Movie Reviews

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'Avengers: Infinity War': a rousing Marvel mash-up, or a truly epic tease?

Before a recent screening of “Avengers: Infinity War,” my fellow audience members and I were asked not to reveal the secrets of what we were about to see. (I’ve done my best, but depending on what you consider a secret, you may wish to read no further.) This familiar studio entreaty against spoilers...

  • A va-va-voom flirt and a deliciously amoral world in the restored French noir 'Quai des Orfèvres'

    A va-va-voom flirt and a deliciously amoral world in the restored French noir 'Quai des Orfèvres'

    Brooding, beautifully made and drenched in atmosphere, Henri-Georges Clouzot’s knockout 1947 crime thriller/film noir “Quai des Orfèvres” is back in town. Originally released in the U.S. as “Jenny Lamour," “Quai” returns in a new 4K restoration with the soul-destroying shadows of its vintage Paris...

  • 'Super Troopers 2': Has it aged, or have we?

    'Super Troopers 2': Has it aged, or have we?

    Like many of a certain age, I was a fan of Broken Lizard's 2001 stoner cop cult classic “Super Troopers,” which circulated smoky dorm rooms in the early aughts. The energetic, silly and wordy comedy of the then-unknown troupe was absurd, naughty and endlessly quotable. Seventeen years later, the...

  • Michel Hazanavicius' 'Godard Mon Amour,' the film Jean-Luc Godard calls 'a stupid, stupid idea'

    Michel Hazanavicius' 'Godard Mon Amour,' the film Jean-Luc Godard calls 'a stupid, stupid idea'

    Naturally, when you envision the ideal character to lead a romantic comedy-drama, you think of Jean-Luc Godard. Specifically, you call to mind that notoriously nebbishy charmer who in 1968 was so fortified with revolutionary fervor that he turned his back on the satirical, visually rapacious pop-art...

  • Paula Patton stars in the surprisingly effective thriller 'Traffik'

    Paula Patton stars in the surprisingly effective thriller 'Traffik'

    Once again, a distributor chose to hold back a film from reviewers that turns out to be better than its peek-a-boo marketing strategy implied. That movie, “Traffik,” is an effective weekend-from-hell thriller with a vital message, a terrific lead performance by Paula Patton and some unexpectedly...

  • Documentary 'Lives Well Lived' offers positive paths for aging

    Documentary 'Lives Well Lived' offers positive paths for aging

    Sky Bergman’s documentary “Lives Well Lived” — offering positive snapshots of a variety of functioning, happy seniors — is less a film than an upbeat birthday video, which isn’t surprising given the project was inspired by Bergman’s perky, ever-smiling, Italian Bronx grandmother Evelyn turning...

  • 'Little Pink House' muddles an important story of eminent domain

    'Little Pink House' muddles an important story of eminent domain

    Writer-director Courtney Moorehead Balaker taps a pair of powerful actresses to face off in her film “Little Pink House,” which depicts a real-life battle surrounding eminent domain laws. Catherine Keener stars as Susette Kelo, a paramedic who returns to her Connecticut hometown of New London,...

  • Classy British 'Ghost Stories' to be savored

    Classy British 'Ghost Stories' to be savored

    A handsome throwback to the golden age of British horror anthologies, the supernatural thriller “Ghost Stories” transforms a hit play into something surprisingly cinematic. Like the films it pays homage to, “Ghost Stories” is more classy than chilling; but each of its dark, twisty tales is smartly...

  • 'Keep the Change' is a fresh take on love in New York City

    'Keep the Change' is a fresh take on love in New York City

    New York City is the rom-com capital of the movie world, and it’s rare to watch a cinematic love story set in the metropolis that we haven’t seen before. But writer-director Rachel Israel’s debut, “Keep the Change,” manages to make romance in the city feel fresh, while still using tropes of the...

  • In the musical odyssey 'Wanderland,' a bit of twee goes a long way

    In the musical odyssey 'Wanderland,' a bit of twee goes a long way

    One’s attention tends to wander while taking in “Wanderland,” a music-laced trifle concerning an uptight New Yorker’s surreal adventures in the hippie-dippy Hamptons that treads a shaky line between quirky and laborious. A stressed-out, straight-laced millennial, Alex (likable Tate Ellington),...

  • Indie horror 'Edge of Isolation' brings verve to genre

    Indie horror 'Edge of Isolation' brings verve to genre

    Ignore the nondescript title; writer-director Jeff Houkal’s backwoods horror film “Edge of Isolation” has personality and just enough splatter to satisfy gore-hounds. The plot’s a rehash of ’70s/’80s drive-in classics like “The Hills Have Eyes,” but this movie has its own odd energy and is effectively...

  • Horror flick '4/20 Massacre' is best experienced while buzzed

    Horror flick '4/20 Massacre' is best experienced while buzzed

    Whatever else can be said about “4/20 Massacre,” at least it lives up to its ridiculous name. Equal parts goofy and gory, the horror movie directed by Dylan Reynolds never intends to be an arty mood piece or social commentary covered in blood. Instead, its C-movie horror should only be experienced...

  • Farce 'Let's Kill Grandpa This Christmas' is no holiday

    Farce 'Let's Kill Grandpa This Christmas' is no holiday

    Black comedies don’t get much broader or more cheerless than “Let’s Kill Grandpa This Christmas,” a low-budget tale of malice and murder played out by six singularly unlikable people. Writer-director-star Brian Gianci keeps a snappy pace, and his cast is admirably willing to take chances, but when...

  • Don't even think about it: 'Rampage' is over-the-top fun (mostly)

    Don't even think about it: 'Rampage' is over-the-top fun (mostly)

    Not that you would anyway, but it doesn't pay to think too hard about "Rampage." Sure, it could be improved (shorter would have helped), but it gets the job done in a more or less acceptable way. Not the highest praise, but things could have been worse. After all, if you're looking for a movie...

  • Chloé Zhao's cowboy drama 'The Rider' is a moving, lyrical tale of loss and recovery

    Chloé Zhao's cowboy drama 'The Rider' is a moving, lyrical tale of loss and recovery

    There are moments in “The Rider,” Chloé Zhao’s achingly beautiful heartland elegy, when we see Brady Jandreau, a Lakota cowboy in his early 20s, simply doing what he was born to do. (Quite literally: Jandreau was just 15 days old when he sat on his first horse.) Tenderly and patiently, the camera...

  • Jon Hamm gets a strong film role in 'Beirut,' a timely thriller that was years in the making

    Jon Hamm gets a strong film role in 'Beirut,' a timely thriller that was years in the making

    It was back in 1992 that screenwriter Tony Gilroy finished the script for "Beirut." It is good news for moviegoers but bad news for the world that the issues and concerns he raised in this tasty Middle East-themed geopolitical thriller are as relevant 26 years later as they were then. Gilroy went...

  • A classic tennis rivalry is dramatized in 'Borg vs. McEnroe'

    A classic tennis rivalry is dramatized in 'Borg vs. McEnroe'

    The world knew them as once-in-a-generation rivals, tennis titans who went at each other hammer and tongs. The sledgehammer versus the stiletto, Ice Borg versus Superbrat, "as different," one observer says, "as two people could be." But it is the intriguing notion of the involving, in-depth "Borg...

  • Chiwetel Ejiofor brings a preacher's doubts to life in the stirring 'Come Sunday'

    Chiwetel Ejiofor brings a preacher's doubts to life in the stirring 'Come Sunday'

    A moving and intelligent drama about a schism that tore an American church apart, “Come Sunday” spends 105 minutes contemplating the nature of eternity. That is its accomplishment and, inevitably, something of a limitation. But for its engrossing duration, and perhaps for some time afterward, it...

  • 'Where Is Kyra?': Michelle Pfeiffer's brilliant performance holds the answer

    'Where Is Kyra?': Michelle Pfeiffer's brilliant performance holds the answer

    Kyra Johnson, middle-aged, divorced and unemployed, looks after her elderly mother in their small New York apartment. Mom isn’t long for this world, and in time you might start to suspect something similar about Kyra. She hasn’t had a job since she was laid off two years ago, though not for lack...

  • The only scary thing about 'Truth or Dare' is how boring it is

    The only scary thing about 'Truth or Dare' is how boring it is

    As a genre, horror is supposed to evoke a physical reaction — a gasp, an elevated heart rate, a roiling stomach — but my biggest bodily response to “Truth or Dare” was an eye roll at its conclusion. My FitBit actually logged the experience as a 100-minute nap. Other than a single, solid jump scare,...

  • 'Sgt. Stubby: An American Hero,' a true story about a WWI dog soldier gets animated

    'Sgt. Stubby: An American Hero,' a true story about a WWI dog soldier gets animated

    The true tale of a friendly stray mutt turned war hero is the kind of story built for cinematic adaptation. But was it built for animation? Director Richard Lanni, who has worked on documentary films and series about World War II, co-wrote “Sgt. Stubby: An American Hero” with veteran and Hollywood...

  • Indie horror film 'The Endless' brilliantly questions uncertainty of memory

    Indie horror film 'The Endless' brilliantly questions uncertainty of memory

    The magnificent indie horror film “The Endless” begins with two brothers receiving a strange message, drawing them back to the apocalyptic cult they escaped a decade ago. As the siblings settle back into their old compound, their former friends are such good company that the two start to wonder:...

  • 'Belle de Jour' is a sexy but sad drama

    'Belle de Jour' is a sexy but sad drama

    A new restoration of the 1967 film “Belle de Jour” opens Friday. Below is The Times' original review from Dec. 19, 1968. It is one of life’s surprising ironies that the great Spanish director Luis Buñuel, having turned out a succession of masterpieces with no particular box office movie, should...

  • Moving documentary 'This Is Home: A Refugee Story' captures plight of Syrians in Baltimore

    Moving documentary 'This Is Home: A Refugee Story' captures plight of Syrians in Baltimore

    The small industry of documentaries about Syria shouldn’t deter you from the affecting pull of “This Is Home: A Refugee Story,” Alexandra Shiva’s heartwarming if conventional portrait of four refugee Syrian families navigating new lives in Baltimore. Taking place over an eight-month span in which...

  • 'Aardvark' is a sluggish, uncertain family drama

    'Aardvark' is a sluggish, uncertain family drama

    Despite a strong lead cast and good intentions, “Aardvark” is a drag. Writer-director Brian Shoaf may have much to say about family dysfunction and its emotional effects but never finds a persuasive enough way to mine this oft-tread territory. The sluggishly paced film’s split perspective adds...

  • 'Wildling' offers a darker, artier take on a classic Hollywood premise: the misunderstood teen

    'Wildling' offers a darker, artier take on a classic Hollywood premise: the misunderstood teen

    English actress Bel Powley has such an otherworldly screen presence that she’s an ideal heroine for any supernatural thriller. In director Fritz Böhm’s “Wildling,” Powley plays Anna, a teenager who’s spent her entire life imprisoned in the woods, receiving regular injections from a man claiming...

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