Movie Reviews

Movie Reviews

ford-v-ferrari

Ford v Ferrari

B | PG-13 | November 15, 2019
There are no legal skirmishes in "Ford v Ferrari." The battles between the automakers take place in boardrooms, racetracks, and other places where men have car-measuring contests. Directed by James Mangold, who brought similar confidence to "Walk the...
honeyboy

Honey Boy

B- | R | November 8, 2019
The nice thing about being a wealthy actor is that instead of going to therapy you can write a semi-autobiographical movie and work out your issues on the big screen. "Honey Boy," written by Shia LaBeouf, stars The Beef as a fictionalized version of ...
Motherless-Brooklyn

Motherless Brooklyn

B- | R | November 1, 2019
Edward Norton, whose first directorial effort ("Keeping the Faith") was 19 years ago, chose an odd story to adapt and direct for his follow-up: "Motherless Brooklyn," a 1999 novel by Jonathan Lethem about a Tourette's-afflicted P.I. (played by Norton...
countdown

Countdown

C | PG-13 | October 25, 2019
In "Countdown," the mildly stupid teen horror flick about a phone app that tells you how long you have to live, it's not the app that kills you. The app doesn't have any control over your lifespan, either, which is to say, the act of asking has no ef...
greener-grass

Greener Grass

B- | Not-Rated | October 18, 2019
••• “Greener Grass” is an absurdist suburban satire written and directed by Upright Citizens Brigade alumnae Jocelyn DeBoer and Dawn Luebbe, populated with like-minded sketch-and-improv workhorses (including “SNL’s” Beck Bennett), everyone clearly h...

Zombieland: Double Tap

C+ | R | October 18, 2019
Another one of this week's unnecessary sequels is "Zombieland: Double Tap," a hit-or-miss follow-up to the perfectly good 2009 comedy that brings back the original cast of post-zombie-apocalypse survivors just to put them through the same paces as la...
lighthouse

The Lighthouse

A- | R | October 18, 2019
You'd be forgiven for thinking "The Lighthouse" is a comedy when the first two things that happen are Robert Pattinson bumping his head and swearing and Willem Dafoe farting. But while those and a handful of other humorous moments and outlandish even...
jojorabbit

Jojo Rabbit

B+ | PG-13 | October 18, 2019
The attention-grabbing pitch for "Jojo Rabbit" — a little German boy near the end of World War II has an imaginary friend, and it’s Hitler — is ultimately secondary in importance to the film’s more serious, sentimental themes. That the film, adapted ...
Tell Me Who I Am

Tell Me Who I Am (documentary)

B | Not-Rated | October 18, 2019
"Tell Me Who I Am" belongs to the category of documentaries that are better enjoyed the less you know ahead of time. Netflix is a great home for these, as the 24/7 availability and near-zero cost make it easy to give it a look when a friend texts yo...
gemini-man

Gemini Man

C+ | PG-13 | October 11, 2019
You're familiar with the type of movie where a best-of-the-best secret agent is betrayed by his own government and must go on the run. "Gemini Man" is a very basic one of those with one twist: The assassin sent to kill our secret agent is his clone. ...
addamsfamily

The Addams Family (2019)

C+ | PG | October 11, 2019
The animated reboot of "The Addams Family," set in the present day, has everyone's favorite spooky Goth family (or second-favorite if you were more of a "Munsters" person) in conflict with a new neighborhood that has popped up nearby called Assimilat...
parasite

Parasite (Korean)

A- | R | October 11, 2019
Income inequality has seldom been funnier than in "Parasite," a scathing satire-farce-tragedy-horror from South Korea's Bong Joon-ho ("Snowpiercer," "The Host") in which a family of scrappy strivers weasel their way into the employ of a rich family a...
joker2019

Joker

C | R | October 4, 2019
Being the origin story of the title villain, "Joker" is technically a Batman prequel and technically a comic book movie, but director and co-writer Todd Phillips ("The Hangover," "Old School") doesn't want you to think of it as those things. He's goi...
shadowmoon

In the Shadow of the Moon

B- | Not-Rated | September 27, 2019
 "In the Shadow of the Moon" is a reasonably OK science-fiction police procedural that begins with a flash-forward to 2024, where Philadelphia is in ashy ruins and the U.S. flag has been reconfigured to have five big stars instead of 50 little ones. ...
sisteraimee

Sister Aimee

B | Not-Rated | September 27, 2019
According to the onscreen titles, "Sister Aimee" is "5 1/2 percent truth," the rest amusing, subversive, educated guesswork. What's definitely true is that in 1926, a charismatic evangelist, faith-healer, and showwoman named Aimee Semple McPherson (p...
deathofdicklong

The Death of Dick Long

B+ | R | September 27, 2019
Set in Alabama and focused on two idiots who panic after making a mistake, "The Death of Dick Long" laughs at its characters' follies but ultimately shows the kind of affection for them and their habitat that can only come from someone who grew up th...
goldenglove

The Golden Glove (German)

B | Not-Rated | September 27, 2019
"The Golden Glove" is the remarkably unpleasant true story of a German serial killer in the 1970s, told with matter-of-fact, steely-eyed brutality by Turkish-German filmmaker Fatih Akin. Jonas Dassler is uglied up real good to play Fritz Honda, a hun...
judymovie

Judy

B- | PG-13 | September 27, 2019
Considering how good America is at producing icons worthy of biopic treatment, it's ironic how bad we are at making biopics. The usual formula is for someone to give a career-best performance as some tortured artist or other but for the movie itself ...
downtonabbey

Downton Abbey

B | PG | September 20, 2019
I stopped watching "Downton Abbey" near the beginning of season 4, when a character was raped and I realized the show was just a regular ol' soap opera now. The "Downton Abbey" movie wasn't made for me, then (it's for super-fans), but I didn't have m...
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Rambo: Last Blood

D | R | September 20, 2019
The Rambo franchise is about a U.S. veteran who keeps finding himself in situations where he has no choice but to kill dozens of foreigners. He's always just minding his own business, not killing anybody, when someone comes along and recruits him for...
synchronic

Synchronic

B | Not-Rated | September 19, 2019
(Screened at Fantastic Fest; release TBA) Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead have been floating around the edges of indie sci-fi/horror for the last few years, writing and directing thoughtful under-the-radar films like "Spring" (2015) and "The Endl...
4×4-featured

4×4 (Spanish)

B | Not-Rated | September 19, 2019
(Screened at Fantastic Fest; release TBA) A fully loaded SUV, parked on a Buenos Aires street, is the setting for "4x4," a "Saw"-inspired take on income inequality from Argentine director Mariano Cohn. A petty thief named Ciro (Peter Lanzani) brea...
onecutofthedead

One Cut of the Dead (Japanese)

B+ | Not-Rated | September 13, 2019
 •••You can tell pretty quickly that something is up with "One Cut of the Dead." It starts in an old warehouse serving as the set of an amateurish, low-budget zombie movie, where the director, Higurashi (Takayuki Hamatsu), is having trouble getting c...
hustlers

Hustlers

B+ | R | September 13, 2019
Jennifer Lopez, who turned 50 years old six weeks before "Hustlers" was released, enters the film on a stripper pole, flawlessly executing (without a body double) an astonishingly sexy routine before dismounting, writhing in a sea of dollar bills, an...
itchaptertwo

It: Chapter Two

C | R | September 6, 2019
If the first half of the two-movie adaptation of Stephen King's "It" was more funhouse thrills than outright terror, "It: Chapter Two" leans even harder into that choice, yielding an epic-length but novella-deep exercise in mild, jokey horror. The se...
dontletgo

Don’t Let Go

C+ | R | August 30, 2019
David Oyelowo, the soulful actor who played Martin Luther King Jr. in "Selma" a few years ago, deserves mainstream success if he wants it, and tossing off a few crowd-pleasing potboilers might seem like the way to get it. But while "Don't Let Go" (ca...
ANGEL HAS FALLENGerard Butler as ‘Mike Banning’

Angel Has Fallen

C- | R | August 23, 2019
Gerard Butler is not good at anything, and it's time we stopped trying to make him be. He uses an American accent in almost every movie, yet is no better at it than he was 20 years ago. He is not convincing as a romantic lead, a villain, a hero, or a...
tigersarenotafraid

Tigers Are Not Afraid (Spanish)

A- | Not-Rated | August 21, 2019
 ••• A tough, beautiful urban fairy tale by Mexican writer-director Issa López, "Tigers Are Not Afraid" is a perfect example of how genre films can help us engage with real-world crises without being overwhelmed or discouraged by them. It’s set in an...
ReadyOrNot

Ready or Not

B | R | August 21, 2019
It would be easy enough to make a horror movie out of the children's game hide-and-seek, just as it was no problem making one out of truth or dare last year. Making it into a good movie, though, takes more effort, and I'm glad the filmmaking collecti...
good-boys-1

Good Boys

B | R | August 16, 2019
The characters in "Good Boys" were born the year "Superbad" came out (this very weekend in 2007), so they probably don't realize they're living in a remake of it. The girls in "Booksmart" didn't know, either. No one can say why "Superbad" is the 2000...
47metersdown

47 Meters Down: Uncaged

C+ | PG-13 | August 16, 2019
Not having seen "47 Meters Down: Uncaged" is not a hindrance to understanding the sequel -- mistakenly titled "47 Meters Down: Uncaged" instead of "48 Meters Down" -- because the films have nothing to do with each other apart from sharing a director ...
ANGRY BIRDS 2

The Angry Birds Movie 2

B+ | PG | August 13, 2019
I'll tell you what, the only thing a critic enjoys more than a good movie is a good movie that's a surprise. "The Angry Birds Movie" (2016) was a miserable affair reverse-engineered to explain why the birds in the popular smartphone game were slingsh...
thekitchen

The Kitchen

B- | R | August 9, 2019
"The Kitchen" is an exceptionally formulaic but not unenjoyable crime drama with Melissa McCarthy, Tiffany Haddish, and Elisabeth Moss as the wives of Irish mobsters in 1978 New York who take over -- and improve upon -- their husbands' business when ...
scary-stories-to-dell-in-the-dark

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark

B | PG-13 | August 9, 2019
Though Alvin Schwartz's books were published between 1981 and 1991 and had timeless settings, the movie version of "Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark" is set in 1968 -- at Halloween, specifically, which means it's also a few days before the election ...
socrates

Socrates (Portuguese)

B- | Not-Rated | August 9, 2019
"Socrates," a low-key Brazilian vérité drama directed by Alexandre Moratto, was made by a crew of low-income São Paulo teens as part of a UNICEF program to foster social inclusion through filmmaking. It was a fitting project for Moratto to engage the...
artofracingintherain

The Art of Racing in the Rain

C | PG | August 9, 2019
Life is a lot like racing cars, as you know if you read Garth Stein's dependably sappy novel "The Art of Racing in the Rain." The movie version, directed by Simon Curtis ("Goodbye Christopher Robin") from Mark Bomback's faithfully adapted screenplay,...
dora-and-the-lost-city-of-gold

Dora and the Lost City of Gold

B- | PG | August 9, 2019
"Dora the Explorer," the educational animated TV show for preschoolers, gets a live-action movie adaptation that is, if not educational, at least harmless enough kiddie fare. Entitled "Dora and the Lost City of Gold," it's aged up a bit, aimed at chi...
Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw

Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw

C+ | PG-13 | August 2, 2019
"Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw," a rare two-ampersand film, gives two of the supporting tough guys from the eight "Fast & Furious" movies their own blithe spinoff that keeps with the franchise's aesthetic by disregarding the laws ...
airplane-mode

Airplane Mode

D+ | Not-Rated | August 2, 2019
YouTube star Logan Paul assembled so many fellow YouTube stars to make "Airplane Mode" that it would be genuinely impressive if they were anyone but YouTube stars. Like, if you got this many famous actors or singers or athletes together? That would b...
Share

Share

B | Not-Rated | July 27, 2019
••• Mandy, the high school basketball player at the center of "Share," starts the film by waking up on her front lawn -- not an auspicious way to start the day (or a movie). Played by excellent newcomer Rhianne Barreto, Mandy is hungover, and her me...
ouatihmain

Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood

B+ | R | July 26, 2019
There was cause for concern when Quentin Tarantino announced he was making a movie involving the Manson Family murders. It seemed likely, given QT's usual approach, that the result would be tacky and exploitative, maybe even turn a horrific (and, his...
lionking2019

The Lion King (2019)

C | PG | July 19, 2019
The idea behind this remake of "The Lion King" was to tell the same story but with real animals. That being impractical, however, they had to use computer-generated animals that merely look real and don't do anything that real animals aren't physical...
purgeofkingdoms

Purge of Kingdoms

D- | R | July 19, 2019
"Purge of Kingdoms" announces itself as "a pointless parody" of "Game of Thrones," which reminds me of a truism: Admitting you're terrible doesn't make you less terrible. Directed incompetently by Ara Paiaya from a dismal, randy script by J.J. McDowe...
crawlmovie

Crawl

B | R | July 12, 2019
Alexandre Aja, director of grisly but mediocre fare like "High Tension" and the remake of "The Hills Have Eyes," has delivered a B-movie worthy of the label (and the grade) in "Crawl," which combines man's natural fear of alligators, extreme weather,...
artofselfdefense

The Art of Self-Defense

B | R | July 12, 2019
Jesse Eisenberg plays to his strengths in "The Art of Self-Defense," a deadpan comedy about a weak, timid, ineffectual dweeb named Casey (that's Eisenberg, obviously) who flirts with becoming an anger-fueled alpha male after getting mugged and beaten...
stuber

Stuber

C+ | R | July 12, 2019
"Stuber" is a familiar product -- a violent action comedy about a civilian who gets dragged into police work -- with a twist that's more depressing than was probably intended. Kumail Nanjiani plays the nicknamed title character, beta-male Uber driver...
midsommar

Midsommar

B | R | July 3, 2019
If books could always be accurately judged by their covers, the bespectacled, unassuming Ari Aster would be an accountant or an I.T. guy, not the fever-brained lunatic behind the deeply unsettling horror movie "Hereditary" -- my favorite film of 2018...
spider-man-far-from-home

Spider-Man: Far from Home

B | PG-13 | July 2, 2019
"It's easy to fool people when they're already fooling themselves," says the villain in "Spider-Man: Far from Home," the first superhero movie to address life in the era of deepfake videos and daily governmental gaslighting. But to be fair, it's not ...
opheliamovie

Ophelia

B- | PG-13 | June 28, 2019
Daisy Ridley stars as Hamlet's crazy ex-girlfriend -- or maybe she wasn't crazy after all? -- in "Ophelia," a sumptuous retelling of the story from her point of view, with a decidedly more feminist bent than the Bard saw fit to give it. Based on Lisa...
Yesterday

Yesterday

C+ | PG-13 | June 28, 2019
"Yesterday," a song about regret over the way things turned out, is perfect for the movie "Yesterday," which should have been better. Written by romantic-comedy veteran Richard Curtis ("Notting Hill," "Love Actually," "About Time") and directed by th...
ANNABELLE 3

Annabelle Comes Home

B | R | June 26, 2019
"Annabelle Comes Home" is part of the "Conjuring" franchise, but you don't need to have seen any of those movies (which also include "The Nun" and "The Curse of La Llorona") to understand what's going on here, which is that there's a creepy doll that...
Bit1

Bit

B- | Not-Rated | June 22, 2019
The narration at the beginning and end of "Bit" (and it's never a good sign when a movie only has narration at the beginning and end) suggests something more satiric and self-aware than what we actually get, which is more like a distaff version of "T...
Toy Story 4

Toy Story 4

B | G | June 21, 2019
"Toy Story 3" was such a perfect culmination to the series that any "Toy Story 4" is going to be met with wariness. The "Toy Story 4" we got does nothing to allay those concerns -- it is, as expected, an unnecessary addition, though I do like where t...
childsplay2019

Child’s Play (2019)

C | R | June 21, 2019
The remake of "Child's Play" was positioned to be one of the more logical reboots of recent years, until they did a bad job of it. The concept of a murderous doll (Cabbage Patch size, not Barbie) makes more sense in 2019, when toys that talk, move, l...
Anna

Anna

C | R | June 21, 2019
Noted French pervert Luc Besson ("The Fifth Element," "Lucy") is back with another story of a badass woman who happens to be everything a horny screenwriter could want her to be -- avidly bisexual, eager to sleep with men she works with, doesn't talk...
men_in_black_international

Men in Black: International

C | PG-13 | June 14, 2019
It takes considerable effort to render a pair as charismatic as Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson boring, but the makers of "Men in Black: International" are up to the task. This completely forgettable "next generation" sequel brings in new MIB agen...
shaft-banner

Shaft (2019)

D+ | R | June 14, 2019
The new "Shaft," starring Jessie T. Usher as anxious FBI data analyst John Shaft, is a direct sequel to the 2000 "Shaft," which starred Samuel L. Jackson as badass police detective John Shaft, who was the nephew of Richard Roundtree's original John S...
TSLOP2

The Secret Life of Pets 2

B- | PG | June 7, 2019
Coming on the heels of its shaky predecessor, "The Secret Life of Pets 2" is a mild, playful surprise with the confidence of a long-running franchise. This week's other new movie, "Dark Phoenix," feels like a TV show in a bad way, but "TSLOP2" feels ...
dark-phoenix

Dark Phoenix

C- | PG-13 | June 7, 2019
After a while I started getting offended at how much "Dark Phoenix" assumed I remembered about the previous Teenage X-Men movies. Jean Grey (Sophie Turner), whose ill-defined powers include telekinesis and ESP, is paired up with laser-eyed Cyclops (T...
lbminsf1

The Last Black Man in San Francisco

B+ | R | June 7, 2019
"The Last Black Man in San Francisco" sounds like a play on a science-fiction concept, but this gorgeously filmed semi-autobiographical story is grounded in all the realities of the modern, changing world. It stars and was written by SF native Jimmie...
LATE NIGHTMindy Kaling and Emma Thompson

Late Night

C | R | June 7, 2019
There are two things happening simultaneously for Katherine Newbury (Emma Thompson), the only female host in late night, in "Late Night," a mild satire written by Mindy Kaling. One is that she's being dinged for never having had a single woman on her...
rocketman

Rocketman

A- | R | May 31, 2019
Having seen your share of formulaic biopics, you brace yourself when the first scene of "Rocketman" has Elton John (Taron Egerton) in full concert regalia (orange bird-man costume with devil horns) striding down a corridor in slow-motion while the mu...
godzillakotm

Godzilla: King of the Monsters

C | PG-13 | May 31, 2019
"Godzilla: King of the Monsters" is a sequel to 2014's "Godzilla," though the only returning characters are the title abomination and a few ancillary figures played by Ken Watanabe, Sally Hawkins, and David Strathairn, the latter two evidently only a...
mamovie

Ma

C+ | R | May 31, 2019
While the category of "horror" is broad enough to include "Ma" (especially the last 20 minutes of it), you'll be disappointed if you're expecting anything scary or suspenseful. It's more of a psychological drama and a mystery with some horror element...
Virginia Gardner in Starfish

Starfish

B- | Not-Rated | March 15, 2019
An apocalyptic event happens so subtly in "Starfish" that you almost don't notice it. The reasons for that are probably more practical than artistic -- it costs money to show widespread devastation -- but it adds to the intrigue of this melancholy sc...
aladdin2019

Aladdin (2019)

C | PG | May 24, 2019
The new "Aladdin," directed by English film lad Guy Ritchie ("Snatch"), is unnecessary even by the standards of unnecessary remakes. It has the exact same plot as the 1992 animated classic, slowed down so it takes a half hour longer. The songs are th...
booksmart0524

Booksmart

B+ | R | May 24, 2019
I'm sure the people who made "Booksmart" don't want it to be shorthanded into "'Superbad' for girls," but I'm equally sure that their hopes are in vain. If you don't want to be compared to "Superbad," don't have the same plot and tone as "Superbad." ...
brightburn

Brightburn

B- | R | May 24, 2019
As horror premises go, "What if Superman were a sociopath?" is among the best I've heard lately. "Brightburn," a scruffy, nasty, low-budget effort produced by "Guardians of the Galaxy" director James Gunn and written by his brothers Brian and Mark, e...
THE SUN IS ALSO A STAR

The Sun Is Also a Star

B- | PG-13 | May 17, 2019
If Richard Linklater made a junior version of "Before Sunrise," it might look like "The Sun Is Also a Star," in which two teens meet and have only one day in which to fall in love before they go their separate ways. Based on a novel by Nicola Yoon (w...
John Wick 3

John Wick: Chapter 3 — Parabellum

B | R | May 17, 2019
John Wick's first line of dialogue in "John Wick: Chapter 3 -- Parabellum" is an instruction to a taxi driver: "The New York Public Library." How cool that an elite assassin is also a reader! Shortly after arriving at the library, he kills someone wi...
Trial by Fire

Trial by Fire

C | R | May 17, 2019
The true story that "Trial by Fire" is based on, told by David Grann in a 2009 New Yorker article, is fascinating and suspenseful, full of twists that make you reexamine your assumptions, but the movie version -- directed by bland social crusader Edw...
A DOG’S JOURNEY

A Dog’s Journey

B- | PG | May 17, 2019
Stay with me here. "A Dog's Journey" is a sequel to "A Dog's Purpose" (2017), both based on novels by W. Bruce Cameron. They're similar to "A Dog's Way Home" (from earlier this year) but aren't connected to it in any way except that "A Dog's Way Home...
extremelywicked

Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile

C | R | May 3, 2019
••• It was inevitable that a former teen star from the Disney Channel would eventually play a serial killer, if not actually become one. Zac Efron, whose breakout performance in "High School Musical" was more than 13 years ago, is good as Ted Bundy ...
aretha-amazing-grace

Amazing Grace (documentary)

A- | G | December 7, 2018
"Amazing Grace," Aretha Franklin's 1972 double-album of gospel songs, was the top-selling record of her career and the bestselling live gospel album of all time. (There might have been more live gospel albums than you realize.) It was recorded over t...
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Pokemon: Detective Pikachu

C+ | PG | May 10, 2019
As neither a child of the '90s, a current child, or a person who has ever played Pokemon, I am not the target audience for "Pokemon: Detective Pikachu," a kid-focused, live-action PG adventure that assumes viewers are already familiar with Pokemon lo...
poms1

Poms

D | PG-13 | May 10, 2019
I appreciate it when movies are short, especially bad movies like "Poms." But "Poms" would have been better if it had taken more time to establish the characters and their motivations -- if it had actually told a story, in other words, like a real mo...
hustle2019

The Hustle

B- | PG-13 | May 10, 2019
The story and premise of "The Hustle" are so elegant in their simplicity that it's no surprise this film has already been made twice: first as "Bedtime Story" (1964), with Marlon Brando and David Niven, then as "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels" (1988), with ...
Wine Country

Wine Country

B- | R | May 8, 2019
••• The premise behind "Wine Country" is that "SNL" alumnae Amy Poehler, Maya Rudolph, Rachel Dratch, and Ana Gasteyer, and "SNL" writers Paula Pell and Emily Spivey, wanted to make a movie where the six of them could hang out. (Don't worry, there's...
longshot2019

Long Shot

B+ | R | May 3, 2019
"Long Shot" has the skeleton of a romantic comedy, but the flesh on those bones has a lot of flavors: political satire, odd-couple comedy, celebrity culture, and '90 nostalgia, to name a few. The screenwriters are Dan Sterling, who wrote Seth Rogen a...
intruderart1

The Intruder

C | PG-13 | May 3, 2019
The only way to enjoy "The Intruder," a mediocre domestic thriller with a plot that's entirely predictable (and totally spelled out in the trailer) is to pretend it has more subtext than it does. Viewed in a certain way, for example, it could be seen...
uglydolls

UglyDolls

C+ | PG | May 3, 2019
The main purpose of the animated "UglyDolls" film is to make viewers aware that there is a line of plush toys called UglyDolls that they can buy. In that sense, the movie is a rousing success. No one can watch this movie and come away not knowing tha...

Avengers: Endgame

B | PG-13 | April 26, 2019
(Note: I'm going out of my way not to "spoil" anything here, including things that happen within the first 20-30 minutes that would normally be fair game in a review. You're welcome, nerds.) When we last saw the Avengers, they were part of the luc...
I Trapped the Devil

I Trapped the Devil

B- | Not-Rated | April 26, 2019
Full disclosure: One of the producers of this film, Scott Weinberg, is a longtime friend and colleague, and writer-director Josh Lobo is a pal I've socialized with at film festivals. Honestly, I think this association makes me more critical of the fi...
family

Family

B | R | April 19, 2019
"Family," a sunny and likable small-scale comedy from first-time filmmaker Laura Steinel, belongs to the subcategory of movies in which bad role models and hopeless kids are paired up so they can learn from each other: "Bad Santa," "Bad Teacher," "Ro...
lallorona

The Curse of La Llorona

C | R | April 19, 2019
Like most movies, "The Curse of La Llorona" is part of the extended "Conjuring" universe. The connection is negligible -- the older priest in this one had an encounter with the evil doll in "The Conjuring" prequel "Annabelle" -- but it's enough to sl...
hagazussa

Hagazussa (German)

B | Not-Rated | April 19, 2019
Etymology time! “Hagazussa” (“hedge sitter”), an Old High German word that gave us witchy terms like “hag” and “hex,” refers to the old women who would sit near the hedges that separated cultivated land from wild forests, gathering herbs and such whi...
little2019

Little

C | PG-13 | April 12, 2019
Here's an amusing coincidence. "Little," which is a reversal of the Tom Hanks classic "Big," was written by Tina Gordon Chism, who also wrote "What Men Want," a reversal of "What Women Want." Chism's niche, apparently, is mediocre rewrites of fantasy...
missinglink

Missing Link

B- | PG | April 12, 2019
"Missing Link" is Laika's fifth gorgeously detailed work of stop-motion animation and the fourth to leave me kind of cold. Only the studio's debut, "Coraline," had the intended impact; "ParaNorman," "The Boxtrolls," and "Kubo and the Two Strings" wer...
wildnightswithemily

Wild Nights with Emily

B | PG-13 | April 12, 2019
There are two things I know about Emily Dickinson: She was a reclusive spinster, and many of her poems can be sung to the tune of "Yellow Rose of Texas." The second thing, which is definitely true, is addressed in "Wild Nights with Emily," Madeleine ...
hell

Hellboy (2019)

C- | R | April 12, 2019
The R-rated "Hellboy" is a comedically gory but otherwise not particularly funny reboot of the comic book character (previously brought to PG-13-rated life by Ron Perlman and director Guillermo del Toro), a red-skinned, horned demon with a giant fist...
Native-Son

Native Son

B- | Not-Rated | April 7, 2019
••• Little had to be changed about the plot of Richard Wright’s 1940 novel "Native Son" to make it work with an adaptation set in the present, but something must have been lost in translation. As directed by first-timer Rashid Johnson (a respected C...
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The Best of Enemies

C+ | PG-13 | April 5, 2019
Hollywood continues to solve racism one bigot at a time with "The Best of Enemies," a shiny, shallow trinket based on true events that, in the hands of first-time feel-good filmmaker Robin Bissell, seem made-up. It's 1971 in Durham, N.C., where th...
unplanned

Unplanned

C- | R | April 5, 2019
The interesting thing about anti-abortion propaganda film "Unplanned" is how little it tries to persuade anyone of anything. Preaching to the choir, it presupposes that everyone already agrees abortion is murder and that no further discussion is nece...
Film Review Pet Sematary

Pet Sematary

C+ | R | April 5, 2019
The whole point of "Pet Sematary" -- both Stephen King's 1983 novel and the effective 1989 movie version -- is that you shouldn't revive the dead because they won't be the same when they come back. (It's one of those universal, timeless messages.) So...
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Shazam!

B- | PG-13 | April 5, 2019
Despite their adventures ostensibly being aimed at kids, most superheroes aren't children themselves. Except for the Spider-Men and occasional moments with the younger X-Persons, we rarely see a superhero revel in the sheer delight of having awesome ...
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Dumbo (2019)

D+ | PG | March 29, 2019
The self-cannibalization at Disney continues with "Dumbo," a turgid, labored, bloated live-action remake of the 1941 animated classic with precisely none of the original's emotion, charm, or joy. Why do these things that are obviously bad ideas to be...
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The Beach Bum

C | R | March 29, 2019
The title character in "The Beach Bum," a stoner-poet named Moondog, is the part Matthew McConaughey was born to play, and he is indeed at his McConaughey-est here: grinning, giggling, pontificating, publicly urinating, stumbling hazily from one part...
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Us

B | R | March 22, 2019
Jordan Peele, the newly minted horror auteur behind "Get Out," gives us a lot to process in the early minutes of his follow-up, the suspenseful and more overtly horrific "Us." We're told of a network of underground tunnels in the United States (the "...
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Hotel Mumbai

B | R | March 22, 2019
The title character in "Hotel Mumbai" is actually called the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel, or the Taj for short, and it was one of a dozen Mumbai locations attacked by Islamic terrorists on November 26, 2008, ultimately killing 174 people and injuring hund...
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Relaxer

B+ | Not-Rated | March 22, 2019
One thing you can say for sure about "Relaxer": There will never be a gender-swapped remake of it. The story, first juvenile and then surreal, only makes sense in the context of men's craving for competition and willingness to spend absurd amounts of...