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Why the 'Ben-Hur' remake doesn't give me that old-time religion

There are a number of things missing from the new movie “Ben-Hur” — Quintus Arrius, functioning tripods, a discernible point — but nothing perhaps so notable as the words “A Tale of the Christ.” That subtitle graced Lew Wallace’s 1880 novel and many of the film and television adaptations that have...

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  • 'Ben-Hur' losing box office chariot race to 'Suicide Squad'

    'Ben-Hur' losing box office chariot race to 'Suicide Squad'

    The new big-budget reimagining of Lew Wallace’s 19th century novel “Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ” isn’t exactly enchanting moviegoers.  The Oscar-winning 1959 film starring Charlton Heston may be regarded as a cinema classic, but the Paramount and MGM “Ben-Hur” update released this weekend pulled...

  • Classic Hollywood: Looks like we remade it

    Classic Hollywood: Looks like we remade it

    Welcome to a special edition of the Classic Hollywood newsletter. I’m Scott Sandell, and for much of my 23-year career at The Times I worked in entertainment alongside Susan King, our longtime guardian of the Golden Age of Hollywood galaxy. Hopefully a little of her knowledge rubbed off before...

  • Male-female friendship is muddied in the Seattle-set 'Never'

    Male-female friendship is muddied in the Seattle-set 'Never'

    There is a dearth of films that actually explore the complexities of male-female friendship — they always seem to drift into love stories and fairy-tale endings. Brett Allen Smith’s “Never” shoulders this burden but only relatively scratches the surface in this film about boys who like girls who...

  • Big emotions at the heart of Ira Sachs' 'Little Men'

    Big emotions at the heart of Ira Sachs' 'Little Men'

    In his 2014 drama “Love Is Strange,” about a longtime gay couple forced to take shelter under separate roofs, the writer-director Ira Sachs displayed a rare and delicate talent for braiding together the emotional lives of adults and children caught up in an unenviable, utterly believable situation. The...

  • 'Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV': Wait for the actual videogame

    'Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV': Wait for the actual videogame

    Don’t be confused by the title of the new animated feature “Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV.” This isn’t the 15th movie in a series; it’s a tie-in to an upcoming videogame. Instead, save your confusion for the film’s convoluted plot and dense mythology, which may leave even “Final Fantasy” devotees...

  • Matthias Schoenaerts brings ferocious order to Alice Winocour's 'Disorder'

    Matthias Schoenaerts brings ferocious order to Alice Winocour's 'Disorder'

    The title of “Disorder” refers to a nasty case of PTSD plaguing a French soldier named Vincent (Matthias Schoenaerts), who has just returned home from his latest and likely final tour of duty in Afghanistan. Diagnosed with persistent hearing problems and clearly still inhabiting a psychological...

  • Awkward 'Einstein's God Model' remains an engaging mind-bender

    Awkward 'Einstein's God Model' remains an engaging mind-bender

    A minuscule budget can’t quell the ambition of writer-director Philip T. Johnson’s debut feature, “Einstein’s God Model,” a wiggy science-fiction film with philosophical inclinations. Though the acting is inconsistent and the dialogue often laughable (and not in the good way), the film has an appealing...

  • From 'American Pie' to 'Orange Is the New Black' Natasha Lyonne plays the IMDB game

    From 'American Pie' to 'Orange Is the New Black' Natasha Lyonne plays the IMDB game

    The Internet Movie Database is one of the most popular websites for tracking the work of actors, filmmakers and others in the movie and TV world. We've asked some actors to look at their own IMDb page and comment on some of their best-known roles. Natasha Lyonne is currently experiencing what feels...

  • Documentary 'Kampai!' dives deep (maybe too deep) into sake

    Documentary 'Kampai!' dives deep (maybe too deep) into sake

    One of two new documentaries devoted exclusively to the ages-old Japanese fermented rice beverage that is currently having a moment, “Kampai! For the Love of Sake” serves as an occasionally enlightening if long-winded primer that will prove best suited to connoisseurs. Taking a cosmopolitan approach...

  • 'Morris From America' delivers refreshing take on teen angst

    'Morris From America' delivers refreshing take on teen angst

    Putting a fresh slant on adolescent growing pains without quite breaking new ground, “Morris From America” revolves around a black American teen transplanted to Germany by his widowed dad. Much like the father-son bond at its center, the comic drama is warmhearted but never cloying. Comedy vet...

  • Usher's extracurricular film career gets serious with his role as Sugar Ray Leonard in 'Hands of Stone'

    Usher's extracurricular film career gets serious with his role as Sugar Ray Leonard in 'Hands of Stone'

    In the music industry, there are few modern artists as successful as Usher. At 37, he’s won eight Grammy awards, sold over 65 million albums worldwide and served as a coach to aspiring singers on NBC’s “The Voice.” But in Hollywood? His film career has been kind of a joke. If that sounds harsh,...

  • 'Rocky,' 'Ali' and beyond: Boxing has a rich history in the movies

    'Rocky,' 'Ali' and beyond: Boxing has a rich history in the movies

    Cinema has long been fixated on the sweet science. As far back as 1931’s “City Lights,” in which Charlie Chaplin took a beating in the ring on his quest to win the heart of a blind woman, the brutal sport of boxing has repeatedly taken center stage on the silver screen. Biopics like “Gentleman...

  • ‘Snakes on a Plane’ and our favorite monster mash-up movies

    ‘Snakes on a Plane’ and our favorite monster mash-up movies

    “Snakes on a Plane” tapped into two of many people’s biggest fears — flying and snakes — and launched its own B-movie mash-up subgenre. The film hit theaters Aug. 18, 2006, and took the top spot at the box office that weekend, earning $15 million. To commemorate the 10th anniversary of “Snakes...

  • 10 years later, the writer of 'Snakes on a Plane' looks back on a phenomenon

    10 years later, the writer of 'Snakes on a Plane' looks back on a phenomenon

    In honor of the 10th anniversary of New Line Cinema’s “Snakes on a Plane,” screenwriter John Heffernan looks back on the cult film’s genesis, its evolution and the rather unique place it holds in Hollywood lore. When people ask me about “Snakes on a Plane,” I get two questions. What is Samuel L....

  • Daniel Radcliffe goes undercover with white supremacists in crime thriller 'Imperium'

    Daniel Radcliffe goes undercover with white supremacists in crime thriller 'Imperium'

    Daniel Radcliffe dives into yet another Harry Potter-erasing role in “Imperium,” a chilling, surprisingly effective crime thriller involving white supremacy. It’s a film and a topic that takes on extra resonance at this particular moment in American politics. Inspired by the experiences of former...

  • A decades-old college rape case casts cloud over Oscar hopeful Nate Parker

    A decades-old college rape case casts cloud over Oscar hopeful Nate Parker

    When Nate Parker premiered his provocative drama about the 1831 Nat Turner slave rebellion at the Sundance Film Festival in January, the audience response was electric. After a fierce bidding war, Fox Searchlight acquired “The Birth of a Nation” for a record $17.5 million and Parker, a first-time...

  • 'Hell or High Water' and 'Little Men' top critics' picks for Aug. 19-25

    'Hell or High Water' and 'Little Men' top critics' picks for Aug. 19-25

    Movie recommendations from critics Kenneth Turan, Justin Chang and other reviewers. Café Society Woody Allen’s new film, starring Jesse Eisenberg, Kristen Stewart and Steve Carell, is of course funny, but it also ends up, almost without our realizing it, trafficking in memory, regret and the fate...

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