Review: 'True Story'

Talents are wasted and the truth stretched in 'True Story' Read More

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Review: 'Clouds of Sils Maria'

Dorothy Parker's comment that "the Alps are beautiful but they're dumb" comes to mind during scenes featuring mountainscapes in Clouds of Sils Maria. Certainly, this import deserves some of the attention given to Birdman, particularly in its examination of actors unable to express their gifts in that plethora of superhero-or vampire-material of which we all presumably can't get enough. » Read More

Review: 'While We're Young'

The kind of laughter While We're Young evokes is like the low growl in a watchdog's throat. The older and crankier the viewer, the deeper the growl. Sometimes the ornery rumbling reaches a level and pitch recalling Patty and Selma from The Simpsons. In only one scene does real levity break out. Josh (Ben Stiller, avatar of futility) is pitching a financial angel called "Hedge Fund Dave" (actor turned realtor Ryan Serhant). Josh seeks a grant for his documentary about American foreign policy or something-100 hours of uncuttable footage, so far. » Read More

Review: 'Kill Me Three Times'

As I wait to hear back from the Australia Council for the Arts about my proposed year in residency "to think about stuff," the mildly interesting Kill Me Three Times soothed the suspense of watching the mailbox. The pulpy story unfolds in the beach town of "Eagle's Nest," actually Lancelin, on the Indian Ocean coast north of Perth. It's a stage for murder, adultery and robbery, interspersed with helicopter shots of cars cruising the coastal road past gleaming sand beaches. » Read More

'Broad City': Mad Women on the Loose in Alternatown

Whether you love it or are disgusted by it, Broad City (on Comedy Central and Hulu Plus) is delivering something that the movies aren't. Renewed for a third season in January, it walks tall on the low road. It's often grotty in a way that holds together a broad audience in a high/low humor fork. » Read More

Review: 'Salt of the Earth'

What's said about firemen could be said of the Brazilian Sebastiao Salgado, a bald, bushy-eyebrowed photojournalist: where most people run from a conflagration, he runs into it. Wim Wenders (Wings of Desire) and the photographer's son, Juliano, discuss Salgado's journey, as well as visit the land where this indefatigable traveler has finally come to rest. » Read More

'Seymour: An Introduction'

Says the 88 year old piano teacher and composer Seymour Bernstein: "Let us shed our guilt about using the soft pedal." He's talking about specific technique, but the actor Ethan Hawke's winning and wise documentary Seymour: An Introduction has implications beyond the realm of teaching, learning or appreciating music. » Read More

Review: 'Get Hard'

Diminutive comedian Kevin Hart has enough star power that he can play the Oracle Arena, but what he's got certainly isn't visible in Get Hard. It's like someone trying to retrieve the alleged magic of Stir Crazy with a smaller and more fearful Richard Pryor and a paler, moister version of Gene Wilder. Obnoxious rich jerk James King (Will Ferrell) has it all: a mansion in Bel Air, a hot wife Alissa (Alison Brie) who runs around in thousand-dollar lingerie, and a squad of grossed-out Hispanic servants. » Read More

Review: 'It Follows'

Few fans of terror consider terroir-how the mood of a place affects the mood of a film. David Robert Mitchell's It Follows uses 8 Mile Road as the borderline between the world of the rational and the irrational. On one side are suburbs; on the other is the Detroit of everyone's nightmares-the blasted factories, the long streets filled with empty houses, where the overgrown sycamores are beginning to look like a haunted wood. » Read More

Review: 'Merchants of Doubt'

Argue the facts, argue the cause, argue the ability to do anything about it—and then argue that the Commies are trying to hoodwink us all: Merchants of Doubt explores climate-change denial for fun and profit. The only time I ever saw Stephen King, he was likening then-President Ronald Reagan to a magician—"distracting the public with one hand, stuffing a pigeon up his ass with the other." » Read More

Review: 'Cinderella'

Kenneth Branagh's version of Cinderella has a magnificent palace in it, like a Beaux Arts Monte Carlo casino on the edge of an Alaskan fjord. Production designer Dante Ferretti and costumer Sandy Powell fill it up at great expense. This fantasyland is of the late 1800s, after the invention of aniline dyes; garish as they are cruel, the stepsisters wear all the newly created hues at once. The prince, who is known to his intimates as "Kit" (Richard Madden) holds court in a series of gorgeous Hussar uniforms with skin-tight riding trousers. » Read More

'Magician: The Astonishing Life & Work of Orson Welles'

The merry prankster, the profound tragedian. The professional guest, the misunderstood exile. He was pitied, parodied—"All's well that ends Welles." Moonfaced and inconstant as the moon, Orson Welles directed Citizen Kane and adaptations of Shakespeare, Kafka and pulp fiction. » Read More

'Wild Tales'

A masterfully filmed cautionary tale in the form of a half-dozen stories of terrorism, revenge and extortion, Wild Tales examines a society gone rotten as old cheese, after fascist coup and repeated economic shock. Yet director Damian Szifron doesn't cook up an Amores Perros-style cauldron of guts. This banquet of bad behavior, co-produced by the Almodovar brothers, shows artisanship in the complexity of the shots, with such fresh points of view as the inside of a luggage compartment on a jet and the keypad of an ATM. » Read More