Movie Reviews

Latest Movie Reviews

  • 'Black Panther' is a royally imaginative standout in the Marvel Cinematic Universe

    'Black Panther' is a royally imaginative standout in the Marvel Cinematic Universe

    We didn't know we'd been yearning for it until it arrived, but now that it's here it’s unmistakable that the wait for a film like "Black Panther" has been way longer than it should have been. On one level this is the next-in-line Marvel Universe story of the ruler of the mythical African kingdom...

  • The gently amusing "Early Man" showcases Nick Park's offbeat humor

    The gently amusing "Early Man" showcases Nick Park's offbeat humor

    If just hearing animator Nick Park's name doesn't bring an anticipatory smile to your face, watching a few minutes of the thoroughly amusing "Early Man" will do the trick. A kind of caliph of claymation best known as the creative force behind the comical cheese-loving duo of Wallace and Gromit,...

  • Unhappy lives and lacerating truths in Alex Ross Perry's exquisite 'Golden Exits'

    Unhappy lives and lacerating truths in Alex Ross Perry's exquisite 'Golden Exits'

    The unnervingly talented 33-year-old writer-director Alex Ross Perry seems intent on liberating American independent cinema from the tyranny of “likable characters,” one movie at a time. The men and women moving through his brittle, blistering dark comedies stake little claim on our affection,...

  • François Ozon's psychosexual thriller 'Double Lover' is a twisty, trashy delight

    François Ozon's psychosexual thriller 'Double Lover' is a twisty, trashy delight

    Among its many virtues, François Ozon’s wickedly uninhibited “Double Lover” brings startling new meaning to the term “opening shot.” From its first post-credits frame, a small trompe l’oeil display of cinematic invention and gynecological technique, this cracked mirror of a movie knows exactly...

  • Spiritual depth lifts otherwise muddy 'Hidden Light'

    Spiritual depth lifts otherwise muddy 'Hidden Light'

    The Aussie crime-thriller “Hidden Light” manages to be an involving ride despite its sometimes murky storytelling and elliptical character connections. Writer-director Aaron Kamp (he also edited) weaves an effective spell of dread as this dark tale of revenge, redemption and emotional unraveling...

  • In the grand, gross tradition of 'The Aristocrats' comes the Sklar brothers' 'Poop Talk'

    In the grand, gross tradition of 'The Aristocrats' comes the Sklar brothers' 'Poop Talk'

    Featuring appearances by Kumail Nanjiani, Pete Holmes, Nikki Glaser and many others, “Poop Talk” arrives on screen in the grand, gross tradition of “The Aristocrats.” In this documentary produced by the Sklar brothers, comedians tell one-liners and elaborate anecdotes about the bodily function...

  • Crime drama 'Honor Up' revisits the '90s with uninspired results

    Crime drama 'Honor Up' revisits the '90s with uninspired results

    There’s a distinction to be made between old school and old hat, but it’s lost on “Honor Up,” a criminally inept throwback to ’90s urban gangsta movie posturing that plays like a stone-faced version of the 1996 Wayans brothers spoof, “Don’t Be a Menace to South Central While Drinking Your Juice...

  • Christian and Anastasia tie the knot in the sublimely ridiculous 'Fifty Shades Freed'

    Christian and Anastasia tie the knot in the sublimely ridiculous 'Fifty Shades Freed'

    In “Fifty Shades of Grey,” the first of E.L. James’ romance novels to dominate the bestseller lists, the brooding Seattle billionaire Christian Grey informs his new paramour, Anastasia Steele, of his general lack of interest in “vanilla sex” — traditional, kink-free intercourse unmediated by cuffs,...

  • 'The 15:17 to Paris' turns a headline grabbing true story into a lackluster Hollywood movie

    'The 15:17 to Paris' turns a headline grabbing true story into a lackluster Hollywood movie

    In 1921, Louis Sonney, having single-handedly captured bandit Roy Gardner, "the most hunted man in Pacific Coast history," played himself in a film called “Crime Doesn’t Pay” and toured the nation with it on the Pantages vaudeville circuit. In 1955, Congressional Medal of Honor winner Audie Murphy,...

  • 'Still/Born' hones in on the nightmares of new parents

    'Still/Born' hones in on the nightmares of new parents

    First-time feature director Brandon Christensen brings some impressive snap to the postnatal spook-show “Still/Born.” Christensen and co-writer Colin Minihan mostly repeat old beats from suburban supernatural horror films like “Poltergeist” and “Paranormal Activity,” but strong actors and lean,...

  • The low-key musical 'Becks' is messy but authentic and compelling

    The low-key musical 'Becks' is messy but authentic and compelling

    Though the low-key musical “Becks” packs a lot into its first four minutes — including a cross-country move, a breakup and a drive halfway back across the States — it spends the rest of its time leisurely exploring the titular character’s return to her hometown of St. Louis. It’s all set to an...

  • Romantic comedy 'Signature Move' goes to the mat for love

    Romantic comedy 'Signature Move' goes to the mat for love

    Adding wrestling to the rom-com mix doesn’t quite disguise how by-the-numbers this girl-meets-girl story is. But with its likable characters, local color and cross-cultural sparks, “Signature Move” has unsentimental sweetness and pluck. The Chicago-set romance involves vivacious Chicana bookstore...

  • 'Mama Africa: Miriam Makeba' pays tribute to late South African singer

    'Mama Africa: Miriam Makeba' pays tribute to late South African singer

    As the fortunes of people change, the music that propels them lives on to both remind and inspire. That is the abiding takeaway from Mika Kaurismäki’s appealing 2011 documentary “Mama Africa: Miriam Makeba,” about the late, internationally renowned singer from Johannesburg, South Africa, whose...

  • The diverting rom-com 'When We First Met' zigs when you expect a zag

    The diverting rom-com 'When We First Met' zigs when you expect a zag

    The high-concept romantic comedy “When We First Met,” directed by Ari Sandel and written by John Whittington, gets off to a precarious start with a time-traveling protagonist trying to land his dream girl. The premise seems ripped from Richard Curtis’ “About Time” — it’s a millennial “Groundhog...

  • The kids are not all right in 'Bomb City' — and neither is the movie

    The kids are not all right in 'Bomb City' — and neither is the movie

    “Bomb City” just keeps on having its Caucasian adolescents scream into the ether until you get it: angry middle-American teenagers are all not alike! First-time feature director Jameson Brooks’ overwrought indie melodrama turns a real-life case from 1997 of white-on-white violence between combat-booted...

  • What's real, what's not is half the fun in 'Fake Blood'

    What's real, what's not is half the fun in 'Fake Blood'

    “Fake Blood” is a clever hybrid of earnest first-person documentary, gory B-horror and metafictional mediation. Director Rob Grant’s slippery presentation muddles his point — if he has one — but it’s fun to guess at what’s a put-on. Taken at face value, “Fake Blood” is about what happens when Grant...

  • 'Entanglement' is a deceptively profound, offbeat comedy

    'Entanglement' is a deceptively profound, offbeat comedy

    What happens if you find yourself falling for the sister you never knew you had? What if she’s not really your sister? What if she may not really exist at all? Those are just a few of the thought bubbles floated in “Entanglement,” an offbeat, slow-gelling comedy that creeps up on you in deceptively...

  • Is Whitney Cummings empowering or pathologizing ‘The Female Brain’?

    Is Whitney Cummings empowering or pathologizing ‘The Female Brain’?

    Director, star and co-writer Whitney Cummings picks “The Female Brain” for her directorial debut, adapting Louann Brizendine’s pop science book with Neal Brennan, who co-stars. The film (and book) uses evolutionary biology to dissect the cultural stereotypes and assumptions about the way women...

  • Bollywood-style 'Basmati Blues' with Brie Larson is a big miss

    Bollywood-style 'Basmati Blues' with Brie Larson is a big miss

    Bollywood meets “La La Land,” not in a fortuitous way, via “Basmati Blues,” a broadly played though vibrantly photographed musical romantic-comedy that fails to find a happy medium between cute-and-clever and simply cloying. A spirited Brie Larson plays Linda Watt, an accomplished but naïve New...

  • Sci-fi film 'Black Hollow Cage' will leave you uncomfortably numb

    Sci-fi film 'Black Hollow Cage' will leave you uncomfortably numb

    Writer-director Sadrac González puts an austere, arty spin on a solid science-fiction premise in “Black Hollow Cage,” a time-travel movie more in the mold of Andrei Tarkovsky than “Back to the Future.” The film looks stunning and presents some provocative ideas, but González's quietly contemplative...

  • Unexpected entrepreneur and activist gets epic musical treatment in India's 'Padman'

    Unexpected entrepreneur and activist gets epic musical treatment in India's 'Padman'

    Its subject may seem an unlikely choice for epic movie treatment, but “Padman,” inspired by the true story of activist Arunachalam Muruganantham’s mission to bring affordable sanitary pads to the female masses of India, proves quite the entertaining, daresay absorbing, movie. How the title character,...

  • Lackluster 'Monster Family' is no graveyard smash

    Lackluster 'Monster Family' is no graveyard smash

    The colorful animated comedy “Monster Family” relies so heavily on pratfalls, slapstick and other bits of rude or raucous action that it undercuts whatever good intentions its workable story may have had. The result: an anything-goes hodgepodge in need of a smarter, tighter narrative and more deftly...

  • No pleasure, guilty or otherwise, in reality TV satire 'The Next Big Thing'

    No pleasure, guilty or otherwise, in reality TV satire 'The Next Big Thing'

    Re-creating the experience of being stuck at a party filled with terrible people — without any free drinks — “The Next Big Thing” is 84 minutes of unpleasantness. This comedy is populated by terrible characters, whose only saving grace is that they aren’t real people (nor do they feel like real...

  • A sci-fi franchise gets lost in space with Netflix's 'The Cloverfield Paradox'

    A sci-fi franchise gets lost in space with Netflix's 'The Cloverfield Paradox'

    The “Cloverfield” movies so far have been governed by a fairly simple premise — an alien invasion of Earth is underway. But the films’ distribution and marketing strategies have been anything but straightforward. As a storyteller, the producer J.J. Abrams has proved himself to be a serviceable...

EDITION: California | U.S. & World
68°