Latest Film Reviews
The Good Dinosaur (2015)
Sweet in that canned-with-heavy-syrup way: kids will dig it, but it’s not exactly a delicacy.
Questionable as a film (sparring with formula), good as a movie, and brilliant as a franchise-extender. It’s shameless, near-surgically effective cross-generational corn for guys.
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay—Part 2 (2015)
If the franchise continues to feel a bit dull—heavy on the drama and light on the excitement, with pageantry long in the rear-view—there’s a respectable purity in the films’ political cynicism and populist fervor.
Even if you don’t like the film—though it’s a fair bet you will—it will prime you for a spirited discussion about the choices of its hero...who strives to sort out her best judgement from her impulses, her hope from her naivete...
In Cold Blood (1967)
One of the most creditable true-crime films ever made.
The 33 (2015)
There’s too much stilted acting here and too little psychological insight to render an interesting, or even credibly true, story of humanity in crisis.
Smart and stinging,
excels not only in depicting the stonewalling around the scandal but also the double-talk conversations from within and without the Globe that don’t say—but don’t not say—'Don’t go there
The Craig Bonds...continue...questioning the dark and destructive psychology of this masculine icon, this preternaturally skilled but insanely reckless secret agent—his greatest secrets being his own hurt and loss and loneliness.
Mr. Holmes (2015)
spins a tale about the falsely drawn lines between stories and our perceptions of real life, between celebrity image and genuine persona, and between upper and lower classes.
Inside Out (2015)
Like a cross between
Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood
dazzles while taking care to send positive messages about the roles of feelings and the value of recognizing and embracing them...
The End of the Tour (2015)
Its prismatic philosophical and cultural observation...offers plenty of angles on the true value of the subjective fictions and supposedly objective non-fictions some create and others consume.
Revives history we could all stand to know better, and proves most useful in clarifying both what was at stake and the rules of the game...
The Play (2015)
“The play”—since commemorated in merch aplenty, a Super Bowl ad, countless sports-TV retrospectives, and its own Wikipedia page—still makes great drama.
That '70s Show: The Complete Series (1998)
Depicts the teenage slacker ethic of avoiding responsibility whenever possible and clinging to youthful good times while they last. The show did the same, taking eight years (and 200 episodes) to depict [three].
Mulholland Dr. (2001)
Begin by imagining that a single story is being told in multiple ways throughout the film: a story of naive hopes, heartbreak, jealousy...Erotic, fear-ridden, and beautiful, Lynch's primal imagery has the abhorrent and alluring pull of death itself.
My Fair Lady (1964)
The well-nigh-irresistible 1964 film version of
My Fair Lady
...comedically softens Shaw's ending but nevertheless nearly single-handedly transcends the material's sexist leaning through the sheer humanism of Hepburn's deeply felt performance.
Though the [film]...cannot pretend to be free of its own leanings, Vanderbilt allows a reading of Mapes’ tragic errors amidst its melancholy diagnosing of TV-news’ slow, painful death march from the public trust into modern corporate product.
For two hours, Larson and Tremblay make their struggles our struggles, Ma and Jack’s perceptions challenging our own...the most potent pairing on screen this year.
Resembles its own remarks about predictable patterns in the circuitry of arcade games: here is a series of crass caricatures, obvious setups and payoffs (not to mention a woman problem...), further suffocated by overweening commercialism...
The film's conspicuously irreverent style suggests that, blithe offenses aside, writer-directors Ron Clements and John Musker...have their heart in the right place: firmly situated in the anarchic comic tradition of Warner Brothers' Looney Tunes.
The Assassin (2015)
A Hou film and, therefore an aesthete's delight...
breathes more than it talks, patiently taking in its landscapes and its silk-curtained interiors.
Steve Jobs (2015)
In attempting to “pull back the curtain” on a man, reveals behind its own theatrical curtain nothing much worth paying attention to...
No movie can fully suppress the talents of Moore, Page, and Shannon, but in Ron Nyswaner’s script, every theme gets put in a character’s mouth, and every plot point gets telegraphed, mailed, emailed, and texted ahead of its arrival.
The Martian (2015)
Perhaps the purest ode to science mainstream cinema has ever produced, a love letter to NASA and STEM education.
Sleeping with Other People (2015)
Effectively has it both ways, with its dark neuroses and naughty humor giving way to a sweet consideration of the rarity of unconditional love.
A lavish, classy affair...But while long on beauty, Branagh's film falls short on whimsy...[and] the film's most affecting emotional moments...stand apart from the story's central conflict.
Pawn Sacrifice (2015)
Maguire isn’t obvious casting, but he convincingly owns the role...The actor pairs an oft-fevered, disheveled aspect with the fierce impatience and unwillingness to suffer fools that attend genius.
The Intern (2015)
A popular entertainment with two movie stars in likeable mode, a sunny Hollywood sheen, and a novel premise. And yet there’s something vaguely unsettling about how Myers’ mildly amusing comedy gets tangled up in political (in)correctness.
Moonrise Kingdom (2012)
’s heartfelt search and rescue of a feel-good result provides a perfect, even musical counterpoint to its regimented summer camp.
Black Mass (2015)
Stars Depp in a performance generating awards talk, makes a complicated story coherent without dumbing it down (much), lets a bunch of strong actors do their things, and yet inspires little more than adjectives like 'efficient' and 'workmanlike.'
Love & Mercy (2015)
Honorable...deeply moving...takes a considered approach to Wilson, sound in dramatic and editorial construction and insightful in its psychological subtexts.
Time Out of Mind (2015)
Though it’s hit and miss for audiences trying to forget Gere’s screen history, Moverman ably serves a slice of homeless life, dramatizing a problem we’ve contended with further back than we can remember.
Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine (2015)
For those who don’t yet know of Jobs’ dark side, Gibney’s documentary will be a useful eye-opener, but those looking to understand what made Jobs great in almost equal proportion to his nastiness will remain in the dark.
Two Days, One Night (2014)
Cotillard's heartbreakingly raw work carries the day, as she fleshes out both Sandra's suffering and emotional endurance on a journey of discovery that the latter, not the former, defines her.
Gotham: The Complete First Season (2014)
At times suffers from dull, dunderheaded, or dead-end plotlines [but]...There's enough here to keep hope alive that
could grow into more of a weekly treat than a fanboy obligation.
A Walk in the Woods (2015)
A broad comic tone...The few funny bits and sharp lines amount to fool’s gold scattered around a claim that never satisfactorily pays off.
Tailor-made for the great Lily Tomlin...Yeah, the circumstances are contrived, but easy enough to accept as long as they’re forcing interesting dynamics into seriocomic confrontation.
We Are Your Friends (2015)
Does not miss its chance to blow...Every bit a screenwriter’s idea of what it takes to make it...while accidentally cultivating the pervading sense that real DJs would laugh their asses off at this movie and its endless dopey brodowns.
American Ultra (2015)
At times pokes fun at the genre's cliché in amusingly productive ways...More often than not, though, this conspiracy isn't the real deal, but rather an elaborate distraction.
The Diary of a Teenage Girl (2015)
[Not] played for cynical misanthropic laughs or as miserable tragedy, but...[in] an honest treatment devoid of the usual rush to judgment.
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