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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

  • 'The Choice' story falls way short compared with other Nicholas Sparks adaptations

    'The Choice' story falls way short compared with other Nicholas Sparks adaptations

    "The Choice" is the 11th feature film to be adapted from a novel by bestselling author Nicholas Sparks. They should have stopped at No. 10. An inauspicious first production for Sparks' nascent film company, "The Choice" stretches a first act's worth of low-concept romantic dramedy into two acts,...

  • '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...

  • Tavianis' 'Padre Padrone,' 'Night of the Shooting Stars,' 'Kaos' are poetic

    Tavianis' 'Padre Padrone,' 'Night of the Shooting Stars,' 'Kaos' are poetic

    Editor's note: The Italian brothers Paolo and Vittorio Taviani have been making films for more than 60 years. Known for their empathetic portraits of common people, the Tavianis' collaborations blend the tradition of neo-realism with earthly transcendence in their distinctive brand of storytelling....

  • 'Rabid Dogs' remake retains its bite

    'Rabid Dogs' remake retains its bite

    Good advice for anyone remaking a movie: Pick one that's flawed. Mario Bava's 1974 Italian thriller "Rabid Dogs" suffered from being recut without the legendary B-picture director's permission, handicapping its entertainingly twisty story with rough transitions. French filmmaker Eric Hannezo's...

  • 'Jim: The James Foley Story' looks at the life and legacy of a journalist slain by ISIS

    'Jim: The James Foley Story' looks at the life and legacy of a journalist slain by ISIS

    The first American citizen executed by the Islamic State, James Foley worked as a stringer for GlobalPost and other outlets. But you won't see his grisly 2014 beheading in the documentary "Jim: The James Foley Story," the opening titles assure us. SIGN UP for the free Indie Focus movies newsletter...

  • A bond of brothers in 'Mountain Men' seals the deal with a deft script and fine performances

    A bond of brothers in 'Mountain Men' seals the deal with a deft script and fine performances

    "Mountain Men" easily captures the jocular rivalry and unbreakable bond between brothers, which makes sense because Tyler Labine stars as Toph in the film written and directed by his brother, Cameron Labine. Chace Crawford costars as Cooper, the "fancy" big-city brother returning to his rural hometown...

  • 'Portrait of a Serial Monogamist' is a slight rom-com

    'Portrait of a Serial Monogamist' is a slight rom-com

    Despite a few inspired moments and some fun banter, "Portrait of a Serial Monogamist" is a slight, often random lesbian comedy that offers little new in the way of authentic depth or enlightenment. The script, by co-directors Christina Zeidler and John Mitchell, proves as uncertain and meandering...

  • Believe the title; 'Dirty Grandpa' truly is, while failing left and right

    Believe the title; 'Dirty Grandpa' truly is, while failing left and right

    When it's time to hand out laurels at the end of the year, early releases sometimes slip under the radar. So here's hoping that the January release of "Dirty Grandpa" doesn't prevent critics from remembering the film when they make up their Worst Movies of 2016 lists, because it is truly deserving....

  • 'Aferim!' is a wickedly droll ride into Romania's feudal past

    'Aferim!' is a wickedly droll ride into Romania's feudal past

    A bounty hunter, an escaped slave, a 19th century wilderness with pockets of benighted "civilization" — it's not the latest Quentin Tarantino extravaganza, but it's at least as interested in bigotry and bad behavior as "Django Unchained" and "The Hateful Eight," and mordantly witty to boot. "Aferim!,"...

  • 'The Revenant' is a survival tale of beautiful, brute strength

    'The Revenant' is a survival tale of beautiful, brute strength

    Previous Alejandro G. Inarritu films such as "21 Grams," "Babel" and the Oscar-winning "Birdman" have not lacked for pretension and self-importance, so it comes as something of a pleasant surprise, possibly even to the director himself, that what he's come up with in "The Revenant" is a classic...

  • 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens': Was it worth the wait?

    'Star Wars: The Force Awakens': Was it worth the wait?

    Can the eager first-day viewers of the "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" trailer who saw it 112 million times online be all wrong? What about the true believers who purchased $50 million and counting worth of advance tickets — can they be mistaken about this film too? No, they're not, but they can...

  • 'Ride Along 2' review: Kevin Hart, Ice Cube skid into sequel

    'Ride Along 2' review: Kevin Hart, Ice Cube skid into sequel

    When a real-life police officer punches suspects at random and violates civil liberties right and left, it’s a sign of trouble. When it happens in the movies, it’s a sign of a sequel to “Ride Along,” titled “Ride Along 2,” the pro forma follow-up to the 2014 action comedy starring Ice Cube as the...

  • 'The Boy' plays the real horrors of domestic abuse for creeps

    'The Boy' plays the real horrors of domestic abuse for creeps

    In "The Boy," Greta (Lauren Cohan) arrives at a crumbling English country castle to work as a nanny and escape from a potentially violent ex back home in the States. She soon discovers that her charge is a living doll — not the benign "Anomalisa" variety but, rather, the "Dead Silence" type or...

  • When aliens attack in 'The 5th Wave,' logic is obliterated, but the destruction looks cool

    When aliens attack in 'The 5th Wave,' logic is obliterated, but the destruction looks cool

    It's the end of the world as we know it — yet again — in "The 5th Wave," a largely silly sci-fi action-thriller with a wobbly narrative based on the bestselling young adult novel by Rick Yancey. With two subsequent books in the series, can a movie franchise be far behind? Let's hope not. A landlocked...

  • '13 Hours' is Michael Bay's confusing take on fatal Benghazi attack

    '13 Hours' is Michael Bay's confusing take on fatal Benghazi attack

    At first glance, it would appear that the only thing director Michael Bay and the Libyan city of Benghazi have in common is the initial letter B. Yet here they are joined at the hip in "13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi." Bay, best known for allowing toys to live large in the seemingly...

  • Keanu's latest is 'Exposed' as a really bad movie

    Keanu's latest is 'Exposed' as a really bad movie

    Keanu Reeves fans hoping for another “John Wick” are certain to be disappointed by “Exposed,” an awfully silly — and just plain awful — bilingual supernatural crime thriller that wasn’t screened in advance by distributor Lionsgate Premiere before its Friday opening. Reeves plays an NYPD detective...

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