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...

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...

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 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 ...

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...

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...

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...

Action Point

C+ | R |
If the absence of Johnny Knoxville's "Jackass" has left a concussion-shaped hole in your life, it may be partially filled by "Action Point," a juvenile comedy with Knoxville as the owner of a rickety ...

The Texture of Falling

D | Not-Rated |
At the risk of making it sound more interesting than it is, "The Texture of Falling" is a lurid, Portland-set meta-drama about a timid filmmaker named Louisa (Julie Webb) who starts dating a dull marr...

Upgrade

B+ | R |
"Upgrade" is an offbeat futuristic techno-thriller in the tradition of B-movies about scientists tampering in God's domain, made with enthusiasm (by "Saw" and "Insidious" creator Leigh Whannell) from ...

American Animals

B | R |
"This is not based on a true story," say the onscreen titles at the beginning of "American Animals." "This is a true story." A bold assertion, but writer-director Bart Layton, whose previous film was ...

Solo: A Star Wars Story

B- | PG-13 |
While I've always liked the original "Star Wars" trilogy, I don't have the depth of knowledge (i.e., memorization) that some do, so there are probably references in the Han Solo prequel, "Solo: A Star...

Kicking and Screening

A few names have been changed in this story, including those of the publicity firms. Legalities aren't the issue. Looking through it, there's nothing I wouldn't say to the relevant parties' faces or f...

Deadpool 2

B | R |
What distinguishes Deadpool from most other superheroes is that he swears, kills people, and breaks the fourth wall. That is also, of course, what distinguished the first "Deadpool" film from its doze...

On Chesil Beach

B | R |
Ian McEwan's novel "On Chesil Beach" and the movie based on it (which he also wrote) tell a story set in 1962 England that could only work as a period piece, for it is based on the premise that societ...

Book Club

D+ | PG-13 |
The imaginatively titled "Book Club," about four women in their late 60s whose love lives are rekindled by reading the "Fifty Shades of Grey" trilogy, sounds like an extended advertisement for the boo...

Life of the Party

B+ | PG-13 |
You'll think you've seen "Life of the Party" before, or at least something very much like it: A dowdy, newly divorced mom goes back to college to finish her degree -- and it's the same college her dau...

Revenge

B | R |
••• The rape-revenge sub-genre has many entries, and everything about "Revenge" (including the title) sounds derivative until you get to the credits. How many movies on this topic were written and di...

Breaking In

C+ | PG-13 |
This week's "good enough, I guess, if you're not too picky" home-invasion thriller is "Breaking In," which offers the innovative twist of the bad guys getting inside and holding the kids captive while...

RBG (documentary)

B+ | PG |
Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg started to become a pop-culture icon a few years ago, when the court shifted rightward and she found herself writing more dissents -- scathing ones, often, on...

Bad Samaritan

C+ | R |
There are two premises in "Bad Samaritan," one that drives the plot and one that explains the villain's motives. They are middling premises, better than some you've heard, less creative than others. T...

Overboard

C | PG-13 |
Any remake of the 1987 Goldie Hawn/Kurt Russell "romantic" "comedy" "Overboard" would have to reverse the genders. A single father of three rowdy boys tricking a rich, mean amnesiac woman into believi...

Tully

B+ | R |
Diablo Cody's screenwriting career started with a pregnant teenager named Juno. She returns to the subject of maternity with "Tully," but there's a crucial difference this time: Cody has three kids of...

Let the Sunshine In (French)

B | Not-Rated |
"Let the Sunshine In," the latest film by French auteur Claire Denis ("Beau Travail," "35 Shots of Rum"), is made for two groups of people: fans of Claire Denis's elliptical, even baffling style; and ...

Avengers: Infinity War

B- | PG-13 |
You can go crazy trying to understand the thinking of people who make and sell Hollywood blockbusters, but what they've done with "Avengers: Infinity War" is fascinating. It was filmed concurrently wi...

Super Troopers 2

B- | R |
Experience has taught us not to get our hopes up about long-awaited sequels, especially sequels to films whose charms were obscure or quirky to begin with. (It's hard enough to catch regular lightning...

I Feel Pretty

C | PG-13 |
There are some good ideas and thoughtful insights buried in the very messy "I Feel Pretty," a comedy about female self-image that is unsure of its own identity. Directed by screenwriters Abby Kohn and...

Traffik

C- | R |
You can tell "Traffik" is a serious movie about scary things because it's spelled with a "k." "Traffic," who cares? But "traffik"?? Watch out! Written and directed by Deon Taylor ("Meet the Blacks"), ...

Truth or Dare

C | PG-13 |
It's laudable to convert harmless childhood games into horror premises, but "Truth or Dare" does it with such rote blandness that the movie is actually less suspenseful than a real game of truth or da...

Rampage

C+ | PG-13 |
"Rampage" is one of the better video-game-based movies, a low bar that it clears only by forsaking the entire premise of the game. The mid-80s arcade hit had one objective: with a giant gorilla, giant...

Beirut

B | R |
Few actors are better suited to play a diplomat than Jon Hamm, and the erstwhile Don Draper brings his gregarious A-game to "Beirut," a compelling espionage flick directed by Brad Anderson ("The Machi...

Blockers

B | R |
It is a time-honored tradition that teens in movies make pacts with one another to lose their virginity, but seldom are those teens female girls of the young lady gender! That makes "Blockers" differe...

Chappaquiddick

B- | PG-13 |
Based on the infamous 1969 incident in which a young woman drowned after a probably-drunk Sen. Ted Kennedy drove his car off a bridge into a pond, "Chappaquiddick" is unusual for a docudrama in that i...

A Quiet Place

B+ | PG-13 |
As a proponent of the "shut up and watch the movie" school of thought, I have a special fondness for films that actively encourage silence. The tense and thrilling "A Quiet Place" does it by putting i...

You Were Never Really Here

B+ | R |
Some movies provide so much vivid detail about a character that you could practically write a biography. Lynne Ramsay's mesmerizing "You Were Never Really Here" (based on Jonathan Ames' novel) is a di...

Movie BS #400: ‘Ready Player One,’ ‘Isle of Dogs,’ ‘7 Days in Entebbe’

Not only is this Ep. 400, it's also the eighth anniversary of Ep. 1! The only effect that my new not-going-to-press-screenings status will have on Movie B.S. is that we moved the show to Mondays inste...

Ready Player One

C | PG-13 |
"Ready Player One" is set in a future where people spend most of their time in a virtual-reality world called OASIS that allows them to play games and have adventures in whatever fictional settings an...

Seeing movies like a civilian again

I'm no longer going to press screenings. I'll tell you the whole story later (of course there's a story) , but first let me explain how this changes things vis-a-vis my reviewing movies: Hardly at ...

Ismael’s Ghosts (French)

B- | R |
There are no literal hauntings in "Ismael's Ghosts," a wry, lyrical, but often plodding drama from director Arnaud Desplechin ("A Christmas Tale"), only metaphorical ones. Freewheeling French filmmake...

Pacific Rim Uprising

C | PG-13 |
You remember, of course, how a breach at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean produced a gateway through which extra-dimensional Godzillas entered our universe and wrecked our cities, and the only way to s...

Sherlock Gnomes

C+ | PG |
You know what happens when you come up with the title first and then try to build a movie around it? You get uninspired nonsense like "Sherlock Gnomes," a sequel to "Gnomeo & Juliet," which I didn...

Unsane

B- | R |
Steven Soderbergh's latest film, the shrewd, exasperating psychological thriller "Unsane," is one of his experimental projects, shot entirely on an iPhone. It looks awful -- harsh, garish, cheap, like...

7 Days in Entebbe

C | PG-13 |
Hijacking an airplane was trendy in the 1970s, and evidently not very hard. The incident recreated in "7 Days in Entebbe," from 1976, was at least the 40th hijacking of the decade, perpetrated by two ...