Latest Film Reviews
The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (2015)
Honors the original characters just fine, but the leads are lukewarm...the [action] mostly unmemorable ...and the split-the-difference jokey-serious tone errs...on the side of fashion-conscious and smug.
True Story (2015)
Does a lot of its work with its tongue-in-cheek title, a meta commentary on the not-so-broad spectrum of liar, actor, fiction writer, filmmaker and journalist.
Ricki and the Flash (2015)
That special brand of La Streep mugging—here applied to the character of a hot-mess bar-band deadbeat mom—will wear you into submission until nothing else seems to matter. Except that it should.
Best of Enemies (2015)
Like the debates it concerns,
Best of Enemies
entertains to a degree, enlightens to another, and asks us to ponder the relative merits of polar political ideologies and two complicated men who very publicly represented them.
Mission: Impossible—Rogue Nation (2015)
McQuarrie doesn't make it easy to invest in the characters here, but paradoxically he does know how to make us grip our armrests as they face danger, and thus the mission is accomplished once more.
The Stanford Prison Experiment (2015)
Zimbardo insists he’s 'trying to understand how an institution affects an individual’s behavior.' Alvarez’s own dark study, empowered by potent acting, allows the audience to contemplate the many variations on that psychological dynamic.
House of Cards: Volume Three (2013)
'Do what you have to do.'...Netflix's flagship series addresses this dictum to many characters grappling with tough choices, but the core subject of [Season Three]...is the marriage of Frank and Claire Underwood.
With its playful use of scale,
drops a dollop of Lewis Carroll whimsy on the usual clashes of good and evil.
The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (2015)
Shows little strain in maintaining its cute factor, thanks to the drily winning personalities of the likes of Smith, Dench, Nighy, and the comic ebullience of Patel.
The technical execution is strong...but the invention is weak...simply feels late to the party by spinning off sidekicks...as it trades on '60s style...
Batkid Begins (2015)
Celebrates a city united for fun and goodwill, and the rare, pronounced sense of play and energy adults are capable of rediscovering, as do those who toil excitedly and hopefully to give Miles 'a little bit of his childhood back.'
The Bridge (Die Brücke) (1959)
That it is Hitler doing the exploiting has little relevance to the overriding theme of tragic history humanity remains doomed to repeat: sending naive young men—and, at some times and places, boys—to their ends.
André Gregory & Wallace Shawn: 3 Films (2015)
In Criterion's Blu-ray and DVD boxsets titled
André Gregory & Wallace Shawn: 3 Films
, we can ponder the full cinematic depth (and much of the theatrical depth) of the collaboration between two complementary creative souls.
Terminator Genisys (2015)
Any senses of suspenseful stakes or human-scale relationships have turned weightless, leaving us with crashing and bashing, running and gunning, and a whole lot of head-scratching. The experience is utterly numbing...
Links all-American patriotism with military righteousness, religious faith, and socially conservative family values...when Max isn’t leaping around,
rolls over and plays dead.
I fervently hoped that some particularly annoyed soul would create a 'Slapheads Yell "Chappie"!' supercut...to refine the movie to its purest form of annoyance. As of this writing, internet, you disappoint me.
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl (2015)
A disappointing 'film' but, at least for its target audience of white middle-class teens (and probably their parents), a deeply satisfying 'movie.'
Jurassic World (2015)
The culture has had just enough time to miss this franchise, and director and co-screenwriter Colin Trevorrow...has met the challenges with an appealing self-awareness.
Wild Tales (2015)
Like Tarantino's films,
will rub some the wrong way by taking glee in the violence that comes from our worst selves, but the catharses have a positive social function...there's no doubt Szifron intends cautionary
Welcome to Me (2015)
Wiig plays her role with total commitment, fearlessness, and lack of vanity...the movie we deserve in the age of social media and cable television, a satiric child of Paddy Chayevsky's
in its autopsy of "vox populi" viral video...
When Marnie Was There (2015)
This latest gentle, sensitive, unhurried tale from Studio Ghibli...excels not only at natural beauty, touched with supernatural flourishes, but also at acute psychological perceptiveness...
Magician: The Astonishing Life and Work of Orson Welles (2014)
Workman has done a service in making a broadly accessible history of Welles that stands a chance of drawing younger generations of film buffs, like moths, to 'the master''s flame.
San Andreas (2015)
Succeeds at exploiting a proven disaster-movie formula without troubling itself much with little things like plot, character, and dialogue.
Da Sweet Blood of Jesus (2015)
Our American addiction...bloodsucking from humanity in order to maintain the lifestyle to which we are accustomed. By the time Hess wearily muses, "I'm tired of this existence," it's more or less clear he means a spiritually empty capitalist existence...
At times one feels there's an interesting film here struggling to break free (free as a bird!)...but what's made it to screen sends eyes aloft in its symbolism and its character dynamics.
Curiously vacant characters and curiously pulse-less whimsy...lumbers, middlebrow and tiresome, when it should be daytripping the light fantastic...
Zvyagintsev literally and allegorically depicts modern Russia's runaway corruption but also captures universal fears about the shaky ground on which we construct our lives.
Pitch Perfect 2 (2015)
Though the thrill of invention is gone, there's enough comic fertility and accumulated goodwill to sustain
Pitch Perfect 2
through to its splashy and socially optimistic finale...
Masters of Sex: Season Two (2013)
Showrunner Michelle Ashford has played slow and loose with the facts, but in ways that achieve thematic resonance in a speculative, provocative dialogue with history.
Clouds of Sils Maria (2015)
Assayas implies that what transpires between the characters of
Clouds of Sils Maria
, between artists and art, and between art and audiences contains its own beautiful mystery that's nourishing, maddening, and essential.
Mr. Turner (2014)
Revives an era in astonishing, delicate detail, then moves through the space with a documentarian's eye. Leigh takes Turner out of art history and puts him back in the world.
Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)
Pure, uncut comic-book fantasy...Whedon tames the beast into something spectacularly epic, if a bit exhausting: bursting with destructive mayhem but grounded by interesting character beats, rife with dark implications but seasoned with good humor.
The Grief of Others (2015)
While the subject matter...amounts to standard fare, audiences can all the more appreciate the thoughtful rigor applied by a team of artists working from page to screen.
The Woman in Black 2: Angel of Death (2015)
Has a smattering of effective moments and a creepy cinematographic look to it, but the sequel's redundancy to its predecessor and pulseless feints at tapping into human emotion leech the suspense out of the picture.
Monkey Kingdom (2015)
Assess to what extent we're witnessing man-ufactured monkey life...[or] just pay no attention to the men and women behind the curtain and simply enjoy the underwater photography of monkeys swimming.
Big Eyes (2014)
Burton pokes fun at Keane's art, but he kids because he loves, and
productively asks the question of whether the paintings are art or kitsch (probable answer: both).
While We're Young (2015)
The obvious shots at hipster scenes...eventually sour into a complex critique of modern ambition in a changing cultural landscape.
The Longest Ride (2015)
A Nicholas Sparks movie is like cinematic Jello. It sells well, the number one ingredient is sugar, and there's always room for it.
Woman in Gold (2015)
Corny, commercial, predictably platitudinous, and tear-jerkingly weepy...also an inevitably thought-provoking dramatization of facing the "ghosts" of the past on an individual level and a national one.
A satisfying excursion, a secular but spiritual journey of self-discovery.
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