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  • Plenty to recommend in ensemble indie 'The Intervention'

    Plenty to recommend in ensemble indie 'The Intervention'

    The weekend-away-with-friends indie has become a safe testing ground for first-time feature directors: one (typically pretty) location reduces certain production stresses, while a large cast allows plenty of room to discover what works and what doesn’t. In the case of actress Clea DuVall’s debut...

  • Director-star John Krasinski works hard at making 'The Hollars' likable

    Director-star John Krasinski works hard at making 'The Hollars' likable

    It’s tough to dislike “The Hollars,” which is something director-star John Krasinski and writer Jim Strouse work overtime to ensure. That’s hardly a bad thing, though, when a film is as warm, funny and truthful as this one. But it’s the movie’s endearingly wacky approach that most sets it apart...

  • Cinecon brings dozens of classic gems back to Hollywood

    Cinecon brings dozens of classic gems back to Hollywood

    Los Angeles is rife with film festivals of all sorts, but if the city has an underappreciated gem, it’s the Cinecon Classic Film Festival, a beloved event whose 52nd edition runs Labor Day weekend, Sept. 1-5, at the Egyptian Theater in Hollywood. Passionately dedicated to rarely screened films...

  • 'Southside With You' drops in on the cute beginning of a beautiful Obama partnership

    'Southside With You' drops in on the cute beginning of a beautiful Obama partnership

    Henry Fonda as a dishy “Young Mr. Lincoln” hanging out with Marjorie Weaver's Mary Todd notwithstanding, first dates for future occupants of the Oval Office may not seem like ideal romantic movie material. But “Southside With You” shows how and why it can be done. Set on Chicago’s South Side in...

  • Laura Lasworth paintings read as luminous reflections of life

    Laura Lasworth paintings read as luminous reflections of life

    The three-page statement accompanying Laura Lasworth's show at Lora Schlesinger Gallery is useful for learning about the sources of the work but entirely unnecessary to feel the sheer radiance of it. Lasworth paints in a dawn-light palette with such luminous clarity and devotional intimacy that...

  • Home-invasion thriller 'Don't Breathe' flexes its genre muscles

    Home-invasion thriller 'Don't Breathe' flexes its genre muscles

    When the director Fede Alvarez’s harrowing new action thriller premiered earlier this year at the South by Southwest Film Festival, it was still untitled — until just a few days later, after its initial screenings, when Screen Gems and Ghost House Pictures announced that the movie would be called...

  • L.A. theater openings, Aug. 28-Sept. 4: 'The Importance of Being Earnest' and more

    L.A. theater openings, Aug. 28-Sept. 4: 'The Importance of Being Earnest' and more

    This week: Women gone Wilde, plus a sendup about the making of “Gone With the Wind,” and a hit musical comedy about “the change.”  Back Off Track: Saga of a Quitter Writer-performer Carey Matthews’ new solo comedy. The Belfry Stage, Upstairs at the Crown, 11031 Camarillo St., North Hollywood. Sun.-Mon.,...

  • 'In Search of the American Dream' is both sincere and a clunker of an immigration drama

    'In Search of the American Dream' is both sincere and a clunker of an immigration drama

    Although the thunderous opening score makes it clear from the outset that understatement won’t be a major component of “In Search of the American Dream,” it still does not prepare you for just how amateurishly over-the-top this bloated, laughably melodramatic saga about a Mexican family on the...

  • Skate doc 'Made in Venice" celebrates the house that Z-Boys built

    Skate doc 'Made in Venice" celebrates the house that Z-Boys built

    If the 2001 documentary “Dog Town and Z-Boys” engagingly gave Southern California’s skateboard culture its influential due, then “Made in Venice” comes across as its scrappy, but no less lovable, kid brother. While he profiles many of the boarders who also figured into the Stacy Peralta film, director...

  • Retro-horror mashup 'I Am Not a Serial Killer' has an unexpectedly warm and fuzzy side

    Retro-horror mashup 'I Am Not a Serial Killer' has an unexpectedly warm and fuzzy side

    It takes one to know one, apparently, despite the titular protestations of “I Am Not a Serial Killer,” Irish horror filmmaker Billy O’Brien’s adaptation (with co-writer Christopher Hyde) of Dan Wells’ young adult novel. The surprisingly warm and fuzzy horror-dramedy wonders “can serial killers...

  • Football drama 'Greater' is an appealing underdog saga

    Football drama 'Greater' is an appealing underdog saga

    The true story of the late Arkansas Razorbacks football hero Brandon Burlsworth is an underdog saga to rival “Rudy,” and while the modest Burlsworth biopic “Greater” doesn’t have that film’s inspirational spark, the indie drama is just sweet enough and slick enough to appeal to pigskin fans and...

  • Crime looks gorgeous in the Hollywood Hills-set thriller 'Blood in the Water'

    Crime looks gorgeous in the Hollywood Hills-set thriller 'Blood in the Water'

    Filmmaking brothers Ben and Orson Cummings deliver a compact, cleverly constructed L.A. noir with “Blood in the Water,” their third film as a writer-director team. Though its story and character-development aren’t up to the standards of the genre classics it’s aping, the movie sports an attractively...

  • Kamala Lopez makes a forceful argument for women in doc 'Equal Means Equal'

    Kamala Lopez makes a forceful argument for women in doc 'Equal Means Equal'

    Director, actress and activist Kamala Lopez stumps for women’s rights in her searing documentary “Equal Means Equal.” With a ruthless, surgical approach, Lopez breaks down legal gender inequality in the United States, what she terms the War on Women. Lopez primarily attacks the laws, acts and legislation...

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