Latest Film Reviews
Black Mass (2015)
Stars Depp in a performance generating awards talk, makes a complicated story coherent without dumbing it down (much), lets a bunch of strong actors do their things, and yet inspires little more than adjectives like 'efficient' and 'workmanlike.'
Love & Mercy (2015)
Honorable...deeply moving...takes a considered approach to Wilson, sound in dramatic and editorial construction and insightful in its psychological subtexts.
Time Out of Mind (2015)
Though it’s hit and miss for audiences trying to forget Gere’s screen history, Moverman ably serves a slice of homeless life, dramatizing a problem we’ve contended with further back than we can remember.
Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine (2015)
For those who don’t yet know of Jobs’ dark side, Gibney’s documentary will be a useful eye-opener, but those looking to understand what made Jobs great in almost equal proportion to his nastiness will remain in the dark.
Two Days, One Night (2014)
Cotillard's heartbreakingly raw work carries the day, as she fleshes out both Sandra's suffering and emotional endurance on a journey of discovery that the latter, not the former, defines her.
Gotham: The Complete First Season (2014)
At times suffers from dull, dunderheaded, or dead-end plotlines [but]...There's enough here to keep hope alive that
could grow into more of a weekly treat than a fanboy obligation.
A Walk in the Woods (2015)
A broad comic tone...The few funny bits and sharp lines amount to fool’s gold scattered around a claim that never satisfactorily pays off.
We Are Your Friends (2015)
Does not miss its chance to blow...Every bit a screenwriter’s idea of what it takes to make it...while accidentally cultivating the pervading sense that real DJs would laugh their asses off at this movie and its endless dopey brodowns.
American Ultra (2015)
At times pokes fun at the genre's cliché in amusingly productive ways...More often than not, though, this conspiracy isn't the real deal, but rather an elaborate distraction.
The Diary of a Teenage Girl (2015)
[Not] played for cynical misanthropic laughs or as miserable tragedy, but...[in] an honest treatment devoid of the usual rush to judgment.
The Blacklist: The Complete Second Season (2013)
A week-in, weak-out study in same-y procedural storytelling and mythology stalling that's powered by the usual salacious crime exploitation and the unusual lead performance of James Spader.
Mistress America (2015)
Like Brooke, the film flies a strange and arresting course: if not quite a screwball, then certainly a change-up pitch.
A film every single American and, indeed, every world citizen should see and contemplate.
A Midsummer Night's Sex Comedy (1982)
Pure mid-period Allen, a muscle-stretching ensemble comedy with dramatic undertones and playful philosophical musings...Allen's characters ponder the permeable divide between lust and love, and the meanings of sexual intercourse...
Justice League: Gods and Monsters (2015)
Another solid entry in the DCU line,
Justice League: Gods and Monsters
works best as an entrée into what should be a fascinating and highly entertaining series of its own.
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.
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