnight Meat Train

This horror film, based on a Clive Barker short story, details the nightly exploits of a butcher who plies his trade nightly on human subway riders.

Film Review, Aug. 8, 2008

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