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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...

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  • 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...

  • Conspiracy theories converge in abysmal Italian non-thriller 'New World Order'

    Conspiracy theories converge in abysmal Italian non-thriller 'New World Order'

    Vanity projects don’t get any weirder — or much worse — than the Ferrara brothers’ “New World Order.” An Italian conspiracy thriller utterly devoid of thrills, the film will be of interest only to fans of the quirkily wretched. Writer/director/editor Marco Ferrara and writer/director/cinematographer...

  • 'Is That a Gun in Your Pocket?' is a crude, unfunny take on Aristophanes

    'Is That a Gun in Your Pocket?' is a crude, unfunny take on Aristophanes

    Aristophanes’ “battle of the sexes” comedy “Lysistrata” has inspired everything from Broadway musicals to real-world sex strikes; but there’s rarely been an adaptation as misbegotten as writer-director Matt Cooper’s “Is That a Gun in Your Pocket?” Good intentions and a decent cast and can’t save...

  • Disney pulls 'Moana' costumes for children amid cultural appropriation uproar

    Disney pulls 'Moana' costumes for children amid cultural appropriation uproar

    Disney is pulling from sale a number of children’s items tied to its upcoming release “Moana” amid controversy over whether they are examples of cultural misappropriation and insensitivity toward Pacific Islanders. In the film, set thousands of years ago, a girl named Moana (voiced by Hawaiian-born...

  • In 'Queen of Katwe,' Mira Nair considers chess, poverty and the vibrancy of life

    In 'Queen of Katwe,' Mira Nair considers chess, poverty and the vibrancy of life

    A mix of old-fashioned Hollywood optimism with an unblinking view of contemporary struggles, the new film “Queen of Katwe” is an upbeat tale from an impoverished place. With its Disney imprint, African locations, stars Lupita Nyong’o and David Oyelowo and lack of any major roles for white performers...

  • Battle for Native American rights is depicted in the documentary '100 Years'

    Battle for Native American rights is depicted in the documentary '100 Years'

    The equally inspiring and enraging documentary “100 Years” emerges as a portrait of one remarkable rabble-rouser, the late Native American activist Elouise Cobell. If you’re unfamiliar with the 21st century plight of Native Americans at the hands of the U.S. government, prepare to get mad, and...

  • Music rises from the garbage heap in the stirring documentary 'Landfill Harmonic'

    Music rises from the garbage heap in the stirring documentary 'Landfill Harmonic'

    The irresistible story of the Recycled Orchestra has been told many times, on “60 Minutes” and in news reports around the world — its basics, anyway: On the impoverished edges of a landfill near Paraguay’s capital, a group of kids have been taught to play violins, cellos, flutes and drums, all...

  • Kim Jee-woon's 'The Age of Shadows' is a gripping 1920s spy thriller

    Kim Jee-woon's 'The Age of Shadows' is a gripping 1920s spy thriller

    In the first of many commanding set pieces in “The Age of Shadows,” a superb cloak-and-dagger entertainment that’s set during the Japanese occupation of Korea, one man follows another through a courtyard while a wave of officers swarm across the rooftops in hot pursuit. Leaping in loose, nimble...

  • How the West wasn't white: Building a diverse 'Magnificent 7'

    How the West wasn't white: Building a diverse 'Magnificent 7'

    When director Antoine Fuqua first began contemplating how to go about remaking the much-loved 1960 western “The Magnificent Seven,” one image quickly popped into his head. “I said, ‘I’ve got to see Denzel Washington on a horse,’ ” Fuqua recalled on a recent morning by phone from Italy, where the...

  • Warm-hearted documentary 'Chicken People' looks at poultry breeders

    Warm-hearted documentary 'Chicken People' looks at poultry breeders

    The beguiling documentary “Chicken People” proves that truth is not only stranger than fiction, but often more poignant and illuminating as well. This real-life “Best in Show,” directed by Nicole Lucas Haimes, follows a trio of competitors in the National Poultry Show who are driven to breed and...

  • 'Goat' transcends frat boy rituals to offer a deeper meditation on the bond between brothers

    'Goat' transcends frat boy rituals to offer a deeper meditation on the bond between brothers

    While the promotional material would suggest yet another explosive depiction of the horrors of college hazing, Andrew Neel’s intense drama “Goat” proves most potent in its depiction of the fragile fraternal bond between a pair siblings. Left traumatized by a brutal assault by two young thugs, the...

  • Dark comedy 'My Blind Brother' ably balances love triangle

    Dark comedy 'My Blind Brother' ably balances love triangle

    The complex bonds of fraternal love get a major workout in “My Blind Brother,” a warm, multi-layered, darkly funny film that finds wry slacker Bill (Nick Kroll) and his blind, golden boy-athlete brother, Robbie (Adam Scott), falling for the same woman: the endearingly conflicted Rose (Jenny Slate)....

  • Techno-thriller 'I.T.' stuck in an 8-bit world

    Techno-thriller 'I.T.' stuck in an 8-bit world

    The alarmist thriller “I.T.” puts a high-tech gloss on the idea that one obsessed sicko, with the right access, can ruin someone’s life. This old-fashioned premise has been upgraded for the “smart house” era, but a plodding pace and a lack of technological specifics still make this picture about...

  • Despite French stars, this 'Beauty and the Beast' is an overdone mess

    Despite French stars, this 'Beauty and the Beast' is an overdone mess

    The bloated, convoluted French-German co-production of “Beauty and the Beast” could prove the death knell for further big-screen versions of the classic fairy tale — that is, if Disney’s live-action remake of its 1991 musical animated hit wasn’t due in theaters next year. This current adaptation,...

  • Telling the true story of the heroes behind 'Deepwater Horizon,' without using 'stolen valor'

    Telling the true story of the heroes behind 'Deepwater Horizon,' without using 'stolen valor'

    For a long time after the disaster, Mike Williams was haunted by the sound of helicopters.  On the night of April 20, 2010, Williams, the chief electronics technician on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig, barely survived a devastating blowout that claimed the lives of 11 of his co-workers. Trapped...

  • First footage from 'Ghost in the Shell' shows Scarlett Johansson's cyborg side

    First footage from 'Ghost in the Shell' shows Scarlett Johansson's cyborg side

    The live-action adaptation of “Ghost in the Shell” starring Scarlett Johansson as the cyberpunk-fighting cyborg just dropped its first bit of footage. No doubt manga, anime and genre fans everywhere will have something to say about this brief glimpse of the new dystopia.  The first footage from...

  • 'Girl Asleep' is a minor curio from Down Under

    'Girl Asleep' is a minor curio from Down Under

    In the rigorously twee Australian film “Girl Asleep,” wallflower schoolgirl Greta Driscoll (Bethany Whitmore) can barely handle the oddness of adolescence without her eccentric parents (Amber McMahon, Matthew Whittet) throwing a surprise 15th birthday party for her and inviting the entire school....

  • 'Hell or High Water' and 'Other People' critics' picks, Sept. 23-29

    'Hell or High Water' and 'Other People' critics' picks, Sept. 23-29

    Movie recommendations from critics Kenneth Turan, Justin Chang and other reviewers. Click title for full review. Don’t Think Twice Actor-comedian Mike Birbiglia’s funny and endearing love letter to the world of improvisational comedy and the spontaneous performers who keep it bubbling. (Gary Goldstein)...

  • Documentary 'Audrie & Daisy' is a harrowing look at sexual assault

    Documentary 'Audrie & Daisy' is a harrowing look at sexual assault

    There’s plenty to make one seethe in Bonni Cohen’s and Jon Shenk’s harrowing documentary, “Audrie & Daisy,” about the mistreatment a pair of underage girls endured both during and after each was sexually assaulted. “U have no idea what its [sic] like to be a girl,” Saratoga, Calif., high school...

  • Curtis Hanson, a filmmaker and a film scholar, brought an openness to his work

    Curtis Hanson, a filmmaker and a film scholar, brought an openness to his work

    I met Curtis Hanson through a mutual friend some 25 years ago, before his major successes like the Oscar-winning "L.A. Confidential.” He lived on one of those walking streets in Venice, to be near the ocean he loved, and it was his physical presence, the light in his eye and his nimble physical...

  • Australian drama 'The Dressmaker' has hearty energy but quickly wears out its welcome

    Australian drama 'The Dressmaker' has hearty energy but quickly wears out its welcome

    Don’t let the Merchant-Ivory-ish title and the highbrow cred of its star Kate Winslet fool you: “The Dressmaker” is no corset-tightening display of manners. Aussie director Jocelyn Moorhouse’s first feature in nearly 20 years (since 1997’s “A Thousand Acres”) is, rather, a rowdy Down Under prodigal-daughter...

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