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MOVIE SNEAKS

Winter-Spring Preview

The trials of TV news

Once again, the entertainment story of the year didn't come from Holly wood, Broadway or the television networks' entertainment divisions. The year's most gripping story began with sketchy reports of the murders of Nicole Brown Simpson, the former wife of football great O.J. Simpson, and her friend...

Movie Reviews

  • Ryan Reynolds' 'Deadpool' mutant gets off to a fun start but eventually wears out his welcome

    Ryan Reynolds' 'Deadpool' mutant gets off to a fun start but eventually wears out his welcome

    "Deadpool," the latest Marvel creation to get his own major motion picture, is very much like a character you might encounter at a party or sit next to on a plane. But not necessarily in a good way. At first it all seems promising. Energetically played by Ryan Reynolds, Deadpool may be a mutant,...

  • For 'Zoolander 2,' more is less as chaos reigns on this catwalk

    For 'Zoolander 2,' more is less as chaos reigns on this catwalk

    Is "Zoolander 2" one "Zoolander" too many? The answer, unfortunately, is yes more than no. On the plus side, it's pleasant to get reacquainted with "vain, stupid, incredibly self-centered" male model extraordinaire Derek Zoolander, the man who parlayed a look he called Blue Steel into a position...

  • 'A War' effectively shows the havoc that combat wreaks at home and abroad

    'A War' effectively shows the havoc that combat wreaks at home and abroad

    "A War" is a film done exactly right about a situation gone horribly wrong. A powerful foreign language Oscar finalist, it proves yet again that agonizing moral dilemmas make for the most effective cinema. Written and directed by Denmark's Tobias Lindholm, "A War" joins Susanne Bier's taut 2004...

  • GKids' Oscar nominees screening at Laemmle Ahrya Fine Arts

    GKids' Oscar nominees screening at Laemmle Ahrya Fine Arts

    If you care about feature animation, you know all about GKids. Since its founding in 2008, this small but smart distributor has gotten eight Oscar nominations, including two this year for "Boy and the World" and "When Marnie Was There." If you're not familiar with the GKids universe, or if you...

  • Just in time for Valentine's Day, 'How to Be Single' treads a familiar path

    Just in time for Valentine's Day, 'How to Be Single' treads a familiar path

    This Valentine's Day weekend, the gender lines have been drawn in bright red. If you want the latest R-rated male fantasy of empowerment, lousy with testosterone, "Deadpool" is your diversion. For a 55-gallon drum of estrogen, help yourself to "How to Be Single." Both films are a little better...

  • 'Glassland's' working-class cliches get a boost from Jack Reynor's authenticity

    'Glassland's' working-class cliches get a boost from Jack Reynor's authenticity

    It's only a matter of time before Jack Reynor becomes a major movie star. The 24-year-old Irish actor first grabbed Hollywood's attention in the 2012 indie "What Richard Did." Since then, he's been a standout in smaller parts, such as "Transformers: Age of Extinction" and John Carney's upcoming...

  • 'The Club' is an offbeat look at the lives of disgraced priests

    'The Club' is an offbeat look at the lives of disgraced priests

    Whether "The Club" sparks a hesitant compassion toward the fallen or a gurgling despair regarding misguided justice, either response is perfectly understandable. That's the queasy territory that politically minded Chilean director Pablo Larraín ("Tony Manero," "No") operates in with his story of...

  • 'Mavis!' a fitting tribute to gospel/R&B diva Mavis Staples

    'Mavis!' a fitting tribute to gospel/R&B diva Mavis Staples

    The recent death of pop legend David Bowie has been a reminder to appreciate the greats while they're still here. Gospel/R&B diva Mavis Staples makes that easy. Over the last several years, the 76-year-old has recorded some of the best albums of her career, in collaboration with Wilco frontman...

  • 'Already Tomorrow in Hong Kong' channels 'Before Sunrise' in a very good way

    'Already Tomorrow in Hong Kong' channels 'Before Sunrise' in a very good way

    Ideally timed for Valentine's weekend consumption, the immensely likable "Already Tomorrow in Hong Kong" is a freshly contemporary change-up on the traditional cross-cultural romantic-comedy. Taking place over the course of two nonconsecutive evenings on the bustling streets of Hong Kong, Emily...

  • In bold 'Nina Forever,' an ex shows up at the oddest times

    In bold 'Nina Forever,' an ex shows up at the oddest times

    A man's resentful dead girlfriend keeps popping up at the most inopportune moments in "Nina Forever," a deviously audacious sex-comedy-horror concoction from British brothers Ben and Chris Blaine. Still grappling with the tragic motorcycle accident that claimed Nina (a fiery Fiona O'Shaughnessy),...

  • 'Tumbledown' trips over cloying sitcom conventions

    'Tumbledown' trips over cloying sitcom conventions

    A romantic-dramedy about a young woman determined to protect the legacy of her late folk singer husband, "Tumbledown" sees its good intentions undermined by cloying sitcom conventions. An always-welcome Rebecca Hall gives a sensitively inhabited performance as Hannah, who has been holed up in her...

  • Al Pacino and Anthony Hopkins star in the ludicrous 'Misconduct'

    Al Pacino and Anthony Hopkins star in the ludicrous 'Misconduct'

    "Misconduct" is aptly named in that watching this ludicrous legal thriller inspires dreams of a multi-count indictment. Simultaneously feverish and anemic, the movie is director Shintaro Shimosawa's blatant attempt to cross breed '70s paranoia creepers and '90s erotic noir. What's onscreen, though,...

  • Explicit 'Eisenstein in Guanajuato' quickly loses steam despite actors' boyish energy

    Explicit 'Eisenstein in Guanajuato' quickly loses steam despite actors' boyish energy

    Russian filmmaker Sergei Eisenstein's ill-fated production of "Que Viva Mexico!" as filtered through British filmmaker Peter Greenaway's own heavily stylized, heavily satirical lens, serves as the brimming-with-possibility conceit behind "Eisenstein in Guanajuato." Arriving in Mexico in 1931 after...

  • Sarah Jessica Parker stars in a predictable 'All Roads Lead to Rome'

    Sarah Jessica Parker stars in a predictable 'All Roads Lead to Rome'

    Sarah Jessica Parker pulls an "Under the Tuscan Sun," with a twist, in the minor romantic dramedy "All Roads Lead to Rome," directed by Ella Lemhagen. Appropriately, her love interest is played by Raoul Bova, who romanced Diane Lane under the Tuscan sun as well. Harried New York mom Maggie (Parker)...

  • 'The Pack' reminds us how scary dogs can be

    'The Pack' reminds us how scary dogs can be

    "When animals attack" horror pictures have plagued audiences with every kind of critter from bees to bunnies, but "The Pack" is one of the rare thrillers to recognize how scary dogs can be — because they're everywhere, they have sharp teeth and they know how to work together. Jack Campbell stars...

  • Horror-story quintet dovetails but fails to take flight

    Horror-story quintet dovetails but fails to take flight

    The tepid anthology "Southbound" features a dovetailing quintet of horror tales connected by their spooky location: a remote desert highway where all kinds of evil — human and otherwise — inexplicably lurk. For all its gore and violence, stabs at tension and nightmarish intrigue, the film proves...

  • Pals rally behind the '4th Man Out,' but the jokes are stale

    Pals rally behind the '4th Man Out,' but the jokes are stale

    Seriously stale humor marks the coming out story "4th Man Out," in which a bunch of boorish straight guys help their newly out-of-the-closet friend Adam (Evan Todd) learn how to date in their small town. Their initial homophobic gay panic serves as the hurdle that Adam has to overcome in order...

  • 'Monday at 11:01 A.M.': Perhaps it's best to jump one minute ahead

    'Monday at 11:01 A.M.': Perhaps it's best to jump one minute ahead

    After a hazily violent opening sequence that foreshadows the conclusion of "Monday at 11:01 A.M.," Michael (Charles Agron, who also wrote and co-produced) and Jenny (Lauren Shaw) pull into a sleepy town that's a twilight zone where time actually stands still at the aforementioned hour. One can...

  • Homage to skiing siblings goes largely downhill

    Homage to skiing siblings goes largely downhill

    Olympic-medalist skiers from snow-deprived Croatia, siblings Janica and Ivica Kostelic spent their formative years living variously out of tents and cars and training relentlessly under their former-handball-player father and coach, Ante. In the documentary "Gnothi Seauton" (roughly "Know Thyself"),...

  • 'The Finest Hours' stares down the fiercest of storms without blinking

    'The Finest Hours' stares down the fiercest of storms without blinking

    When Walt Disney Studios releases a film called "The Finest Hours," an exercise in dour cynicism is not to be expected. What is on offer is an old-fashioned rescue yarn that's so earnest and four-square it might have been made in the 1950s as well as taking place there. But before scoffers scoff,...

  • The third time's just as charming with 'Kung Fu Panda 3'

    The third time's just as charming with 'Kung Fu Panda 3'

    "Kung Fu Panda 3," the latest installment in the mega-successful animated film series, brings back the chubby, chop-sockying black-and-white bear, Po, and his familiar cohorts in a beautifully rendered, lovingly constructed action-comedy that's sure to please kids and adults alike. This time out,...

  • Oscar-nominated shorts are long on fear, joy and imagination

    Oscar-nominated shorts are long on fear, joy and imagination

    Whether live action, documentary or animated, Oscar-nominated shorts typically span a fascinating range of aesthetics and sensibilities, and this year is no exception. Overseas conflicts dominate the live-action category this year. In the well-meaning if melodramatic "Day One," a new Afghan American...

  • This 'Jane's' a straight shooter, despite checkered past

    This 'Jane's' a straight shooter, despite checkered past

    As stripped-down, revisionist Westerns go, “Jane Got A Gun” may not have reinvented the wagon wheel, but it rolls out as a sturdy, well-crafted genre piece despite its rocky road to the screen. Forced to defend the family homestead when the vengeful Bishop Boys arrive to settle a score with her...

  • Marlon Wayans' parody 'Fifty Shades of Black' targets 'Grey,' fetishism, sexism and racism

    Marlon Wayans' parody 'Fifty Shades of Black' targets 'Grey,' fetishism, sexism and racism

    For those completely unfamiliar with “Fifty Shades of Grey,” the parody “Fifty Shades of Black” might seem nonsensical. In this spoof, Marlon Wayans and Kali Hawk reenact scenes from the BDSM opus as though E.L. James’ characters no longer have filters on their id. Directed by Michael Tiddes, “Black”...

  • Love is framed by infidelity 'In the Shadow of Women'

    Love is framed by infidelity 'In the Shadow of Women'

    Is marital fidelity possible when you're bohemian, French and a character in a Philippe Garrel movie? Offering further evidence to the contrary is the director's latest broody musing on life, art and l'amour. Like his previous feature, "Jealousy," the film is shot in sumptuous black-and-white and...

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