Movie Reviews

Movie Reviews


Ismael’s Ghosts (French)

B- | R | March 23, 2018
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 filmmaker Ismael Vuillard (Mathieu Amalric), who shares De...

Pacific Rim Uprising

C | PG-13 | March 23, 2018
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 stop the destruction was to build giant Transformer...

Sherlock Gnomes

C+ | PG | March 23, 2018
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't see but which I assume was also uninspired nons...


B- | R | March 23, 2018
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 he didn't even use a new iPhone. The shots are ni...

7 Days in Entebbe

C | PG-13 | March 16, 2018
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 Palestinians and two German revolutionaries hoping...
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Love, Simon

B | PG-13 | March 16, 2018
"Love, Simon" is the first film about a gay teenager's coming out ever distributed in wide release by a major studio. We've seen mainstream films with queer youth as supporting characters, and numerous coming-out-centered films that played the arthou...

Tomb Raider

C+ | PG-13 | March 16, 2018
Say what you will about the new "Tomb Raider," it shows a tomb being raided less than 20 minutes after it starts. It's actually a false tomb with a secret room hidden under it, and it's not raided so much as unlocked with a key, but we're counting it...

I Can Only Imagine

B- | PG | March 16, 2018
First recorded in 1999, MercyMe's "I Can Only Imagine" is the best-selling, most-played contemporary Christian song since the invention of the radio, written by a Texan named Bart Millard who fell into singing and songwriting after a high school inju...

A Wrinkle in Time

C | PG | March 9, 2018
Madeleine L'Engle's "A Wrinkle in Time," first published in 1962, is one of the most beloved young adult novels not to have already been turned into a movie (except for a 2003 TV version that nobody, least of all L'Engle, liked), so Disney's new big-...

The Death of Stalin

A- | R | March 9, 2018
Armando Iannucci has written and directed two films in his career, and they’re both among the best political comedies ever made. First there was "In the Loop," an extension of his British TV series "The Thick of It" (he also created HBO’s "Veep") tha...


B+ | R | March 9, 2018
The well-bred teenagers in the audacious dark comedy "Thoroughbreds" are Lily (Anya Taylor-Joy) and Amanda (Olivia Cooke), affluent Connecticut girls who used to be friends, drifted apart a few years ago, and are hanging out again now. Lily's father ...

The Hurricane Heist

B- | PG-13 | March 9, 2018
The dream of the '90s is alive in "The Hurricane Heist," a skillfully made formula flick that in a previous era would have starred someone named Skeet or Keanu as the ordinary joe who helps a federal agent stop a band of thieves from robbing a Treasu...

The Strangers: Prey at Night

C | R | March 9, 2018
The home invasion thriller, once a sparsely populated sub-genre, has proliferated in the 21st century, perhaps reflecting our growing fear (note the simultaneous rise of the cyber-thriller) that there's no place the evils of the world can't reach us....


B- | Not-Rated | March 2, 2018
••• The Civil War gets all the attention when it comes to 19th-century American conflicts, but what about the War of 1812? "Mohawk," a contemplative bloodbath by Ted Geoghegan ("We Are Still Here"), finds compelling drama in this overlooked skirmish...

Death Wish

C | R | March 2, 2018
The way the "Death Wish" remake starts, you think it's going to be exactly what you feared/hoped it would be. We're in Chicago (not New York this time), hearing a flurry of news reports about gun violence while a police car containing a gunshot cop s...

Red Sparrow

C | R | March 2, 2018
Eventually, the cold and pitiless "Red Sparrow" is about a young Russian woman who becomes a spy and gets tangled up with a CIA operative running a counter-mission. It takes a while to get there, though, and when we do, it's not the kind of espionage...

Every Day

B- | PG-13 | February 23, 2018
Like a lot of fantasy romance premises, the one in "Every Day" is creepy if you think about it, so don't. This affable adaptation of David Levithan's young adult novel, directed by Michael Sucsy ("The Vow"), is a fine piece of misty-eyed teenage pulp...

Game Night

B+ | R | February 23, 2018
The very funny "Game Night" belongs to the comedy sub-genre of People Think They're Pretending But It's Actually Real, a class that includes such fine entries as "Three Amigos," "Galaxy Quest" and "A Bug's Life" (which are all the same movie, as you ...


B+ | R | February 23, 2018
What we know at the beginning of "Annihilation" is that a lighthouse was struck by a projectile that fell from the sky (seldom a good omen) and that Natalie Portman, in hospital clothes, is being interviewed by three men in hazmat suits who want to k...


D+ | PG-13 | February 16, 2018
"Samson" is a rather enjoyably bad (but still bad) Old Testament adaptation starring beefy Neanderthal Taylor James as the long-haired Israelite strongman who murders numerous Philistines with God's approval before being undone by a duplicitous dame ...

Early Man

B- | PG | February 16, 2018
Perhaps you get excited when you hear that Nick Park, creator of the beloved "Wallace & Gromit" movies (plus "Chicken Run"!), has directed and co-written a new claymation film about cavemen, called "Early Man." Excitement is the appropriate react...

Black Panther

B | PG-13 | February 16, 2018
"Black Panther" is a bold entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, not (just) because there are hardly any white people in it but because there's almost nothing connecting it to the other films. Apart from the obligatory Stan Lee cameo and references ...

Fifty Shades Freed

D | R | February 9, 2018
"Fifty Shades Freed" (the title is nonsense) is the story of an entitled snob who marries a snob-in-training who enjoys being treated like garbage, apparently. None of their behavior, separately or together, makes any human sense. The plot of the fil...

The 15:17 to Paris

C | PG-13 | February 9, 2018
If you have been exposed to more than a second of advertising for "The 15:17 to Paris," Clint Eastwood's dramatization of the 2015 terrorist attack thwarted by three Americans, you are aware that the heroes are played by themselves. This is supposed ...

Peter Rabbit

B- | PG | February 9, 2018
Nobody involved with "Peter Rabbit" seems to have been taking it very seriously, which has pros and cons. On the one hand, it's cheeky and vaguely self-aware, turning the vegetable-thieving rabbit (voiced by James Corden) into a Bugs Bunny type, with...


C+ | PG-13 | February 2, 2018
The Winchester Mystery House is a real place in San Jose, Calif., built in 1883 and expanded upon by its owner, Sarah Winchester, who married into the rifle-making family and inherited much of its wealth when her husband died. It's supposed to be hau...

The Death Cure

B- | PG-13 | January 26, 2018
The "Maze Runner" trilogy has turned out to be a pleasant surprise among adaptations of post-apocalyptic book series aimed at young adults (of which there are astonishingly many) (books, I mean, not young adults). As I was forcing myself to finish re...

12 Strong

B- | R | January 19, 2018
It's going to take a few more years, but someday the movies about 9/11 and its aftermath will outnumber the movies about World War II (which at least had the decency to END, you know?). "12 Strong," based on journalist Doug Stanton's book "Horse Sold...

Forever My Girl

C | PG | January 19, 2018
"Forever My Girl" is too innocuous to be "bad," but it certainly belongs to the category of mediocre, wholesome, vaguely Christian movies with country soundtracks that they're hoping people will watch because they like those things. Adapted from H...

Den of Thieves

C+ | R | January 19, 2018
Christian Gudegast, writer of "A Man Apart" (2003) and "London Has Fallen" (2016), makes his directorial debut with "Den of Thieves," and it's everything he's been building toward as a creator of generic, testosterone-driven crime dramas that offer n...

Mom and Dad

B- | R | January 19, 2018
••• Brian Taylor, who co-directed the "Crank" movies, "Gamer," and "Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance" with fellow adrenaline junkie Mark Neveldine, strikes out on his own with "Mom and Dad" demonstrating that he doesn’t need any help coming up with ...

Proud Mary

C+ | R | January 12, 2018
"Proud Mary," about Boston crime families battling each other, is a film at war with itself. One faction really wants it to be a throwback to '70s blaxploitation, with Taraji P. Henson as a gun-slinging Pam Grier type who fights against The Man. That...

Paddington 2

B+ | PG | January 12, 2018
If you missed "Paddington" three years ago, you missed one of the most thoroughly delightful children's movies in recent memory, about an anthropomorphic Peruvian bear (voiced by Ben Whishaw) who comes to live with a human family in London. Based on ...

The Commuter

B- | PG-13 | January 12, 2018
If it's January, Liam Neeson must be punching people (or wolves). In "The Commuter," directed by regular Neeson wrangler Jaume Collet-Serra ("Non-Stop," "Run All Night"), the people who need punching are on the evening train from Manhattan to Poughke...

Insidious: The Last Key

B- | PG-13 | January 5, 2018
First of all, the number of sequels with "Last" or "Final" in the title that have actually turned out to be the last one is vanishingly small, so don't take "Insidious: The Last Key" at its word. Franchise writer Leigh Whannell has configured things ...

Molly’s Game

B | R | December 25, 2017
After writing several wordy screenplays and a few endearingly verbose TV shows for other people to direct, Aaron Sorkin takes command of the whole operation with "Molly's Game," a fact-based story that is every inch An Aaron Sorkin Film. Walking and ...
All The Money in the World

All the Money in the World

C+ | R | December 25, 2017
Just in time for Christmas comes "All the Money in the World," the story of billionaire oilman J. Paul Getty (Christopher Plummer, much better suited for the role than Kevin Spacey in old-age makeup would have been), a terrible miser who refuses to p...


B+ | R | December 22, 2017
Among the many curious surprises offered by "Downsizing," a social satire about mankind's efforts to reduce the entire population down to an average height of five inches, is that it was made by Alexander Payne. Co-writing with regular collaborator J...

The Post

B+ | PG-13 | December 22, 2017
Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black wrote that the Founding Fathers enshrined freedom of the press in the First Amendment because "the press was to serve the governed, not the governors." That quotation turns up in "The Post," which is about the 1971 Pe...

Pitch Perfect 3

C | PG-13 | December 22, 2017
To use a musical term the Bellas would understand, "Pitch Perfect 3" is a diminished third. Set three years after "Pitch Perfect 2," it has Beca (Anna Kendrick), Amy (Rebel Wilson), and the rest (the movie is not interested in the rest but here they ...

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle

B | PG-13 | December 20, 2017
The premise of "Jumanji," a holiday hit 22 Christmases ago, was that a board game brought jungle animals into the real world to chase Robin Williams around the house. "Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle," a surprisingly peppy quasi-sequel, updates and re...
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The Greatest Showman

B- | PG | December 20, 2017
By the time I saw "The Greatest Showman," my 13-year-old niece had seen it four times. She's not interested in P.T. Barnum as a historical figure (she and the movie have that in common), but she does like cheesy pop music and boys with soft eyes, so ...

Star Wars: The Last Jedi

A- | PG-13 | December 15, 2017
There was a comforting sense of deja vu in "Star Wars: The Force Awakens," which kicked off a new trilogy by mimicking the plot structure of the original film. Don't worry about falling into a rut, though. The next chapter, "The Last Jedi" -- Episode...


C | PG | December 15, 2017
"Ferdinand" is a colorful animated comedy about bullfighting, from the point of view of the bulls. You must see the problem almost immediately: cartoons are for kids, but bullfighting is a cruel, barbaric sport in which animals are tortured and kille...

I, Tonya

B+ | R | December 8, 2017
This is the story of "I, Tonya," not I, Eric, but let me begin with a relevant personal detail. When the Tonya Harding/Nancy Kerrigan brouhaha was dominating news coverage in early 1994, I was an LDS missionary, quarantined from current events. (I mi...

The Shape of Water

A- | R | December 1, 2017
Like many fairy tales, "The Shape of Water" is a fantastical story about a lonely person who finds fulfillment through interaction with a magical creature. Unlike most fairy tales, "The Shape of Water" lets its sex, violence, and cruelty fall out cas...

The Disaster Artist

B+ | R | December 1, 2017
"The Room" (not to be confused with "Room," about the kidnapped woman and her son) is a thoroughly incompetent melodrama from 2003 that won the pop-culture lottery by becoming a cult favorite. Dozens, if not hundreds, of movies this bad are made ever...
Call Me by Your Name – Still 2

Call Me by Your Name

A- | R | November 24, 2017
"Call Me by Your Name," a gay coming-of-age romance set at an Italian villa in the summertime (the best possible location for such a story), isn't sexual so much as hormonal. It's not about doin' it; it's about wanting to do it, about discovering wha...

The Man Who Invented Christmas

B | PG | November 22, 2017
"Invented" is a rather melodramatic overstatement, but "The Man Who Invented Christmas" is an affable and gentle holiday biopic, perfect for a matinee with visiting relatives who need something to shut them up for a couple hours. The man in questi...


B+ | PG | November 22, 2017
There are plenty of cartoons about holidays like Christmas and Halloween, but the genius-nerds at Pixar saw an unfilled need and came up with "Coco," the first major animated film about Día de Muertos, or Day of the Dead, observed in Mexico and by Me...

Darkest Hour

B+ | PG-13 | November 22, 2017
"Darkest Hour" is about a controversial leader's steadfast refusal to engage in peace talks in favor of going to war. Not the sort of message you'd expect people to support these days -- but I should mention that the leader is Winston Churchill and t...

Justice League

C+ | PG-13 | November 17, 2017
Superman is dead. He was killed by a monster (not Batman) at the end of "Batman v Superman" and is still dead when "Justice League" picks up the story some time later. The titular coalition of superheroes doesn't exist yet, but Bruce Wayne (Ben Affle...

The Star

B- | PG | November 17, 2017
You thought you knew the story of the first Christmas -- BUT YOU WERE WRONG! As explained by "The Star," a timidly respectful animated story aimed at Christian families, an adventure-seeking donkey actually played a much larger role than the Gospels ...


B | PG | November 17, 2017
"What's the deal with your face?" That's what the jerky fifth-grader, Julian (Bryce Gheisar), asks the new boy with the birth defect, Auggie (Jacob Tremblay), at the beginning of "Wonder," an unabashedly affirmational dramedy directed by Stephen Chbo...

Thelma (Norwegian)

B | Not-Rated | November 10, 2017
"Thelma," a reserved but piercing supernatural coming-of-age drama from director Joachim Trier ("Oslo, August 31st"), begins with a young girl hunting a deer with her father in the snow. Her eyes fixed on the oblivious animal, the girl doesn’t see th...

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

A- | R | November 10, 2017
Martin McDonagh, who was born and raised in London but has Irish parents and dual citizenship, examined the squalid, petty lives of his countrymen in several caustically funny stage plays before turning to movies: "In Bruges" dealt with hitmen and re...

Murder on the Orient Express

C+ | PG-13 | November 10, 2017
In 1934, when Agatha Christie published "Murder on the Orient Express," trains were still a popular means of transportation, and Asia was still called "the Orient." Much has changed in the last 83 years -- for example, in her entire life Agatha Chris...

Lady Bird

A- | R | November 3, 2017
Greta Gerwig, the pixie-like pillar of indie film and an indomitable screen presence, recently starred in and co-wrote "Frances Ha" and "Mistress America" with her boyfriend, Noah Baumbach, who directed them. But for her latest effort, the outstandin...

Thor: Ragnarok

B | PG-13 | November 3, 2017
The mighty Norse god Thor, as played by Chris Hemsworth, is a fun presence in the Marvel Cinematic Universe®, but his last stand-alone film ("Thor: The Dark World") was the worst of the franchise. The latest, "Thor: Ragnarok," regains its sense of hu...
A Bad Moms Christmas

A Bad Moms Christmas

D | R | November 1, 2017
Is it Terrible Christmas Movie season already? Seems like Terrible Halloween Movie season just ended. The first of this year's miserable entries is "A Bad Moms Christmas," a grim followup to last year's modestly amusing "moms gone wild" raunch-com th...


B- | R | October 27, 2017
George Clooney, like most powerful creative types, needs to be told "no" more often. He and regular writing/producing partner Grant Heslov were developing a story about a black family moving into an all-white suburb in the 1950s when Clooney remember...

All I See Is You

C | R | October 27, 2017
"What is this movie about?" That's what I jotted around the halfway point -- awfully late for the question to still be necessary -- of "All I See Is You," a foggy psychosexual drama from director Marc Forster ("Finding Neverland," "The Kite Runner") ...


B | R | October 27, 2017
"Novitiate," set in the midst of the Catholic Church's 1964 "Vatican II" reforms, begins with 17-year-old Cathleen (Margaret Qualley) entering a convent and telling us in narration: "Under everything else, we were women in love." She means in love...


B- | R | October 27, 2017
We doubted that "Saw 3D," the seventh and "final" chapter in the gruesome franchise, would be the last one (that it was the seventh we did not dispute), and our cynicism has paid off (again). Part eight, "Jigsaw" -- now it's named after the villain i...

God’s Own Country

B+ | Not-Rated | October 25, 2017
"God's Own Country" begins with a smooth-chested, naive-looking young Yorkshire man vomiting all night, then arising early to give a pregnant cow a gynecological fisting. Do not be alarmed; these actions make perfect sense. The fellow, Johnny Saxby (...

The Snowman

D | R | October 20, 2017
Days before "The Snowman" was released, director Tomas Alfredson said in an interview that 10-15% of the screenplay was never filmed, leaving gaps in the story that had to be covered in the editing. As far as I'm concerned, that should be published i...

The Killing of a Sacred Deer

B+ | R | October 20, 2017
If you’ve seen Yorgos Lanthimos’ other films, like "Dogtooth" or "The Lobster,"** you enter "The Killing of a Sacred Deer" braced for uncomfortable hilarity with touches of deadpan violence. In that respect, Lanthimos does not disappoint. In other re...


A- | PG | October 20, 2017
A theme running through most of Todd Haynes' films ("Velvet Goldmine," "Far from Heaven," "Carol") is one of breaking loose from convention to be true to oneself. Often this breaking-loose has to do with sexuality, but the wonderful "Wonderstruck," b...
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Happy Death Day

B- | PG-13 | October 13, 2017
Among the numerous indignities for which 2017 will be long remembered is the fact that it produced not one but two PG-13 "Groundhog Day" riffs about bratty young women reliving the day on which they are killed. The first, "Before I Fall," was drenche...

The Foreigner

B | R | October 13, 2017
Jackie Chan plays the person that the title "The Foreigner" refers to, though nobody ever calls him that. They tend to call him "Chinaman," as in, "That bloody Chinaman!" Halfway through I thought: I bet this movie was originally called "The Chinaman...

Professor Marston and the Wonder Women

B+ | R | October 13, 2017
"Wonder Woman's" fresh take on the superhero-origins movie was a welcome addition to a stagnant genre. Now here's "Professor Marston and the Wonder Women," the story of how the character was created -- a superhero-origins-origins movie -- subverting ...


B | PG-13 | October 13, 2017
You'd be forgiven for assuming that "Marshall" is a biopic of Thurgood Marshall, the first black United States Supreme Court justice. After all, it's called "Marshall," and a main character is Thurgood Marshall. But rather than tell the man's life st...
The Florida Project

The Florida Project

B+ | R | October 6, 2017
I can think of quite a few projects for the state of Florida to work on if they're taking suggestions, but the wonderfully humane, heartbreakingly kind film called "The Florida Project" takes an unexpected route. Writer-director Sean Baker, whose "Ta...

Blade Runner 2049

C+ | R | October 6, 2017
Having missed it as a child and then being unsure which version I was supposed to watch, I never saw Ridley Scott's "Blade Runner" until the "final cut" was released in 2007. And I saw that one twice, because the first time didn't take. I failed to l...

Better Watch Out

B- | R | October 6, 2017
It suffers a bit in the execution, but conceptually, "Better Watch Out" (originally titled "Safe Neighborhood") is the best twist on the "home invasion" thriller that the sub-genre has seen in a while, a consistently surprising story with more than o...

American Made

B | R | September 29, 2017
"All of this is legal?" asks airline pilot Barry Seal (Tom Cruise) in "American Made" when CIA agent Schafer (Domhnall Gleeson) recruits him to fly secret surveillance missions in Central America. "If you're doing it for the good guys, yeah," replies...
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The LEGO Ninjago Movie

C | PG | September 22, 2017
Whoever had "three" in the "How many LEGO movies will it take before the brand feels stale and uninspired?" pool, step up and claim your prize! (Your prize is that you do not have to watch any more of these.) "The LEGO Ninjago Movie," an extension of...

Battle of the Sexes

B+ | PG-13 | September 22, 2017
The nice thing about history is that if we've learned from it, and if enough time has passed, we can also laugh at it. Look how foolish we were then! "Battle of the Sexes," a highly entertaining account of the 1973 tennis match between self-described...


A- | R | September 22, 2017
"Stronger" isn't the first film about the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, but it is the first to earn its emotions legitimately, and the first that's not an insult to the victims. Directed by the diversely talented David Gordon Green, who's made everyt...

Kingsman: The Golden Circle

C | R | September 22, 2017
"That movie seemed very pleased with itself." That was a non-critic friend's assessment of "Kingsman: The Golden Circle" immediately after the screening, and it's such an apt description that I have stolen it without attribution. Whatever you thou...

Brad’s Status

B | R | September 15, 2017
"Brad's Status," built around an interior monologue and reflections on the past, might have worked better as a novel, though it would have been a slight one. More of a novella, probably. Instead, Mike White wrote and directed it for the screen, where...


A- | R | September 15, 2017
It's immediately clear that "mother!" is not to be taken literally, as it starts with a reverse time-lapse of a rotting corpse in a bed forming back into a sleeping Jennifer Lawrence. That sort of thing doesn't happen literally, not where I come from...

Home Again

C+ | PG-13 | September 8, 2017
Hallie Meyers-Shyer is the daughter of Nancy Meyers and Charles Shyer, whose marital collaborations also included the films "Irreconcilable Differences," "Baby Boom," "Father of the Bride," and "I Love Trouble." Ms. Meyers-Shyer's debut as a writer-d...
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B- | R | September 8, 2017
"It" is very long for a horror movie (135 minutes), yet covers only half of the Stephen King novel it's based on, yet is full of half-mentioned details that seem to have been crammed in hurriedly. I guess it's fitting that a nostalgic tale set in a c...

Birth of the Dragon

C- | PG-13 | August 25, 2017
In 1964, the not-yet-legendary Bruce Lee had a fight with Wong Jack Man, a Shaolin master who'd recently arrived in the Bay Area from China. The details of the match, including who won it, remain controversial (it happened in private, with few witnes...

Logan Lucky

B+ | PG-13 | August 18, 2017
Steven Soderbergh tried to retire a few years ago, but it didn't take. Perhaps he can relate to Jimmy Logan (Channing Tatum), the lovable West Virginian ne'er-do-well at the center of "Logan Lucky" who tries to make an honest living but keeps coming ...

Crown Heights

B | R | August 18, 2017
We've seen a lot of films like "Crown Heights" lately -- true stories about black people getting screwed over by police and the justice system. The surge is a testament to the increased awareness of these issues, and a reflection of the sad fact that...

Patti Cake$

B- | R | August 18, 2017
The title character in "Patti Cake$," one Patricia Dombrowski (Danielle Macdonald), is a portly white New Jersey girl who aspires to be a rapper. She's quite good at it, spitting rhymes as intricate and vulgar as anyone's; she just needs her big chan...

The Hitman’s Bodyguard

C+ | R | August 18, 2017
The poster for "The Hitman's Bodyguard" parodies the Whitney Houston/Kevin Costner "The Bodyguard," with Ryan Reynolds lovingly carrying Samuel L. Jackson to safety. It's a terrific spoof, and it hints at the comedy potential in the premise of an ass...

Good Time

B | R | August 11, 2017
The first character we meet in "Good Time" is Nick Nikas (co-director Benny Safdie), a unibrowed schlub with unspecified mental challenges that render him simple and compliant. Nick is with a kindly therapist, who draws tender emotions from him befor...

Ingrid Goes West

B+ | R | August 11, 2017
In "Ingrid Goes West," a cautionary comedy about social-media fame, Aubrey Plaza ("Parks and Recreation") plays an unstable woman fresh out of the mental ward who heads to California to stalk and befriend a minor Instagram celebrity, Taylor Sloane (E...

Annabelle: Creation

C+ | R | August 11, 2017
"Annabelle: Creation" is a prequel to "Annabelle," which was a spinoff of "The Conjuring," which was about the work of a pair of real-life paranormal investigators who really did once have a case involving a creepy doll. Now, at last, we can learn wh...

Wind River

B+ | R | August 4, 2017
A handful of innocent sheep are stalked by a coyote at the beginning of "Wind River," an intense, somber mystery-thriller set on the Wyoming Indian reservation of that name. But the coyote is soon dispatched by a greater predator, or at least a bette...

The Dark Tower

C | PG-13 | August 4, 2017
"The Dark Tower" is a bland, benign mediocrity that's probably significantly worse if you've read the Stephen King novels it's based on. As a non-reader (of those; I've read other books), I don't know what level of violence has been done to the sourc...

Step (documentary)

B+ | PG | August 4, 2017
"Step" is ostensibly a documentary about an inner-city high school's step-dancing team, but this crowdpleaser is more focused on the students' academic pursuits and struggle to break the poverty cycle. Issues related to race, class, and gender are li...


C+ | R | July 28, 2017
"Detroit" is about one of the more unpleasant things to have happened in a city where so many unpleasant things have happened that you can elicit a feeling of despair just by naming your movie after it. ("Wanna go see 'Detroit'?" "No, that sounds dep...

The Emoji Movie

F | PG | July 28, 2017
Hating "The Emoji Movie" is easy, not to mention fun, necessary, and appropriate. It's like Trump. Though it represents humanity's worst tendencies (laziness, vulgarity, cynicism) and we groan under the indignities suffered at its cartoonish hands, t...
Atomic Blonde (2017)

Atomic Blonde

B+ | R | July 28, 2017
To the extent that there are James Bonds in the real world -- dashing, highly skilled secret agents who can kill enemies with a rolled-up newspaper -- surely by now there are also Jane Bonds. Yet Hollywood has offered few lady spies worthy of the com...

Girls Trip

B- | R | July 21, 2017
The raunchy, heartfelt "Girls Trip" takes the "Hangover"/"Bridesmaids" formula -- four college friends, now in their early 40s, reunite in New Orleans to get their individual and collective grooves back -- and gives it some black flavor. Directed by ...

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets

B- | PG-13 | July 21, 2017
It was while making "The Fifth Element" that vibrant French madman Luc Besson realized his real calling was to adapt the futuristic "Valerian and Laureline" comic book he'd read as a child, but it took another 20 years for technology to catch up to h...