Movie Review: "Star Trek Into Darkness" B- May 23, 2013
"Star Trek Into Darkness" has a great antagonist, a terrorist calling himself John Harrison, played by the increasingly famous British actor Benedict Cumberbatch. His voice drips with pure, theatrical villainy, but Cumberbatch plays him believably, like a real person. The movie's worst enemy, though, may be its own zealous, clumsy intentions.
Movie Review: "The Hangover Part III" D+ May 23, 2013
Remember how "The Hangover Part II" was a lukewarm rehash of "The Hangover," almost beat-for-beat the same story, with little originality? Todd Phillips evidently heard our complaints and has addressed them in "The Hangover Part III," which is nothing like the first two and features no hangovers. It is barely a comedy. Heck, it's barely a movie.
Movie Review: "Frances Ha" A- May 17, 2013
Twentysomething drifts aimlessly, tries to figure out what to do with his or her life. That one-line summary is practically its own genre in independent filmmaking, and while plenty of movies dealing with the subject have been just fine, the sub-par entries that clog festival schedules make it hard for the truly special ones to be heard over the mumbling hipster roar.
Movie Review: "Mud" B+ May 17, 2013
Jeff Nichols' last film, "Taking Shelter," was about a man trying to protect his wife and daughter. Before that, he made "Shotgun Stories," in which two sets of half-brothers feud after their father's death. His third film, "Mud," takes a 14-year-old boy's point of view, but it is once again about the pressures of manhood and the importance of father figures. Nichols is examining the subject of modern masculinity more richly and thoughtfully than any other filmmaker.
Movie Review: "Stories We Tell (documentary)" B+ May 17, 2013
Toronto native Sarah Polley, the daughter of performers, started acting in Canadian TV and films as a child, and eventually established a steady career on both sides of the border in movies like "Go," "My Life Without Me," and "Dawn of the Dead." Where people really began to take notice of her, though, was when she wrote and directed a feature film, "Away from Her," about a married couple coping with Alzheimer's. The screenplay earned her an Oscar nomination, and the movie (also nominated for Julie Christie's lead performance) announced Polley as the latest in a line of perfectly good actors who might be even better filmmakers.
Movie Review: "The Reluctant Fundamentalist" B- May 14, 2013
In "The Reluctant Fundamentalist," a bright, Princeton-educated Pakistani man named Changez (Riz Ahmed) comes to realize that over-emphasizing the fundamental principles of any endeavor can lead to a rigid, black-and-white view of things that's too reductive to be useful in the real world. That applies to his Muslim faith, about which he is only moderately passionate; to his work as a Wall Street analyst, where he's a dynamo; and to his relationships. The fundamentals are important -- that's why they're called fundamentals -- but life is usually too nuanced to be boiled down to a simple "either/or" proposition.
Movie Review: "The Great Gatsby" C May 10, 2013
Baz Luhrmann's half-frenetic, half-subdued version of "The Great Gatsby" is almost 100 percent faithful to the novel in terms of plot, and almost zero percent faithful in terms of theme, character, and impact. I don't doubt that Luhrmann and his co-writer, Craig Pearce, have read the book, but if what's on the screen is any indication, they didn't understand it.
Movie Review: "Gimme the Loot" B+ May 9, 2013
You don't have to be an old prude to be a little turned off by the description of "Gimme the Loot." It's about teenage graffiti artists (which is to say, vandals) who smoke and sell weed, commit numerous petty thefts, attempt a burglary, and swear like sailors. They're the type of kids you'd at least disapprove of if you saw them on the street, and possibly actively avoid.
Movie Review: "The Iceman" C- May 3, 2013
Michael Shannon is having what they call "a moment," with an acclaimed lead performance in 2011's "Take Shelter," ongoing praise for HBO's "Boardwalk Empire," and a special mention in almost every review of "Premium Rush," about which he seems to have been the most memorable thing. That's on top of the well-deserved Best Supporting Actor nomination he got for 2008's "Revolutionary Road," about which he was definitely the most memorable thing.
Movie Review: "Iron Man 3" B+ May 3, 2013
Tony Stark was profoundly affected by what happened in "The Avengers," what with the arrival of Norse gods and malevolent aliens and other things that would tend to disrupt a person's worldview. In "Iron Man 3," the billionaire weapons-designer-turned-do-gooder, once again played with irresistible snark and a tinge of soulfulness by Robert Downey Jr., has thrown himself even more obsessively into his work to avoid the anxiety attacks and sleeplessness that trouble him when he sits still. Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow), Tony's CEO and soulmate, worries about his health as he tinkers away in the basement of his lavish Malibu cliffside home, upgrading, duplicating, and improving the Iron Man suits. Even Tony's sentient computer (voiced by Paul Bettany) is concerned.
The last 60 days:
- 42 C+
- Admission C+
- The Angels' Share B+
- Antiviral B-
- At Any Price B+
- Evil Dead B
- Frances Ha A-
- G.I. Joe: Retaliation C
- The Great Gatsby C
- The Hangover Part III D+
- The Iceman C-
- Iron Man 3 B+
- Mud B+
- Oblivion C+
- An Oversimplification of Her Beauty B
- Pain & Gain C
- The Place Beyond the Pines B+
- The Reluctant Fundamentalist B-
- Room 237 (documentary) C+
- Scary Movie 5 F
- Simon Killer B-
- Star Trek Into Darkness B-
- Stories We Tell (documentary) B+
- To the Wonder C-
- Upstream Color B+
- Wrong B