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Ridley Scott's 'Alien: Covenant' is a sleek, suspenseful return to form

Early on in “Alien: Covenant,” before any spleens have ruptured or any Xenomorphs have reared their hideous heads, a large ship glides through outer space and unfurls its golden sails, like an ocean vessel catching a light breeze. The purpose of these sails is to harness energy and recharge the...

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  • Stirring doc 'Joshua: Teenager vs. Superpower' captures emergence of a young leader

    Stirring doc 'Joshua: Teenager vs. Superpower' captures emergence of a young leader

    Hong Kong high school student Joshua Wong certainly doesn’t look like the type of person who could pull hundreds of thousands of teenagers away from their electronics and get them to rally behind a formidable resistance movement. But that’s the compelling point of entry for the skillfully immersive...

  • Sci-fi drama '96 Souls' is straight-faced silly

    Sci-fi drama '96 Souls' is straight-faced silly

    In “96 Souls,” writer-director Stanley Jacobs undertakes the difficult task of executing a completely nutty premise with absolute sincerity. It’s the tale of a scientist, Dr. Jack Sutree (Grinnell Morris), who has been working on a “Smell-o-Vision” of sorts — a breakthrough that would enable one...

  • Patience is rewarded in suspenseful 'Berlin Syndrome'

    Patience is rewarded in suspenseful 'Berlin Syndrome'

    Director Cate Shortland and screenwriter Shaun Grant are often too reserved in adapting Melanie Joosten’s 2011 suspense novel, “Berlin Syndrome,” but when it counts, they deliver the necessary nail-biting anxiety. Telling the story of a psychopath and his sex-slave, the film balances the clinical...

  • Thriller 'Drone' embodies its title and not in a good way

    Thriller 'Drone' embodies its title and not in a good way

    Utterly dull thriller “Drone” tries to raise ethical and moral questions about modern warfare, but the audience can only dwell on the illogical plot and unsympathetic characters — if they can engage at all. The otherwise talented cast and the controversial issue itself deserve far better treatment...

  • Antonio Banderas and Jonathan Rhys Meyers tangle in thriller 'Black Butterfly'

    Antonio Banderas and Jonathan Rhys Meyers tangle in thriller 'Black Butterfly'

    Following in the footsteps of “Deathtrap” and Stephen King’s “Misery,” the thriller “Black Butterfly” doesn’t exactly reinvent its “twisty cat-and-mouse game in an isolated location” plot. But thanks to tight direction by Brian Goodman and lively performances from Antonio Banderas and Jonathan...

  • Movie events and revivals: May 21-27

    Movie events and revivals: May 21-27

    Stop Making Sense (1984) was director Jonathan Demme’s first foray into documentary concert films. Shot during a three-night engagement at the Hollywood Pantages Theatre, the film captured the avant-garde band Talking Heads at the peak of its fame and success and is widely considered one of the...

  • Movie openings: May 25-26

    Movie openings: May 25-26

    “Baywatch” and “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales” square off at the box office. The Grateful Dead doc ”Long Strange Trip” and Brad Pitt in Netflix’s “War Machine” highlight limited releases. May 25 Baywatch Dwayne Johnson steps into the formidable flipflops of David Hasselhoff...

  • Indie Focus: Around the world with Cannes, 'Alien: Covenant' and 'Everything, Everything'

    Indie Focus: Around the world with Cannes, 'Alien: Covenant' and 'Everything, Everything'

    Hello! I’m Mark Olsen, and welcome to another edition of your regular field guide to a world of Only Good Movies. The annual international movie bacchanal of the Cannes Film Festival is well underway, and The Times’ Kenneth Turan, Justin Chang and Steven Zeitchik are all on the ground in France....

  • Cannes 2017: A new film slyly critiques Russia (just don’t tell the director)

    Cannes 2017: A new film slyly critiques Russia (just don’t tell the director)

    “Loveless,” a new film about the failed institutions in and of the Russian state, couldn’t be more timely. And since it comes from Andrey Zvyagintsev — whose 2014 drama “Leviathan” was a subtle but blistering indictment of his country’s government — you could be forgiven for reading its many symbols...

  • Cannes 2017: In ‘The Square,’ moral dilemmas as cinematic experience

    Cannes 2017: In ‘The Square,’ moral dilemmas as cinematic experience

    A yuppie varnish coats Ruben Ostlund’s new movie, “The Square,” with not a blemish or imperfection on its many sleek spaces. The same can’t be said of the people who inhabit them. Characters in Ostlund’s Swedish seriocomedy, set for its buzzy debut at the Cannes Film Festival on Saturday night,...

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