Latest Film Reviews
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.
Let There Be Light: John Huston's Wartime Documentaries (1946)
Clearly, the breadth of Huston's Army Signal Corps films show a Blakian passage from innocence to experience, unquestioning jingoism to a recognition of war horrors.
The Undesirable (1914)
The cheap-looking production lacks visual flair and lines up undistinguished performances on the way to a clumsy, half-hearted resolution...And yet, to film historians and Curtiz fanatics,
is a gift horse not to look in the mouth.
Bridge of Spies (2015)
Steven Spielberg goes into Stanley Kramer mode for
Bridge of Spies
, a socially conscious tale of touch-and-go diplomacy at home, at the office, and on the global stage.
The Oscar® Nominated Short Films—Live Action and Animated (2015)
The 88th Academy Awards® ceremony airs on Sunday, February 28, 2016…now you have another way to get ready.
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.
45 Years (2015)
Implications, about the long odds for romance, the deeper psychology of mating, and the devastating possibility that love isn’t an absolute but a willful, occasionally mutual, delusion.
Of Mice and Men (1992)
Classic-literature-adaptation demureness...but it's impeccably cast and mostly quite faithful.
The Finest Hours (2016)
One can easily understand why this story swiftly became Coast Guard legend...but its dim wall-of-grey visuals and narrative longueurs make much of the two hours a challenge to the attention span for viewers of any age.
The New Girlfriend (2015)
A strong thematic undercurrent pits bourgeois social conventions against authentic self-definition and ultimate freedom to live without shame or undue social limitations.
The Lady in the Van (2015)
Though at times precious, Bennett’s sly script masks that deeply sentimental core with comic edge and a writer’s willful, mercenary remove.
When Lee cooks up a stew this heady, one best recognize...the right film at the right time, Lee’s most creatively fertile and socially immediate narrative feature in years.
Son of Saul (2015)
One man’s last grasp at humanity amidst the dehumanizing horrors of Auschwitz...dramatizes those extraordinary circumstances under which even the meanings of life and death become foreign and in desperate need of rediscovery.
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.
Ride Along 2 (2016)
All the blithe sexism and tin-eared comedy of a Michael Bay movie and none of the budget excess...gives new meaning to 'lazy.'
Yet another midlife-crisis white guy on the big screen...but it’s undeniably an artful rendering of the post-millennial man adrift, in search of any port than the one he’s made for himself.
The Hateful Eight (2015)
[A] general absence of something to say...Recycles the filmmaker’s own work: the leaner if no meaner dog-eat-dog plotting of
...and a roster of no-longer-shocking offenses...
The Revenant (2015)
A certain breed of film geeks will snap fingers in approval, but most viewers—having been pummeled into acknowledging the film's muscular 'greatness'—will feel little more than dazed, and ready more for a nap than a conversation.
Though everything around this resilient central figure is wan sitcom, 'Joy the Doer' provides a rooting interest potent enough to justify the film.
The Big Short (2015)
Elucidate[s] the fiscal rigamarole leading up to the bursting of the housing and credit bubble circa 2008, while also whipping up a palatable froth of cynicism and absurdity.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015)
[SPOILER-FREE] Can be dimwittedly obvious and self-plagiarizing, with little of real-world consequence and less that’s new to say [but it's still] a fun-filled adventure at the movies...
For a long two hours, Sorrentino flatters old white men, devalues women, and annoys with his lush coffee-table-book photography as he plays his own 'Simple Songs' of frustrated old age and tantalizing youth...
Helgeland revels in the violence and depravity, setting a dubious tone that, in that final act, has as much of a struggle as Reggie in going straight.
In the Heart of the Sea (2015)
Depict[s] a writer’s process of scavenging and soul-stealing...[as well as] being “in the oil business” to the exclusion of morality and ethics, and with implications for the ecosystem.
Plays not as straight hagiography but rather as a portrait of a flawed hero...Cranston gives a floridly theatrical leading performance in keeping with Trumbo’s wit...
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.
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