Latest Film Reviews
The Host (2013)
Do not consume
before operating heavy machinery. Side effects may include spontaneous coma or fits of giggling.
A Royal Affair (2012)
Supplements its palace intrigue with the good old-fashioned pull of romance and costume drama...Mikkelsen's magnetism and sly expressiveness hold the film's center with a quiet potency.
Monsieur Verdoux (1947)
can boast a screenplay with a highly unusual moral complexity and a deeply philosophical bent...Yes,
is a film that name-drops Schopenhauer, but it's also damn funny...
Zero Dark Thirty (2012)
By most cinematic measures,
Zero Dark Thirty
is one of the best-made films of 2012. It also probably shouldn't exist.
The Croods (2013)
Appears to have been market-tested to within an inch of its life, so despite a theme of finding the capacity to evolve, the picture remains mired in the tar pit of formula.
On the Road (2012)
This pretty period-pictorial companion piece to the novel fatally misses out on the brain-firing raw buzz that Kerouac felt and passed on to his readers...
Park’s skills for surreal subjectivity and the mischievously weird certainly don’t hurt, but they can’t quite banish
’s narrative speed bumps and draughts of cold air...
Life of Pi (2012)
In the hands of Ang Lee, a true film artist,
Life of Pi
elegantly walks Martel's philosophical line while also brilliantly using every modern cinematic tool to spin an epic yarn.
Swims upstream against high-definition with a defiantly lo-fi approach that's also ingeniously evocative of the historical period.
Greedy Lying Bastards (2013)
The film isn't a worldbeater as either old-school journalism of rigorous reportage or dazzling showmanship...will be of most use as a time capsule of sorts...
The mealy half-truth director Peter Webber...and screenwriters Vera Blasi and David Klass settle for just winds up a waste of everyone's time.
Wreck-It Ralph (2012)
Built for fun...in its dazzlingly elaborate production design and kinetic 3D action...perfect casting...
Who Framed Roger Rabbit
-esque video-game-character cameos, and a cramming of clever comic touches...
A Place at the Table (2013)
Provides plenty of moving case studies...[but] it's most useful for its prismatic look at the problem of American hunger, examining the problem's recent history, its root causes...and its inextricability from other national crises...
The Master (2012)
begs for a reorientation of the viewer, perhaps requiring more than one viewing...there's nothing easy or conventional about this account of a doomed search for external meaning, doubling as a meditative tone poem on human frailty.
A Star Is Born (1976)
While in its romantic and romanticized particulars, this
A Star Is Born
can often seem silly, hoary, disjointed or meandering, the essence of the showbiz narrative still exerts a powerful pull...
Blue Is the Warmest Color (2013)
Tease[s] out the provocative and liberating properties of art. Add extraordinary, emotionally generous performances, and
Blue Is the Warmest Color
grasps enough moments of truth to justify its extensive reach.
The Sessions (2012)
Gets it right, in the essence of its true story as well as the social discomforts surrounding disability and sane discussion of sexuality.
In its modern way,
is almost Dickensian in its intent, missing no opportunity for melodramatic confrontation as it puts a (baby) face on a social ill.
Bless Me, Ultima (2013)
The material calls out for a more expressive cinematographic treatment. Had the film been less antiseptic and more bold in its visuals and the emotional depths of its performances, it could have been a classic; instead, it's a rather ordinary indie.
The Gatekeepers (2013)
The 'other' Oscar-nominated feature about a war on terror, Dror Moreh’s documentary
proves more intellectually engaging than Hollywood’s
Zero Dark Thirty
, and at least as unsettling.
Our Man Flint (1966)
To the extent that
Our Man Flint
works, it does so due to its tossed-off wit...and the sheer oddity of Coburn, the toothy, gangly character actor who nevertheless charms his way into stardom here with laid-back cool.
In Like Flint (1967)
It's a shame that
In Like Flint
plays as such a defensive reaction to on-the-rise American feminism...in most other respects, it's a worthy-enough sequel to
Our Man Flint.
Monsters, Inc. (2001)
From its jazzy main titles to its gentle fadeout,
has something that money can't buy. It's likeable.
Safe Haven (2013)
Does Sparks have to treat people like total idiots...?...[A] soulless-cash-grab.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower (2012)
Observe the white, middle-class American Catholic teenager in his natural habitat...Though we have, perhaps, never flaunted the fetching eyelashes and perfect skin of these curious creatures...have we not, in a sense, been there?
Identity Thief (2013)
McCarthy is a worthy successor to John Candy, who also had a gift for warming up caricatures with loveable humanity.
All Superheroes Must Die (a.k.a. Vs) (2011)
Written in four days and shot in fifteen, this homegrown indie shows its seams...in cinematic terms, it's pretty weak sauce.
Doesn't avoid all of the traps of the genre, but Hoffman does show good taste, particularly in casting.
The Paperboy (2012)
Anatomy of a Murder
, and Daniels' own
rolled into one wacked-out bloody Southern Gothic that's considerably less than the sum of those parts...
Rust and Bone (2012)
Has significant blemishes that don't quite come out in the wash...but the picture persists on the strength of its committed performances.
Gangster Squad (2013)
The sheer bulk of talent involved (top-tier technicians and designers included) turns out to be a case of water, water everywhere, and not a drop to drink.
Flipping the cautionary themes of Mary Shelley’s original source material,
plays out as a primarily pro-science parable...goes out of its way to encourage free-thinking square pegs to avoid gaping round holes.
The Impossible (2012)
Takes dicey material—the story of one privileged family's suffering during the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami—and transcends its political incorrectness by focusing on the human condition.
Parental Guidance (2012)
The Baby Boomer teaming no one was asking for—Billy Crystal and Bette Midler—melded to that most moribund of genres, rugrats 'comedy'...
Les Misérables (2012)
A mixed bag of suitable and not-so-suitable choices. On balance, though, it's about as compelling a screen version of
as we have any right to expect...Pop a dramamine and you'll be fine.
Django Unchained (2012)
There's a case to be made that blood-spattering revenge pictures, no matter how evil the villain, are cultural poison, but if this is what it takes to [get] Don Johnson as a dyed-in-the-wool racist done up as Colonel Sanders, well, so be it.
Jack Reacher (2012)
[McQuarrie] spreads a unearned veneer of intelligence over...a plot one character aptly describes as 'grassy-knoll ludicrous.'
The Guilt Trip (2012)
Silly and nice, basically unfunny but basically innocuous—so as satisfying as your average leftovers.
This is 40 (2012)
Mostly succeeds on its own merits...[but] many comedic and musical distractions pad the 134-minute running time and stray from the implicit promise of that title: the film has little to say about middle age...
Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days (2012)
Even for an episodic kiddie farce,
seems overly familiar in its comic premises (oh no! peeing in the municipal pool!) and conflicts...but it’ll all be new to its intended audience...
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