“I’m tired,” says Nina Simone in Liz Garbus’ What Happened, Miss Simone?. “You don’t know what I mean,” she adds before playing the piano. The 2015 documentary, distributed by Netflix, deals with the almost cold-bloodedly complicated singer and activist. It frames itself as an exploration rather than an answer to the titular question, which is […]Read more "What Happened, Miss Simone? (2015)"
Helmed by Roy Del Ruth, Red Light is a lesser film noir based on Don “Red” Barry’s story “This Guy Gideon.” The 1949 motion picture deals with a fixated man and the moral responsibilities of religion, especially when it comes to vengeance. Its lead character, played by George Raft, is engaged in a catastrophe of […]Read more "Film Noir Friday: Red Light (1949)"
Back in 2012, Pitch Perfect hit on a hip formula by blending Glee with Bring It On for a musical comedy about an a capella group destined for stardom. The sequel, 2015’s Pitch Perfect 2, expands on the formula and then expands on the formula again. This picture is directed by Elizabeth Banks, who previous […]Read more "Pitch Perfect 2 (2015)"
Sergio Corbucci’s The Mercenary, also known in some circles as A Professional Gun, is a complex tale of Mexican revolutionaries, guns-for-hire and clowns. This 1968 spaghetti western, released the same year as Corbucci’s The Great Silence, is an entertaining genre flick that brims with an Ennio Morricone and Bruno Nicolai score and features a sneering […]Read more "Western Wednesday: The Mercenary (1968)"
There is a moment in Rick Alverson’s Entertainment that finds the rumpled protagonist using a trophy to “gun down” his audience. It devolves or perhaps evolves into fart noises and lasts several minutes, it seems. The character leaves the stage, seems to consider something and is promptly told by the promoter that there’s no way […]Read more "Entertainment (2015)"
Make no mistake about it, Gore Vidal and William F. Buckley, Jr. detested each other. Robert Gordon and Morgan Neville explore this fact in the 2015 documentary Best of Enemies, a mostly straightforward film that essentially contends with the 1968 debates between the two American intellectuals. The movie apparently was five years in the making […]Read more "Best of Enemies (2015)"
Roy William Neill’s last film turns out to be Black Angel, a desolate and sordid tale of murder and blackmail based on the novel of the same name by Cornell Woolrich. Neill is mostly known for directing a fleet of Universal’s Sherlock Holmes pictures between 1943 and 1946, so his knowledge of murder is without […]Read more "Film Noir Friday: Black Angel (1946)"
Directed by Peyton Reed and based on the Marvel Comics character of the same name, 2015’s Ant-Man is a blast. It’s a brisk and fun superhero movie, with more in common with the invigorating and colourful Guardians of the Galaxy than the clanging and impatient Avengers: Age of Ultron. Ant-Man is entertaining in a sort […]Read more "Ant-Man (2015)"
Clint Eastwood produces, directs and stars in Pale Rider, a 1985 western that certainly plays to his strengths. This movie features a screenplay by Michael Butler and Dennis Shyrack and, like High Plains Drifter, is full of meaning. Pale Rider is certainly less otherworldly in comparison to Eastwood’s 1973 “fever dream,” but that doesn’t diminish […]Read more "Western Wednesday: Pale Rider (1985)"
Based on Thomas Hardy’s 1874 novel of the same name, Far from the Madding Crowd is a sweltering and sordid motion picture from Thomas Vinterberg. This 2015 period piece features a screenplay by David Nicholls and nails down some seriously intense melodrama, blowing through a soapy tale of rocky circumstance with all the subtlety of […]Read more "Far from the Madding Crowd (2015)"
The Minions movie was always inevitable. The little yellow whatevers were bound to get their own film ever since the lousy Despicable Me 2 trotted them out for more screen time and found box office gold. This time, directors Kyle Balda and Pierre Coffin bowl through a Brian Lynch story that talks about the evolution […]Read more "Minions (2015)"
An overwrought and awkward tribulation that jabs away with every boxing movie cliché in existence, Southpaw is directed by Antoine Fuqua and features a musty Kurt Sutter screenplay that was originally designed to propel an Eminem vehicle. This 2015 film features Jake Gyllenhaal as the star, with Slim Shady’s pal 50 Cent playing a supporting […]Read more "Southpaw (2015)"
Directed by Tay Garnett and based on the 1934 novel of the same name by James M. Cain, The Postman Always Rings Twice is a nasty, cruel film noir that bristles through its twisted paces. This 1946 picture features a screenplay by Harry Ruskin and Niven Busch and is actually the third filming of Cain’s […]Read more "Film Noir Friday: The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946)"
Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation is the good kind of blockbuster. The action feels frenetic and decidedly human, the tension is authentic and wired into a broader context, and the sights don’t feel ripped from a genetic cityscape catalogue. Indeed, Christopher McQuarrie’s 2015 thriller is the fifth entry in the better-than-it-has-any-business-being series and it’s a […]Read more "Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation (2015)"
Clint Eastwood directs and stars in High Plains Drifter, a 1973 western that often feels like a fever dream. The Ernest Tidyman screenplay wanders through various allegorical wastelands, providing multiple layers of possible readings and introducing a character that is both an ethereal amalgamation of common western tropes and a distinctive force of nature.Read more "Western Wednesday: High Plains Drifter (1973)"
Not only is Inside Out the most profound motion picture to come out of the superb Pixar camp, it’s one of the most profound animated features of all-time. It has as its subject no less than the totality of what it means to be a human being, with Pete Docter’s impeccable direction taking things to […]Read more "Inside Out (2015)"
It feels like the story at the core of Simon Curtis’ Woman in Gold should be more interesting, but this 2015 British drama winds up dawdling through nearly two hours without ever managing an emotional connection. With a screenplay by Alexi Kaye Campbell, this movie is based on the true story of Maria Altmann and […]Read more "Woman in Gold (2015)"
It’s big, it’s loud, it’s stuffed to the rafters with explosions and crashes and fights and stuff. It’s Avengers: Age of Ultron, the sequel to 2012’s The Avengers and the 11th film in Marvel’s Cinematic Universe. Written and directed by Joss Whedon, this 2015 action popcorn spectacle features a slew of characters and plays every […]Read more "Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)"
One of the most extraordinary of all the films noir, Double Indemnity is a crackling masterpiece from director Billy Wilder. This 1944 picture features a screenplay by Wilder and Raymond Chandler and is based on James M. Cain’s 1943 novella of the same name. It teems with cleverness and a simmering loneliness, embodying all that […]Read more "Film Noir Friday: Double Indemnity (1944)"
Matthew Vaughn’s Kingsman: The Secret Service is a puppy dog of a movie. It is so doe-eyed and eager to please that it’s nearly impossible to fault, but that same self-aware eagerness is one of its biggest flaws. This 2015 film is based on the comic book The Secret Service by Dave Gibbons and Mark […]Read more "Kingsman: The Secret Service (2015)"