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Movie Reviews

  • Robert Patrick brings grit to crime drama 'Last Rampage'

    Robert Patrick brings grit to crime drama 'Last Rampage'

    A seasoned cast provides some added grist for “Last Rampage,” a solid, dramatized account of the flight of convicted murderer Gary Tison, who was sprung from an Arizona prison with the help of his three devoted teenage sons during summer 1978. Veteran TV director Dwight H. Little cuts immediately...

  • Thriller 'Happy Hunting' has a bloody good time taking aim at societal hypocrisy

    Thriller 'Happy Hunting' has a bloody good time taking aim at societal hypocrisy

    A mean little mash-up of “The Most Dangerous Game” and “The Purge,” the bloody thriller “Happy Hunting” initially comes across as entertainingly simplistic, before gradually revealing its bigger picture. Writer-director team Joe Dietsch and Louie Gibson (making their feature debut) inject a dose...

  • 'The Houses October Built 2' revisits effective mix of found-footage horror and haunted houses

    'The Houses October Built 2' revisits effective mix of found-footage horror and haunted houses

    The 2014 shocker “The Houses October Built” had a fairly original spin on found-footage horror, mixing scenes from real American haunted houses with a fictional story about thrill-seekers pursuing one “extreme haunt” too many. “The Houses October Built 2” brings back the core cast and the same...

  • Sweet and simple drama 'Slipaway' is carried by a revelatory performance

    Sweet and simple drama 'Slipaway' is carried by a revelatory performance

    “Slipaway,” the touching story of an unlikely friendship, works thanks to a warm performance from Elaine Partnow. First-time feature directors Julia Butler and Daniel Mentz have made a sunlit film that will win over less-cynical audiences. Aging widow Fall (Partnow) finds joy wherever she goes,...

  • Noah Wyle turns patient in the timely gun drama 'Shot'

    Noah Wyle turns patient in the timely gun drama 'Shot'

    A strong, empathetic turn by Noah Wyle as a chance shooting victim anchors the absorbing and authentic “Shot,” helmed by veteran film and TV director Jeremy Kagan from a script by Will Lamborn and Anneke Campbell (story by Kagan). This vital tale involves sound mixer Mark (Wyle), who’s hit in the...

  • Mental illness treated sympathetically in romantic drama 'Elizabeth Blue'

    Mental illness treated sympathetically in romantic drama 'Elizabeth Blue'

    Writer-director Vincent Sabella drew from personal experience to craft the bleak mental illness romantic drama “Elizabeth Blue.” The film clearly comes from a place of deep knowledge about the intricacies of schizophrenia but has an unfortunate tendency to overexplain itself. Anna Schafer gives...

  • Boys-behaving-badly comedy 'Big Bear' never figures out what it wants to be

    Boys-behaving-badly comedy 'Big Bear' never figures out what it wants to be

    Actor Joey Kern, known best for “Super Troopers” and “Cabin Fever,” heads behind the camera for his directorial debut, “Big Bear,” the story of a bungled bachelor party in the mountain town. Kern also wrote and stars in the film, as the groom-to-be Joe, and he’s assembled a pack of impishly likable...

  • British horror-comedy 'Scareycrows' provides harmless giggles

    British horror-comedy 'Scareycrows' provides harmless giggles

    The amusing horror comedy “Scareycrows” is entirely aware of the ridiculousness of its premise: scarecrows that come to life and terrorize an English seaside town. Though it’s never really scary, it is appropriately silly and a fun time for genre fans who prefer giggles to gore. Amy (Alice Maguire),...

  • Swampy crime drama '1 Buck' sinks fast

    Swampy crime drama '1 Buck' sinks fast

    The low-budget indie “1 Buck” is a conceit in search of a meaningful story, a potential statement film manifested as a blood-on-the-bayou crime drama. The result is a dreary journey through sordid territory as a killer slices up a string of small-town Louisiana women. French-born writer-director...

  • Angelina Jolie's new film on the Khmer Rouge is impeccably made, but will it get under your skin?

    Angelina Jolie's new film on the Khmer Rouge is impeccably made, but will it get under your skin?

    How do you depict a nightmare? How do you re-create — and do justice to — events completely outside ordinary human experience? Filmmakers who represent the Holocaust have dealt with this dilemma for decades, and Angelina Jolie faces it in "First They Killed My Father," her examination of the nightmarish...

  • Teen girls tempt fate in the sexy Brazilian thriller 'Kill Me Please'

    Teen girls tempt fate in the sexy Brazilian thriller 'Kill Me Please'

    “Kill Me Please,” the audacious debut film from Brazilian writer-director Anita Rocha da Silveira, is a sexy, disturbing mash-up of “Halloween” and “Heathers,” but it is its own entirely original beast — a teenage dream that’s a total nightmare. In a suburb of Rio de Janeiro, a group of teenage...

  • The documentary 'Trophy' asks tough questions about big-game hunting and conservation

    The documentary 'Trophy' asks tough questions about big-game hunting and conservation

    The documentary “Trophy,” which shadows the worlds of big-game hunting and conservation, should come with two warnings. One, the movie is unflinching about showing creatures being killed and/or slaughtered — whether happened upon or filmed in the act. It’s not for the squeamish. But also, it may...

  • Politics, religion and humanity come into conflict in Egyptian drama 'Clash'

    Politics, religion and humanity come into conflict in Egyptian drama 'Clash'

    In Egypt, the Arab Spring of 2011 brought an end to a 30-year regime and resulted in democratically elected change the following year. By 2013, however, the new president, Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood, had been removed from office by the country’s military, triggering massive protests....

  • The man behind those coveted 'Manolos'

    The man behind those coveted 'Manolos'

    Manolo Blahnik. The shoe designer’s name signifies fanciful, frivolous footwear, gloriously whimsical shoes immortalized by Carrie Bradshaw in “Sex and the City” and coveted as a cult item. In the new documentary “Manolo: The Boy Who Made Shoes For Lizards,” director Michael Roberts turns the spotlight...

  • Documentary 'Red Trees' takes an unusually artsy approach to Holocaust story

    Documentary 'Red Trees' takes an unusually artsy approach to Holocaust story

    It’s fair to say you’ve never seen a Holocaust-related documentary like “Red Trees,” which is not necessarily a plus. Director Marina Willer (who co-wrote with Brian Eley and Leena Telén) eschews the usual archival clips of marauding Nazis and concentration camp horrors to recount the story of...

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