peabody November 27

Mr. Peabody & Sherman (2014)

Based on the 1960s animated characters of the same names, Rob Minkoff’s Mr. Peabody & Sherman is standard fare for modern 3D animation. Mr. Peabody was, of course, from the “Peabody’s Improbable History” segment of the Rocky and His Friends television series. The smartest dog in existence, he adopted Sherman to be his human son. […]

frontera November 26

Frontera (2014)

Michael Berry’s debut feature is the well-meaning but heavy-handed Frontera. This 2014 drama features some compelling characters, but its handling of its issues is too shallow and lacking in complexities. There’s no grit to the drama and no layers, which renders its factual underpinnings all the more disappointing.

vamp November 26

A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night (2014)

It’s tempting to compare Ana Lily Amirpour’s A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night to other vampire movies. From this standpoint, it’s easy to elevate this 2014 above the norm. It’s also easy to liken this 2014 film to Jim Jarmusch’s Only Lovers Left Alive, an appraisal countless critics have made, but that also seems […]

chow November 25

Journey to the West: Conquering the Demons (2013)

An electric, defiantly entertaining film, Stephen Chow’s Journey to the West: Conquering the Demons is very close to a comedy-fantasy masterpiece. It’s such a frenetic, funny movie that it’s hard to take at times. The action and humour is at times ridiculous, with scenes unfolding in ways that are damn near impossible to describe.

life partners1 November 24

Life Partners (2014)

Susanna Fogel’s Life Partners is a winningly accurate film about the perils of arriving at 30 and not quite having things sorted out. In a world that seems irreparably tilted toward youth, it’s refreshing to go on a cinematic adventure that still finds authentic value in the experiences of the slightly more seasoned. Relationships still […]

stritch November 23

Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me (2013)

Broadway legend Elaine Stritch credits her husband with saying that “Everyone has a bag of rocks.” Her bag of rocks is the subject of Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me, a stunning documentary from director Chiemi Karasawa. The film opened shortly before its subject’s passing in July of 2014 and stands as a powerful, insistent tribute to […]

whitey1 November 22

Whitey: United States of America v. James J. Bulger (2014)

Directed and produced by Joe Berlinger, the 2014 documentary Whitey: United States of America v. James J. Bulger is an unfortunately cluttered and meandering film. It fashions the purpose of the trial of the convicted murderer and Boston crime lord as determining whether or not Bulger was an informant for the FBI and then spends […]

twofaces November 22

The Two Faces of January (2014)

Hossein Amini makes his impressive directorial debut with The Two Faces of January, a satisfying old-school thriller based on Patricia Highsmith’s novel of the same name. The 2014 film is elegantly presented and beautifully shot, with glorious location shooting in Greece and Turkey highlighting the exotic intrigue found in the story.

wolves November 21

Big Bad Wolves (2013)

The craft of storytelling found in Big Bad Wolves is something else. This 2013 Israeli film is directed by Aharon Keshales and Navot Papushado and really is a gem of a thriller. It comes built on Hitchcockian touches and delves into the evil that men do with biting, black humour. While some may dismiss it […]

the rock November 20

Hercules (2014)

Directed by Brett Ratner, Hercules is a much better film than it has any business being. It’s probably the best of the recent neo-mythology pictures and it comes based on the late Steve Moore’s graphic novel Hercules: The Thracian Wars. The 2014 movie is clever and cool, boasting a strong cast and some bloody good […]

driventokill November 19

Driven to Kill (2009)

There’s something satisfying about Driven to Kill, the 2009 direct-to-DVD flick starring Steven Seagal and directed by Jeff F. King. For all the frustration of Against the Dark, also from 2009, Driven to Kill offers up a big satisfying slice of Seagal lunacy complete with an ephemeral accent, plenty of crunchy action and tattoos.

swingers1 November 18

Swingers (1996)

Slick and smug, Doug Liman’s Swingers crackles with a sort of loquacious, blowy flow that is seldom seen in such a self-satisfied film. Much of what it gets right is owed to the Jon Favreau screenplay, which is pure Hollywood chatter with a side of big-headed but vulnerable bravado, and its lean budget that allows […]

vengeance November 17

Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance (2002)

The German poet and philosopher Friedrich Schiller is credited with saying that “Revenge is barren of itself: it is the dreadful food it feeds on; its delight is murder and its end is despair.” That despair can certainly be found in Park Chan-wook’s 2002 motion picture Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance.

happiness1 November 15

Happiness (1998)

Even the most cursory of glances around most social networking profiles reveals a raft of epigrammatic quotations about happiness, about how happiness is something people “deserve” and how it’s the only thing that matters in this crazy thing called life. But what is happiness? Is it, like Hemingway suggests, “the rarest thing” in clever people? […]

againstthedark November 12

Against the Dark (2009)

On paper, Against the Dark should be the ideal Steven Seagal movie. It features an outlandish plot and it passes the lion’s share of the action off to a more capable co-star. It finds the ponytailed one with little to say and less to do. There are vampires and Seagal carries a samurai sword while […]

case against 81 November 11

The Case Against 8 (2014)

Produced and directed by Ryan White and Ben Cotner, The Case Against 8 is a thorough documentary about the fight to overturn California’s Proposition 8. The film details the multitude of courtroom and personal battles associated with fighting the state’s 2008 constitutional amendment to ban same sex marriage.

duel1 November 10

Duel at the Mound (2014)

Travis Mills’ 2014 film Duel at the Mound is, like his 2013 piece The Men Who Robbed the Bank, a project that uses a particular “thing” to illuminate its characters. In the case of The Men Who Robbed the Bank, it was the titular crime that drove the exploration. In the case of Duel at […]

kids2 November 09

Kids (1995)

Directed by Larry Clark from a screenplay by Harmony Korine, Kids is one of the most honest motion pictures to ever cover the teenage psyche. The mire of teenage life has often been touched on by the various arts to varying effect, but this 1995 film unflinchingly navigates the terrain and doesn’t turn its face […]

cage November 07

Left Behind (2014)

Based on the hideous novel of the same name by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins, Left Behind is a catastrophic motion picture that is both silly and remarkably boring. This 2014 film is directed by Vic Anderson, the guy who doubled for Harrison Ford in the Indiana Jones movies, and is as tedious an […]

sister act November 06

Sister Act (1992)

Sister Act is one of those light comedies that almost always seems to generate a smile but never quite reaches the heights of hilarity. It’s a warm and well-meaning picture from 1992 and it really gets popping when the Marc Shaiman music takes over. Emile Ardolino is the director and Joseph Howard, who really is […]

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