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The complicated, ugly legacy of the 1915 'Birth of a Nation'

D.W. Griffith’s “The Birth of a Nation” plays as a strange and troubling artifact, a grainy, flickering work of artistic brilliance whose images are at once breathtaking and repugnant. With sweeping shots and intimate close-ups, the 1915 silent film heralded the future of cinema, but its abhorrent...

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  • 'Amanda Knox' doc explores the salacious Italian murder case with laser-like precision

    'Amanda Knox' doc explores the salacious Italian murder case with laser-like precision

    Did she or didn't she? That is the question "Amanda Knox" explores with laser-like precision. Different viewers will come to different conclusions, but without doubt this strong documentary sheds a powerful light on this particular case while emphasizing the ultimate unknowability of absolute truth....

  • Tim Roth is superb in quietly powerful drama 'Chronic'

    Tim Roth is superb in quietly powerful drama 'Chronic'

    For a drama that’s as quiet and circumspect as “Chronic,” it’s a decidedly bold film, one that pulls few punches as it slowly peels away the emotional layers of its complex protagonist. It also features an ending that’s as devastating as it is shocking. Tim Roth superbly disappears into his role...

  • Music producer returns home in indie drama 'Mommy's Box'

    Music producer returns home in indie drama 'Mommy's Box'

    Writer-director-producer-actor Johnny Greenlaw fills his shaggy homecoming melodrama, “Mommy’s Box,” with minor characters and subplots, as though unsure where his story really lies. Though it’s mildly enjoyable throughout, the movie is ultimately just a loose collection of nice little scenes,...

  • Niall Horan is the next member of One Direction to go solo with release of 'This Town'

    Niall Horan is the next member of One Direction to go solo with release of 'This Town'

    And the next member of One Direction to go solo is Niall Horan.  Horan surprised fans Thursday morning by releasing his debut single, “This Town,” to streaming platforms and confirming a solo deal with Capitol Records.   Produced by hit-maker Greg Kurstin, the guitar ballad is a tender, swoon-worthy...

  • 'Loserville' is an unsatisfying blend of teen comedy and bullying drama

    'Loserville' is an unsatisfying blend of teen comedy and bullying drama

    The teen comedy “Loserville” from freshman filmmaker Lovell Holder offers its audience a SparkNotes version of high school: It skims over relevant details and lacks deep insight when it comes to plot and character. Though there are a few genuine LOL moments, there’s little specificity in the world...

  • Matthew Rhys provides only real glimmer in WWII drama 'Come What May'

    Matthew Rhys provides only real glimmer in WWII drama 'Come What May'

    In “Come What May,” director Christian Carion dramatizes the other side of the World War II front line — the civilians fleeing invading troops. The images of uprooted, desperate travelers can’t help but remind one of contemporary refugee crises. Yet with its old-fashioned gloss, the incident-packed...

  • 'The Last Film Festival' is not a fitting tribute to Dennis Hopper

    'The Last Film Festival' is not a fitting tribute to Dennis Hopper

    The late Dennis Hopper’s IMDB acting credits are 200-strong, but any qualitative ranking of those titles would put his last completed movie, “The Last Film Festival,” somewhere at the bottom. A thoroughly amateurish un-comedy about show business, it was filmed in 2009, but its notions of Hollywood...

  • Boyd Holbrook and Elisabeth Moss lend weight to the drama 'The Free World'

    Boyd Holbrook and Elisabeth Moss lend weight to the drama 'The Free World'

    The concept of freedom proves elusive for an ex-convict attempting to rebuild his life on the outside in “The Free World,” an initially compelling but uneven drama elevated by two centered performances. Struggling to bury a violent past in prison, where he was incarcerated for a heinous crime he...

  • Bros grow up in comedy 'Flock of Dudes'

    Bros grow up in comedy 'Flock of Dudes'

    A tribe of man-children has to break up to grow up in the friendship flick “Flock of Dudes,” directed by Bob Castrone, written by Castrone, Brian Levin and Jason Zumwalt. The cast is stocked with some of comedy’s best actors, which elevates the rather pedestrian material — a belated coming-of-age...

  • From plow horse to champion in the documentary 'Harry & Snowman'

    From plow horse to champion in the documentary 'Harry & Snowman'

    Equine fans: Gallop, don’t trot to Ron Davis’ winning documentary “Harry & Snowman,” which recounts the inspiring story of an underdog show horse, his tenacious trainer and their rise to fame in the late 1950s. Dutch-born horseman Harry deLeyer immigrated to the United States after World War II...

  • 'Seed Money' examines the philanthropy of gay porn mogul Chuck Holmes

    'Seed Money' examines the philanthropy of gay porn mogul Chuck Holmes

    The provocative documentary “Seed Money: The Chuck Holmes Story” spotlights the man who founded a gay porn empire in 1971 and then, in the AIDS-conscious 1980s and ‘90s, used his fortune to back gay rights groups and like-minded politicians. But did he do it out of social awareness or to buy respectability?...

  • Documentary 'Seed: The Untold Story' affirms the hidden beauty of our food

    Documentary 'Seed: The Untold Story' affirms the hidden beauty of our food

    Farming may seem prosaic to the uninitiated, but “Seed: The Untold Story” reveals the poetry present in the practice through its smallest element. Multiple people in the documentary compare seeds to jewels, both for their varied, colorful appearance as well as for their value. The film reveals...

  • 'The Best Democracy Money Can Buy' documentary pursues the Koch brothers

    'The Best Democracy Money Can Buy' documentary pursues the Koch brothers

    Buried somewhere amid the old-school journalist shtick, aggressive animation and overbearing jazz score in “The Best Democracy Money Can Buy,” there’s a solid documentary connecting the billionaire Koch brothers’ cash to efforts to disenfranchise voters of color. But many viewers will find it challenging...

  • 'Generation Startup' doc checks in on young entrepreneurs

    'Generation Startup' doc checks in on young entrepreneurs

    Directed by Cynthia Wade and Cheryl Miller Houser, the documentary “Generation Startup” puts a human face on millennial startup culture. The film depicts the program Venture for America, which supports entrepreneurship in recent college graduates in cities around the United States by placing fellows...

  • Redstones officially urge Viacom-CBS merger talks

    Redstones officially urge Viacom-CBS merger talks

    Sumner Redstone and his daughter, Shari, have officially taken a key step toward putting Viacom and CBS back together again.  National Amusements Inc., the Redstone-controlled movie theater chain and investment vehicle, on Thursday sent a letter to the boards of directors at both companies urging...

  • 'Wonder Woman' writer Greg Rucka confirms superhero is queer

    'Wonder Woman' writer Greg Rucka confirms superhero is queer

    No more wondering about subtext or worrying if you’ve been reading between the lines: “Wonder Woman” writer Greg Rucka has confirmed that Diana of Themyscira is officially, canonically, queer.  The news probably does not come as a surprise to most Wonder Woman fans, especially those who have been...

  • Skrillex's ambitions go beyond music to empire-building: Inside his Nest in Chinatown

    Skrillex's ambitions go beyond music to empire-building: Inside his Nest in Chinatown

    Electronic music producer Skrillex has over the last few months become an expert at dodging Chinatown traffic. The EDM hitmaker, who since his rise in the early '10s is responsible for massive, moment-defining records in collaboration with Justin Bieber, Diplo, Rick Ross and dozens of others, has...

  • ‘Adventure Time’ sets the series finale, but you still have time

    ‘Adventure Time’ sets the series finale, but you still have time

    You might want to sit down. Or grab your friends. “Adventure Time” is ending. Cartoon Network, where in 2010 Pendleton Ward's strange and beautiful creation came to regularly scheduled life, has announced its departure. Production will shut down after completion of the ninth season — we are currently...

  • As a TV series, Woody Allen's 'Crisis in Six Scenes' offers many pleasures of a Woody Allen movie

    As a TV series, Woody Allen's 'Crisis in Six Scenes' offers many pleasures of a Woody Allen movie

    At the age of 80, Woody Allen has written, directed and is starring in his first television series, "Crisis in Six Scenes," made for Amazon and available to stream in its entirety beginning Friday. As may be said of Allen’s remarkably prolific and long-lived film career, it has its better and worse,...

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