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  • 'Back in the Day' is a punch-drunk retread of much better boxing dramas

    'Back in the Day' is a punch-drunk retread of much better boxing dramas

    It’s understandable why “Back in the Day” was not made available to critics for advance screening. We’ve already seen it — many, many times before. A stagy “Raging Bull” meets “Rocky” hybrid that tosses every boxing movie cliché into the ring yet fails to land a single convincing punch, the two-hour...

  • Cannes favorite Xavier Dolan targets his critics: 'This is not journalism. It's gossip.'

    Cannes favorite Xavier Dolan targets his critics: 'This is not journalism. It's gossip.'

    Film directors are well-known for sloughing off bad reviews, or saying they don't read critics entirely.Such an attitude, had he held it,  might have helped the emotional health of Xavier Dolan. But it also would have made the 27-year-old French-Canadian director of "Mommy" and the divisive new...

  • Five films that were faced with the theatrical/streaming choice

    Five films that were faced with the theatrical/streaming choice

    Here are five prominent films that showcase the choices filmmakers face about how to distribute their work: "Beasts of No Nation" (Netflix) Director: Cary Fukunaga Netflix picked up the rights to Fukunaga's brutal drama about a child soldier in West Africa for $12 million. Released simultaneously...

  • Qualifying for the Oscars can affect distribution plans for films

    Qualifying for the Oscars can affect distribution plans for films

    If the distinctions between film and television seem to be breaking down with creators and audiences alike, one place that still holds to a strict definition between the two is the Oscars. As the official rules and eligibility guide states, the Academy Awards are “to honor outstanding artistic...

  • To stream or not to stream: Filmmakers face a tough choice on getting their films to audiences

    To stream or not to stream: Filmmakers face a tough choice on getting their films to audiences

    As everyone knows, Spike Lee has never been afraid to take a strong stand for what he thinks is right. But these days, when he speaks to aspiring young filmmakers, the man who made "Do the Right Thing" says that — at least when it comes to making movies in the digital age — there is not necessarily...

  • For the VR generation, the differences between TV and movies may already be irrelevant

    For the VR generation, the differences between TV and movies may already be irrelevant

    The upcoming crime drama "The Night Of" would seem like a prototypical cable show — commissioned by HBO, airing for eight episodes, designed as summer appointment viewing. Yet look beneath and a film beast stirs. "The Night Of" was co-written by Steven Zallian, an Oscar winner, and stars John Turturro;...

  • Netflix's Ted Sarandos on how his 'disruptive' methods are ensuring the future of film

    Netflix's Ted Sarandos on how his 'disruptive' methods are ensuring the future of film

    Netflix Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos has a vision for the future of movies – and not surprisingly, streaming is at the heart of it. As Netflix continues its aggressive push into the movie business -- bringing A-listers like Will Smith, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie on board the streaming bandwagon...

  • 'Hard Sell' plays the high school hits but finds its own groove

    'Hard Sell' plays the high school hits but finds its own groove

    It’s hard to keep track of all the old high school comedies that writer-director-producer Sean Nalaboff nods to in his feature film debut, “Hard Sell.” Eventually, though, the movie finds its own voice and groove, and avoids being a mere retro exercise. Skyler Gisondo stars as Hardy Buchanan, a...

  • 'Welcome to Happiness' fails to amuse amid all its sadness

    'Welcome to Happiness' fails to amuse amid all its sadness

    Writer/director Oliver Thompson’s feature debut, “Welcome to Happiness,” a magical story of grief, fate and emotional healing, could be described as an earnest yet whimsical take on Spike Jonze’s “Being John Malkovich,” with an aesthetic heavily inspired by the stylized, fantastical oeuvre of Jean-Pierre...

  • Healthcare is a 'Monster' we can all relate to and fear

    Healthcare is a 'Monster' we can all relate to and fear

    Although the title might suggest cheesy sensationalism, “A Monster With a Thousand Heads” serves as a sobering, all-too-relatable indictment of the bureaucratic Hydra that is the medical insurance industry. When their healthcare provider won’t approve a drug treatment for her cancer-stricken husband...

  • Strong performances stir ‘Margarita’ romance

    Strong performances stir ‘Margarita’ romance

    There’s a lot to appreciate about the inspiring coming-of-age drama “Margarita With a Straw” despite several seemingly avoidable flaws.  Most compelling: a wonderful lead turn by Kalki Koechlin as Laila, a spirited Indian college student with cerebral palsy. Laila’s physical and emotional journey...

  • 'Manhattan Night' is a classy, if confusing, neo-noir

    'Manhattan Night' is a classy, if confusing, neo-noir

    “Manhattan Night” is a modestly budgeted urban neo-noir and a throwback to the days when moody detective stories were B-picture staples. It’s not a great movie but a welcome one, if only for how it attempts to revive a whole genre. Writer-director Brian DeCubellis adapts a Colin Harrison novel about...

  • Documentary captures two sides of 'Almost Holy' crusader

    Documentary captures two sides of 'Almost Holy' crusader

    Though colorful fantasies of lone-wolf vigilantism dominate movie screens in the form of super-powered comic book heroes, Steve Hoover’s documentary “Almost Holy” paints a picture of everyday avenging in the grim here-and-now. Its subject is Ukrainian pastor Gennadiy Mokhnenko, for nearly 15 years...

  • Politics and cellphones make strange bedfellows in documentary 'Weiner'

    Politics and cellphones make strange bedfellows in documentary 'Weiner'

    Once again, truth proves stranger than fiction in the raucous and provocative documentary “Weiner.”  This absorbing, entertaining film takes a decidedly warts-and-all look at disgraced, seven-term Democratic congressman Anthony Weiner and his propulsive if ill-fated 2013 run for mayor of New York...

  • Going under the shell of Cannes' animated sensation 'The Red Turtle'

    Going under the shell of Cannes' animated sensation 'The Red Turtle'

    The opportunity to make a feature film is, for most directors, the ultimate grail, a pearl without price, but for Dutch animator Michael Dudok de Wit, it’s always been an offer he felt he had to refuse. Until he couldn’t. The 62-year old Dudok de Wit, a Dutch filmmaker based in London, is not just...

  • 'Measure of a Man' boldly tracks tragedy of the working class

    'Measure of a Man' boldly tracks tragedy of the working class

    Sobering and political, Stéphane Brizé’s quietly tragic social drama “The Measure of a Man” puts an unemployed, middle-aged husband and father (Vincent Lindon) into the kind of economic and moral quagmire reminiscent of the wrenching working-life stories told by Belgium’s Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne...

  • Brad Garrett is the new voice of Krang in 'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows'

    Brad Garrett is the new voice of Krang in 'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows'

    Picking a voice for an alien warlord stripped of his body and reduced to spend his days imprisoned inside a brain-shaped mound of pink meat is complicated. What does a wailing mound of flesh hell-bent on world domination sound like? To Paramount, that creature sounds like actor Brad Garrett.  The...

  • Cannes: Pablo Larraín takes the road less traveled with 'Neruda'

    Cannes: Pablo Larraín takes the road less traveled with 'Neruda'

    For audiences familiar with the award-winning work of Chile’s Pablo Larraín, the protean writer-director of films such as “Tony Manero,” “No” and “The Club,” it will come as little surprise that even one of his more conventional-sounding pictures should turn out to be anything but. So it is with...

  • 'From Here to Eternity' blasts viewers with atomic bomb

    'From Here to Eternity' blasts viewers with atomic bomb

    The Times' longtime critic Edwin Schallert had a strong negative reaction to "From Here to Eternity" on Oct. 1, 1953. Despite that review, the film --  based on James Jones' novel, directed by Fred Zinnemann and starring Burt Lancaster, Deborah Kerr, Montgomery Clift and Frank Sinatra --  went...

  • Julian Assange film 'Risk' offers an inside look at controversial Wikileaks founder

    Julian Assange film 'Risk' offers an inside look at controversial Wikileaks founder

    New administrations can mean a change in fortunes for controversial figures. But a Hillary Clinton presidency will not improve the status of Julian Assange, say those aligned with the Wikileaks founder, who remains in Ecuador's London embassy pending a Swedish extradition request. In fact, they...

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