Latest Film Reviews
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.
Winds up sawing logs...instead of locating hard truths of the human condition,
lumbers through the motions.
Another conspicuously packaged product seemingly designed to wear down an audience more than entertain it. While wee ones won't notice, they probably won't remember
by the time the car ride gets them back to the real thing.
Lean, mean...Director Yann Demange and screenwriter Gregory Burke (the prominent Scottish playwright of
) twist the knife by serving Gary with constant reminders of boyish innocence corrupted...
What We Do in the Shadows (2015)
Taps a fresh vein of humor to transfuse the horrific and the mundane.
McFarland, USA (2015)
What could be an inspirational teacher-student, coach-player story keeps playing the race card of simple non-whites not being able to see their own way to prosperity without a guiding white light, who in turn learns from their unsophisticated purity.
The DUFF (2015)
Will...[strike a chord] with teen girls, if they can get past the casting of the healthy, but hardly plus-sized Whitman, as well as the changes made to sanitize the book...
Fifty Shades of Grey (2015)
Absolutely ludicrous, dramatically clumsy, fifty shades of wrong, but...If audiences can cool their loins long enough, they may have a productive think about the nature of their desires...
Kingsman: The Secret Service (2015)
Doubles down on glib ultraviolence while pressing buttons of class-consciousness and teasing out pop-culture allusions and self-aware witticisms. But this time, the postmodernism feels played out.
101 Dalmatians (1961)
Then and now, Disney fans of all ages have thrilled to the animation-ambitious sight of the titular pack, and chilled at the villainy of mad diva Cruella De Vil.
Jupiter Ascending (2015)
To the extent we still demand rich characters and sensible plotting, the Wachowskis' latest is a few planets short of a galaxy.
The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water (2015)
A nominal theme—complete with theme song—of teamwork. But really,
Sponge Out of Water
is about little more than fast food and ice cream, with the same promise of empty calories.
Porco Rosso (2015)
Though the story touches on politics and even profundities of the human experience, Miyazaki's light touch and overriding sense of fun promise that children of all ages will give themselves over to ninety-four minutes of fantasy that do a heart good.
Black or White (2015)
Sorting through prejudices and nuances of racial perception occasionally takes
Black or White
into intriguing territory...[more often] a rather mushily obvious, TV-movie-style courtroom drama built on straw-man arguments.
Still Alice (2014)
still hums with humanity in the person of Moore, whose towering performance shows a staggering technical proficiency while never losing a whit of emotional resonance.
A Most Violent Year (2014)
An unsettling examination of moral drift, over a year in the life of a man and a generation in the life of a country.
American Sniper (2015)
Iraq warrior biopic
, about the late Navy SEAL sniper Chris Kyle, affords Eastwood another opportunity to wrestle with the way of the gun, but one that gets mired in military hero worship.
Inherent Vice (2015)
The plot is a sideshow to
's luxuriant atmosphere, cracked sense of humor, and idiosyncratic characterization.
is wet paint Americans (especially young ones) had probably best watch dry, as we remember the past and contemplate where the country goes from here.
The Interview (2014)
Determinedly silly...[but the] undisciplined frat-bro comedy's accumulation of innuendos, boner jokes, gay jokes, and gags that tread through racist and misogynist territory works out to less than the sum of the juvenile parts.
Into the Woods (2014)
Mutlilayered...Though any film adaptation of a classic musical is bound to be a mixed bag, Sondheim fans have dodged another bullet here with this impressive transplant, one that retains the play's complicated moral character along with most of its music.
Ultimately the lesson of
seems to be this: Louis Zamperini suffered horribly for America, so the least you can do is watch this movie about it.
The Gambler (2014)
The extent to which
may intentionally or unintentionally glamorize or romanticize gambling does raise concerns, but...[the film] remains a study in the self-destructive personality.
The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (2014)
Narratively bereft...thematically redundant...[but] fans of the series and fanboy grumblers may have to agree that
The Battle of the Five Armies
is often entertaining.
The Imitation Game (2014)
Serviceably dramatizes an important historical story while giving rising star Cumberbatch suitably juicy material.
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