The second films of three are often the weak links, but not "The Desolation of Smaug." Sure, exposition is ...
Rarely does one living person participate in major international events over two and a half decades. But that's e...
Near the end of the documentary "Design Is One: Lella & Massimo Vignelli," an expert observes that a go...
Producers and directors Seth Kramer, Daniel A. Miller and Jeremy Newberger bring a welcome restraint to their documen...
Co-writer/director Alexander Payne has crafted a masterpiece in "Nebraska." Bruce Dern, who won Best Actor ...
This film needs sub-titles because either the actors are speaking Texan or they are mumbling or they are whispering. After a while, it hardly seems worth straining to hear what they're saying. It doesn't matter much because, in terms of action, the plot is not demanding.
As incredible as it is inspirational, the documentary "Rising from Ashes" tells the story of Rwanda's first competitive bicycle team. While the tragedy of the 1994 genocide of an estimated one million Tutsis at the hands of the Hutus merited significant media coverage, little notice has been given to this amazing chapter worthy of international praise.
The good news about "Closed Circuit" is that neither its cloaks nor its daggers are cliches. The plot does not depend on justice prevailing but on reality reigning, so it is more cynical than triumphal. "Closed Circuit" is about terrorism and secrets, duplicity and circuity.
"The World's End" is not half-bad. The Britcom part, that is, the first half, is hilariously funny with lines a-poppin' all over the place. Then the zombies appear, and the lines fade to loud violence. If you like zombies, you'll like the second half of this film.
A few rare films manage to combine light-hearted comedy, absent mean-spirited put-downs, with substantive content. Writer/director Lake Bell's film "In a World" achieves that trifecta, providing very good laughs along with a look at father-daughter rivalry, sexism in the movie trailer business, and issues of self-esteem.
Based on the real life, innovative martial arts expert Ip Man, "The Grandmaster" focuses on beautifully choreographed fights showcasing various kung fu styles. A perfectionist, Chinese director Wong Kar-Wai edited "The Grandmaster" for over a year, and the flawless cuts, the fetishized details, and the flowing rhythm reflect his aesthetic sensibility and meticulous precision.
The main characters in "The Spectacular Now" say "Cheers!" a lot as they bump bottles, but they are not very cheerful. Sutter Keely is a teenage boy alcoholic, who lives in the now. Aimee is a teenage girl, who has been getting by on hard work, sci fi, and dreams of a college education.
Names matter. The names of the protagonists, Alvin and Lance, in "Prince Avalanche" reveal a lot: old-fashioned Alvin plays by the rules -- even his overalls are strait-laced. He can skin a squirrel and set up a tent, neither of which Lance can -- or wants to -- do.
Director Molly Bernstein's "Deceptive Practice: The Mysteries and Mentors of Ricky Jay" accurately identifies what she delivers. Dominating this documentary from the first frame of his hands shuffling his beloved cards to his concluding performance of Shel Silverstein's wonderful poem "The Game in the Windowless Room," Ricky Jay keeps his mysteries to himself while generously praising mentors.
Capturing the rise and fall and rise of Apple’s co-founder and sometime CEO Steve Jobs, director Joshua Michael Stern’s film “Jobs” uses deadpan humor, sharp dramatization, an energetically moving camera and fine-tuned editing to craft a multifaceted portrait. Avoiding the usual hagiography, this biopic foregrounds terrific acting while hitting the familiar highs points of the iconic company’s history.
Through the history of American racism and the civil rights movement, "Lee Daniels' The Butler" follows Cecil Gaines as a boy in 1926 Macon, Georgian cotton fields to life as a butler in the White House. From Eisenhower to Kennedy, LBJ to Nixon and Reagan, Cecil works in the background, his dignity and work ethic his own argument for, and proof of, equality.
"There are only so many traumas you can withstand before they find you on the street talking to yourself." Truer words were never spoken, and spoken they are, along with thousands of other words by the woman known as Jasmine. She was born Jeannette, but she changed her name, so her name is a lie.
An extraordinary and chilling documentary, "The Act of Killing" chronicles exactly that in unprecedented ways. Several Indonesian men reenact, unabashedly, even proudly, ways they brutally tortured and murdered individuals in the 1965-66 purge primarily of communists, among other targeted groups such as local Chinese workers. Some killers now hold office, with no punishment for their heinous acts.
You don't have to be an Anglophile or even a history buff to appreciate "The Audience." You don't have to know the politics of England since 1952 or be able to name the dozen prime ministers who served at the pleasure of the Queen since she ascended the throne. You just have to know a brilliant play when you see one.
For anyone who loves animals or has any empathy, director Gabriela Cowperthwaite's documentary "Blackfish" is as heartbreaking as it is challenging to our definition of humane and intelligent treatment of animals in captivity, especially those that perform for audience's pleasure and businesses' profit. Posing critical questions, "Blackfish" scrutinizes orca whales trained and presented by SeaWorld Entertainment.
Describing herself as a political theorist because of her interest in the communal, not the individual, Hannah Arendt is well known for her observations on "the banality of evil." German director Margarethe von Trotta's film "Hannah Arendt" fully interrogates that concept, putting it into a full, complex context.