Latest Theatrical Reviews
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...
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.
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...
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.
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.
No movie can fully suppress the talents of Moore, Page, and Shannon, but in Ron Nyswaner’s script, every theme gets put in a character’s mouth, and every plot point gets telegraphed, mailed, emailed, and texted ahead of its arrival.
The Martian (2015)
Perhaps the purest ode to science mainstream cinema has ever produced, a love letter to NASA and STEM education.
Sleeping with Other People (2015)
Effectively has it both ways, with its dark neuroses and naughty humor giving way to a sweet consideration of the rarity of unconditional love.
Pawn Sacrifice (2015)
Maguire isn’t obvious casting, but he convincingly owns the role...The actor pairs an oft-fevered, disheveled aspect with the fierce impatience and unwillingness to suffer fools that attend genius.
The Intern (2015)
A popular entertainment with two movie stars in likeable mode, a sunny Hollywood sheen, and a novel premise. And yet there’s something vaguely unsettling about how Myers’ mildly amusing comedy gets tangled up in political (in)correctness.
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.'
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.
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.
Mistress America (2015)
Like Brooke, the film flies a strange and arresting course: if not quite a screwball, then certainly a change-up pitch.
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.
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.
With its playful use of scale,
drops a dollop of Lewis Carroll whimsy on the usual clashes of good and evil.
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.'
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.
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.
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...
San Andreas (2015)
Succeeds at exploiting a proven disaster-movie formula without troubling itself much with little things like plot, character, and dialogue.
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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