'Get On Up'

Chadwick Boseman portrays a young James Brown in a biopic about the Godfather of Soul. Read More

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Like all really first-rate movies, Boyhood has many facets to admire. Just one of them is the unusual way it was made. Richard Linklater followed a small group of actors during the course of 13 years as an experiment. Mason (Ellar Coltrane) and his sister Samantha (Lorelei Linklater) live with their mother, Olivia (Patricia Arquette), with father Mason Sr., known as Dad (Ethan Hawke), dropping in for visits-and we see the actors age in their roles over the course of a decade. » Read More

'Venus in Fur'

A female friend who did a little bit of role-playing said that the important thing was not to let the mask drop. If you came in the room wrapped in leather, you had to continue to look like you meant business. By contrast, Roman Polanski's pervy and very fun two-character film Venus in Fur lets its marvelous star Emmanuelle Seigner drop and reapply the mask, and still be a redoubtable female avenger. Seigner is Vanda, an actress who reverses the flow of power coming from her would-be director. » Read More

'Life Itself'

The touching and well-built Roger Ebert documentary Life Itself isn't as varnished as you might expect. Having very close access to Ebert, director Steve James caught sometimes brutal footage of a death from cancer. The steadfastness of Ebert's wife Chaz amazes. Everyone speaks of the courage of a dying patient, but Ebert's illness forces him to remain where he is. His mate stays by choice. That may be tougher. » Read More

'Dawn of the Planet of the Apes'

As a parable of evolution, devolution and revolution, of nuclear holocaust, viral plagues and time streams so twisty that characters become their own ancestors, there is nothing in cinema quite like the Planet of the Apes series. The phenomenon continues July 11 with the release of Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. The series is safe as an entertainment for older children—2011's Rise of the Planet of the Apes had deft, kid-pleasing sequences of Caesar the chimp in his Curious George phase, brachiating around a Victorian house in San Mateo. » Read More

'Begin Again'

John Carney's follow up to his 2006 hit Once, played at Toronto 2013 under the fatal title Can A Song Save Your Life? It has been retitled Begin Again. It is slight and caramel-hearted, but it made me a new fan of items I thought I was over: New York, popular music and Keira Knightley. And unlike Once, Begin Again isn't in love with hopeless pathos. Nothing here is as fulsome as that street-singer's chipped-up guitar in Once—Glen Hansard was so sincere that his guitar was disintegrating. » Read More


John Waters said that fat was the last screen taboo-strange, in a country with skyrocketing obesity levels. The Melissa McCarthy vehicle, Tammy, directed by her husband Ben Falcone, is Waters-lite: a quite funny, warm, lackadaisical road comedy. Tammy (McCarthy) is an overgrown kid from the Midwest; she busts up her old Toyota on the same day she loses her burger-parlor job; arriving home unexpectedly, she catches her husband with the next-door neighbor lady. On the spur of the moment, Tammy decides to cut out for Niagara Falls with her drunken, bawdy granny, Pearl (Susan Sarandon), whom she barely tolerates. So: Thelma and Louise,the next generation. » Read More

'Citizen Koch'

To paraphrase Hellraiser's Pinhead, PBS's spinelessness in refusing to air Citizen Koch ought to be legendary even in Hell. (Stephen Colbert has the last word on this act of public cravenness during the end credits.) Carl Deal and Tia Lessin's documentary isn't an anatomy of the so-called Kochtopus, nor is it a study of the Koch's business empire. With $76 billion in property, the sons of the man who gave the world the John Birch Society, David and Charles Koch, have uniquely gamed the Supreme Court's oligarchy-enabling Citizens United decision. » Read More

'Jersey Boys'

Third act troubles mar one of Clint Eastwood's best movies, an adaptation of the hit showbiz musical about Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, Jersey Boys. Events are rejiggered so that the triumph (the smash "Can't Take My Eyes Off You") can come after sketchily and half-heartedly directed tragedy. It gets hurried and cheap-looking in the finale. Yet the movie succeeds. Eastwood brings it home with a no-star cast—actually, there is a star: Christopher Walken, Oscar-bound. » Read More

'The Rover'

Even after The Collapse, things should make sense in a post-The Collapse way. We accept that Mad Max is the only one who can stand between punk-rock barbarians and the homesteaders, without wondering (as Pauline Kael did) why, during the ultimate gas shortage, evil bikers keep burning up fuel circling the derricks aimlessly 24 hours a day. One of the few post-Collapse novels that matters, Peter Heller's The Dog Stars, is smart enough to term out the end of civilization by the amount of time it would take gasoline additives to expire. » Read More

'We Are the Best!'

Lucas Moodysson's thoroughly funny and charming We Are the Best! shows the problem facing the Swedish rebel. It's not just opposition you have to fight but something harder to bear: a thick layer of sticky sweet reasonableness and amused toleration. And when you're using punk rock as your weapon—a method of rebellion positively guaranteed to make society crumble—you have the slight embarrassment of free practice space and the city council providing the instruments. » Read More