Movie Reviews

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'Red Army' a winning look at Soviet-era's storied ice hockey team

"Red Army" is a deceptive name for a charming documentary. Even if you know it's the story of a legendary hockey team and not the fierce Soviet-era military machine, you will be surprised by its sociopolitical and personal content and the engaging way it tells its story.

  • 'Dark Summer' gets dimmer as it goes on
    'Dark Summer' gets dimmer as it goes on

    The indie horror film "Dark Summer" from director Paul Solet and writer Mike Le takes us inside the house arrest of 17-year-old convicted cyberstalker Daniel (Keir Gilchrist).

  • 'The Duke of Burgundy' a mesmerizing sexual thriller
    'The Duke of Burgundy' a mesmerizing sexual thriller

    As he demonstrated in "Berberian Sound Studio," Peter Strickland is a talented sculptor of cinematic mood and a serious fan of vintage European exploitation flicks. "The Duke of Burgundy," his Sapphic tale of domination and submission, is nothing if not a mood piece, but amid its atmospherics...

  • 'Killers' skillfully plots twisting moral dilemmas
    'Killers' skillfully plots twisting moral dilemmas

    "Killers" presents viewers with a series of moral dilemmas that are often just as uncomfortable to confront as the graphic violence onscreen.

  • In 'Pelo Malo,' boy's hair issues spark tensions with mother
    In 'Pelo Malo,' boy's hair issues spark tensions with mother

    "Pelo Malo" means "bad hair" in Spanish, and it's what consumes much of the psychic energy of the boy at the center of this film, on the cusp of adolescence, living in a small apartment with his mother and baby brother in Venezuela.

  • So the S&M-themed 'R100' is meant to be funny?
    So the S&M-themed 'R100' is meant to be funny?

    Like some lunatic hybrid of David Fincher's "The Game" and Takashi Miike's "Audition" reimagined as a comedy, "R100" revolves around a one-year subscription to an S&M service — much like a fruit-of-the-month club, only with a selection of dominatrixes paying surprise visits to...

  • 'Son of a Gun' crime thriller misfires
    'Son of a Gun' crime thriller misfires

    "Son of a Gun" is a derivative crime thriller that sputters when it should propel, skims when it should probe. Although first-time feature writer-director Julius Avery may aspire to become a sort of Aussie Michael Mann — and perhaps lays an apt foundation here to do so — he has a...

  • The neo-folk-tinged 'Song One' is tiresome in its preciousness
    The neo-folk-tinged 'Song One' is tiresome in its preciousness

    As a chance to see performances by neo-folk acts, the music-centric "Song One" is a serviceable sampler. But anyone with the slightest allergy to emo-tinged millennial attitudinizing should steer clear. The movie is an album-sleeve-thin romance steeped in a self-congratulatory Williamsburg,...

  • 'We'll Never Have Paris' is a fun, quirky romantic comedy
    'We'll Never Have Paris' is a fun, quirky romantic comedy

    The amusing "We'll Never Have Paris" bills itself as "based on a true story … unfortunately." That wryly catastrophic tone informs much of this hangdog romantic comedy set at a pivotal point in the longtime relationship of neurotic florist-pianist Quinn (Simon Helberg of TV's "The Big...

  • 'Against the Sun' is admirable but destined to be overshadowed
    'Against the Sun' is admirable but destined to be overshadowed

    Three U.S. Navy airmen stranded in the South Pacific battle the elements in the fact-based World War II drama "Against the Sun," but their greatest adversary ultimately proves to be timing.

  • J.Lo unwisely dallies with 'The Boy Next Door'
    J.Lo unwisely dallies with 'The Boy Next Door'

    No good sex goes unpunished in "The Boy Next Door," breathless, uninspired January junk that feels like the iffiest bits of a Lifetime movie and late-night cable schlock slapped together. (And not erotically.)

  • Holocaust survivor a moving storyteller in 'Touch of an Angel'
    Holocaust survivor a moving storyteller in 'Touch of an Angel'

    Marek Tomasz Pawlowski's collage-like documentary "The Touch of an Angel" tells the story of World War II survivor Henryk Schoenker, a Polish Jew from Oswiecim whose family fled from ghetto to ghetto, hiding place to hiding place, to escape the Nazi regime.

  • 'Alumbrones,' about Cuban artists, fails to see big picture
    'Alumbrones,' about Cuban artists, fails to see big picture

    Driven by a lifelong interest in Cuba, Bruce Donnelly embarked on a filmmaking project there, visiting a dozen of the island nation's artists. The resulting documentary, "Alumbrones," captures them at work and in conversation, and it proves a meandering, if pleasant, excursion. Arriving as...

  • 'Phoenix Project' fails to rise
    'Phoenix Project' fails to rise

    Four scientists converge in a garage in a bid to conquer mortality in "The Phoenix Project," a technically impressive but talky sci-fi drama that never quite comes to life.

  • 'Loitering With Intent' is often amusing but aimless
    'Loitering With Intent' is often amusing but aimless

    "Loitering With Intent" takes off like a shot, all jaunty energy, mouthy smarts and zippy cinematic nods. But the script, by actors Ivan Martin and Michael Godere, allows the potentially clever story — as well as the pair's intriguing lead roles — to get hijacked by other...

  • 'Appropriate Behavior' an uneven but fun dating adventure
    'Appropriate Behavior' an uneven but fun dating adventure

    "Appropriate Behavior" is a kind of Iranian American-bisexual "Annie Hall" crossed with an episode or two of HBO's "Girls." And, as the feature writing-directing-acting debut of the delightfully deadpan and strikingly pretty Desiree Akhavan, that's mostly a good thing. One just wishes this...

  • 'Vice' is a cheap, unimaginative version of 'Blade Runner'
    'Vice' is a cheap, unimaginative version of 'Blade Runner'

    Dystopian sci-fi for dummies, director Brian A. Miller's "Vice" stars Bruce Willis as Julian Michaels, the mogul behind the titular pleasure palace, a resort where human-like "artificials" — mostly in the form of beautiful women — succumb to customers' depraved wishes in a moody...

  • 'Human Capital' a sharp view of economic divide
    'Human Capital' a sharp view of economic divide

    The haves and the wanna-haves mingle, anxious and wary, in Paolo Virzi's sharply observed "Human Capital." Social commentary, introspective drama and gripping whodunit, Italy's submission to the Academy Awards concerns two families from disparate worlds, people whose paths cross only because...

  • 'Three Night Stand' a messy tale of relationships gone awry
    'Three Night Stand' a messy tale of relationships gone awry

    In spite of the improbable premise of a couple checking into a bed-and-breakfast coincidentally run by the boyfriend's ex, "Three Night Stand" gives us the kind of unromanticized romance that you rarely find in an escapist rom-com.

  • 'Spare Parts' cobbles together a crowd-pleaser
    'Spare Parts' cobbles together a crowd-pleaser

    While the appropriately titled "Spare Parts" might feel like it has been assembled from bits and pieces of other inspirational movies, that doesn't mean the fact-based drama is any less effective when it comes to hitting all the requisite crowd-pleasing chords.

  • 'Pretty Rosebud' a thorny, cliched Asian American tale
    'Pretty Rosebud' a thorny, cliched Asian American tale

    Since the publication of Amy Tan's "The Joy Luck Club" 26 years ago, the suffering of women of Asian descent hasn't ebbed much despite waves of acculturation — at least that's what one might glean from Asian Canadian Mina Shum's 1995 "Double Happiness," Alice Wu's 2005 "Saving Face" and...

  • 'Gangs of Wasseypur' is epic in every sense
    'Gangs of Wasseypur' is epic in every sense

    Spanning seven decades and four generations, clocking in at five hours and 17 minutes and being shown in two parts, "Gangs of Wasseypur" is epic in every sense of the word. It finally sees its release two years after placements at Cannes and Sundance, with Part 2 opening Jan. 23.

  • High-tech 'Blackhat' remains rooted in old-school filmmaking
    High-tech 'Blackhat' remains rooted in old-school filmmaking

    It lures us in with the promise of up-to-the-minute villainy, but the satisfactions of "Blackhat" are surprisingly old school.

  • Israeli soldiers battle boredom in satiric 'Zero Motivation'
    Israeli soldiers battle boredom in satiric 'Zero Motivation'

    Satiric, surreal, unexpected and at times wildly funny, "Zero Motivation" is a savage black comedy that eviscerates an unexpected target: the Israeli army, officially known as the IDF. Whatever your image of the Israel Defense Forces is, heroic or otherwise, it's not what you're going to see...

  • Kevin Hart-Josh Gad chemistry highlights 'The Wedding Ringer'
    Kevin Hart-Josh Gad chemistry highlights 'The Wedding Ringer'

    It's not quite a match made in heaven, but there is considerable comic chemistry between the high-octane Kevin Hart and the energy-conserving Josh Gad. A good thing since theirs is the only relationship worth watching in "The Wedding Ringer."

  • 'Paddington' brings irresistible bear to life
    'Paddington' brings irresistible bear to life

    Where to start with the wondrous whimsy of "Paddington"?

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