Review: 'Good Kill'

Big E for Effort for Andrew Niccol's liberal movie about the drone strikes. Read More

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Review: 'About Elly'

Finally getting a release here, the intriguing 2009 Iranian film About Elly is about what they used to call "a fate worse than death"-concerning a vanished Iranian woman who may be either dead or dishonored. Director Ashgar Farahadi (A Separation) includes the sort of mysterious little details that you can only get by letting incidents breathe, instead of calibrating every moment. » Read More

Review: 'Mad Max: Fury Road'

The title characterseems along for the ride in George Miller's very good looking reimagining of the post-apocalyptic fantasy world he first delivered in 1979. Synthesia has set in, with the help of CGI; the trucks no longer have weight and can practically dance on their back wheels. No longer are we among the heat and flies of the real Australia, but an imaginary world of various deserts—soft sand, Canyonlands arches, and a terrain of blue-lit muck with crows and weird burlap-clad stilt-people. » Read More

Review: 'Welcome to Me'

In her new dramady, Welcome to Me, Kristin Wiig transcends hilarity, crossing over into a twilight zone between sketch comedy and performance art. It's recommended viewing for people who adore Wiig and her soulful embodiments of extremely strange women. The ever-surprising Wiig plays a woman called Kleig, like the light. Alice Kleig lives in a desert town just outside Los Angeles. » Read More

Review: 'Maggie'

There are elements in Henry Hobson's Maggie that could have brought some freshness, even to what surely must be the five-millionth zombie movie. But there aren't enough of these elements to really make it breathe-in the end, it turns into a dying-teen movie with particularly grisly makeup. » Read More

Review: 'Far from the Madding Crowd'

By the lights of most of the work of Victorian-era English novelist, Thomas Hardy, the much-filmed Far from the Madding Crowd is practically a frothy rom-com. One can ignore the dead baby, the shot dog and an apparent suicide as mere elements adding tone to the story of a propertied, principled lady. Director Thomas Vinterberg, the Dane who started out his career as a part of the Dogme 95 movement, keeps the tension alive as Miss Bathsheba Everdene (Carey Mulligan) makes up her mind. » Read More

Review: 'The Avengers: The Age of Ultron'

There's a difference between moral oversimplification and the acknowledgement of contradictions that cannot be reconciled. The Avengers: The Age of Ultron ultimately acknowledges that it's all about the contradictions. A consistently fascinating blockbuster, it picks up the sometimes-frustrating conscientiousness from the Marvel comics. » Read More

Review: 'Ex Machina'

The latin phrase "deus ex machina" describes a theatrical device in which an actor in the role of God appears on stage to neatly wrap things up. It's artistically primitive, but it still exists in evangelist Christian films. Alex Garland's science fiction film Ex Machina-a masterpiece if ever I've seen one-seemingly clips the God from the equation in depicting a bad demiurge of a high-tech tycoon. » Read More

Review: 'The Water Diviner'

Essentially bad, but certainly engrossing, like an unusually well-researched supermarket novel, Russell Crowe's feature-film directorial debut is full of visual scope and rich color. Shortly after the end of the Great War, in 1919, Connor (Crowe) is an Australian farmer from Victoria state who has the gift to witch out water. After he is widowed, Connor decides to use his penchant for finding things hidden underground to discover the final resting place of his three sons-killed in Turkey at the battle of Gallipoli. » Read More

Review: 'True Story'

Simultaneously and promoting exculpatory baloney, True Story contrasts two evildoers. One is Mike Finkel, a New York Times Magazine writer, disgraced after he used composite characters in a cover story about modern day slavery on the African cocoa plantations. The other is Christian Longo (played here by Palo Alto's own James Franco). Longo was merely a multiple murderer. » Read More

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