The Possession of Hannah Grace

C | R |
Hannah Grace is already possessed when "The Possession of Hannah Grace" begins, and she dies during a botched exorcism before the opening credits roll. The movie isn't about her anyway: It's about Meg...

Ralph Breaks the Internet

B- | PG |
The premise of Disney's "Wreck-It Ralph," you'll recall, was, "What if 'Toy Story' but with video game characters?" For the sequel, "Ralph Breaks the Internet," it's, "What if 'Toy Story' but with the...

Robin Hood (2018)

C | PG-13 |
The latest familiar story to be revised by a narrator who implores us to "forget what think we know" about it is the tale of Robin Hood, captured in "Robin Hood" (not to be confused with the 11+ othe...

Widows

B+ | R |
"Widows," a sprawling crime drama from director Steve McQueen ("12 Years a Slave"), begins with a sharp, fragmented sequence that ends with the deaths of four Chicago men and the creation of the title...

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald

C- | PG-13 |
After seven books and eight movies, we really came to love those Harry Potter characters, didn't we? We watched them grow and learn and evolve -- not just the kids, but the adults too. The prequel ...

Instant Family

B+ | PG-13 |
"Instant Family" may not be the most wonderful movie of the year, but it's certainly the most surprisingly wonderful. Inspired by a true story, the premise threatens a sappy, manipulative Hallmark mov...

Cam

B- | Not-Rated |
Most of us don't have the exact problems that Alice in "Cam" has because most of us aren't webcam performers who make a living doing sexy shows online for tips (not that we're judging). But this intr...

The Grinch

B- | PG |
"The Grinch," an 85-minute animated retelling of Dr. Seuss' "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" -- which was already adapted perfectly in 1966 as a 26-minute Chuck Jones cartoon -- is fitfully amusing, h...

Overlord

B- | R |
Hard to imagine what could have given filmmakers in 2018 the idea that moviegoers want to see Nazis get killed, but hey, we'll take 'em. "Overlord," a violent, horror-tinged, sci-fi take on Germany's ...

The Girl in the Spider’s Web

C | R |
After "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" author Stieg Larsson died, his publisher hired David Lagercrantz to write more sequels, like those Jason Bourne books that weren't by Robert Ludlum. Coincidenta...

The Front Runner

B- | R |
"The Front Runner," Jason Reitman's political dramedy and light satire about Gary Hart, is set in a quaint, bygone era when adultery could derail a politician's career and when there were no news netw...

Boy Erased

B | R |
The Australian filmmaker Joel Edgerton, who directed "The Gift" and played Uncle Owen in the "Star Wars" prequels, is not gay. This felt apparent to me, a gay, watching "Boy Erased," which Edgerton ad...

Bodied

A- | R |
My understanding of battle rap — informed entirely by Joseph Kahn’s "Bodied," a devastatingly funny social commentary — is that it’s like a no-holds-barred comedy roast except the jokes have to rhyme,...

Nobody’s Fool

C- | R |
Though written and directed by Tyler Perry, "Nobody's Fool" starts out bearing little resemblance to a Tyler Perry film. For one thing, it's just called "Nobody's Fool," not "Tyler Perry's Nobody's Fo...

Suspiria

B+ | R |
"Suspiria," from "Call Me by Your Name" director Luca Guadagnino, is a remake of a 1977 cult favorite by Italian horrormeister Dario Argento -- but don't feel bad if that means nothing to you. Argento...

Bohemian Rhapsody

C | PG-13 |
I'm far from the first one to point this out, but "Bohemian Rhapsody" -- a biopic of Freddie Mercury (and, to a lesser extent, the band he fronted, known as Queen) -- is the sort of watered-down pablu...

Burning (Korean)

B- | Not-Rated |
"Burning" is a mystery. I don't mean that its plot involves a mystery (although it does), but that the film itself is hard to pin down. Based on a short story ("Barn Burning") and directed by South Ko...

Johnny English Strikes Again

C | PG |
Johnny English, Rowan Atkinson's bumbling James Bond character who is a more talkative version of his Mr. Bean character, returns for a third outing in "Johnny English Strikes Again," a family-friendl...

Hunter Killer

B- | R |
The rather arbitrarily titled "Hunter Killer" is a submarine movie for dads, based on a novel called "Firing Point" (another random title) that looks like it is probably only for sale in airports. The...

The Hate U Give

B- | PG-13 |
It takes its time getting there, but you know "The Hate U Give" is going to turn serious on us because it starts with our narrator, 16-year-old Starr Carter (Amandla Stenberg), telling us about the ti...

Mid90s

B | R |
For maximum nostalgia, "Mid90s" is presented not in widescreen but in 4:3, the way it would have looked on TV or videotape back in the day. "Maximum nostalgia" is the motivating factor for almost ever...

Can You Ever Forgive Me?

B+ | R |
Lee Israel was a cranky journalist who made a living writing biographies before falling on hard times after the failure of her unauthorized 1985 Estee Lauder book, which Lauder undermined by preemptiv...

Halloween (2018)

B- | R |
The 2018 "Halloween" is a direct sequel to the 1978 "Halloween," and it exists in a timeline where there were never any other sequels, not even the one that erased the other ones. Michael Myers killed...

An Evening with Beverly Luff Linn

D | R |
••• “An Evening with Beverly Luff Linn” is Jim Hosking's followup to his infamously irritating/amusing “The Greasy Strangler," which I enjoyed as a you-gotta-see-this provocation. I was curious to se...

The Guilty (Danish)

B+ | R |
••• “The Guilty” is a tight, efficient, 85 minutes set in a single location: the 911 call center in Copenhagen. (Except it’s not 911 over there, it’s 112. What a country!) Police officer Asger Holm (...

Beautiful Boy

B | R |
In 2008, journalist David Sheff and his son Nic published parallel memoirs, "Beautiful Boy" and "Tweak," detailing Nic's struggles with drug addiction and David's efforts to help him. Both books are c...

The Oath

B- | R |
The premise behind Ike Barinholtz's dark comedy "The Oath" is ripe with possibilities: A liberal man and his wife host his conservative relatives for Thanksgiving week, which coincides with a particul...

Terrified (Spanish)

B- | Not-Rated |
Buenos Aires is rife with supernatural activity in Demian Rugna's "Terrified" ("Aterrados"), much of it centralized to a particular street (perhaps because of zoning?). The manifestations are frequen...

Jane and Emma

B | PG |
Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (or MOTCOJCOLDS for short) know Emma Hale Smith, wife of the Prophet Joseph Smith, as a loving spouse who put up with a lot of garbage. Long ...

Bad Times at the El Royale

B | R |
Drew Goddard wrote for TV's "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and "Lost" before he started making movies, and it shows. His first film as writer/director, "The Cabin in the Woods," had a Buffy-like self-awar...

Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween

B- | PG |
The first "Goosebumps" movie wasn't an adaptation of one of R.L. Stine's tween-horror books but a story about the "Goosebumps" books, in which Stine (played by Jack Black) had the power to bring his s...

First Man

B | PG-13 |
Ryan Gosling is a handsome man, but it's his profile that's most aesthetically pleasing. We saw a lot of it in "Drive," where he sat behind the wheel of a car and was was often photographed from the p...

The Happy Prince

C | R |
As a very funny gay person who never has enough money, I am the target audience for an Oscar Wilde biopic. But despite Rupert Everett's passion as writer, director, and star -- this is clearly the mov...

Private Life

B | R |
The title of "Private Life," starring Paul Giamatti and Kathryn Hahn as an upscale Manhattan couple trying to have a baby, is ironic. There are fertility issues for both of them — he’s 47; she’s 41 (...

Venom (2018)

C | PG-13 |
Iron Man, Captain America, and the others in the Marvel Cinematic Universe would probably like to make it clear that "Venom" isn't part of their program (though it's better than at least one of the "T...

A Star Is Born

B+ | R |
Because of her outlandish costumery and made-up name, it's easy to dismiss Lady Gaga as a gimmicky pop star. What we discover in the sturdy, old-fashioned "A Star Is Born" (if we hadn't already) is th...

Tales from the Hood 2

B | R |
••• I never saw "Tales from the Hood," but if "Tales from the Hood 2" is any indication, I must go back and watch it posthaste -- though I wonder if the racial climate of 1995 could have inspired ...

Night School

D+ | PG-13 |
The premise of "Night School," an overlong, under-funny comedy starring Kevin Hart, is that a 35-year-old high school dropout named Teddy Walker has to get his GED in order to get a job. That scenario...

Free Solo (documentary)

B+ | PG-13 |
In the parlance of rock-climbers, to "free solo" means to climb alone and without a rope -- basically, to remove all margin for error. If you make a mistake, you die. What you must keep reminding your...

Little Women (2018)

B- | PG-13 |
(Full disclosure: The director of this film is the wife of a friend of mine, who is one of the producers. You shouldn't listen to anything I say about this or any other movie.) Louisa May Alcott's ...

Hold the Dark

B | Not-Rated |
Continuing the "Wind River" cycle of movies about outsiders going to cold, sad Indian reservations to investigate tragedies, here's "Hold the Dark," another brutally chilling drama from "Green Room" ...

Smallfoot

B | PG |
"Smallfoot" is a light animated adventure set in a remote Himalayan village occupied by yetis, aka Abominable Snowmen (and Snowwomen), who have lived in isolation for generations. Though they have a c...

Hell Fest

B- | R |
The rare slasher film that's not a sequel to or remake of a previous one, "Hell Fest" exploits the premise of a traveling Halloween carnival being infiltrated by an actual masked killer who avoids det...

The Old Man & the Gun

B | PG-13 |
David Lowery's last movie, "A Ghost Story," was about a ghost but wasn't a horror film. His new one, "The Old Man and the Gun," is about a career bank robber but isn't a heist thriller. Lowery keeps y...

The Sisters Brothers

B | R |
See, they're a couple of brothers whose last name is Sisters. "The Sisters brothers." Get it? As a novel, much of what made "The Sisters Brothers" so entertaining was author Patrick DeWitt's amusingly...

The House with a Clock in Its Walls

B | PG |
Jack Black opted out of the "Goosebumps" sequel in order to make "The House with a Clock in Its Walls," which is basically a "Goosebumps" movie but based on a different set of YA novels. Kids' movies ...

Assassination Nation

B- | R |
“Assassination Nation,” based on the hashtags #woke and #metoo, is an in-your-face, self-consciously edgy satire about a town called Salem that goes witch-hunting after everyone's online accounts are ...

The Predator

B- | R |
Unlike the late entries in some horror franchises, "The Predator" doesn't pretend any of its predecessors didn't happen, but you don't need to have seen them, either. Directed and co-written by Shane ...

A Simple Favor

B | R |
Based on Darcey Bell's novel, which must have been inspired by Gillian Flynn's "Gone Girl," "A Simple Favor" is a funny, dark-edged, lurid mystery-melodrama starring Anna Kendrick as a naive stay-at-h...

Mandy

B- | Not-Rated |
••• “Mandy” stars Nicolas Cage, with Andrea Riseborough as his wife, the two of them living a lumberjack’s life in the Pacific Northwest in 1983. Intercut with scenes of their idyllic existence, read...

White Boy Rick

B+ | R |
It's unlikely (I hope) that the Wershe family of Detroit will remind you of your own clan. As portrayed in "White Boy Rick," a compelling if familiar fact-based drama set in 1984-88, the Wershes are l...

Why I Deactivated My Facebook Account

In addition to the obvious reasons -- only seeing some of my friends' posts, never seeing them in chronological order, so many of my friends' friends being idiots, etc. -- here are the rest of them. ...

The Nun

C+ | R |
You know how sometimes a horror movie will have various creepy apparitions, and how it doesn't really matter why those particular images were chosen, the point is just to be creepy? But then you know ...

Peppermint

C | R |
In yet another "Death Wish" update teaching the valuable lesson that violence is the answer, "Peppermint" presents Jennifer Garner as Riley North, a Los Angeles woman who seeks revenge after her husba...

Cold Skin

B | Not-Rated |
••• "Cold Skin" starts with the Nietzsche quote about how monster-hunters must beware lest they become monsters themselves, staring into the abyss may result in the abyss staring back at you, yada...

Operation Finale

B | PG-13 |
As we've seen, the end of Adolf Hitler didn't mean the end of the Nazis. Those suckers are hardy! "Operation Finale" recounts how one of the Naziest of the Nazis, Adolf Eichmann, was found hiding in B...

Arizona

C+ | Not-Rated |
"Arizona" is a dark horror/comedy set after the housing collapse in 2009, an era that ought to have inspired more dark horror/comedies than it has. It stars Rosemarie DeWitt as a divorced mom in an Ar...

Searching

B- | PG-13 |
When teenage Margot (Michelle La) goes missing, her widowed father, David (John Cho), with whom she has always enjoyed a close relationship, realizes he doesn't actually know any of her friends and ha...

The Happytime Murders

C- | R |
"The Happytime Murders" is a dismal execution of a great premise, in which puppets (think Muppets) live alongside humans in Los Angeles as second-class citizens, the way toons and people did in "Who F...

A.X.L.

B- | PG |
"A.X.L.," a wholesome boy-and-his-dog adventure and an inoffensive PG trifle, is patterned after "The Iron Giant" -- a good role model for any movie to emulate, though obviously a hard one to measure ...

Papillon

B | R |
"Papillon" is based on the memoirs of Henri Charrière, a 1930s French safecracker who was sent to an inescapable penal colony from which he subsequently (spoiler alert) escaped. But it's also based on...

Mile 22

D+ | R |
Peter Berg, director of good movies like "Friday Night Lights" and "The Rundown," has fallen in with a bad crowd lately, and that crowd's name is Mark Wahlberg. After an auspicious start with "Lone Su...

Alpha

B | PG-13 |
They don't make a lot of movies that are set in 18,000 B.C. and told entirely in made-up caveman languages, perhaps for obvious reasons. Nor is the theme of "where dogs came from" often explored in fi...

We the Animals

A- | R |
All is tranquil at the beginning of "We the Animals" before it evolves into a gentle, aching coming-of-age story for 10-year-old Jonah (Evan Rosado), who will soon learn that you have to take the mome...

Crazy Rich Asians

B | PG-13 |
There are two things about "Crazy Rich Asians" that separate it from most romantic comedies. One is that it's good. Based on Kevin Kwan's bestselling novel and directed by John M. Chu ("Step Up 2: The...

The Meg

C+ | PG-13 |
Like most action movies, "The Meg" begins with its tough-guy hero (who is the best of the best at what he does) performing a mission that goes awry, causing him to blame himself, quit the business, an...

Summer of 84

D | Not-Rated |
••• "Summer of 84" is by the trio of Canadian directors -- François Simard, Anouk Whissell, and Yoann-Karl Whissell, known collectively as RKSS (Roadkill Superstars) -- who made "Turbo Kid," a daffy,...

Slender Man

F | PG-13 |
Even by the low standards of lame PG-13 horror movies about teenage girls being harassed by supernatural entities, "Slender Man" is quite bad. Based on a folkloric boogeyman created in 2009 for an int...

Dog Days

B- | PG |
You know those Garry Marshall ensemble comedies like "Mother's Day" and "New Year's Eve," where various strangers' lives intersect around a particular theme? "Dog Days" is like that, only not terrible...

The Darkest Minds

C+ | PG-13 |
With basic-cable production values and an exceedingly generic story, "The Darkest Minds" is the latest teenage dystopian fantasy film based on a trilogy of young adult novels in which a girl learns sh...

Christopher Robin

C | PG |
Disney's "Christopher Robin" is not a biography of Christopher Robin Milne, the boy featured in his father A.A.'s "Winnie-the-Pooh" books. There was a movie last year, "Goodbye, Christopher Robin," th...

The Spy Who Dumped Me

C+ | R |
The two main characters in "The Spy Who Dumped Me" are ordinary women who get caught up in international espionage and turn out to be -- what are the odds? -- pretty good at it. They shoot villains wi...

Scotty and the Secret History of Hollywood (documentary)

B | Not-Rated |
"Scotty and the Secret History of Hollywood" is the movie version of the 2012 memoir "Full Service," in which George Albert "Scotty" Bowers shared juicy details about his decades-long pimping for Tins...

Mission: Impossible — Fallout

B+ | PG-13 |
Tom Cruise has been starring in "Mission: Impossible" movies for 22 years, and his character, un-killable super-spy Ethan Hunt, has been on the job for about the same length of time. Hunt isn't an arc...

Teen Titans Go! To the Movies

B- | PG |
"Teen Titans Go! To the Movies," the very meta big-screen adaptation of the Cartoon Network series "Teen Titans Go!," is about a quintet of adolescent superheroes seeking to earn the same respect thei...

Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again

B- | PG-13 |
"Mamma Mia!" was a badly written headache based on a badly written live musical, adapted for the screen by the same people who had staged it on Broadway, who leaned on the show's built-in fanbase like...

The Equalizer 2

B | R |
At the end of "The Equalizer" (2014), you probably thought everything that needed equalizing had been taken care of. Wrong, dummy! "The Equalizer 2" has non-equalized things up the wazoo, just waiting...

Unfriended: Dark Web

C+ | PG-13 |
"Unfriended: Dark Web" has no connection to 2015's "Unfriended" except that they adhere to the same format: Both unfold in real time entirely on someone's computer screen via their Skype sessions, Fac...

Blindspotting

B+ | R |
“Blindspotting” is an explosive racial comedy, a love letter to Oakland, and a jumpstart to the movie career of its star, Daveed Diggs, who co-wrote the screenplay with co-star Rafael Casal. Directed ...

Skyscraper

C | PG-13 |
How you gonna hire one-legged Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson to insect the safety features of your spectacular new Hong Kong high-rise, then let bad guys set the building on fire and threaten The Rock's fa...

Eighth Grade

A- | R |
Bo Burnham, the first YouTube comedian to leverage his online fame into a mainstream career, is 27 years old and a boy. Yet he has somehow written and directed "Eighth Grade," a marvelously, horrifica...

The Night Eats the World (French)

B+ | Not-Rated |
••• "The Night Eats the World" ("La nuit a dévoré le monde") has a different mood from most zombie films, which proves to be refreshing. It's less mayhem-oriented, quieter, more drama than horror (th...

Sorry to Bother You

B | R |
It would seem rapper and activist Boots Riley watched a few Michel Gondry movies ("Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind," "Be Kind Rewind," etc.) and decided to make a whimsical, alternate-reality sa...

Ant-Man and the Wasp

B | PG-13 |
As those still weeping over "Avengers: Infinity War" will tell you between muffled sobs, there's big doin's afoot in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. But none of that matters in "Ant-Man and the Wasp," ...

The First Purge

C+ | R |
The question we had when "The Purge" came out in 2013 was: Wait, how does this work? In this near-future version of America, there's a 12-hour period set aside each year during which all crime is lega...

Uncle Drew

C | PG-13 |
"Uncle Drew," a basketball comedy directed by Charles Stone III ("Drumline," "Mr. 3000"), ought to be about the title character, a septuagenarian who was the best street-ball player in New York in 196...

Leave No Trace

A- | PG |
Debra Granik's third film, "Leave No Trace," is like her first two -- "Down to the Bone" (2004) and "Winter's Bone" (2010) -- in that it's about a resourceful female facing difficult odds in an isolat...

Sicario: Day of the Soldado

D+ | R |
In "Sicario: Day of the Soldado," the grim, unpleasant sequel to the 2015 film that grappled with the morality of the drug war, there is no more grappling. What was once an ethical quagmire is now a h...

The Catcher Was a Spy

C | R |
"The Catcher Was a Spy" begins with onscreen titles telling us that after the Nazis split the atom and put Dr. Heisenberg on the job of developing a bomb, the U.S. sent a Jewish baseball player-turned...

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom

C- | PG-13 |
Bad news, everyone: dinosaurs are boring now. People were so preoccupied with whether they could make a fifth "Jurassic Park" movie, they didn't stop to think if they should. "Jurassic World: Fallen K...

Incredibles 2

B- | PG |
When "The Incredibles" came out, in November 2004, it was Pixar's sixth movie and only about the ninth superhero movie in the modern era (which archeologists agree started with "X-Men" in 2000). Focus...

Tag

C+ | R |
"Tag" turns an outrageous-yet-true story into one that's just outrageous, with details that couldn't possibly be true. Based on a 2013 Wall Street Journal article, it's about five men in their late 30...

SuperFly

B- | R |
"SuperFly," a modern-day remake of the 1972 blaxploitation classic -- about a successful cocaine dealer of color who wants to get out of the business -- is a straight crime drama, made by a music vide...

Some updates from the Land of Eric

Hello, Mom and other readers! Your old friend Eric here, checking in with some updates. If you're a patron, you already know about most of this and can skip this post. It won't be on the midterm. N...

Hereditary

A | R |
Would you like to watch Toni Collette have a nervous breakdown for two hours? "Hereditary" is many things -- a haunting story about a disintegrating family, a masterfully directed nightmare by first-t...

Hearts Beat Loud

B+ | PG-13 |
With a hint of wistfulness to give it some weight, "Hearts Beat Loud" is a happy, sunshiny movie about saying goodbye, letting go, and collaborating with loved ones to make sick beats. It stars Nick O...

Ocean’s Eight

B | PG-13 |
Remember how Danny Ocean needed 10 friends (and then 11, and then 12) to pull off his heists? In "Ocean's Eight," his sister, Debbie (Sandra Bullock), only needs six collaborators (plus a seventh, eve...

Won’t You Be My Neighbor? (documentary)

B+ | PG-13 |
I didn't grow up with "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood" (or "Sesame Street," for that matter). We didn't have cable yet when I was that age, and our TV antenna didn't pick up the local PBS affiliate. Yet ...

Hotel Artemis

B- | R |
The "John Wick" movies have a hotel, The Continental, that's exclusively for assassins, where a code of conduct (e.g., no "working" on the premises) is strictly enforced. So fascinating is the society...

Adrift

C | PG-13 |
Remember the Robert Redford movie "All Is Lost," where he was stranded at sea? "Adrift," with teen-romance veterans Shailene Woodley ("The Fault in Our Stars") and Sam Claflin ("Me Before You") lost i...