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Ryan Gosling, the tortured heartthrob of 'La La Land'

Ever since festival-goers got their first look at Damien Chazelle’s “La La Land” at the Venice Film Festival back in August, they’ve been enraptured by its magic-hour spell. The retro musical follows Emma Stone’s Mia, a frustrated wannabe actress, and Ryan Gosling’s Sebastian, a passionate jazz...

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  • Crude comedy 'Confessions of a Womanizer' eventually makes its point

    Crude comedy 'Confessions of a Womanizer' eventually makes its point

    It shouldn’t be a surprise that a film titled “Confessions of a Womanizer” starts with a transphobic crack that the main character Richie (Andrew Lawrence) makes during his rock-bottom moment, sharing a jail cell with a trans woman, Ginger (Kelly Mantle, from the sixth season of “RuPaul’s Drag...

  • Pretentious serial killers of 'Blood Brothers' gets old fast

    Pretentious serial killers of 'Blood Brothers' gets old fast

    Jose Prendes’ arty serial-killer drama, “Blood Brothers,” is so affected that it takes about half of its running-time to adjust to what it’s trying to do. But while the movie never develops much of a point, the offbeat rhythms and exaggerated style do set it apart from run-of-the-mill genre fare....

  • Madman assembles house of death in bizarre 'Abattoir'

    Madman assembles house of death in bizarre 'Abattoir'

    If nothing else, the sloppy horror/noir hybrid “Abattoir” is the weirdest effort yet from cult director Darren Lynn Bousman — and that’s saying something, given that he once helmed the 2008 splatter musical “Repo! The Genetic Opera.” Jessica Lowndes stars as real-estate reporter Julia Talben, who...

  • 'I Am Not Your Negro,' 'La La Land' and more critics' picks, Dec. 9-15

    'I Am Not Your Negro,' 'La La Land' and more critics' picks, Dec. 9-15

    Movie recommendations from critics Kenneth Turan, Justin Chang and other reviewers. Click title for full review. Arrival Amy Adams stars in this elegant, involving science fiction drama that is simultaneously old and new, revisiting many alien invasion conventions but with unexpected intelligence,...

  • 'Sword Master' slices and dices but can't match classic wuxia

    'Sword Master' slices and dices but can't match classic wuxia

    Many wuxia films could be called “Sword Master,” but this particular entry has the distinction of reviving a classic story by genre novelist Gu Long, and remaking a celebrated Shaw Brothers movie from 1977 (“Death Duel”) that starred this film’s director, Derek Yee. A decidedly eccentric stew of...

  • Korean hit 'My Annoying Brother' will push your buttons and you'll enjoy it

    Korean hit 'My Annoying Brother' will push your buttons and you'll enjoy it

    It’s easy to see why the South Korea blockbuster “My Annoying Brother,” which has overtaken “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” on its home box-office turf, is such a crowd-pleaser. The comedy-drama about a pair of estranged brothers who ultimately form a close bond so adroitly pushes every...

  • Music stars Pharrell Williams, the Beastie Boys and more discuss influential Roland drum machine in documentary '808'

    Music stars Pharrell Williams, the Beastie Boys and more discuss influential Roland drum machine in documentary '808'

    Everything you ever wanted to know — or perhaps never knew you wanted to know — about the wildly influential Roland TR-808 drum machine is laid out with entertaining, if exhaustive, brio in the documentary “808.” Manufactured by Japan’s Roland Corporation from 1980 to 1983, the TR-808 was initially...

  • 'The Founder': Coming (sooner than you thought) to a theater (just one) near you

    'The Founder': Coming (sooner than you thought) to a theater (just one) near you

    You’ve heard of pop-up restaurants and pop-up museums. But what about a pop-up movie? That’s the curious vibe surrounding “The Founder,” the story of maverick businessman Ray Kroc’s acquisition and expansion of the McDonald’s fast-food chain. The film, which stars Michael Keaton as Kroc, opened...

  • Steven Seagal collects another paycheck with 'Contract to Kill'

    Steven Seagal collects another paycheck with 'Contract to Kill'

    When Islamic terrorists plot to enter the United States through Mexican cartels’ tunnels, only a man who has worked for both the CIA and DEA can keep Americans safe. That man is Harmon, who could only be played by Steven Seagal. In “Contract to Kill,” the martial arts master takes on America’s...

  • Horror movie 'Beyond the Gates' delivers retro fun

    Horror movie 'Beyond the Gates' delivers retro fun

    Anyone old enough to feel nostalgic for the era of VHS board games should get a kick out of “Beyond the Gates,” a horror movie as retro in style as subject matter. Though the film moves slowly — like a half-hour anthology episode stretched to three times its natural length — co-writer/director...

  • Katie Holmes' makes feature directing debut with ho-hum 'All We Had'

    Katie Holmes' makes feature directing debut with ho-hum 'All We Had'

    Katie Holmes’ directorial debut, “All We Had,” although well-acted and well-intended, offers little that’s new, exciting or meaty enough to warrant revisiting that subgenre of movies involving flighty single moms on the move with their steadier daughters (“Mermaids,” “Anywhere But Here,” “Tumbleweeds”)....

  • 'Making "Star Wars" is a team sport': 'Rogue One' director Gareth Edwards on reshoots, inspiration and trepidation

    'Making "Star Wars" is a team sport': 'Rogue One' director Gareth Edwards on reshoots, inspiration and trepidation

    Unshaven and slightly rumpled, with a laid-back demeanor and dry sense of humor, Gareth Edwards doesn’t instantly strike you as the type of person who would command an army, cinematic or otherwise. But if “Star Wars” has taught us anything, it’s that warriors come from unexpected places. Growing...

  • Oscar winner 'From Here to Eternity' to hit the big screen again

    Oscar winner 'From Here to Eternity' to hit the big screen again

    Audiences have embraced “From Here to Eternity” since its 1953 debut, so it’s a pleasure to report that it will be available on local big screens (including AMC, Cinemark, Edwards and Regal theaters) on Sunday and Wednesday at 2 and 7 p.m. as part of Fathom Events and Turner Classic Movies’ Big...

  • Is Jimmy Kimmel the right Oscars host for this Donald Trump moment?

    Is Jimmy Kimmel the right Oscars host for this Donald Trump moment?

    Modern Oscar telecasts, like upscale restaurants and traveling viruses, tend to get the hosts they deserve. Maybe it’s that producers intuit a prevailing vibe. Or maybe it’s just that a solid pro bends a ceremony to the moment. Whatever the reason, Academy Awards hosts can reflect a certain zeitgeist....

  • 1988 Armenian tragedy plays out in 'Earthquake'

    1988 Armenian tragedy plays out in 'Earthquake'

    “Earthquake” proves an earnest, deeply felt drama set against the 1988 calamity that devastated a large swath of northern Armenia (then part of the Soviet Union) and caused more than 25,000 deaths. What the film lacks in high-octane disaster-movie thrills it makes up for with its focus on personal...

  • Academy's shortlist of 15 for documentary Oscar includes 'O.J.: Made in America,' 'Weiner,' '13th'

    Academy's shortlist of 15 for documentary Oscar includes 'O.J.: Made in America,' 'Weiner,' '13th'

    The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced on Tuesday the 15 feature documentaries that will continue to compete for the Oscar. The list was narrowed down from an initial field of 145 submitted films and should make for one of the strongest and most competitive doc races in recent...

  • Jimmy Kimmel to host 2017 Oscars

    Jimmy Kimmel to host 2017 Oscars

    Jimmy Kimmel has been selected as host of the 2017 Academy Awards. His selection comes just four months after the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences renewed its contract with ABC to air the ceremony through 2028. (ABC has been the exclusive home of the Oscars since 1976.) The star of “Jimmy...

  • For Robert De Niro, fears of obsolescence, channeled into ‘The Comedian’ and constant work

    For Robert De Niro, fears of obsolescence, channeled into ‘The Comedian’ and constant work

    From the moment he first appears in the new film “The Comedian” as the washed-up stand-up Jackie Burke — quixotically self-loathing, unapologetically hacky, at times ferociously funny — Robert De Niro's presence poses a question. Is the actor hashing out an alternative view of performance, a kind...

  • 'Incarnate,' the latest Blumhouse shocker, takes a little too long to get to its chills

    'Incarnate,' the latest Blumhouse shocker, takes a little too long to get to its chills

    The latest mid-budget Blumhouse thriller “Incarnate” is a demonic possession picture for folks who’ve seen too many devil movies, and are hankering for anything new. Dense with plot and mythology, the film is refreshingly unpredictable — if only because guessing what comes next would require understanding...

  • Railroaded by an overzealous prosecutor: That's 'Evan's Crime'

    Railroaded by an overzealous prosecutor: That's 'Evan's Crime'

    It’s a bit of a structural and thematic hodgepodge, and a few key moments feel cursorily handled, but “Evan’s Crime” remains an effectively scrappy and involving us-against-them drama. Evan White (Douglas Smith) is a 20-year-old Baton Rouge, La., college student and musician with a pretty girlfriend...

  • The dreary ‘Run the Tide’ is no place for likable Taylor Lautner

    The dreary ‘Run the Tide’ is no place for likable Taylor Lautner

    Still struggling to find his place in a post-“Twilight” universe, likable Taylor Lautner tries a family drama on for size, but the bland, incessantly mopey “Run the Tide” will make you pine for his pouty Jacob the werewolf days. Lautner plays Rey, a quietly resentful gas station employee who has...

  • Beneath the shiny facade of 'Anonymous,' nothing but emptiness

    Beneath the shiny facade of 'Anonymous,' nothing but emptiness

    The biggest con that “Anonymous” features isn’t any of the identity theft, credit card forgery or upending of the global financial systems its unlikable characters commit; instead, it’s the wool pulled over the eyes of an unsuspecting audience. Director Akan Satayev’s hacker thriller looks gorgeous,...

  • New York Film Critics Circle gives best picture to 'La La Land'

    New York Film Critics Circle gives best picture to 'La La Land'

    The New York Film Critics Circle announced its awards on Thursday, giving best picture to “La La Land,” written and directed by Damien Chazelle. The awards were announced in real time on the group’s Twitter feed and took a number of hours to work through the voting process. It was the only prize...

  • 'The Duelist' may miss the mark, but it's dazzling to watch

    'The Duelist' may miss the mark, but it's dazzling to watch

    The sumptuously shot, costumed, designed and scored Russian import “The Duelist” dazzles and provokes as it makes little real sense beyond the confines of its hermetic milieu. Still, patient viewers should find writer-director Alexey Mizgirev’s often bloody, overheated action-drama set in 1860...

  • Robert De Niro amuses, but 'The Comedian' doesn't kill

    Robert De Niro amuses, but 'The Comedian' doesn't kill

    Jackie Burke, the 67-year-old funnyman played with a wink and a scowl by Robert De Niro in “The Comedian,” originally came to fame as the star of a hugely popular, thoroughly dreadful sitcom called “Eddie’s Home.” Everywhere he goes, Jackie is greeted by nostalgic fans (“Eddie! Eddie!”) who demand...

  • 'The Eyes of My Mother' is a lyrical, grisly horror film that upends expectations

    'The Eyes of My Mother' is a lyrical, grisly horror film that upends expectations

    “The Eyes of My Mother,” Nicolas Pesce’s hypnotically eerie debut feature, builds calmly and quietly to one of the most appalling sequences I’ve seen in a film this year. I’ll keep the details vague; anyone inclined to seek out this movie’s dread-soaked pleasures may as well take their poison straight....

  • '77 Minutes' is a gritty immersion into grim criminal territory

    '77 Minutes' is a gritty immersion into grim criminal territory

    The 1984 massacre at a McDonald’s in San Ysidro, Calif., in which a gunman killed 21 people and wounded 19 others, is revisited in the tough and emotional, if slightly overlong, documentary “77 Minutes.”  Although this horrific event, then the worst mass shooting in U.S. history, may seem a bit...

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