“Can I put on some real clothes now?”
This is the most purely entertaining film of the year, a joyous space romp that all but explodes off the screen with lots of action and even more charm. Our recent superheros have been complex, often anguished, even downright tortured. […]
There are a lot of challenges in taking on the life story of James Brown, known variously as the Hardest Working Man in Show Business, the Godfather of Soul, Mr. Dynamite and others with variations on the term “Funk.” First […]
Woody Allen’s 44th film is an amuse bouche without a meal, a dollop of whipped cream without the dessert underneath. In last year’s film, “Blue Jasmine,” the strength of the performances (especially Oscar-winner Cate Blanchett) and the resonance of its […]
Brendan Gleeson gives a magnificent performance as a warm-hearted priest in a sad and damaged world in “Calvary,” opening next week across the country. Here’s an exclusive peek behind the scenes, featuring Gleeson and Director of the Pauline Center for […]
I love this short film from Danielle Lurie about a young woman who needs to learn to listen to her heart, with a wonderful performance by Montse Muñoz.
I always enjoy Luc Besson’s stylish car chases and shootouts. I like his use of locations, his strong female characters, and unexpected flashes of sentiment in the midst of mayhem. While I found much to like in this story about a […]
A second marriage is, as Samuel Johnson famously said, “The triumph of hope over experience.” And as lyricist Sammy Cahn wrote in the song Bing Crosby sang in “High Time,” “Love is lovelier the second time around.” In this slight […]
My intention was to review Zach Braff’s new film without mentioning the controversy he stirred up in funding it via Kickstarter. My view was that what mattered was the movie itself, and the kerfluffle over how it was all paid […]
Screenwriter Aline Brosh McKenna (“We Bought a Zoo,” “The Devil Wears Prada”) talks about inspiration in this latest in the terrific Academy Originals series from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
“A boy’s will is the wind’s will/And the thoughts of youth are long, long thoughts.” (Longfellow) We first see Mason (Ellar Coltrane) lying on the ground, looking up at the sky, and it is clear that his thoughts are very […]
The visuals are stunning, the details are witty, the 3D effects are splendid, the songs are lively, the voice actors are top-notch, but the storyline feels like an episode of “Thomas the Tank Engine.” That’s when it was still analog […]
It is literally….very instructive!
Weird Al Yankovic, gets weird about Pharrell Williams’ ubiquitous “Happy,” with some help from Aisha Tyler, Margaret Cho, Eric Stonestreet, Kristen Schaal, and Jack Black! Update: I am pleased that Weird Al, who is the gentlest soul alive, has apologized for the thoughtless use […]
Colbie Caillat is not the only one paying tribute to the full range of female beauty with a new video. John Legend’s “You & I” is a deeply moving tribute to the woman he loves, who appears in the video […]
All hail Caesar! The intelligence-enhanced ape from Rise of the Planet of the Apes takes center stage in this sequel, which begins ten years after the last film. The virus we saw infecting the human population has now wiped out […]
This is what we are celebrating today. Happy 4th!
A safe and happy celebration to all!
Roger Ebert, the most influential film critic of all time, gets the film he deserves directed by one of the many filmmakers he championed, Steve James (“Hoop Dreams,” “The Interrupters”). It is co-produced by Martin Scorsese, whose emotional appearance in […]
In this short from the terrific Academy Originals series, Seth Rogen says that it is friendship that is at the center of the stories he likes to write. [Warning: Some strong language.] “Academy Originals” is AMPAS’s first original digital series. […]
A French graphic novel by Jacques Lob about a post-apocalyptic train containing all that is left of humanity is now the first English-language film from Korean director Joon-ho Bong (“Mother,” “The Host”), with an international cast that includes Chris Evans, Jamie Bell, Ed […]
“It’s delicate,” a songwriter tells a performer who has (literally) amped up her gentle ballad into a power anthem. The songwriter is Greta (Keira Knightly) and the performer (Maroon 5’s Adam Levine) is her ex. They were together for five […]
Top talent is wasted in this un-funny and disappointing vanity production from Melissa McCarthy and her husband, Ben Falcone. They wrote it, or, more accurately, assembled it from pieces of other films, some better (“Thelma and Louise”), some even worse […]
Three kids go on a wild adventure and make an extra-terrestrial friend in this updated take on films like “E.T.” and “The Goonies.” It being 2014, that means that the found footage genre, pioneered in “The Blair Witch Project” and […]
Always brought in Lauren Greenfield, is an award-winning American artist, and documentary photographer and filmmaker, to create their #likeagirl videos. What do we think of when we hear “throw like a girl,” “run like a girl,” or “fight like a girl?” […]
Glen Keane is one of the all-time greats of old-school hand-drawn animation. He was responsible for characters like Pocahontas and Ariel. Much as I love computer-animation, there are some things only a hand can do, and his hand is one […]
The script for the new Transformers movie is basically: Noise. Explosions. Chases. Guy-on-guy fighting. Transformer-on-Transformer fighting. Brief pauses for father-teenage daughter conflict, father-boyfriend of the teenage daughter conflict, paranoia-inducing rogue government operatives, paranoia-inducing megalomaniacal one-percenter, and a flicker of a […]
This should give you a clue.
Winston Churchill famously said that history is written by the victors. In movie terms, that means that when you see the names of just two of the original Four Seasons listed as the film’s producers, it is clear we are […]
A romantic comedy based on Steve Harvey’s book of advice for women about relationships has now led to a sequel based on finding the slightest possible premise for getting the gang back together to see if they can create some […]
Seriously, don’t read this review until after you’ve seen the movie. The less you know, the more you will enjoy this nifty thriller, which craftily makes the most of its micro-budget to maximize a deliciously mind-bending story. As in all […]
OK Go consistently produces the most creative music videos around — and some great songs as well. Here’s their latest, fun with all kinds of optical illusions, and shot in one take. And, for a refresher, two of my other […]
It can be treacherous to go meta in a sequel, especially in the sequel to movie based on a television series that was already pretty meta, with a climax that included appearances by Johnny Depp and some of the other […]
This utterly beguiling, comfort-food remake of the French-Canadian film La Grande Seduction is about adorable residents of an impoverished fishing harbor in Canada who come up with a plan to bring a recycling factory and all of its jobs to their town. […]
“How to Train Your Dragon 2″ is all fans of the original were hoping and has a good shot at being not just the best animated film of the year but one of the best in any category and for […]
When I get stuck in an airport, I usually buy trashy magazines and trashier food. This man made a brilliant video.
An outstanding cast, a weighty subject, and the sincerest of intentions are almost enough to make up for an undercooked, stuntish, and stagey script in this story about a man who decides to die and the family he leaves behind. […]
Neil deGrasse Tyson’s marvelous “Cosmos” reboot comes out on DVD and Blu-Ray this week and it is well worth adding to every family and classroom library. It is a very worthy successor to Carl Sagan’s classic PBS series of the […]
Did you see Hugh Jackman hopping through the opening number on the Tony Awards? Top that next year NPH! You might have caught a glimpse of the movie dance Jackman paid tribute to as he hopped by, the wonderful Bobby […]
Are there moments you would like to relive, so you could make a different choice? It’s a universal fantasy that has played out many times in books and films. It can be a gift (About Time). It can be a […]
What a refreshing change to have a witty grown-up love story in the midst of summer movie season. Popping up in the middle of monsters, superheroes, and special effects is this endearing romance built around what Shakespeare (and George Orwell) […]
The 2010 Supreme Court decision in the Citizens United case opened the door — no, opened the floodgates — to unlimited and unaccountable political spending by corporations and wealthy individuals. The case itself rose from a film about Hillary Clinton […]
What makes bad guys bad? We’ve always been told that Sleeping Beauty was cursed at birth by a wicked fairy caught up in a jealous fury because she was not invited to the christening. In the classic 1959 Disney animated […]
When Seth MacFarlane tops his unprecedented success on television with three animated series (“Family Guy,” “The Cleveland Show,” “American Dad”) and his first feature film was a blockbuster — the talking teddy bear movie Ted is the highest grossing R […]
I Like Giving is a non-profit devoted to inspiring us to be kinder. For Memorial Day, watch the short video about a veteran in need and a man who helped him, changing both their lives.
Get ready for what looks like this summer’s most exciting animated film, “How to Train Your Dragons 2,” with this new DVD/Blu-Ray release from the related television series, “Defenders of Berk.” And here’s a sneak peek at the film!
X-Men fans will see this film anticipating the pleasure of watching their favorite X-Men characters in one of the comic book series most acclaimed storylines: the time-bending saga of a desperate trip to the past to undo one tragic mistake. […]
Oh, if perennial Razzie-winner Adam Sandler must keep making movies, I suppose they are less terrible when he includes his sweetest co-star, Drew Barrymore. She always brings out the best in him (“The Wedding Singer,” “50 First Dates”). The imperishable […]
Many thanks to my friend Leslie Combemale for sharing this adorable reminder that we are better off experiencing the world directly instead of staring at screens.
“Your voice is worthwhile. Have faith in it.”
All the basic ingredients are there for a slam-bang summer monster movie. We have people in helmets and hazmat suits running to try to get away from something scary. We have a scientist pleading with a military officer to trust […]
The folks behind feel-good, based-on-a-true-sports-Cinderella-story, Disney movies “The Rookie” and “Miracle” are back with another. This time it is the story of a real life Jerry Maguire sports agent named J.B. Bernstein (a terrific Jon Hamm) who has fallen on hard […]
You’re writer/director/actor Jon Favreau. You’ve been making big-budget films, mostly huge blockbuster successes (“Elf,” “Iron Man”), but also a big-budget bust (Cowboys & Aliens, which I liked). This might put you in mind of a simpler, more satisfyingly creative time […]
Kay Robertson has made a short video for “I am Second” with some frank talk about marriage, motherhood, and her struggles with depression.
Writer Misan Sagay, director Amma Asante, and actress Gugu Mbatha-Raw have created a film of exceptional understanding, honoring the life of the real-life woman who inspired the story with intelligence, sensitivity, and insight that illuminate her time and our own. Mbatha-Raw […]
“Oh, Toto,” says Dorothy (“Glee’s” Lea Michelle), “This doesn’t look like the Oz I remember.” Tell it, sister. Why why why why why take the most beloved family film of all time, based on a cherished book, and make a […]
I admit it. My always-thin ability to finds humor in movies about irresponsible jerks who won’t grow up has long since evaporated, and if I ever found irresponsibility entertaining, I can no longer remember why. Though I suspect this development […]
Here’s another inconvenient truth. Our food is killing us. And that’s because of something even more poisonous, the corruption of our political system through diversion of corporate money to politicians through campaign contributions and lobbying. Laurie David, producer of the […]
“Dark Universe,” currently playing in the planetariums at The Einstein Planetarium of the Smithsonian’s Air and Space Museum, the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, and the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco, is a thrilling […]
“Irreplaceable” is indefensible. My parents taught me that you automatically lose an argument if you (1) fail to state the other side’s views in a manner they approve or (2) fail to attribute to the other side the same good […]
It may feel like a kinder, gentler, sweeter version of “Adventures in Babysitting” or “The Hangover,” but this charming story manages to avoid getting syrupy, even when everyone settles down in the midst of chaos for a little talk about […]
And catch the Cantina Band auditions, featuring Chris Daughtry, Ben Folds, Liz Phair, Reggie Watts, Mark McGrath, Jordin Sparks, Rick Springfield, Weird Al, Lisa Loeb, and mc chris.
This is the true story of two women who share a goal but meet just once, for a few moments. Oscar winner Helen Hunt plays scientist Dr. Mary-Claire King, whose pioneering research led to one of the most significant medical […]
I love it when a song and video inspires tributes that pop up all over YouTube. And Pharrell Williams’ “Happy,” an irresistible tune with a simple video of people dancing, has inspired people all over the world to do their […]
This is not the angsty Spidey we know. Just like the old television series theme song said, Peter Parker is “your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man.” We first see him exuberantly swinging through the skyscrapers, deliciously vertiginous in 3D. His disposition is […]
The latest in a female-centered revenge comedy genre that extends from “9 to 5″ through “She-Devil,” “The Other Woman” is intended to be a merry little tale of female empowerment and grrrl power. Instead it is soggy, haphazard, poorly paced […]
Vivian Maier was a Chicago-area nanny. Only the children in her care knew how much she loved taking pictures. After her death, the possessions she had in storage were auctioned off and a man named John Maloof bought some boxes […]
Why do we keep making movies about the Holocaust? Because we are still trying to understand one of the most shocking, inhumane tragedies in history. Because it is the essence of heightened, dramatic storylines, with the most depraved real-life villains, […]
John Turturro wrote, directed, and stars in “Fading Gigolo,” a bittersweet meditation on the ways we seek and hide from intimacy, sometimes at the same time. Turturro plays Fioravante, a florist who works part-time for Murray (Woody Allen), the third-generation […]
Think of it as “Her 2: The Revenge of Him.” Or Samantha infected by Heartbleed. Just as in last holiday season’s Her, “Transcendence” is the story of an artificial intelligence contained in a computer program that becomes or is seen […]
This year’s Disney Nature release for Earth Day is “Bears,” the story of an Alaskan bear named Sky and her twin cubs, Scout and Amber, their trek from the den where they’ve hibernated all winter to a place where they […]
A movie like “Heaven is for Real” requires two different reviews, one for believers/fans of the 1.5 million-volume best-selling book, one for those who are unfamiliar with the book and whose views about faith and heaven and proof may differ […]
This haunting, provocative film is the essence of what it means to call a work of art “adult,” not because of its explicit nudity and sexual situations but because of the way it presents and engages with them. It is […]
Just because a South American frog has toxic venom that can cause instant death does not mean she cannot be adorably lovesick. Broadway belter Kristin Chenoweth (“Wicked,” “Glee”) steals the show right under the Brazil nut-cracking beaks of our old […]
How do you choose? That is a critical and daunting question for anyone. And a defining one, too. How can we take what we know now and figure out what we will need in the future? In this film, set […]
The people behind the marvelous 3D IMAx Born to be Wild have made another awwww-inspiring story of some of the world’s least-known and most adorable and intriguing creatures, the more than a hundred species of lemurs, found only on the […]
Errol Morris turns his famous “interrotron” camera on two-time Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld for something between a bookend and a counterpoint to his Oscar-winning The Fog of War: Eleven Lessons from the Life of Robert S. McNamara. But this […]
This time of year always makes me think of “Windy Day,” one of my favorite short films. John and Faith Hubley created this wonderfully impressionistic animation using a recording of their daughters playing together as a soundtrack.
“Noah” is a serious, thoughtful, reverent movie that, like its title character, wrestles with the big issues of morality, survivor guilt, and strengthening a connection to the divine. It is also a big, grand adventure with drama and special effects. […]
“Sabotage” begins with two painful images. A woman is being horribly tortured. And Arnold Schwarzenegger, as the man watching it happen on video, is trying to act. As generic as its title, “Sabotage” wastes no time or effort on such, […]
Another day, another movie based on darkly dystopic book trilogy with a brave and beautiful teenaged girl who is the only one who can save the world. This time it is Tris (Shailene Woodley), who lives in a post-apocalyptic Chicago, […]
The Muppets live up to the title in this adorable follow-up that is even truer to the essence of Muppetry than the Jason Segal predecessor because it puts the Muppets themselves at the heart of the story, not the humans. […]
First rule: do NOT call them bird watchers. These are seriously ornithophilic teenagers and the correct term is “birder.” Maybe one reason they like birds so much is that the three members of the high school birder society — all […]
What do the Simpsons and the LEGO movie characters have in common? A couch!
Writer/director Wes Anderson loves precious little worlds and his movies are not just created, they are curated. There’s a reason that this film is named for its location, not its characters or plot. Anderson is the master of “saudade,” the […]
Important tip: If the word “speed” is in the title of the movie, don’t make it over two hours long. And especially, don’t make it feel even longer than that. Clearly going for the “Fast and Furious” vibe with a […]
NOTE: I can’t pretend any objectivity here — I am a fan of the television series, a Kickstarter supporter of the film, and a friend of one of the producers. I think I would have been capable of writing a […]
Esquire has a fascinating story about a short film called “Black Angel,” “created to accompany The Empire Strikes Back in theaters. It was the directorial debut of Star Wars‘ pioneering set decorator Roger Christian and a special request by the big man himself, […]
The fabulous museum and garden at Delaware’s Wintherthur is well worth a visit, especially now through January 4, 2015, when 40 costumes from Downton Abbey will be on display. It is a spectacular show, brilliantly displayed. It covers the real-life […]
In this charming story, a man finds his life transformed by a robot pet.
Jay Ward’s irresistibly daffy cartoons of the early 1960’s were charming and witty, with a post-modern meta wink at the fourth wall, wacky puns, and jokes that kids would suddenly remember and understand years later. This reboot is smarmy, overblown, […]
Here’s a new term: this movie is neither a sequel nor a prequel to 300, the story of the 300 Spartans who died battling the vastly greater army of the Persians. This is a “side-quel,” a “meanwhile” story about what […]
I’ve got nothing against action movies that are dumb fun (see last week’s review of 3 Days to Kill). My bar is pretty low. I don’t ask them to make sense. But “Non-Stop” sinks to a level of ridiculousness that […]
“Son of God,” re-cut and expanded from the popular miniseries produced by Roma Downey and Mark Burnett, “The Bible,” tells the story of Jesus from birth to crucifixion and resurrection in a thoughtful, reverent, and dignified manner. This is a […]
Kevin Costner is back, big time, with five scheduled releases this year. It’s only February, and this is his second big spies-and-shoot-outs action film of 2014, following Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit. This one, from writer Luc Besson and director McG […]
In 79 AD Mount Vesuvius erupted, wiping out the city of Pompeii. Director Paul W.S. Anderson, who gave us movie versions of “Resident Evil” and “Mortal Kombat,” presents the story as a video game. If what you are looking for […]
An idealistic young couple from big cities moves to a tiny, economically depressed town in North Carolina for a project that will take advantage of what they think is “an untapped resource” — teenagers. Emily Polliton, TED talker and co-author […]
“Winter’s Tale,” based on the acclaimed novel by Mark Helprin is deeply romantic but also pretty daffy. There are exquisite images and some grand themes but also some clangers, some murky mishmash in the set-up, poorly designed special effects, and […]
Kevin Hart, who starred in the surprisingly successful “Ride Along” just last month, is back with a much sharper, funnier comedy that is ideal for making the best use of his brash, motormouth persona. Even more important, for the first […]
Scott Spencer’s book Endless Love is, as its title suggests, a deeply romantic story about a teenager utterly swept away by a love that consumes him, and ultimately everyone around him. When the girl’s father says he cannot see her, he […]
The last animated film personally overseen by Walt Disney is “The Jungle Book,” inspired by the Rudyard Kipling story of a boy abandoned in the forest who is raised by the animals. It has some of the most endearing and […]
First there was a play about what was not then yet called “hookup culture” or “booty calls” by pre-“Glengarry Glen Ross”/”The Verdict” David Mamet. The title was “Sexual Perversity in Chicago.” Both the title and the script were softened for […]
Many years ago, my husband and I attended an art auction at which one item was a pencil drawing of a peaceful river setting, made by an Austrian art student in the early 20th century: Adolf Hitler. The bidding opened […]
Everything is awesome in this fast, fresh, funny, and utterly adorable movie set in the vast world of LEGOs. Last year at Comic-Con the filmmakers said that there are two great things to do with LEGOs — you can follow […]
We’re ready to believe you! A fan-designed “Ghostbusters” LEGO kit is officially adopted — not the building, but the cars and the characters. Who you gonna call? These guys!
One hundred years ago this week, British music hall star Charlie Chaplin made his first Hollywood film, the silent “It’s a Living.” It would be a little while before his classic character of the little tramp really came together. He […]
The Ylvis song What Does the Fox Say is an international hit and there have been many parodies, like the Kerry Washington skit on SNL. I love this Quaker tribute to founder George Fox, funny, sweet, and inspiring at the same […]
On the surface, “Labor Day” feels like would-be Nicholas Sparks, a syrupy romance about two people with damaged hearts finding a healing love in a picturesque setting. But like a pretty chocolate candy with a filling that turns out to […]
A cast of exceptionally appealing performers and some very funny lines are not enough to make this raunchy comedy overcome its essential charmlessness. At its heart, it wants to be a romantic comedy, a chick flick from the perspective of […]
The delightful Be Kind Rewind introduced the concept of “sweding” a film — remaking it with whatever low-tech, analog materials are on hand. The makers of next week’s “Lego Movie” asked fans to “swede” their trailer and you must see the […]
Most associated with Steven Spielberg, the “dolly zoom” shot is the vertiginous technique that has the camera moving backward as the lens zooms in. Here’s a terrific compilation — hold on tight!
Vanessa Hudgens gives a touching and sensitive performance in this fact-based story of a pregnant, homeless teenager. Both Hudgens and writer/director Ron Krauss moved into a shelter so that they could do justice to the stories of these young women. […]
And the LA Times explains how they do it. As the film business has become an increasingly global one, [Rick] Dempsey’s job has become ever more complex, with languages in emerging territories added every year. The newest additions include Bengali, […]
What could be better than a 2 1/2 hour movie with every comedian and comic actor in Hollywood in a madcap masterpiece about the race to a hidden fortune? A new Blu-Ray edition with deleted scenes, commentary, and interviews! Directed […]
The Rijksmuseum museum in Holland took one Rembrandt painting from 1642, Night Watch and brought it to life the characters in a busy mall. Thanks to my mom for sending me this one!
There are three conclusions to draw from this reboot of Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan character. First, it plays like an infomercial for NSA access to, well, pretty much everything. Second, no matter how attractive the actors and how thrilling the […]
Ice Cube and Kevin Hart have such a devoted fan base that they can count on them to buy a ticket to anything they do, and that is pretty much what they have done here in a generic buddy cop […]
I miss the days when the economics of animation were so daunting that we were assured a certain level of quality. Yes, there were some low points that don’t even qualify for a Disney re-issue (I could find some affection […]
Writer George Northy and director Darren Stein manage to subvert and salute the traditions of the high school comedy in this smart, fresh, and funny story that shakes up the classic elements of teen movies but recognizes their eternal verities. […]
A compilation of worldwide YouTube content, the crowd-sourced documentary “Life in a Day” by Kevin Macdonald, and local footage by Jon Goodgion. Audio is the spoken word poem “Instructions For a Bad Day” by Shane Koyczan.
Director Renny Harlin has made a Hercules epic with drab, washed-out cinematography, poorly staged action scenes, incompetent acting, bad hair, terrible computer effects, and dialogue that lands more heavily than the title character’s punch. Even at just over 90 minutes […]
Director Peter Berg is as good as it gets when it comes to putting a particular kind of male chemistry on screen. If he was writing instead of filming, he would dunk his pen in testosterone, beard stubble, and sweat. […]
Here’s a treat to warm up this cold snap! This week’s case on “The Good Wife” concerned the use of a song on a “Glee”-style television show. The cast decided to engage in some very un-courtroom-like behavior. I got a […]
Ron Howard’s “Rush” was the story of the Formula One rivalry between the reckless and handsome James Hunt from Great Britain and the cool, hyper-rational Niki Lauda from Austria. In the extraordinary season of 1976, Lauda was in a terrible […]
From The Pet Collective: Kittens star in “The Lion King.” And puppies re-enact “Elf.”
Jordan Belfort is a selling machine the way a shark is a killing machine. Every single element of his being is optimally designed for just one purpose, with no extraneous or pesky attributes like a conscience to slow him down. […]
We all know what it feels like to be Walter Mitty, imagining ourselves as achievers and darers far beyond our normal lives. The original short story by James Thurber is about a middle-aged, hen-pecked man who daydreams about dashing adventures […]
“Transition objects” are usually thought of as the stuffed toys toddlers hold onto so as a way of feeling more secure as they begin to separate from their parents and navigate the bigger world. But we all have them. We […]
Not that this is going to come as a surprise to anyone, but this movie is not just bad, it is sad. The stars of two of the greatest boxing movies of all time are not just slumming here. They […]
Humorist James Thurber’s most famous short story is “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.” Like most of Thurber’s male characters, he was a milktoast, shy, repressed, and hen-pecked. On a shopping expedition with his wife, he daydreamed of adventure and […]
Dinosaur movies pretty much all have the same plot. Unless it is a fantasy like “Jurassic Park,” the story is pretty simple: the dinos have to migrate and there are a lot of encounters and adventures along the way. What […]
“Some of this actually happened,” the movie’s opening shot deadpans. It is true that the United States government both threatened and paid a con man to help them con some bigger fish and then accidentally ended up conning some of […]
Oscar Isaac gives the best performance of the year as the title character in the most intimate and profound movie yet from the Coen brothers. The story is set in the New York folk music world of 1961 and the […]
Will Ferrell and his crew beat the sophomore slump with just the right mix of stuff we want to see again (yes, there will be jazz flute, a rumble with the other news teams featuring wildly improbable surprise guest stars […]
“Contest” more than makes up for some first-time-filmmaker shortcomings with its sincerity and unexpected strengths in the storyline and cinematography. Tommy (Danny Flaherty) is a high school loner, often bullied by the swim team jocks led by Matt (Kenton Duty). […]
For most of this story, Walt Disney (Tom Hanks) and P.L. Travers (Emma Thompson) are on opposite sides. He has been trying for twenty years to persuade her to let him make a movie based on her books about the […]
Everybody ups his game in this second of the three-part Peter Jackson version of J.R.R. Tolkein’s The Hobbit; or, There and Back Again. The first one courageously tried out the new hyper-clear technology with twice as many frames per second […]
“Out of the Furnace” gets no credit for its good intentions because it collapses under the combined weight of pretentiousness and condescension. This is Hollywood’s idea of a searing drama about life in recession-era heartland, as phony as a painted […]
The actors who created some of this year’s most intriguing performances each appear in a eleven original (very) short films directed by Oscar-winning cinematographer Janusz Kaminski. The one-line scripts are from the year’s best screenwriters, from Lake Bell of “In a […]
Enjoy! They won’t be on the same day again for about 70 thousand years.
Arlo Guthrie sings about an unforgettable Thanksgiving.
The poet Langston Hughes wrote a play called “Black Nativity,” a joyous African-American retelling of the story of the birth of Jesus with gospel music, and it has become a holiday perennial. Now it has been adapted by writer/director Kasi […]
Smart, exciting, funny, sweet, tuneful, and gorgeously animated, the Oscar-winning “Frozen” adapts Hans Christian Andersen’s classic fairy tale into a story of two sisters kept apart by a scary secret. Scary wolves, an enormous snow monster, a perilous journey, a […]
Dame Judi Dench has played many strong-minded, determined characters, from Queens (Victoria and Elizabeth I) to the even more imperious head of the MI6 who can take on James Bond with an air of crisp authority. As the title character […]
The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood has come up with another list of the most dreadful and appalling children’s toys of the year. Take a look at these horrible products and cast your vote for the CCFC’s TOADY award. 2013 […]
I’m delighted to present a clip from the cute new holiday film, The Naughty List. Two young elves, Winter and Snowflake, have a hard time following the rules and are prone to sneaking off for some good elf playtime. But […]
The undeniable sweetness of “Delivery Man” makes its inherent silliness just about forgivable. Or, it just might be the sense of relief that Vince Vaughn is finally making a movie that is just silly instead of crass and stupid like “Couples […]
Former Presidential candidate Rick Santorum is now in the faith-based movie business and his first film is based on The Christmas Candle by Max Lucado. Just before the holidays, a progressive young clergyman named David (Hans Matheson) takes over a […]
In the second chapter of the three-book, four-movie series, Katniss Everdeen has gone from being a shy unknown with extraordinary skills to being an acclaimed superstar. The same could be said for the actress who plays the part. When Jennifer […]
Life imitates art imitating life! Washington D.C.’s Newseum, the museum of journalism, plays tribute to legendary (if fictional) anchorman Ron Burgundy. “Anchorman 2” opens next month.
Oscar-winning screenwriter Diablo Cody (“Juno”) tries directing for the first time with “Paradise,” based on her own script about a girl from a very conservative religious background whose faith is challenged after a terrible accident. Even she acknowledges that she […]
The title character in “The Book Thief” is Liesel (Sophie Nélisse), a little girl in pre-WWII Germany. We first see her on a train with her mother and dying younger brother. The children were both going to be delivered to […]
Watch a 60-second version of my Pick of the Week, the cute “Turbo” about the NASCAR racing snail.
Matthew McConaughey lost nearly 40 pounds to play Ron Woodroof, a good-time party animal and homophobic Texas cowboy who was diagnosed with AIDS in 1986 and given a month to live. This was in the early days, before safe and […]
I always say that superhero movies are defined by their villains, and “Thor: The Dark World” has a lulu in Tom Hiddleston‘s Loki, who was not as vanquished at the end of “The Avengers” as we thought. Thank goodness. Loki, […]
Francis Ford Coppola’s Vietnam story Apocalypse Now was inspired by Joseph Conrad’s book, Heart of Darkness, about the disintegration into madness of a man who goes into the jungle. It was an apt metaphor in the days of the Southeast Asian […]
Oscar-winning actors are a precious commodity, usually doled out no more than one or two per movie. But in this AARP-version of “The Hangover” crossed with “Ferris Bueller,” there are five, and the greatest pleasure of this film is in […]
Director Gavin Hood (“Tsotsi”) has skillfully adapted the Nebula and Hugo award-winning novel about a boy who leads an interplanetary battle against insect-like aliens, doing justice both to the fun of the sci-fi action and to the seriousness of the […]
Richard Curtis perfected the art of the 21st century romantic comedy in “Four Weddings and a Funeral,” “Notting Hill,” and “Love Actually.” They were witty and sophisticated and had posh British accents that made them seem twice as witty and […]
Maybe it’s just me, but I think this may be the worst idea for a movie intended for children I have heard since the one about the kid bank robber. Does anyone think it makes sense to horrify children just […]
Paul McCartney invites some friends to dance to his new song, “Queenie Eye.” Watch out for: Meryl Streep, Jude Law, Kate Moss, Johnny Depp, Sean Penn, Chris Pine, and…..?
Cormac McCarthy’s spare, bleak, and very literary prose has made for some compelling cinema, most effectively in No Country for Old Men and The Road and the adaption of his play for an HBO movie, The Sunset Limited. In his first original […]
Watching “12 Years a Slave” is a shattering experience. It shatters any remaining illusions of gracious, chivalrous, Southern plantation life in the pre-Civil War era. They were based on the late 19th century myth-making from the children of slave-owners in […]
In late medieval times, when people first began to divide each other into groups defined by status and power, they began to speak of a “first estate” (the clergy), a “second estate” (the nobility, which also at the time meant […]
At 90 minutes or less and with some sense of its own silly preposterousness, the aging action stars might have made this prison break movie work. But at almost two hours, Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger seem a little out […]
The remake of “Carrie” is not a bad movie; it’s just a completely unnecessary one. The 1976 original is a horror classic, directed by Brian de Palma and the first film based on a novel by Stephen King, just 26 years […]
I just want the Roots to play on every song ever.
Memorable movie villains tend to fall into two categories: volatile and violent or sociopathic and megalomaniac. Both kinds are caricatures, sketched in exaggerated terms to justify our feeling of triumph when the hero prevails. But in “Captain Phillips,” the true […]
William Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet” is the most-filmed play of all time, with dozens of versions and variations from the sublime (the Franco Zeffirelli and Baz Luhrmann versions, “West Side Story” and “Shakespeare in Love”) to the outlandish (the cute […]
It may be a coincidence that a Russian animation studio decided to make a movie based on the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale of the Snow Queen at the same time as Disney’s big-budget feature, “Frozen,” inspired by the same […]
Are today’s 20-and 30-somethings the least-parented generation in history, as a character explains in this film? To quote Rosie O’Donnell in “Sleepless in Seattle” about another depressing statistic, “It’s not true, but it feels true.” While the generation that came […]
In space, there is no oxygen and no sound. There is no up or down. Everything is weightless. When you cry, the tears float away instead of running down your cheeks. “Gravity” is one of the once-to-a-generation films that transform […]
Who would have guessed that the brightest and funniest and most heartwarming animated film of the year would not be from Pixar or Disney but Sony? And that to boot it would be a sequel, or, perhaps given the subject […]
SoulPancake has performed a heartwarming experiment that proves a surprising path to happiness. Watch it; I promise you’ll be grateful.
Actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt has made a remarkably assured debut as writer/director, putting him in the front ranks of today’s filmmakers. Gordon-Levitt also plays the lead role, Jon, a New Jersey guy with a high and tight haircut and a spare […]
The immensely gifted screenwriter Peter Morgan reunites with his “Frost/Nixon” director Ron Howard and returns to his favorite theme, a real-life drama about the clash between two brilliantly talented but flawed figures. This time it is the bitter rivalry between […]
This one is a smile-through-tears of the week. Just lovely.
The subject matter of the movie “Prisoners”– parents desperately searching for their kidnapped little girls– is so potent that it requires a strong, sure director to maintain control. Canadian director Denis Villeneuve (“Incendies”), in his first Hollywood feature film, is […]
Imagine that the one thing you cannot trust yourself to be near is around you all the time, wherever you go. As difficult as it is to recover from addiction to drugs or gambling or alcohol, at least those in […]
The US Constitution was adopted on September 17, 1797.
There are going to be a lot of superheroes on screen this summer, but none of them are as super as Gerry Lane a former investigator for the UN called back into action to fight the zombie apocalypse. No superhero […]
“Anybody who doesn’t contradict me can expect nothing but good things,” “Fred Blake” (Robert De Niro) explains in item 10 of his David Letterman-style countdown of what he considers his best qualities. Fred is his current nom de witness protection. […]
The Forgiveness Project has assembled some touching and inspiring films about the issues we face around forgiveness, asking for it and giving it. In this film, people find ways to forgive the unforgivable. “No matter which side of the conflict […]
There’s dumb fun and then there’s just dumb. “Gateway” is closer to that second category, and worse, so forgettable that better title would be “Throwaway.” This one has 99 cent DVD bin all over it. Ethan Hawke, believably seedy, plays […]