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  • Cameron Crowe's 'Aloha' has its charms despite some of its baggage

    Cameron Crowe's 'Aloha' has its charms despite some of its baggage

    It's difficult to engage with writer-director Cameron Crowe's new film, "Aloha," without also acknowledging the bummer buzz that has preceded it.

  • 'Barely Lethal' kicks teen angst over the head with weak spy tale

    'Barely Lethal' kicks teen angst over the head with weak spy tale

    At one point in "Barely Lethal," a perky teenage special ops agent played by "True Grit's" Hailee Steinfeld binge-watches "Mean Girls," "Clueless," some John Hughes movies and other titles from the teen canon in a kind of anthropological study of high school. Yearning for a normal adolescence,...

  • Satyajit Ray's Apu trilogy is restored and screening again

    Satyajit Ray's Apu trilogy is restored and screening again

    As studio tent-pole movies trample multiplexes this summer, cinema's wondrous human-sized trilogy returns: the gorgeous, 4K (high-resolution) restoration of legendary Indian filmmaker Satyajit Ray's Apu films from the 1950s, "Pather Panchali" (Song of the Little Road), "Aparajito" (The Unvanquished)...

  • Unconventional 'Sunset Edge' makes astute observations

    Unconventional 'Sunset Edge' makes astute observations

    An uneasy dread hangs over "Sunset Edge," a densely atmospheric portrait of disaffected youth by artist-filmmaker Daniel Peddle that flouts preconceived notions at every unconventional turn.

  • 'Seeds' gets right to the root of how global warming affects food supply

    'Seeds' gets right to the root of how global warming affects food supply

    Although it may not be the most vivid or exciting subject for cinematic exploration, the documentary "Seeds of Time" offers a vital, clear-headed look at the effects of climate change on global food security. Still, one suspects the film will likely preach to the converted instead of enlightening...

  • Credibility and clarity are casualties in 'Survivor,' starring Milla Jovovich

    Credibility and clarity are casualties in 'Survivor,' starring Milla Jovovich

    So many moving parts are at work in the ambitious if tepid political thriller "Survivor," one wishes writer Philip Shelby and director James McTeigue ("V for Vendetta") could have found a cleaner, more involving way to get to the film's big-idea climax.

  • 'The True Cost' exposes hidden cost of cute, cheap fashions

    'The True Cost' exposes hidden cost of cute, cheap fashions

    Fast-fashion purveyors such as H&M, Forever 21 and Zara have grown at a pace worthy of comparison to Starbucks. Although their inexpensive merchandise sells like hotcakes, the documentary "The True Cost" argues that hidden in the price tags are human and environmental costs.

  • 'Unfreedom,' with stale perspectives and gratuitous sex, has a hollow ring

    'Unfreedom,' with stale perspectives and gratuitous sex, has a hollow ring

    "Unfreedom" cobbles together two disparate narratives: In one, Pakistani terrorist Husain (Bhanu Uday) arrives in New York to assassinate antifundamentalist Muslim intellectual Fareed (Victor Banerjee); in the other, Indian runaway bride Leela (Preeti Gupta) bolts from the arranged marriage set...

  • Fabrice Luchini is the best thing about stale 'Gemma Bovery'

    Fabrice Luchini is the best thing about stale 'Gemma Bovery'

    As a bored baker with an overactive imagination, the wonderful French actor Fabrice Luchini is the only reason to see "Gemma Bovery," a mildly amusing riff on Flaubert. His character's baguettes, brioches and croissants have far more substance than this Gallic piffle's day-old satire.

  • 'Heaven Knows What' takes an authentic deep dive into addiction

    'Heaven Knows What' takes an authentic deep dive into addiction

    New York's drug subculture has occupied its share of screen time over the years, from "Midnight Cowboy" to "The Basketball Diaries," but few of those portrayals are as brutally raw as "Heaven Knows What," directed by the sibling team of Josh and Benny Safdie.

  • 'Marie's Story' follows a familiar, retreaded path

    'Marie's Story' follows a familiar, retreaded path

    The shadow of "The Miracle Worker" clings inescapably to "Marie's Story." At the center of writer-director Jean-Pierre Améris' uneven version of true events is 14-year-old Marie Heurtin, born deaf and blind in late 19th century France.

  • 'Poltergeist' remake haunted by its original version

    'Poltergeist' remake haunted by its original version

    Within Hollywood's ongoing remake cycle, the 1982 hit "Poltergeist" is a choice both obvious and challenging. A touchstone for much in contemporary horror, with its emphasis on a family in peril, then cutting-edge effects work and some sly satire, the original "Poltergeist" was an efficient, intense...

  • 'Tomorrowland' reaches too far, in too many directions

    'Tomorrowland' reaches too far, in too many directions

    The good news about "Tomorrowland" is that, as directed and co-written by the gifted Brad Bird, it's the rare tentpole movie with a sense of adventure, a big summer extravaganza that's eager to do things differently.

  • 'When Marnie Was There' deftly creates a magical friendship

    'When Marnie Was There' deftly creates a magical friendship

    "When Marnie Was There," the delicate, evocative new Japanese animated film from Studio Ghibli, does not fall neatly into any conventional narrative category. But that doesn't get in the way of it being visually spectacular.

  • 'Pitch Perfect 2' brings more lowbrow fun

    'Pitch Perfect 2' brings more lowbrow fun

    The comedy choir wars are more intense, more absurd and more lowbrow fun than ever in "Pitch Perfect 2." It is almost impossible not to be amused by the cutthroat world of competitive a cappella.

  • 'Dreams' lulls young and old through life with grace and truth

    'Dreams' lulls young and old through life with grace and truth

    There is something about Blythe Danner's on-screen essence that is perfect for the gently aged widow she plays in "I'll See You in My Dreams," her first leading role in years.

  • 'I Am Big Bird' a gentle peek at the guy behind the yellow feathers

    'I Am Big Bird' a gentle peek at the guy behind the yellow feathers

    The idea of getting to know the puppeteer responsible for the yellow-feathered sweetness of "Sesame Street's" Big Bird is a bit scary. After all, as we learned in "The Wizard of Oz," looking behind the curtain can be very disappointing.

  • 'Don't Think I've Forgotten' a deft look back at Cambodia's pop scene

    'Don't Think I've Forgotten' a deft look back at Cambodia's pop scene

    The documentary "Don't Think I've Forgotten: Cambodia's Lost Rock and Roll" recounts the Phnom Penh pop scene, from Cambodia's independence from France in 1953 until the Khmer Rouge's reign of terror in the 1970s.

  • 'Groundswell Rising' needs to dig deeper

    'Groundswell Rising' needs to dig deeper

    Occupying much of the same anti-fracking turf as the 2010 Oscar-nominated "Gasland" and its 2013 sequel "Gasland Part II," the new documentary "Groundswell Rising" is an undeniably passionate but frustratingly one-sided examination of the controversial method of gas extraction.

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