Latest Film Reviews
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.
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.
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