MOVIE SNEAKS

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Movie Reviews

  • Music doc 'Danny Says' looks at man behind the Doors, Bowie and Iggy Pop

    Music doc 'Danny Says' looks at man behind the Doors, Bowie and Iggy Pop

    Between 1965 and 1975, Danny Fields hung out with the Velvet Underground at Andy Warhol’s Factory, caused a nationwide controversy by publicizing John Lennon’s “bigger than Jesus” quote in a teen magazine, was the press agent for the Doors, signed the MC5 and the Stooges to Elektra Records, and...

  • Connor Jessup seals the deal in fantastical gay drama 'Closet Monster'

    Connor Jessup seals the deal in fantastical gay drama 'Closet Monster'

    There have been no shortage of gay coming-of-age films, but few have been as singular and dazzling as “Closet Monster,” Canadian writer-director Stephen Dunn’s semi-autobiographical fever dream of a feature debut. It’s nothing less than an emotional exorcism. The movie opens as 9-year-old Oscar...

  • Slacker Spaniard takes on the Catholic Church in 'The Apostate'

    Slacker Spaniard takes on the Catholic Church in 'The Apostate'

    Watchful, serious and failing university student Gonzalo (Álvaro Ogalla) has just the solution to his crisis of expectations: get his name stricken from the baptismal records of the Catholic Church. How can he be his secular, conscientious self and attack life on his terms if some controlling religious...

  • Swedish crank is surprised by life in tragicomic 'A Man Called Ove'

    Swedish crank is surprised by life in tragicomic 'A Man Called Ove'

    Like Bill Murray in “St. Vincent” and Jack Nicholson in “About Schmidt,” Rolf Lassgård’s title character in “A Man Called Ove” is a curmudgeonly retiree whose lonely life takes an unexpected turn. It’s a time-honored template, but one that nevertheless still works magic with the right actor and...

  • A tale of prejudice, ignorance and injustice unfolds in documentary 'Southwest of Salem'

    A tale of prejudice, ignorance and injustice unfolds in documentary 'Southwest of Salem'

    Deborah S. Esquenazi’s documentary “Southwest of Salem: The Story of the San Antonio Four” tells a miscarriage of justice tale that practically bursts with societal issues to address: homophobia, socioeconomic inequality, child abuse, trial misconduct, tabloid hysteria, junk science and innocence...

  • Tim Roth is superb in quietly powerful drama 'Chronic'

    Tim Roth is superb in quietly powerful drama 'Chronic'

    For a drama that’s as quiet and circumspect as “Chronic,” it’s a decidedly bold film, one that pulls few punches as it slowly peels away the emotional layers of its complex protagonist. It also features an ending that’s as devastating as it is shocking. Tim Roth superbly disappears into his role...

  • From plow horse to champion in the documentary 'Harry & Snowman'

    From plow horse to champion in the documentary 'Harry & Snowman'

    Equine fans: Gallop, don’t trot to Ron Davis’ winning documentary “Harry & Snowman,” which recounts the inspiring story of an underdog show horse, his tenacious trainer and their rise to fame in the late 1950s. Dutch-born horseman Harry deLeyer immigrated to the United States after World War II...

  • Chabrol's 'Betty' serves up a slice of dark, obsessive life

    Chabrol's 'Betty' serves up a slice of dark, obsessive life

    Note: Five of French director Claude Chabrol’s later films — “Betty” (1992), “Color of Lies” (1999), “Night Cap” (2000), “The Swindle” (1997) and “Torment” (1994), all featuring some of France’s biggest stars of the era — screen as part of the “Chabrol 5 X 5” series. Below is The Times’ Aug. 27,...

  • Chabrol's seductive 'Swindle' delivers right on the mark

    Chabrol's seductive 'Swindle' delivers right on the mark

    Note: Five of French director Claude Chabrol’s later films — “Betty” (1992), “Color of Lies” (1999), “Night Cap” (2000), “The Swindle” (1997) and “Torment” (1994), all featuring some of France’s biggest stars of the era — screen as part of the “Chabrol 5 X 5” series. Below is The Times’ April 23,...

  • 'Night Cap': Claude Chabrol in his element with a pitch-dark story of intricate relationships

    'Night Cap': Claude Chabrol in his element with a pitch-dark story of intricate relationships

    Note: Five of French director Claude Chabrol’s later films — “Betty” (1992), “Color of Lies” (1999), “Night Cap” (2000), “The Swindle” (1997) and “Torment” (1994), all featuring some of France’s biggest stars of the era — screen as part of the “Chabrol 5 X 5” series. Below is The Times’ Aug. 16,...

  • Documentary 'Seed: The Untold Story' affirms the hidden beauty of our food

    Documentary 'Seed: The Untold Story' affirms the hidden beauty of our food

    Farming may seem prosaic to the uninitiated, but “Seed: The Untold Story” reveals the poetry present in the practice through its smallest element. Multiple people in the documentary compare seeds to jewels, both for their varied, colorful appearance as well as for their value. The film reveals...

  • 'Generation Startup' doc checks in on young entrepreneurs

    'Generation Startup' doc checks in on young entrepreneurs

    Directed by Cynthia Wade and Cheryl Miller Houser, the documentary “Generation Startup” puts a human face on millennial startup culture. The film depicts the program Venture for America, which supports entrepreneurship in recent college graduates in cities around the United States by placing fellows...

  • 'The Best Democracy Money Can Buy' documentary pursues the Koch brothers

    'The Best Democracy Money Can Buy' documentary pursues the Koch brothers

    Buried somewhere amid the old-school journalist shtick, aggressive animation and overbearing jazz score in “The Best Democracy Money Can Buy,” there’s a solid documentary connecting the billionaire Koch brothers’ cash to efforts to disenfranchise voters of color. But many viewers will find it challenging...

  • Minimum budget yields minimal originality for young adult adaptation 'Maximum Ride'

    Minimum budget yields minimal originality for young adult adaptation 'Maximum Ride'

    In the pantheon of young adult book-to-film adaptations, not every entry is going to be “The Hunger Games,” and “Maximum Ride” falls into that category. Based on the James Patterson series of novels and directed by Jay Martin from a screenplay by Angelique Hanus and Jesse Spears, this is “Hunger...

  • New-agey drama 'Milton's Secret' can't transcend earthly despair

    New-agey drama 'Milton's Secret' can't transcend earthly despair

    The theme of enlightenment has seldom come across as leaden as it is in “Milton’s Secret,” a dull drama based on the children’s novel of the same name by spiritual author Eckhart Tolle. Set in some sort of parallel universe where virtually all of the characters speak in politely hushed tones usually...

  • You just might recognize these L.A. friends in the touching drama ‘People You May Know’

    You just might recognize these L.A. friends in the touching drama ‘People You May Know’

    You may know people like the thirtysomethings in “People You May Know”: self-involved, self-indulgent and a bit lost, but loyal, well-meaning and hopeful. They’re also really attractive but, y’know, it’s a movie.  The question is: How much time do we want to spend with them?  The answer: Perhaps...

  • Music producer returns home in indie drama 'Mommy's Box'

    Music producer returns home in indie drama 'Mommy's Box'

    Writer-director-producer-actor Johnny Greenlaw fills his shaggy homecoming melodrama, “Mommy’s Box,” with minor characters and subplots, as though unsure where his story really lies. Though it’s mildly enjoyable throughout, the movie is ultimately just a loose collection of nice little scenes,...

  • 'Loserville' is an unsatisfying blend of teen comedy and bullying drama

    'Loserville' is an unsatisfying blend of teen comedy and bullying drama

    The teen comedy “Loserville” from freshman filmmaker Lovell Holder offers its audience a SparkNotes version of high school: It skims over relevant details and lacks deep insight when it comes to plot and character. Though there are a few genuine LOL moments, there’s little specificity in the world...

  • 'The Last Film Festival' is not a fitting tribute to Dennis Hopper

    'The Last Film Festival' is not a fitting tribute to Dennis Hopper

    The late Dennis Hopper’s IMDB acting credits are 200-strong, but any qualitative ranking of those titles would put his last completed movie, “The Last Film Festival,” somewhere at the bottom. A thoroughly amateurish un-comedy about show business, it was filmed in 2009, but its notions of Hollywood...

  • Boyd Holbrook and Elisabeth Moss lend weight to the drama 'The Free World'

    Boyd Holbrook and Elisabeth Moss lend weight to the drama 'The Free World'

    The concept of freedom proves elusive for an ex-convict attempting to rebuild his life on the outside in “The Free World,” an initially compelling but uneven drama elevated by two centered performances. Struggling to bury a violent past in prison, where he was incarcerated for a heinous crime he...

  • Bros grow up in comedy 'Flock of Dudes'

    Bros grow up in comedy 'Flock of Dudes'

    A tribe of man-children has to break up to grow up in the friendship flick “Flock of Dudes,” directed by Bob Castrone, written by Castrone, Brian Levin and Jason Zumwalt. The cast is stocked with some of comedy’s best actors, which elevates the rather pedestrian material — a belated coming-of-age...

  • Frights are scarce in the derivative and plodding horror film 'ClownTown'

    Frights are scarce in the derivative and plodding horror film 'ClownTown'

    If Tobe Hooper had never been born, maybe the cheapie thriller “ClownTown” would seem scarier. A sort of combination of horror-master Hooper’s “The Funhouse” and “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre,” this programmatic spook-show may get a promotional boost from recent headlines about unexplained clown-stalkings,...

  • 'Seed Money' examines the philanthropy of gay porn mogul Chuck Holmes

    'Seed Money' examines the philanthropy of gay porn mogul Chuck Holmes

    The provocative documentary “Seed Money: The Chuck Holmes Story” spotlights the man who founded a gay porn empire in 1971 and then, in the AIDS-conscious 1980s and ‘90s, used his fortune to back gay rights groups and like-minded politicians. But did he do it out of social awareness or to buy respectability?...

  • The Denzel Washington-led remake of 'The Magnificent Seven' is handsome, but lifeless

    The Denzel Washington-led remake of 'The Magnificent Seven' is handsome, but lifeless

    A sense of lethargy hangs uneasily over the lumbering new version of "The Magnificent Seven." Despite its sturdy plot, seasoned director and capable cast toplined by Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt and Ethan Hawke, it arrives in a comatose state, a film unlikely to arouse passions one way or another....

  • As cheerful, family-friendly nonsense, 'Storks' fits the bill

    As cheerful, family-friendly nonsense, 'Storks' fits the bill

    Due to recent personal developments that need not be explained here at length (suffice to say that she’s damnably cute and just started smiling), I can’t bring myself to be entirely objective about “Storks.” That’s only fitting, because one of the running jokes in this lively computer-animated...

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