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Chinese billionaire Wang Jianlin makes aggressive moves in Hollywood

China’s richest man, Wang Jianlin, has been on a buying spree in Hollywood. His media conglomerate, Dalian Wanda Group, has aggressively expanded into the U.S. film industry. The company, which already owns the nation’s second-largest theater chain and is a major U.S. film producer, recently signed...

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  • 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,...

  • 'Cameraperson' and 'Tanna' are critics' picks, Sept. 30-Oct. 6

    'Cameraperson' and 'Tanna' are critics' picks, Sept. 30-Oct. 6

    Movie recommendations from critics Kenneth Turan, Justin Chang and other reviewers. Click title for full review. The Age of Shadows Kim Jee-woon (mildly) tones down the ultra-violence of “I Saw the Devil” with this thrillingly taut and intricate 1920s spy yarn, which will represent South Korea...

  • '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...

  • '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...

  • Frights are scarce in the derivative and plodding horror film 'ClownTown'

    Frights are scarce in the derivative and plodding horror film 'ClownTown'

    If Tobe Hooper had never been born, maybe the cheapie thriller “ClownTown” would seem scarier. A sort of combination of horror-master Hooper’s “The Funhouse” and “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre,” this programmatic spook-show may get a promotional boost from recent headlines about unexplained clown-stalkings,...

  • '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...

  • Minimum budget yields minimal originality for young adult adaptation 'Maximum Ride'

    Minimum budget yields minimal originality for young adult adaptation 'Maximum Ride'

    In the pantheon of young adult book-to-film adaptations, not every entry is going to be “The Hunger Games,” and “Maximum Ride” falls into that category. Based on the James Patterson series of novels and directed by Jay Martin from a screenplay by Angelique Hanus and Jesse Spears, this is “Hunger...

  • Once banned, 'Battle of Algiers'' smart, compassionate take on terror and rebellion resonates today

    Once banned, 'Battle of Algiers'' smart, compassionate take on terror and rebellion resonates today

    For those who have seen “The Battle of Algiers,” Gillo Pontecorvo’s masterful 1966 panorama of political insurrection and urban anxiety, the title alone can summon forth indelible images of Algerian resistance. Three women sneak through the crowded casbah to plant bombs in public places. A revolutionary...

  • New-agey drama 'Milton's Secret' can't transcend earthly despair

    New-agey drama 'Milton's Secret' can't transcend earthly despair

    The theme of enlightenment has seldom come across as leaden as it is in “Milton’s Secret,” a dull drama based on the children’s novel of the same name by spiritual author Eckhart Tolle. Set in some sort of parallel universe where virtually all of the characters speak in politely hushed tones usually...

  • French film noir series screens in Santa Monica

    French film noir series screens in Santa Monica

    The French not only named film noir but it turns out they also had a gift for working in this dark and twisty genre. The American Cinematheque offers a chance to experience eight of these bleak gems in “The French Had a Name for It 2,” the sequel to last year’s groundbreaking series. Opening things...

  • In a first, a VR short will become a Hollywood movie

    In a first, a VR short will become a Hollywood movie

    Over its short life, virtual-reality entertainment has often been spun out of traditional Hollywood productions, whether an episodic piece based on “The Martian” or a more participatory experience derived from “Ghostbusters.” But the transom has rarely if ever gone the other way--an original VR...

  • Bill Nunn, Radio Raheem of Spike Lee's 'Do the Right Thing,' dies at 63

    Bill Nunn, Radio Raheem of Spike Lee's 'Do the Right Thing,' dies at 63

    Bill Nunn, a character actor best known for his portrayal of Radio Raheem in director Spike Lee’s 1989 film “Do the Right Thing,” has died. He was 63. Nunn’s wife, Donna, confirmed his death to the Associated Press and said he had been battling cancer. Word of his death first arrived via Instagram...

  • Box office: 'Magnificent Seven' remake rides to the top spot in its debut

    Box office: 'Magnificent Seven' remake rides to the top spot in its debut

    Antoine Fuqua’s remake of the classic 1960 western “The Magnificent Seven” may not have lived up to its name with the critics, but the film still got off to a strong start at the box office. The film starring Denzel Washington, Ethan Hawke and Chris Pratt as gunslingers-for-hire earned an estimated...

  • Holly Hunter makes a leading-lady comeback — even if she won't call it that

    Holly Hunter makes a leading-lady comeback — even if she won't call it that

    The restaurant table was a little wobbly, so Holly Hunter did what every 58-year-old Oscar-winning actress in an elegant outfit would do: she folded up a packet of papers and got down on the floor to fix it. "Does that work?" she asked in her trademark Lowcountry accent, as she extended her arms...

  • In 'Dirty 30,' Grace Helbig, Hannah Hart and Mamrie Hart showcase their rapid-fire, quippy personalities

    In 'Dirty 30,' Grace Helbig, Hannah Hart and Mamrie Hart showcase their rapid-fire, quippy personalities

    YouTube stars Mamrie Hart, Grace Helbig and Hannah Hart stretch their talents to feature film length in “Dirty 30,” directed by Andrew Bush and written by Mamrie Hart and Molly Prather. This is the second feature film collaboration for the trio, after 2014’s “Camp Takota.” Each performer has individually...

  • 'Total Frat Movie' is a totally bad movie

    'Total Frat Movie' is a totally bad movie

    It’s a rare film that can dredge up nostalgic fondness for 2002’s awful “National Lampoon’s Van Wilder,” but “Total Frat Movie” manages to rise to the dubious occasion. The second of two releases this weekend concerned with white frat boys behaving badly (the other is the more serious-minded “Goat”),...

  • Tribute to World War II hero in documentary 'Never Surrender: The Ed Ramsey Story'

    Tribute to World War II hero in documentary 'Never Surrender: The Ed Ramsey Story'

    An evident labor of love that could have benefited from a sharper thematic focus, “Never Surrender: The Ed Ramsey Story” pays tribute to the late WWII hero who earned a place in military lore for having led the last cavalry charge in U.S. military history. Illinois-born Ramsey, who died in 2013...

  • Monty Python's Terry Jones is diagnosed with dementia

    Monty Python's Terry Jones is diagnosed with dementia

    Terry Jones, the 74-year-old star of the English comedy troupe Monty Python, has been diagnosed with a severe form of dementia. The diagnosis was made public as the British Academy of Film and Television Arts announced Wednesday that Jones was set to receive its Special Award for Outstanding Contribution...

  • Convoluted plot and tech issues undo gay romantic thriller 'The Gemini'

    Convoluted plot and tech issues undo gay romantic thriller 'The Gemini'

    Well-intentioned and earnest, “The Gemini” is the type of film that you want to succeed. It openly rails against its native Myanmar’s laws against homosexuality, presenting a love story between two men with genuine emotion. But this melodrama struggles with serious post-production issues and an...

  • With 'Goat,' Nick Jonas guns for a piece of the box office to go with the top of the charts

    With 'Goat,' Nick Jonas guns for a piece of the box office to go with the top of the charts

    When Nick Jonas turned up at the Sundance Film Festival this year, the industry cognoscenti was perplexed. What, exactly, was the youngest Jonas brother doing so far from a stage and his legion of screaming fans? Was he hoping to score a free puffy jacket from a swag suite? Shredding some powder...

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