Read the latest film reviews, the most recent releases at the top.
11:12 AM EST, March 6, 2014
Even with a change in directors and a half-enlightened, half-salacious emphasis on the voracious Persian conqueror played by Eva Green, "300: Rise of an Empire" hews closely to the look, vibe and the casualty count of its sleekly schlocky 2007 predecessor, helmed by Zack Snyder.
10:35 AM EST, January 2, 2014
The coolest actor on the planet? At the moment my favorite — cool, warm, whatever temperature — is Toni Servillo, the Italian maestro of character actors. He has a way of conveying a lifetime of insight, irony, natural authority and blithe amusement behind every line reading.
11:10 AM EST, March 6, 2014
We bring to the movies whatever childhoods we had, and whatever television we watched to keep real life at bay, one half-hour at a time.
12:12 PM EST, February 27, 2014
All's right with the world on this late day in February. Liam Neeson, also known as Mr. Capable or Uncle Avuncular, is back headlining another entertainingly preposterous thriller, this one called "Non-Stop," directed by his "Unknown" collaborator, director Jaume Collet-Serra.
12:35 PM EST, February 27, 2014
Blame Mel Gibson for it if you like, but no Jesus movie these days is worth its salt without an utterly unflinching treatment of his torture and Crucifixion. And "Son of God" has stretches when the agony we watch this poor man endure is avert-your-eyes awful. If history ever produced a more excruciating form of punishment, it probably included lions at dinner time.
10:01 AM EST, February 20, 2014
Here's a beautiful apparent contradiction: a gentle, supple picture about the man who designed the Zero fighter plane.
12:28 PM EST, February 27, 2014
"Stalingrad" is a huge, old-fashioned combat spectacle, a war story told on a vast scale and shown on vast Imax movie screens, in 3-D.
2:00 PM EST, February 27, 2014
It's not easy for a fantasy franchise to nimbly establish an elaborate back story, but "Odd Thomas" pulls it off with breezy matter-of-factness in its opening scenes. The titular character, who goes by "Odd" (Anton Yelchin), is an average guy who can't help being a hero. "I may see dead people," he explains, "But by God, I do something about it."
10:09 AM EST, February 20, 2014
Kevin Costner and director McG are plunged into the madcap mayhem of Monsieur Luc Besson in "3 Days to Kill," a seriocomic thriller about mortality, murder for hire and fatherhood.
3:05 AM EST, February 21, 2014
"Pompeii" is half sword-and-sandal epic, half disaster movie and all guilty pleasure. Director Paul W.S. Anderson, taking a break from cranking out "Resident Evil" movies, has a strong command of CGI technology and 3-D effects, and the movie is so grand in scale that you can't help surrender to the spectacle, even if the stuff that's going on with the people in the film is often close to risible.
10:22 AM EST, January 9, 2014
In an earlier Asghar Farhadi film, "About Elly," a divorcing character says: "A bitter end is much better than a bitterness without ending." Neither option provides much ease. In the right hands, however, both yield infinite dramatic riches.
10:07 AM EST, February 20, 2014
We keep coming back to "Therese Raquin" for the same reason Emile Zola's 1867 novel of adultery and murder, which ascribed its anti-heroine's amorality to her "hot" African blood, stirred the imaginations of Theodore Dreiser ("An American Tragedy"), James M. Cain ("The Postman Always Rings Twice") and a thousand other creative voyeurs with access to a printing press. Sex sells. It hooks us as partakers in someone else's fantasy of desire and comeuppance. We want to know what happens once the guards are lowered and the clothes come off and transgressions feed other transgressions.
1:11 PM EST, February 11, 2014
Intriguingly ambiguous in its rooting interests, the "RoboCop" remake doesn't really believe its own poster. The tagline "Crime has a new enemy" suggests little more than point and shoot — the same old cyborg song and dance. While nobody'd be dumb enough to reboot the original 1987 kill-'em-up franchise by holding back on the scenes of slaughter in favor of sly political satire about arm-twisting Fox News jingoism or American business ethics, Brazilian-born director Jose Padilha manages to do all that and still deliver the product.
10:38 AM EST, February 13, 2014
Alongside the reboots of "RoboCop" and "About Last Night," this week's bizarre "I Love the '80s" multiplex tribute continues with the remake of "Endless Love," a movie just begging to go up in the flames of camp. If only somebody had brought a match.
12:36 PM EST, February 13, 2014
"About Last Night," which is about hookups and relationships and the photogenic allure of the revitalized downtown Los Angeles, comes with a strange pedigree. First in its line was David Mamet's mean, sad, funny 1974 comedy "Sexual Perversity in Chicago," 100 percent Chicago all the way. Mamet saw no hope for his four characters, romantically speaking, and his view of men and women went far beyond Mars and Venus. House plants and rubber bands had a better shot at relating.
10:38 AM EST, February 13, 2014
In the movies, particularly in the case of best-sellers adapted for the screen, time travel and its next-door neighbor, reincarnation, seem like a good idea at the time. But very often something goes gooey. Even with Colin Farrell's soulful eyes, the tastefully cockamamie and increasingly gloppy new film "Winter's Tale," pulled from Mark Helprin's 1983 novel, refuses to take off in any of its eras.
5:09 PM EST, February 4, 2014
Finally! A comedy that works. An animated film with a look — a kinetic aesthetic honoring its product line's bright, bricklike origins — that isn't like every other clinically rounded and bland digital 3-D effort. A movie that works for the Lego-indebted parent as well as the Lego-crazed offspring. A movie that, in its brilliantly crammed first half especially, will work even if you don't give a rip about Legos.
5:18 PM EST, February 4, 2014
A genial disappointment about the preciousness of art amid the destructive horrors of war, "The Monuments Men" is scored to a military march by composer Alexandre Desplat. You hear what he was going for: jaunty heroics. The throwback sound of it suggests the director, co-writer and star George Clooney sat down with Desplat, gave him a smile and said: "Gimme some of that Elmer Bernstein 'Great Escape' magic, Al."
10:21 AM EST, February 6, 2014
There is a naturalistic charm to the truth-telling going on in "Gloria," Chilean director Sebastian Lelio's near-perfect film about the very imperfect world of a divorced woman of a certain age.
12:19 PM EST, January 23, 2014
It's hard not to be affected by a story about a pregnant, homeless teenager such as the one at the heart of "Gimme Shelter," which stars "High School Musical's" Vanessa Hudgens. But some movies, full of good intentions and cliches undermining those intentions, make it very hard indeed.
10:45 AM EST, January 23, 2014
Charles Dickens wrote often about people required by circumstance to skitter through double lives, none with more dastardly, compartmentalized determination than the secretive choirmaster at the center of his final, unfinished work, "The Mystery of Edwin Drood."
11:48 AM EST, January 16, 2014
Mighty oaks from little acorns grow, and all that, but "The Nut Job" didn't work out that way. This 3-D animation job, a co-production of South Korea's Redrover Co. and the Canadian outfit ToonBox Entertainment, generates such little interest in the fates of its urban park critters, you may find yourself pondering mixed-use development schemes to rid the film of its key setting altogether.
11:51 AM EST, January 16, 2014
Early, bloggy reviews of "Ride Along" have rolled in this week with phrases such as "perfectly acceptable" and "been-there-done-that," suggesting the likely range of opinion. It'll probably be a hit: Audiences are getting precisely what they're promised.
11:52 AM EST, January 16, 2014
The best moment in "Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit" allows the director and crucial supporting player Kenneth Branagh to set cars and guns aside for a brief, unblinking glare in a two-person scene at a dinner table. Branagh plays a heroin-addicted Russian terrorist in this routine franchise reboot, and when he's at dinner in Moscow with Ryan's fiancee, played by Keira Knightley, he's being duped into believing he's making meaningful progress in the sniveling-seduction department.
12:25 PM EST, December 20, 2013
A delicate, droll masterwork, writer-director Spike Jonze's "Her" sticks its neck out, all the way out, asserting that what the world needs now and evermore is love, sweet love. Preferably between humans, but you can't have everything all the time.
10:26 AM EST, January 9, 2014
Over and over, the negative reviews of "August: Osage County" have pulled variations on a sad theme, with various New York- and LA-based critics wrestling with the film without having seen, or read, the Tracy Letts play that came before it. Paraphrased, the theme goes like this: "Well, at least now I don't have to see the play. The movie doesn't work for me. Why would I ever take time to see the original?"
12:11 PM EST, December 17, 2013
"Inside Llewyn Davis" takes place in winter 1961, just before Bob Dylan makes the scene. The scene is the Greenwich Village folk music universe, a few finite blocks of an island that, in the hands of cinematographer Bruno Delbonnel, looks and feels like a beautiful, long-ago smudge in motion.
5:35 PM EST, December 27, 2013
If Justin Bieber is retiring, as he tweeted rather dubiously on Christmas Eve, does that make "Justin Bieber's Believe" his version of "The Last Waltz"?
December 24, 2013
So. Turns out the only thing the prototypical American milquetoast Walter Mitty needed to get happy was a little stubble and a lavish travel budget.
December 23, 2013
In the waning years of the last century at Stratton Oakmont, the Wall Street brokerage house run like a coked-up 24-hour bacchanal by Jordan Belfort, the customer wasn't king. The customer was merely a means to an end. Belfort and his minions ruled, and they couldn't spend, snort or swallow the riches reaped fast enough.
December 24, 2013
Katniss Everdeen, it turns out, is not the only person catching fire this fall. She's matched flame for flame by Nelson Mandela and his wife, Winnie, who burn with formidable fury in the sturdy biopic "Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom."
December 24, 2013
"Grudge Match" is a sort of "Punchy Old Men," a slow-footed high-concept comedy that pairs up the screen's greatest pugilists, circa 1981, for a few slaps and a few laughs.
11:07 AM EST, December 12, 2013
No feathers, animated or otherwise, will be ruffled by "Saving Mr. Banks," director John Lee Hancock's genial fictionalized account of how Walt Disney seduced "Mary Poppins" author P.L. Travers into allowing, for 5 percent of the gross, the supernatural caregiver to become a shiny Disney version of herself.
10:09 AM EST, December 17, 2013
My favorite minute of movie this year comes early in David O. Russell's "American Hustle." Christian Bale's character, the con man Irving Rosenfeld, based on the real-life Abscam linchpin Mel Weinberg, is riding high: His small-time investment scams, conducted with his wily mistress (played by Amy Adams), keep growing more profitable, and they're falling in love. Backed by the great Broadway finger-snapper "I've Got Your Number," Bale and Adams dance their way across a Manhattan intersection and, after a perfect cut, into a hotel ballroom where vocalist Jack Jones and a jazz combo are swinging. So few directors today know how to move a camera around; Russell is one of them. The whole movie, a feast of ensemble wiles and stunning hair, is juicy, funny and alive.
11:21 AM EST, December 11, 2013
One year and several hundred films later, I confess my mind isn't over-full of vivid memories of director Peter Jackson's first "Hobbit." It did the job, in its leisurely, fill-out-the-trilogy fashion, albeit looking like clinically detailed crud when viewed in 48 frames-per-second digital projection. Maybe my eyes will catch up to the glories of this alleged improvement. Maybe not.
November 21, 2013
The small and medium towns in the Midwest and the Great Plains region aren't so different from any other part — rural, urban or in between — of the United States. Half the people don't talk much, while the other half chatter to fill the silence. It's a time-honored cliche according to Garrison Keillor, but there's truth in it.
9:13 AM EST, November 26, 2013
Big, bright, often beautiful and essentially an action movie, as are most animated features these days, "Frozen" comes from Walt Disney Animation Studios. While Disney credits the 1845 Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale "The Snow Queen" as primary inspiration, the movie owes a lot more to the Broadway blockbuster "Wicked."
9:00 AM EST, November 8, 2013
"The Book Thief," the handsome, inevitable adaptation of Markus Zusak's internationally bestselling novel, unfolds as a curiosity on the big screen.
9:15 AM EST, November 26, 2013
Writer-director Kasi Lemmons hasn't had a feature in theaters since 2007's "Talk to Me," a vibrant and unjustly little-seen biopic that starred Don Cheadle and Chiwetel Ejiofor and told the story of D.C. deejay Petey Greene. That film was all about the power of words. Lemmons' new film, "Black Nativity," concerns good deeds and great songs, as it struggles with uneven success to find a cinematic home for the 1961 Langston Hughes "gospel-song-play" setting of the Nativity story.
9:12 AM EST, November 26, 2013
A bloody bore featuring Jason Statham wasting steaming piles of rednecks in small-town Louisiana, "Homefront" nonetheless contains many teachable moments while setting a very low bar for fathers everywhere. One such moment, for example: If your 10-year-old daughter is watching you, don't murder that optional 10th or 11th bad guy. She doesn't need to see that.
10:39 PM EST, November 14, 2013
It is 10 months since Lance Armstrong's trip to the Oprah Winfrey confessional, where the disgraced cycling champion told some of the truth about his use of performance-enhancing drugs and admitted to being a jerk and a bully.
9:10 AM EST, November 26, 2013
Consider "Oldboy" Spike Lee's cover version of "If I Had a Hammer." This new American remake of the 2003 Korean revenge drama, also titled "Oldboy," stars Josh Brolin as the victim of a bizarre kidnapping and 20-year imprisonment. Upon his release, as sudden as the instigating events two decades earlier, the protagonist must determine who did this to him, why — and why he's being framed for his wife's murder. The character's ally in amateur detective work is a pliable social worker played by Elizabeth Olsen. By the time everyone on screen realizes what's up, and who's who, the audience may be more in a "Why? Why?" mood.
5:27 PM EST, November 18, 2013
"The Hunger Games: Catching Fire" is a lot like its own celebrity heroine, Katniss Everdeen, who begins this second "Hunger Games" movie fulfilling a public relations tour as penance for her killer — literally, killer — popularity. She is adored by millions; the books are too. The three Suzanne Collins novels, to be spread across four films, are being adapted with both eyes on fidelity to the source material. All "Catching Fire" had to do was to show up, look good and not screw up to succeed.
November 21, 2013
It's too much to call the misty-eyed sentimental comedy "Delivery Man" Vince Vaughn's very own "Patch Adams," but the film does require Vaughn's character to smile through tears, over and over, in an attempt to yank your own heartstrings straight out of your heart. The movie's goal is a simple one: to leave moviegoers all over the world without functioning hearts, just like that poor schnook in "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom."
October 31, 2013
This is economically unfeasible thinking, I realize. But the only way we're ever going to get a great movie about the Beats is if someone makes it like there's nothing to lose, with no concern about whether audiences are going to "get it," or care, or relate, or any of that. None of it. Until then, we'll keep up with all the pretty good tries, like the recent Walter Salles edition of "On the Road." Or fairly good, such as the new "Kill Your Darlings."
6:10 PM EDT, October 24, 2013
The moral of "Blue Is the Warmest Color" is simple: Sex without love is nothing; life without love is even less.
November 21, 2013
If lush settings were plums and costumes were nuts, we'd all have fruitcake for Christmas.
12:15 PM EST, November 7, 2013
In "Dallas Buyers Club," we meet Matthew McConaughey's Ron Woodroof mid-coitus. He's making love with two women in a rodeo holding pen, seconds before he jumps onto a wild bull for thrills and the promise of a few bucks. The year is 1985, the same year Rock Hudson died of AIDS-related causes. By contrast Woodroof, a drug-using heterosexual, is just another good ol' boy with a dangerous edge and zero sense of personal frailty, as quick with a casual homophobic slur as with a come-on to the ladies.
10:39 AM EST, November 7, 2013
Watching the latest "Great Expectations," one can't help but think Helena Bonham Carter has spent her entire career auditioning for the role of Miss Havisham. The jilted, wilted bride whose bitterness she carries into her dotage is the very picture of the wild-eyed, wilder-haired Carter.
10:36 AM EST, November 14, 2013
"The Best Man Holiday" follows in the footsteps of writer-director Malcolm D. Lee's successful 1999 comedy "The Best Man," using a template familiar to anyone who may have seen "The Big Chill" or its micro-budget predecessor, "Return of the Secaucus Seven." They're all different in their qualities and atmosphere. "The Best Man Holiday," for example, is a far more Tyler Perry-ish mixture of comedy and tragedy than the easygoing "Best Man" was, back in the pre-Perry movie era.
12:27 PM EST, November 6, 2013
"Thor: The Dark World" is the eighth movie in its particular franchise. So if anyone asks you what it has in common with "Blondie Goes Latin" and "Bomba and the Jungle Girl" you'll know the answer.
October 31, 2013
There's a myopia to "Diana," the new film about the divorce and last great romance of Princess Diana's life, that fits its subject like one of Diana's signature, custom-tailored gowns.
10:00 AM EDT, October 24, 2013
Imagine an alternate-universe version of the lean, relentlessly taciturn survival tale "All Is Lost," featuring a different actor than the film's one and only performer, Robert Redford.
10:27 AM EST, November 7, 2013
Imagine a Judy Blume rewrite of Cormac McCarthy's "The Road," and you'll end up somewhere in the ashen yet uplifting vicinity of "How I Live Now."
11:14 AM EDT, October 11, 2013
(Toronto) There are books you should've read by now but haven't — books with granite reputations, the ones commonly, seemingly contractually labeled great, or important, or both.
October 31, 2013
And now for a completely improbable romantic comedy recommendation.
October 31, 2013
In step with its sensitive, tactically brilliant 12-year-old hero, "Ender's Game" is a bit of a tweener, neither triumph nor disaster, a war-games fantasy with a use-by date of Nov. 22, when the new "Hunger Games" movie comes out.
October 31, 2013
A genial "Hangover" for the AARP set, "Last Vegas" is roughly what you'd expect, or fear, but a little better.
October 31, 2013
Who knew that what Keanu Reeves really wanted was to play the villain in a Jean-Claude Van Damme picture? And direct it?
9:58 AM EDT, October 24, 2013
Set along the Texas/Mexico border but photographed largely in Spain, "The Counselor" is novelist Cormac McCarthy's first original screenplay to make it before the cameras. It concerns a self-deluding and financially challenged Texan who takes a chance involving some cocaine cartel money to dig himself out of a financial hole. Drugs; greed; malice; ridiculous lifestyle excess, signified by the chief sociopath's pet cheetahs: "The Counselor" offers all sorts of pulpy theoretical interest. As a bonus, the violence showcases not one but two really nasty ways to die via beheading, which is one more exotic method of killing than we got with the cattle stun-gun as deployed in the Oscar-winning "No Country for Old Men," taken from a McCarthy novel.
10:13 AM EDT, September 12, 2013
"Short Term 12" is a small wonder, a film of exceptional naturalness and empathy that takes material about troubled teenagers and young adults that could have been generic and turns it into something moving and intimate.
October 17, 2013
One challenge facing screenwriters and directors today towers above the rest. It is this: How do you make something vital and interesting out of a story of guys, in a sweat, looking at keyboards?
9:55 PM EDT, July 11, 2013
"The Hunt" is a terrifying cautionary tale about the loss of innocence, sexual abuse and children. But in a chilling twist, the innocence lost is that of a single father, a respected member of the community, a beloved kindergarten teacher suddenly pegged as a pedophile by an angry child.
12:04 PM EDT, October 10, 2013
"Captain Phillips" is a Tom Hanks movie. It is also a Paul Greengrass movie, and the cinematic tumult director Greengrass adroitly captures and sustains in the service of a narrative has a way of keeping his stars unmoored — in a good way — while trumping conventional Hollywood notions of a star vehicle.
12:04 PM EDT, October 10, 2013
The most excellent and lamentable tragedy "Romeo and Juliet" has been turned into a film that is lamentable without the "excellent" part.
October 4, 2013
"Gravity" defies itself. Sandra Bullock and George Clooney play astronauts — a newbie scientist and a veteran cowboy — who dodge space debris and the usual narrative expectations while coping with a highly compressed series of crises 372 miles above the Earth's surface. It's a nerve-wracking visual experience of unusual and paradoxical delicacy. And if your stomach can take it, it's truly something to see.
9:46 AM EDT, October 3, 2013
We may never know who really was involved in the killing of John Fitzgerald Kennedy. But the opposite poles of the existing theories, cinematic division, stand in clear and livid disagreement. Oliver Stone in "JFK" argued that everybody did it except your mother. And the squishy new drama "Parkland," a wan human-interest procedural focusing on some of the event's lesser-known players, restates the conclusion of the Warren Commission: That Lee Harvey Oswald, lone gunman, flagrant wing nut, acted on his own, and the rest of you conspiracy idiots can just shut up about anti-Castro Cubans and Kennedy-hating Mafiosi and various slithering snakes on the grassy knoll.
9:33 AM EDT, September 26, 2013
It's big, brash and dramatically it goes in circles. The first two may be enough for most people, especially if they're into Formula One racing, to overlook the third.
9:35 AM EDT, September 26, 2013
Joseph Gordon-Levitt playing a Lothario who spends a tremendous amount of time in thrall to an avalanche of online pornography? It doesn't sound like a date movie, the way "(500) Days of Summer" sounded like one and, in fact, was one.
9:35 AM EDT, September 26, 2013
Thanks to the likes of "Ice Age," most animated features rely on a general wash of sarcasm-based meanness atop sequences of hammering, photo-realistically rendered peril. Throw in a rote message of friendship and a reminder of the importance of family before the up-tempo closing credits, and the people will come. Same old thing but louder? Count me in.
10:32 AM EDT, September 26, 2013
James Gandolfini died in June at age 51, and it's still a terrible loss, all these breathless 24-hour news cycles later. His final picture, a crime drama called "Animal Rescue," opens next year. Meantime, consider writer-director Nicole Holofcener's "Enough Said" is a fond farewell.
10:05 AM EDT, September 19, 2013
Classy trash, "Prisoners" opens with a scene of holy sacrifice, the first of many violent acts sanctified as virtuous — necessary — by an increasingly grotesque narrative. In the Pennsylvania woods, a carpenter played by Hugh Jackman guides his quiet teenage son (Dylan Minnette) in the killing of his first deer. A prayer is uttered. A shot is fired. The carpenter, named Keller Dover, is a true believer in the Lord, and he gets results.
August 15, 2013
"The Act of Killing" takes more than a little getting used to. It's a mind-bending film, devastating and disorienting, that disturbs us in ways we're not used to being disturbed, raising questions about the nature of documentary, the persistence of evil and the intertwined ways movies function in our culture and in our minds.
2:50 PM EDT, September 12, 2013
With the crafty "Insidious" (2011) and this year's exceptional "The Conjuring," director James Wan asserted the reliability and profitability of old-school suggestive horror, haunted-house division, easy on the sadism.
7:05 PM EDT, August 15, 2013
Keri Russell, she of "Felicity" and "Waitress" and many others, is such a winning actress, even in a flat soda of a comedy like "Austenland," she's in there, doing all she can to carbonate things.
11:45 AM EDT, September 5, 2013
Michael Phillips: 'Afternoon Delight': Her marriage is a snooze, but new friend is intriguing ★★ 1/2
Once you prove yourself in a certain kind of broad comedy, as Kathryn Hahn has in the movies and on TV, you spend a fair percentage of your career trying to prove that you can do other things too. In the inexplicably popular "We're the Millers" Hahn brings her usual confident attack to a shrill supporting role. It's welcome, therefore, probably for her and certainly for us, to watch her explore a more bittersweet variety of situations in her first screen lead, in writer-director Jill Soloway's "Afternoon Delight."
September 6, 2013
From the dusty annals of a science-fiction franchise belonging to another age, that of "Pitch Black" (2000) and "The Chronicles of Riddick" (2004) and several video game variations, here's a modestly scaled summer picture continuing the legend that time and many moviegoers forgot. And it's fun! Extremely violent, cleverly managed fun, full of eviscerating aliens, Vin Diesel making those little swimmer goggles look sharp and Katee Sackhoff of "Battlestar Galactica" swaggering around as a sexually ambiguous bounty hunter stuck with a bunch of guys on a crummy planet, ruled (more or less) by the escaped prisoner Riddick, whose story is recapped in "Riddick" but there's not much to it, don't worry.
12:12 PM EDT, April 26, 2013
The line sounds absurdly melodramatic, but it's delivered in a steely tone. "You'll end up in the old man's bed. Like my mother. Like all of them." Played by a taciturn Thomas Doret, the younger son of painter Pierre-Auguste Renoir knows the score. He has seen the painter's models, with or without underthings, come and go, like so much French laundry.
6:51 PM EDT, August 22, 2013
"The Grandmaster" is like a meal of all desserts, with maybe the tiniest bit of protein thrown in. You'll feel decadent enjoying it, but everything is so tasty, it would be foolish to object.
6:44 PM EDT, August 28, 2013
"Getaway" will never be mistaken for a "Fast & Furious" sequel. It's more like "Taken … for a Ride!" Terrible but, in its squealing way, sporadically fun-terrible, it features a glowering Ethan Hawke as a former professional race car driver named Brent Magna … or Brock Magma … or Frack Slaterock … or something like that. Let's call him Magma.
2:35 PM EDT, August 26, 2013
"Closed Circuit," starring Eric Bana and Rebecca Hall as a pair of sleek English defense attorneys who make those Old Bailey wigs look positively haute, opens with security-camera screens, first four, then eight, then 12, then 15, dispassionately recording street activity and anonymous passers-by in London's Borough Market neighborhood. A truck appears on one of the screens. The music signals trouble. A bomb explodes. More than 100 people die.
9:54 AM EDT, August 8, 2013
"The Spectacular Now" is rare: a coming-of-age movie featuring a teenage couple about whom you actually give a rip.
August 22, 2013
Zippy, kinetic and brashly funny, "The World's End" comes to the U.S. from its native England hard on the heels of "This Is the End," an American comedy about ordinary mortals (comedians, actually, so maybe not so ordinary) manning up to deal with apocalyptic plot developments. "World's End," a collaboration among director Edgar Wright, co-writer and star Simon Pegg and co-star Nick Frost, joins the trio's earlier genre scrambles "Shaun of the Dead" (zombie invasion plus rom-com) and "Hot Fuzz" ("Bad Boys"-brand action movie plopped down in Miss Marple land).
August 23, 2013
Frequently, horror movies send some useful idiots to a remote location and then hack them up victim by victim. But what might happen if one of the potential corpses had some self-defense savvy?
10:37 AM EDT, August 15, 2013
There's nothing wrong with "Paranoia" that a stronger director, livelier leading actors and several hundred fewer narrative conveniences wouldn't cure. It's too bad. All year we see R-rated movies crammed with fantasy violence too rough for teenagers yet fiscally dependent on that demographic. Now and then a more "grown-up" picture (ironically and typically rated PG-13) wanders past the studio gates, aimed at a somewhat broader and more seasoned crowd. The "Arbitrage" crowd, let's say: folks who, in this instance, might enjoy seeing Harrison Ford (as a Steve Jobs-type tech powerhouse, about to launch a "game changer" of a smartphone) chewing scenery, discreetly, opposite Gary Oldman (as his protege turned murderous business rival).
4:15 PM EDT, August 14, 2013
The best scenes in "Lee Daniels' The Butler" — a family farewell at a bus station; a few drinks and a few dangerous glances among friends in an ordinary Washington, D.C., living room — steer clear of the White House and keep a comfortable and freeing distance from the flotilla of celebrity impersonations sailing by.
4:28 PM EDT, July 31, 2013
The acting is everything in "Blue Jasmine," though Cate Blanchett and company wouldn't have anything to act without writer-director Woody Allen's flagrant revision of "A Streetcar Named Desire." "Best-since" phrases have been flying since Allen's seriocomic exercise opened in New York and Los Angeles: best since "Vicky Cristina Barcelona," best since "Match Point," best since "Crimes and Misdemeanors" a generation ago, even. Well. Certainly it's his best since "Midnight in Paris," two movies ago, which is to say it's better than "To Rome With Love."
4:16 PM EDT, August 14, 2013
Here's what we know from "Jobs," the first and, with luck, the lamer of the two biopics (Aaron Sorkin is working on his own screenplay) about the late Apple computer guru Steve Jobs, played here by Ashton Kutcher. Genius, according to Kutcher's bland performance, is a matter of pursing your lips, pausing, speaking deliberately and arrogantly and reading every line as if you already know the retort, because you are Steve Jobs and therefore an omniscient god. Kutcher has the circular eyewear and the dreamy gait down pat. Each time he serves up a conspicuous, dismissive hand gesture, you think: Yes, I seem to remember seeing the real Jobs doing something like that on camera.
August 15, 2013
"Kick-Ass 2," the sequel to the 2010 adaptation of Scottish comic book author Mark Millar's "Kick-Ass," comes in right on the bubble: It's no better, no worse and essentially no different from the jocular, clodhopping brutality of the first one. Here in writer-director Jeff Wadlow's crimson bauble, Chloe Grace Moretz and Aaron Taylor-Johnson reprise their roles as Hit Girl and Kick-Ass, respectively — the homegrown, limb-lopping superheroes and high school classmates (he's older, but she's tougher) who spill more blood than a klutzy production assistant on a Tarantino shoot.
10:22 AM EDT, July 25, 2013
Tilikum, the orca at the center of the depressing documentary "Blackfish," has killed three humans and remains, relatively speaking, free — he's an ongoing attraction at SeaWorld Orlando, making the big splash that gets everybody wet. Anyone who has visited a SeaWorld or its equivalents knows the routine.
9:54 AM EDT, August 8, 2013
9:55 AM EDT, August 8, 2013
How far does a girl have to go to untangle her tingle? This was the discreetly prurient poster question used to sell "Deep Throat" and Linda Lovelace to a mainstream public in 1972. The new biopic "Lovelace," about the grimly exploited porn star born Linda Boreman, stars Amanda Seyfried as the improbable icon whose name became Bob Hope's late-career punch line and a reliable ba-DUM-bum on "The Tonight Show" and a thousand other cultural wellsprings.
August 7, 2013
When Jason Sudeikis and Ed Helms appear in the same movie there's a significant threat of clean-cut sameness. Mediocre material makes them like two halves of the same comic actor: Ed Jason Helms-Sudeikis.
4:28 PM EDT, July 31, 2013
Taken from a graphic novel, "2 Guns" has this much in common with Woody Allen's "Blue Jasmine": They're both about characters hung out to dry. Also, the stars in both films lend panache and a sense of purpose to familiar-seeming material. Beyond that the differences are significant. "Blue Jasmine" is the movie with the old-time jazz on the soundtrack; "2 Guns" is the one with people getting shot in the leg, the arm, the head, the chest or somewhere else, and with Paula Patton in a nude scene that brings a hush of prayerlike gratitude from a mostly male audience.
10:20 AM EDT, July 25, 2013
Every time Hugh Jackman's up there on screen, dining out on the rage stew that is the Wolverine, I think back to his Tony Award-winning performance as entertainer Peter Allen in "The Boy From Oz." It was a terrible musical but a wonderful Broadway turn, flamboyant exuberance personified. Each strand of this performer's DNA is about giving the audience a great time. He's a strutter, and in "The Wolverine," Jackman's sixth and most dominant appearance as the Marvel Comics character, the immortal mutton-chopped loner looks as if he has been spending all his time up in the Canadian wilderness with a personal trainer, waiting for his close-up.
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