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  • 'Star Wars: The Last Jedi' and other movie picks for Dec. 15

    'Star Wars: The Last Jedi' and other movie picks for Dec. 15

    Movie recommendations from critics Kenneth Turan and Justin Chang. Call Me By Your Name Timothée Chalamet and Armie Hammer give superb performances as two young men falling in love in the northern Italian countryside in this rapturously beautiful collaboration between director Luca Guadagnino...

  • 'The Ballad of Lefty Brown' is a dark, brooding Old West tale with a smart modern touch

    'The Ballad of Lefty Brown' is a dark, brooding Old West tale with a smart modern touch

    As the man himself would be the first to tell you, Lefty Brown is not the kind of guy ballads are written about. Folksy and eccentric, prone to talking to himself, this self-abnegating old-timer is the eternal sidekick, the hero's reliable right hand and nothing more. But, as its title indicates,...

  • 'The Soul of Success: The Jack Canfield Story' plays like a promo for 'Chicken Soup' author's brand

    'The Soul of Success: The Jack Canfield Story' plays like a promo for 'Chicken Soup' author's brand

    Even beyond its brief running time, “The Soul of Success: The Jack Canfield Story” feels less like a feature documentary and more like a well-produced video that plays at a seminar when the lights go down. There isn’t a lot of insight or depth regarding the bestselling author’s life and experience...

  • Eclectic guitarist gets his due in 'Bill Frisell: A Portrait'

    Eclectic guitarist gets his due in 'Bill Frisell: A Portrait'

    Many musicians claim their work is “unclassifiable,” but the term applies especially to Bill Frisell, who over the years has been filed under “jazz,” “rock,” “Americana” and even “classical.” The genteel guitarist will bring his mellifluous style and gentle atmospherics to anyone who needs it —...

  • Neo-noir 'Spent' quickly exhausts audience's patience

    Neo-noir 'Spent' quickly exhausts audience's patience

    Writer-director Lisa Mikitarian goes for a stylized neo-noir aesthetic in the family melodrama “Spent,” but with amateurish acting, an overwrought script, and low-budget production design, this feature never has enough in the tank to get going in the first place. Connie Lamothe and Darren Barzegar...

  • Meet Frank Grillo, Hollywood's new action ambassador

    Meet Frank Grillo, Hollywood's new action ambassador

    It’s taken two decades for Hollywood to zero in on Bronx-born actor-producer Frank Grillo, whose latest films include the hard-boiled Netflix thriller “Wheelman” and China’s blockbuster foreign-language Oscar contender “Wolf Warrior 2.” Action’s newest star doesn’t seem to mind the wait. “I find...

  • Kenneth Turan's DVD pick: Best of the holiday gift boxes

    Kenneth Turan's DVD pick: Best of the holiday gift boxes

    Boxes of DVDs or Blu-rays are always wonderful holiday gifts, and this year offers some especially enticing examples. "Alfred Hitchcock: The Ultimate Collection," from Universal, offers 15 movies by the master of suspense, including classics like "Vertigo" and "North By Northwest," as well as episodes...

  • Women have never been nominated for a cinematography Oscar. ‘Mudbound,’ ‘Molly’s Game’ and more just might change that.

    Women have never been nominated for a cinematography Oscar. ‘Mudbound,’ ‘Molly’s Game’ and more just might change that.

    The persistent calls for Hollywood to spotlight the female experience often concentrate on narratives and filmmakers, but as the film industry works on improving gender diversity there is even more work to be done when it comes to the field of cinematography. In 2016, women made up 5% of cinematographers...

  • Evan Peters and Barhad Abdi elevate glib, overdone 'The Pirates of Somalia'

    Evan Peters and Barhad Abdi elevate glib, overdone 'The Pirates of Somalia'

    Serving as something of a flipside to 2013’s Tom Hanks-starring “Captain Phillips,” Brian Buckley’s “The Pirates of Somalia,” based on a memoir by Jay Bahadur, finds itself navigating some choppy tonal waters prior to emerging as an engagingly performed take on recent world events. Bahadur’s seemingly...

  • Human Barbie can't save 'The Doll' from its own incompetent horror

    Human Barbie can't save 'The Doll' from its own incompetent horror

    Cheap-looking horror is sometimes scarier than the better-made fright flicks, because shoestring budgets and amateurish acting gives a production a shot of real danger as though anything could happen at any moment. But there are limits to how much of an edge a movie gets from incompetence — as...

  • 'The Shape of Water' and other movie picks for Dec. 8

    'The Shape of Water' and other movie picks for Dec. 8

    Movie recommendations from critics Kenneth Turan and Justin Chang. Blade Runner 2049 You can quibble with aspects of it, but as shaped by Denis Villeneuve and his masterful creative team, this high-end sequel puts you firmly and unassailably in another world of its own devising, and that is no...

  • 'Company Town' takes aim at factory owners in Arkansas

    'Company Town' takes aim at factory owners in Arkansas

    Paper products titan Georgia-Pacific and its owners, Koch Industries, are taken to the proverbial woodshed in the trenchant, disturbing documentary “Company Town.” This powerful film, directed by Natalie Kottke-Masocco, who co-wrote with co-director Erica Sardarian, contends that an unusually high...

  • Violent animated sci-fi 'Cinderella the Cat' strays far from source

    Violent animated sci-fi 'Cinderella the Cat' strays far from source

    The Italian animated feature “Cinderella the Cat” uses little more than the title of Giambattista Basile’s 17th century version of the Cinderella story. The title character is reduced to a minor, non-speaking figure in this violent sci-fi tale of crime and vengeance. Cinderella’s admirable father...

  • Benedict Cumberbatch coolly narrates Norman Lewis' visual war diary in ‘Naples '44’

    Benedict Cumberbatch coolly narrates Norman Lewis' visual war diary in ‘Naples '44’

    Justifiably acclaimed as a chronicle of war-ravaged woe and resilience under occupation, Norman Lewis’ published diary “Naples ’44” — about the young British intelligence officer’s experiences in the southern Italian city following the American Fifth Army’s invasion — has been given a feature-length...

  • Is the brilliantly crafted ‘Kaleidoscope’ too taken with its puzzle of murder and reality?

    Is the brilliantly crafted ‘Kaleidoscope’ too taken with its puzzle of murder and reality?

    Brothers Rupert and Toby Jones collaborate on the claustrophobic, psychological puzzle “Kaleidoscope,” with Rupert behind the camera, and Toby playing the mysterious ex-con Carl. The film is structured much like the children’s trinket, looping fragments of images and timelines into, around and...

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