Movies

'Exodus: Gods and Kings'

Christian Bale plays Moses, leading the Jews out of Egypt in 'Exodus: Gods and Kings.' Read More

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'Wild'

Based on the Oprah-honored book that so many serious backpackers hurled against the wall-"Goddamn it, she's dumber than Christopher McCandless!"-Wild may also raise hackles outside the hiking community, in spite of the fact that it's Dallas Buyers Club-director Jean-Marc Vallee's best movie to date. Some even who prefer to camp with a Coleman cooler will watch and indulge in some good old-fashioned slut-shaming, since Wild's author, Cheryl Strayed, told all about her extra-marital affairs and dabbling with heroin. » Read More

'The Babadook'

Bennett Miller's new film concerns the strange case of John du Pont-a murderer whose unignorable resemblance to Mr. Burns on The Simpsons will probably be teased out in an upcoming parody. In Foxcatcher the wealthy madman is brought to an unnerving, pale form of life by Steve Carell. Carell uses a nose prosthetic to look down his nose on his lessers-and as du Pont was one of the richest men in America, there were a lot of lessers. » Read More

'Foxcatcher'

Bennett Miller's new film concerns the strange case of John du Pont-a murderer whose unignorable resemblance to Mr. Burns on The Simpsons will probably be teased out in an upcoming parody. In Foxcatcher the wealthy madman is brought to an unnerving, pale form of life by Steve Carell. Carell uses a nose prosthetic to look down his nose on his lessers-and as du Pont was one of the richest men in America, there were a lot of lessers. » Read More

'A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night'

Even if you won't see many movies as cool and beautiful as director Ana Lily Amirpour's A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night, it needs a little sifting to distinguish its accomplishments. It's not the first time a Persian filmmaker, scripting in Farsi, has used the New World for a forbidden Iranian location; Silicon Valley's own Mohammad Gorjestani re-created a modern Iranian roadside in British Columbia for his short "Sayeh" (The Shade). In Amirpour's voluptuous re-creation of a half-empty oil town nicknamed "Bad City" » Read More

'The Better Angels'

However Wearyying it got, The Better Angels is unique-an impressionistic movie in black and white and CinemaScope, made about the most fascinating man America ever produced. The Better Angels shows how much Walnut Creek born director/writer A.J. Edwards absorbed the style of his producer, Terrence Malick. Seeing what amounts to Malick by proxy makes one wonder how every important incident in American history would look done with similar diaphanousness. » Read More

'Force Majeure'

The keenly titled Force Majeure is about one of those little instances of cowardice that can end a military career-or a marriage-in a matter of seconds. This Swedish film is slippery and quite unexpectedly ticklish. The blank-faced satire keeps you at arm's length; it breaks up the short-storyish tale (Alice Munro is what it reminded me of most) with long blackouts and whiteouts. A repeated sinister phrase of accordion music introduces every chapter. » Read More

'Diplomacy'

Remember the lady who hijacked the T.A.R.D.I.S. on Doctor Who? "You've got a time machine and I've got a gun," she said. "What the hell, let's kill Hitler." The Doctor (Matt Smith) later derided the idea as "going into the past to kill someone who's already dead," but there's a very small and non-violent indie film variation of the killing-Hitler fantasy. Menno Meyjes' 2002 Max was a prime what-if fantasy: rather than shooting Hitler, it'd be less noisy and more fun to hang around 1920s Viennese coffee shops with Mr. H (Noah Taylor), talking him out of the path he was going to take. » Read More

'Big Hero 6'

The opening short for Disney's Big Hero Six is Patrick Osborne's Feast. I'd like to celebrate it as a cartoon doing at least five things at once very well-addressing a worthwhile topic in a new way; telling a story without words, showing great craft in the funny-animal animation field; finding quiet moments so delicate that they'd evaporate in any other medium; and, lastly, going big and cartoony when describing the gross physical pleasure of chowing down. » Read More

'Interstellar'

Circumstances of blockbuster previewing can, and will, encompass projector meltdown. That's what happened during the last 15-20 minutes of Interstellar at the preview. But one tends to avoid writing about an ending, and I'd seen almost all this film had to offer. And Interstellar is, with a few exceptions, a lumberer. Gravity, it wasn't. Does the audience longing to see space exploration need to be seated and asked the question 'Would you go space travelling if you knew you'd never see your family again? » Read More

'Birdman'

Doffing his customary crown of thorns to don the top hat of a Broadway first-nighter, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu (Babel, Biutiful, 21 Grams) directs Birdman-given the Sadean subtitle Or the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance. It's his most impressive film. Birdman is a long, seemingly one-take slither in and around a legitimate Broadway theater on W. 44th Street; the comedy is of the crack-up of a Hollywood actor turned theatrical hyphenate. » Read More

'Pelican Dreams'

Judy Irving, the Bay Area-based director of The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill, continues her observations of the bird kingdom in Pelican Dreams. She follows the rehabilitation of a 3- to 4-month-old pelican rescued after it wandered into traffic on the Golden Gate bridge. Irving names it "GG," for the bridge. Monte Merrick, the wild animal rescuer who nurses this pelican, doesn't believe in names for wild animals, and calls it "P193." By Merrick's lights, you don't even initiate eye contact with the pelicans, though he talks to the birds in his care: "You should eat!" » Read More

'Whiplash'

As the old expression goes, "You can sure tell what it's been next to in the refrigerator." That's true about Damien Chazelle's Whiplash, mostly a good-looking reprise of the opening 20 minutes of Full Metal Jacket. The ordeal of the drummer Andrew (Miles Teller) is similar to the anguish of Geoffrey Rush's music student in Shine as he was tortured through Rachmaninoff. In one shot, Martin Scorsese will speculate on the life of inanimate objects, like the full-screen smoldering cigarette butt in New York Stories. » Read More