MOVIE SNEAKS

Winter-Spring Preview

Times film critics Kenneth Turan and Justin Chang discuss year-end films

The Times’ film critics, Kenneth Turan and Justin Chang, sat down to talk about the new holiday movies they’re looking forward to and the older ones they still cherish. JUSTIN CHANG: I could be wrong, but Hollywood seems to have long since given up any strict obligation to holiday cheer where year-end...

Movie Reviews

  • In 'SiREN' a bachelor party goes oh, so wrong

    In 'SiREN' a bachelor party goes oh, so wrong

    Based on one of the best segments from the hit horror anthology “V/H/S,” the slick thriller “SiREN” loses the found-footage format of the original but keeps the concept of randy bros getting in over their heads. Director Gregg Bishop re-imagines David Bruckner’s grubby “Amateur Night” into something...

  • The dreary ‘Run the Tide’ is no place for likable Taylor Lautner

    The dreary ‘Run the Tide’ is no place for likable Taylor Lautner

    Still struggling to find his place in a post-“Twilight” universe, likable Taylor Lautner tries a family drama on for size, but the bland, incessantly mopey “Run the Tide” will make you pine for his pouty Jacob the werewolf days. Lautner plays Rey, a quietly resentful gas station employee who has...

  • Offbeat ‘Fools’ weaves a romantic fantasy world for two troubled strangers

    Offbeat ‘Fools’ weaves a romantic fantasy world for two troubled strangers

    Two imaginative misanthropes connect over a wordless interaction on a Chicago train in the offbeat romantic drama “Fools,” written and directed by Benjamin Meyers. Both Sam (Michael Szeles) and Susan (Mary Cross), find themselves in various states of arrested development. Sam is continually getting...

  • Railroaded by an overzealous prosecutor: That's 'Evan's Crime'

    Railroaded by an overzealous prosecutor: That's 'Evan's Crime'

    It’s a bit of a structural and thematic hodgepodge, and a few key moments feel cursorily handled, but “Evan’s Crime” remains an effectively scrappy and involving us-against-them drama. Evan White (Douglas Smith) is a 20-year-old Baton Rouge, La., college student and musician with a pretty girlfriend...

  • Beneath the shiny facade of 'Anonymous,' nothing but emptiness

    Beneath the shiny facade of 'Anonymous,' nothing but emptiness

    The biggest con that “Anonymous” features isn’t any of the identity theft, credit card forgery or upending of the global financial systems its unlikable characters commit; instead, it’s the wool pulled over the eyes of an unsuspecting audience. Director Akan Satayev’s hacker thriller looks gorgeous,...

  • Boldly creepy 'Pet' tweaks captive-captor conventions

    Boldly creepy 'Pet' tweaks captive-captor conventions

    The psychological horror thriller “Pet,” directed by Carles Torrens and written by Jeremy Slater, takes a familiar trope and turns it on its head. The caged woman, imprisoned by a male captor, is unfortunately an image seen all too frequently in horror and possibly even more frequently on the news....

  • 'The Duelist' may miss the mark, but it's dazzling to watch

    'The Duelist' may miss the mark, but it's dazzling to watch

    The sumptuously shot, costumed, designed and scored Russian import “The Duelist” dazzles and provokes as it makes little real sense beyond the confines of its hermetic milieu. Still, patient viewers should find writer-director Alexey Mizgirev’s often bloody, overheated action-drama set in 1860...

  • 'Finding Babel' chronicles a grandson's search for the legacy of one of the Soviet Union's greatest writers

    'Finding Babel' chronicles a grandson's search for the legacy of one of the Soviet Union's greatest writers

    Legacy documentaries about history’s gifted writers can sometimes be tough going if the filmmaker hasn’t figured out how to convey the life and the literature on screen in a way that commands your attention without making you just want to quit watching and read the subject’s words yourself. There...

  • 'The Eyes of My Mother' is a lyrical, grisly horror film that upends expectations

    'The Eyes of My Mother' is a lyrical, grisly horror film that upends expectations

    “The Eyes of My Mother,” Nicolas Pesce’s hypnotically eerie debut feature, builds calmly and quietly to one of the most appalling sequences I’ve seen in a film this year. I’ll keep the details vague; anyone inclined to seek out this movie’s dread-soaked pleasures may as well take their poison straight....

  • Isabelle Huppert stuns as the formidable woman at the heart of 'Things to Come'

    Isabelle Huppert stuns as the formidable woman at the heart of 'Things to Come'

    The superb French actress Isabelle Huppert has appeared in more than 100 films in a career that began a decade before writer-director Mia Hansen-Løve, who has made five, was even born. Yet their strong joint commitment to emotional truth above all else has produced the quietly wonderful "Things...

  • Robert De Niro amuses, but 'The Comedian' doesn't kill

    Robert De Niro amuses, but 'The Comedian' doesn't kill

    Jackie Burke, the 67-year-old funnyman played with a wink and a scowl by Robert De Niro in “The Comedian,” originally came to fame as the star of a hugely popular, thoroughly dreadful sitcom called “Eddie’s Home.” Everywhere he goes, Jackie is greeted by nostalgic fans (“Eddie! Eddie!”) who demand...

  • Tragedy hovers over the haunting Nick Cave documentary 'One More Time With Feeling'

    Tragedy hovers over the haunting Nick Cave documentary 'One More Time With Feeling'

    About 10 minutes into “One More Time with Feeling,” when Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds begin playing the first of an album’s worth of songs, a wave of sadness surges, bone-deep and breathtaking. The craftsmanship and beauty of the track, “Jesus Alone,” is undeniable, but something else, something...

  • Dev Patel digs into the role of an orphaned Indian boy who finds his way home in 'Lion'

    Dev Patel digs into the role of an orphaned Indian boy who finds his way home in 'Lion'

    A real-life fairy tale several times over, "Lion" is blessed with a Ripley's Believe It or Not story line that would warm the heart of a stone. But as the Brothers Grimm knew, fairy tales present obstacles along with blessings, and that is the case here as well. The problem "Lion" has to deal with...

  • Jessica Chastain galvanizes in the timely political melodrama 'Miss Sloane'

    Jessica Chastain galvanizes in the timely political melodrama 'Miss Sloane'

    Madeline Elizabeth Sloane, the brilliant, high-powered lobbyist at the center of John Madden’s timely new movie, does not suffer fools gladly. A barracuda in a business suit who rarely sleeps and never loses, she has a well-earned reputation for being cold, calculating and monstrously aloof. She...

  • 'Daughters of the Dust,' Julie Dash's 1991 triumph, makes a welcome return

    'Daughters of the Dust,' Julie Dash's 1991 triumph, makes a welcome return

    “Daughters of the Dust,” Julie Dash’s magical 1991 debut feature, captures a sad, thrilling moment of transformation for a community of Gullahs, who are the descendants of African slaves who lived on the Sea Islands off the coast of South Carolina and Georgia. On an August day in 1902, several...

  • 'On the Map' reveals the basketball contest that gave Israel a sense of sporting and national pride

    'On the Map' reveals the basketball contest that gave Israel a sense of sporting and national pride

    Sport, it's been said, is the toy department of our culture, but even diversions can have their moment of unforeseen socio-political relevance. That's what happened in 1980, when a young U.S. Olympic ice hockey team surprised the mighty Soviets and won the gold medal in a contest that's been described...

  • The opposite of nurture on display in creepy French horror fantasy 'Evolution'

    The opposite of nurture on display in creepy French horror fantasy 'Evolution'

    A striking and maddening delivery system for art house creepinesss, Lucille Hadžihalilović’s “Evolution” dreams up a cloistered island community of ailing young boys and unsmiling adult women that feels like the exact opposite of a nurturing paradise. As bad vibes go, the scenario is certainly...

  • Heroin afflicts Long Island family in addiction drama 'Adrift'

    Heroin afflicts Long Island family in addiction drama 'Adrift'

    The epidemic rise of heroin-addiction in suburban Long Island serves as the backdrop for some heavy-duty emoting in “Adrift,” a stagy melodrama written and directed by Christopher James Lopez. Schoolteacher Cecelia Fernandez (Lauren Luna Velez) once thought she, her husband (Tony Plana) and three...

  • 'Baden Baden' charts off-center path for spirited young Frenchwoman

    'Baden Baden' charts off-center path for spirited young Frenchwoman

    As the delightfully off-center “Baden Baden” opens, 26-year-old Ana, played with gawky charm by Salomé Richard, is working as a driver for a film production and doing a lousy job of it. “I’m sure you’ll find a job that suits you better,” the film’s lead actress tells her with sincerity. That’s...

  • Documentary 'Best Worst Thing ...' chronicles the rare Stephen Sondheim flop

    Documentary 'Best Worst Thing ...' chronicles the rare Stephen Sondheim flop

    The superb documentary “Best Worst Thing That Ever Could Have Happened,” directed by Lonny Price, covers a rich swath of emotional and creative ground as it tracks the unexpected failure of theater gods Stephen Sondheim and Hal Prince’s hugely anticipated 1981 Broadway collaboration “Merrily We...

  • 'Magnus' checks out the pressures and loneliness of a chess grandmaster

    'Magnus' checks out the pressures and loneliness of a chess grandmaster

    The loneliness of the long-distance chess grandmaster is affectingly conveyed in “Magnus,” an intimate portrait of the game’s reigning champ, 25-year-old Magnus Carlsen. Starting with his formative years in his native Norway, where as a youngster Magnus could often be found sitting by himself away...

  • A dad goes it alone in the earnest autism drama 'Po'

    A dad goes it alone in the earnest autism drama 'Po'

    A good-hearted dad must juggle a high-pressure job, the passing of his beloved wife and the demands of their special-needs child in “Po,” an earnest drama that could have used a subtler, less didactic approach to its tender subject matter. In telling the story of David (Christopher Gorham) and...

  • Horror and war without much payoff in 'Tank 432'

    Horror and war without much payoff in 'Tank 432'

    Writer-director Nick Gillespie’s horror/war hybrid “Tank 432” aims for queasily unsettling ambiguity, but lands in a place that’s more tedious and confusing. Similar to the work of the film’s producer, Ben Wheatley — for whom Gillespie regularly works as a camera operator — “Tank 432” is a genre...

  • 'Seasons' takes a visually dazzling journey into the animal kingdom

    'Seasons' takes a visually dazzling journey into the animal kingdom

    “Seasons,” the new wildlife documentary epic from award-winning French co-directors Jacques Perrin and Jacques Cluzaud, is another testament to the breathtaking wonder of the natural world. After celebrated journeys alongside denizens of the air (“Winged Migration”) and sea (“Oceans”), the pair...

  • Documentary 'Trezoros: The Lost Jews of Kastoria' explores little known stories

    Documentary 'Trezoros: The Lost Jews of Kastoria' explores little known stories

    The plight of Jews in Southern Europe in World War II has often been overlooked in favor of narratives from Western and Eastern Europe, but “Trezoros: The Lost Jews of Kastoria” offers insight into the history of Sephardic Jews in Greece. Directed by Lawrence Russo and Larry Confino, the documentary...

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