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Movie Reviews

  • Overly reverent bio-pic 'Gotti' strands a solid John Travolta performance in less-than-epic drama

    Overly reverent bio-pic 'Gotti' strands a solid John Travolta performance in less-than-epic drama

    The long gestating and theatrically delayed “Gotti” is hardly the dud its inauspicious Cannes Film Festival premiere last month, its original direct-to-VOD release plan and its lack of advance critics’ screenings might lead one to believe. That said, it’s also not particularly strong. Although...

  • Lo-fi crime drama 'Counterfeiters' stumbles with points for style

    Lo-fi crime drama 'Counterfeiters' stumbles with points for style

    Bryce Hirschberg writes, directs and stars in “Counterfeiters,” a DIY dude-brah SoCal noir, about a young man who dabbles in the copying cash game and finds himself in over his head. Bridger (Hirschberg) has pure motivations but takes to a life of crime a little too easily. When his mother informs...

  • Serviceable mystery 'Intersection' follows trite path

    Serviceable mystery 'Intersection' follows trite path

    The modestly watchable, at times intriguing romantic mystery “Intersection” is never quite skillful or convincing enough to forget for even a moment how many far better haunted hunk-meets-femme fatale thrillers have come before it. Directed by Tim French, from a trope-heavy, on-the-nose script...

  • Lea Thompson's family comes out to play in fun rom-com 'The Year of Spectacular Men'

    Lea Thompson's family comes out to play in fun rom-com 'The Year of Spectacular Men'

    Angsty twentysomething rom-com “The Year of Spectacular Men” is a family affair for the Thompson-Deutch household, and a perhaps unintentionally meta one at that. Writer and star Madelyn Deutch plumbed the depths of her journals to pen the script and plays the floundering Izzy, looking for answers...

  • Spanish drama 'Sunday's Illness' artfully navigates mother-daughter reunion

    Spanish drama 'Sunday's Illness' artfully navigates mother-daughter reunion

    One of the dozens of black-clad servers hired for philanthropic socialite Anabel’s fancy dinner party looks disturbingly familiar to her, which is clearly the effect Chiara — the daughter Anabel abandoned over 30 years ago and hasn’t seen since — intended for this surprise reappearance. In Ramon...

  • Documentary 'The Workers Cup' fails to dig deep on Qatar's labor abuses

    Documentary 'The Workers Cup' fails to dig deep on Qatar's labor abuses

    A new documentary offering a rare look inside secretive Qatar’s labor camps is also a sports film, since its subjects are not only helping build the Middle Eastern country’s infrastructure for the 2022 World Cup, they often harbor soccer dreams of their own. In “The Workers Cup,” director Adam...

  • Katee Sackhoff stands up for humanity in '2036 Origin Unknown'

    Katee Sackhoff stands up for humanity in '2036 Origin Unknown'

    Borrowing liberally from “2001,” “Moon” and what TV writers call “bottle episodes,” the science-fiction mystery “2036 Origin Unknown” is speculative fiction with a strong human presence. The story’s too elementary, but a strong lead performance and clever staging make “2036” something committed...

  • 'The Texture of Falling' is more about the art of nothingness

    'The Texture of Falling' is more about the art of nothingness

    The Portland, Ore.-set “The Texture of Falling” is an erotic enigma of a film, and as befuddling as its title. “The texture of falling” is a phrase that sounds cool but means nothing, and that’s a good description of this film as well. It’s beautifully shot by cinematographer, director, writer,...

  • Teen comedy 'Alex Strangelove' strikes the wrong chords

    Teen comedy 'Alex Strangelove' strikes the wrong chords

    “Love, Simon” was an open-hearted and sensitive high school coming-out movie that became a modest hit and cultural phenomenon earlier this year. Now imagine that, but very obnoxious, with none of the nuanced empathy, and you get “Alex Strangelove,” written and directed by Craig Johnson. It’s fairly...

  • Simon Baker's coming-of-age surf drama 'Breath' effectively captures emotional turbulence

    Simon Baker's coming-of-age surf drama 'Breath' effectively captures emotional turbulence

    There’s an alluring, almost ominous grace to the misty visuals of actor Simon Baker’s feature directorial debut “Breath”: many gorgeous waves on the Western Australian coast, ideal for surfing, but surrounded by an enveloping sense of risk, isolation and cloudiness. Such is the thematic terrain...

  • Claire Danes, Jim Parsons grapple with parenting challenge in domestic drama 'A Kid Like Jake'

    Claire Danes, Jim Parsons grapple with parenting challenge in domestic drama 'A Kid Like Jake'

    The urge to protect versus the need to create space is the emotional and territorial struggle at the heart of “A Kid Like Jake,” the modest but effective parenting drama from director Silas Howard and screenwriter Daniel Pearle, adapting his play. As getting-by Brooklynites Alex (Claire Danes)...

  • A boy and his elephant charm in World War II-set drama 'Zoo'

    A boy and his elephant charm in World War II-set drama 'Zoo'

    If the 1941 Blitz of Belfast, Northern Ireland, doesn’t seem the likeliest setting for a heartwarming, family-friendly film, think again. Writer-director Colin McIvor’s “Zoo” is a lovely, true-life memory piece about 12-year-old animal lover Tom (Art Parkinson), whose devoted dad (Damian O’Hare),...

  • Mental health gets shortchanged in melodrama 'The Valley's' critique of tech culture

    Mental health gets shortchanged in melodrama 'The Valley's' critique of tech culture

    Tackling teen suicide in a film requires a deft touch, but “The Valley” approaches the weighty topic with a heavy, sluggish hand. The well-intentioned script from first-time writer-director Saila Kariat tries for emotional honesty but feels like a soap opera, and the cast doesn’t help it advance...

  • The Nicolas Cage police thriller '211' can't match his intensity

    The Nicolas Cage police thriller '211' can't match his intensity

    Even the subset of Nicolas Cage fans who like it when the actor makes laughably terrible movies will have trouble sitting through “211,” a hostage thriller more boring than cheesy. Cage gets exactly one meme-able meltdown scene, about two-thirds of the way through the picture. The rest is a waste...

  • Corruption and passion drive challenging Colombian drama 'Guilty Men'

    Corruption and passion drive challenging Colombian drama 'Guilty Men'

    Its plot can be opaque and its characters often too remote and inscrutable to embrace, but “Guilty Men,” Colombia’s official Oscar entry for 2018, remains an absorbing, visually gripping crime-thriller from writer-director Iván D. Gaona. Set in 2005 in rural Santander as the Colombian government...

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