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  • Charming 'Deli Man' takes a hearty look at the kosher deli
    Charming 'Deli Man' takes a hearty look at the kosher deli

    In 1931, New York City's Department of Public Markets listed 1,550 kosher delicatessens in the five boroughs alone. Today there are an estimated 150 in all of North America. Much to its credit, the documentary "Deli Man" wisely chooses not to bemoan the decline but to celebrate the robust...

  • 'The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel' overstays its welcome
    'The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel' overstays its welcome

    Honestly, when a sequel is called "Second Best" the joke is just right there, waiting. And so when it turns out that "The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel" is, in fact, a lesser follow-up to its surprise 2012 hit predecessor, it tests one's sense of restraint not to go right for the obvious...

  • 'That Guy' deserves recognition
    'That Guy' deserves recognition

    A fan letter to the character actor whose familiar mug has popped up in more than 175 movies and countless TV shows, the documentary "That Guy Dick Miller" aims to finally give the still-working 86-year-old his due.

  • 'Unfinished Business' is indeed unfinished
    'Unfinished Business' is indeed unfinished

    The piece of business that's most unfinished in the desperate comedy "Unfinished Business" is the wan hodgepodge of a script by Steve Conrad, a talented screenwriter ("The Promotion," "The Pursuit of Happyness") who should've known better. It's remarkable to think star Vince Vaughn, helmer...

  • Assured 'Straight Outta Tompkins' debut a bit ham-handed
    Assured 'Straight Outta Tompkins' debut a bit ham-handed

    Newcomer Zephyr Benson recalls the young Harmony Korine — not the director who earned Terrence Malick comparisons with "Gummo" but the screenwriting wunderkind behind Larry Clark's "Kids." About a teenager's descent into the drug underworld, Benson's "Straight Outta Tompkins" undeniably...

  • 'Honest Liar' seeks truth in illusion
    'Honest Liar' seeks truth in illusion

    Well before he left home at 17 to join a carnival, James Randi knew that magic was his calling. It became his moral cause too: After pulling off his own shtick as a "mind reader," the Amazing Randi set out to expose how various brands of spiritualism are built on subterfuge and cheap tricks.

  • 'Wild Canaries' sings an old suspense-comedy tune
    'Wild Canaries' sings an old suspense-comedy tune

    Attempting to capture the screwball essence of the old-school suspense-comedy, most blatantly Woody Allen's "Manhattan Murder Mystery," Lawrence Michael Levine's flighty "Wild Canaries" lacks the filmmaking discipline required to pay effective homage.

  • Redemption tale 'Two Men in Town' is an uneven mix
    Redemption tale 'Two Men in Town' is an uneven mix

    The setting is striking, the cast impressive. But "Two Men in Town," a drama that's built on dread and circles the question of redemption for a newly released prisoner, falls short of the mythic territory it aspires to.

  • 'Mark DeFriest' documents a Kafkaesque tale of imprisonment
    'Mark DeFriest' documents a Kafkaesque tale of imprisonment

    Like many of the best documentaries, "The Life and Mind of Mark DeFriest" recounts a real-life story that's stranger than fiction. To that end, producer-director Gabriel London's fascinating film tracks the astounding journey of "one of the country's most notorious prisoners," Mark DeFriest.

  • ''71' delivers 100% tension amid 'the Troubles' in Ireland
    ''71' delivers 100% tension amid 'the Troubles' in Ireland

    An incendiary film that takes off like a house afire, "'71" is a tense thriller from Britain that so adroitly joins physical intensity, emotional authenticity and political acuity that you may find yourself forgetting to take a breath.

  • Will Smith and Margot Robbie sizzle in the irresistible 'Focus'
    Will Smith and Margot Robbie sizzle in the irresistible 'Focus'

    "Focus," the new rom-com-con — as in romantic comedy-con artist caper — is an irresistible reminder of all the reasons we first fell for the Fresh Prince so many years ago.

  • Devastating 'Hunting Ground' documents shocking prevalence of campus rape
    Devastating 'Hunting Ground' documents shocking prevalence of campus rape

    Documentary director Kirby Dick and producer Amy Ziering can often be found in the eye of a hurricane. Three years ago, they teamed up on "The Invisible War," and now they are back with the equally devastating "The Hunting Ground."

  • 'The Salvation' a western that gets lost in the genre
    'The Salvation' a western that gets lost in the genre

    The simplicity of an old-school western with one good loner facing down a relentless outlaw can fool you into thinking these films are easy to make. From classics such as "High Noon" and "Shane" to Sergio Leone's bloody spaghetti westerns, they tend to be short on dialogue and long on mood,...

  • 'On the Way to School' a lesson in determination

    Carpooling isn't an option for Jackson, Zahira, Carlos and Samuel, the students profiled in the stirring, tenderly observed French documentary "On the Way to School."

  • 'Hacker's Game' doesn't quite click
    'Hacker's Game' doesn't quite click

    In "Hacker's Game," self-styled Internet activist Soyan (Chris Schellenger) lands a job at BL Reputation Management after he's caught breaching its IT system and potentially exposing sensitive information about its clients. The company specializes in creating new identities and rewriting...

  • Deprogramming is hard work in 'Faults'
    Deprogramming is hard work in 'Faults'

    When a down-on-his-luck expert in cult deprogramming tackles a tough case in "Faults," the results are unsettling — for him, if not the audience. The wan drama is enlivened by bursts of black comedy, some bits more effective than others, and though it ultimately disappoints, there's...

  • Watchful 'Buzzard' keeps you guessing
    Watchful 'Buzzard' keeps you guessing

    Tough to categorize, tougher to shrug off, "Buzzard" firmly places young indie filmmaker Joel Potrykus on the ones-to-watch list.

  • 'Road Hard' starts and stops en route to sweet destination
    'Road Hard' starts and stops en route to sweet destination

    Jokes, anger and sentimentality mix uneasily in comedian Adam Carolla's directorial debut (with co-writer Kevin Hench), "Road Hard." Carolla plays embittered, divorced, near-has-been stand-up Bruce Madsen, once the co-host of a hit TV show but since sidelined to the lonely, city-hopping club...

  • 'Kidnapping Mr. Heineken' brews up a B-movie crime tale
    'Kidnapping Mr. Heineken' brews up a B-movie crime tale

    "Kidnapping Mr. Heineken" is exactly what it promises, a story about the 1982 abduction of Dutch brewery mogul Freddy Heineken by a band of five desperate, tight-knit criminal novices.

  • 'Hayride 2' takes mayhem into the hospital
    'Hayride 2' takes mayhem into the hospital

    Taking place in the immediate aftermath of the original, "Hayride 2" continues after a brief recap as survivors from the Alabama-set slasher recover from shell shock in a dilapidated hospital while the imposing and apparently indestructible serial killer pulls a Hannibal Lecter and wakes up...

  • Authenticity in 'Final Hours' lends an upside to doomsday film

    In the grimly involving "These Final Hours," the fiery effects of a crash-landed asteroid are wiping out the planet and heading for their last devastating stop: Australia. And there's nothing anyone in the coastal city of Perth, where the film is vividly set, can do but wait. Oh, and go...

  • 'Lazarus Effect' breathes some life into medical thriller
    'Lazarus Effect' breathes some life into medical thriller

    If "Flatliners" had been directed by John Carpenter (in his budget-conscious mode), it may have felt something like "The Lazarus Effect," a tense, efficient medical thriller best enjoyed sans microscope.

  • 'Maps to the Stars' a nightmarish tour of Hollywood narcissism
    'Maps to the Stars' a nightmarish tour of Hollywood narcissism

    In its own disturbing, slithery way, the train-wreck watchable melodrama "Maps to the Stars" is as much a horror show as any that the film's director, David Cronenberg, has helmed over his long and provocative career.

  • 'Queen & Country' a so-so sequel to 'Hope and Glory'
    'Queen & Country' a so-so sequel to 'Hope and Glory'

    John Boorman's 1987 masterpiece "Hope and Glory" was autobiographical gold, a young boy's fevered view of the London Blitz: surviving Nazi bombs was fun, but a family on edge? Yikes.

  • Aging protagonists in 'Roxie' slowed by dated premise
    Aging protagonists in 'Roxie' slowed by dated premise

    It's so rare for an American film to boast a pair of 60-year-old protagonists, you wish "Roxie" had been much better than the squirm-inducing, aging-white-male fantasy that emerges.

  • 'Wyrmwood: Road of the Dead' breathes life into zombie genre
    'Wyrmwood: Road of the Dead' breathes life into zombie genre

    Has every zombie story been told? Probably. Die-rise-chomp doesn't offer much variation. But there will always be a committed few who approach this popular horror subset with the enthusiasm and insouciance of successful used-car sales folk.

  • 'Drunktown's Finest' a didactic look at Navajo life
    'Drunktown's Finest' a didactic look at Navajo life

    "Longmire" has done an admirable job portraying Native Americans, but one TV series is hardly enough to sustain a presence in the public consciousness. That's why it's crucial to make room for something like "Drunktown's Finest" by Navajo filmmaker Sydney Freeland as part of the American...

  • Even as an exploitation-vengeance film, 'Everly' repulses
    Even as an exploitation-vengeance film, 'Everly' repulses

    The strained, hyperviolent shoot-em-up "Everly," featuring Salma Hayek as a retribution-fueled sex slave trying to escape her apartment prison, feels precision-engineered for a morally torn fanboy who likes the idea of female empowerment but needs it served with a heavy dose of torture porn and...

  • 'Out of the Dark' brilliantly shot, poorly executed
    'Out of the Dark' brilliantly shot, poorly executed

    At almost every juncture in "Out of the Dark," a ghost thriller set in Colombia, something textured and evocative — a poor village, a dark old house, a menacing jungle — is beautifully photographed. Nearly everything else (story, direction, performances, scares) is thuddingly...

  • Ideas are scarce in 'Ana Maria in Novela Land'
    Ideas are scarce in 'Ana Maria in Novela Land'

    There's nothing particularly transporting about "Ana Maria in Novela Land," a slight, one-gag comedy about a telenovela-obsessed young woman who magically trades places with the show's femme fatale star.

  • The ethnic wall is steep in the engaging but uneven 'Anita Ho'
    The ethnic wall is steep in the engaging but uneven 'Anita Ho'

    The engaging if uneven "Anita Ho" is a kind of Asian American "Meet the Parents" — call it "Guess Who's Coming to Dim Sum" — based on "some true events" of the comedy's married costars and cowriters, Steve Myung and Lina So Myung. Although the film purposefully traffics in...

  • 'Boy Meets Girl' a timeless yet timely tale of love, friendship
    'Boy Meets Girl' a timeless yet timely tale of love, friendship

    The oft-used expression "love is love" is given a thorough and quite beautiful workout by writer-director Eric Schaeffer in the captivating "Boy Meets Girl." The profoundly sensitive, often wryly funny look at friendship, romance, sexual attraction and gender identity carries themes and...

  • Fudged or not, 'Kung Fu Elliot' is amusing take on a big dream
    Fudged or not, 'Kung Fu Elliot' is amusing take on a big dream

    The already murky parameters of contemporary reality filmmaking are further fudged in "Kung Fu Elliot," an entertaining documentary following two years in the life of an idealistic amateur filmmaker intent on becoming Canada's first action hero.

  • 'The Business of Disease' is big on propaganda, not facts
    'The Business of Disease' is big on propaganda, not facts

    The healthcare documentary "The Business of Disease" seeks to cast suspicion on Big Pharma, but it proves to be a glorified PowerPoint presentation interspersed with commentary by people of questionable qualifications who aim to incite paranoia with propaganda, conspiracy theories and straw-man...

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