2015

Room Review

Room Review

RATING: (3 STARS) Director Lenny Abrahamson’s Room plays like a non-science-fiction version of The Matrix. Like the Wachowskis’ action landmark, we’re introduced to its characters in an “unreal” world before they’re able to escape and discover (or rediscover) what’s real. Obviously, the two films vary in big ways — particularly when it comes to the […]

The Hateful Eight Review

The Hateful Eight Review

RATING: (4 STARS) There was some blood spilled at a Wyoming haberdashery some time after the Civil War. Well, a fictional Wyoming haberdashery, but still … boy, there was some blood. It’s the time and place of Quentin Tarantino’s eighth film, the very appropriately titled The Hateful Eight. The blood is nothing new in a […]

The Revenant Review

The Revenant Review

RATING: (1.5 STARS) Hardship is an easy thing to depict on film, but hardship in service of something meaningful to the butts in front of the screen is more of a challenge. 12 Years a Slave is a recent film that pulled it off with flying colors. How? It showed us who its lead character […]

The Big Short Review

The Big Short Review

RATING: (4 STARS) Adam McKay is a tightrope walker. His latest film, The Big Short, is one of 2015’s funniest offerings. Its subject matter? The 2008 collapse of the American economy. McKay cut his teeth with Will Ferrell vehicles like Anchorman and Talladega Nights, which are both absurdist comedies with their own internal logics born […]

Star Wars: The Force Awakens Review

Star Wars: The Force Awakens Review

RATING: (3.5 STARS) “It’s good.” “I need more than that, buddy.” “It’s enjoyable.” “OK, that’s a start.” That was a conversation I had with my 12-year-old brother-in-law immediately following our viewing of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. He wanted to help me craft my review. They’re simple adjectives but also perfectly appropriate for the film […]

Listen to Me Marlon Review

Listen to Me Marlon Review

RATING: (3.5 STARS) Listen to Me Marlon is a one-of-a-kind documentary. There have been plenty of non-fiction films — plenty even this year with Amy, Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck, and others — that chronicle the lives of famous people and their troubles with celebrity as a status. However, none are told with the emotional […]

Trumbo Review

Trumbo Review

RATING: (2.5 STARS) Mistrust and fear overtook Hollywood during the 1940s and 1950s when many major players in the movie industry were shunned, blacklisted, and even jailed over their beliefs. It’s not hard to see why such a time would be appealing to a filmmaker, and in fact, Jay Roach’s Trumbo is hardly the first […]

Phoenix Review

Phoenix Review

RATING: (3.5 STARS) Phoenix is such an evocative, playful title for German director Christian Petzold’s latest film. He introduces us — and his main character, Holocaust survivor Nelly — to a club called Phoenix early in the proceedings, but it’s nothing more than a red herring. The phoenix is this poor woman who’s life is […]

Carol Review

Carol Review

RATING: (4 STARS) You think you know what it is to want until you sit in stunned silence following two hours of Todd Haynes’ Carol. It’s a film about so many things, probably the least of which is the sexual orientation of its two lead (yes, lead) characters, star-crossed lovers played expertly by Cate Blanchett […]

Ballet 422 Review

Ballet 422 Review

RATING: (3.5 STARS) There’s a sequence two-thirds into Ballet 422, Jody Lee Lipes’ hands-off documentary chronicling a wunderkind choreographer’s attempt to bring a ballet from idea to stage, that knocked my socks off. No, it’s not Lipes’ shot of the back of his protagonist Justin Peck’s head with dancers appearing to literally spool out of […]

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 Review

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 Review

RATING: (2.5 STARS) A final film in a series shouldn’t need this much exposition. A final film in a series shouldn’t be so light on concluding excitement. A final film in a series shouldn’t have to force feed its viewers hackeneyed closure for its characters. A final film in a series shouldn’t be so lacking […]

Steve Jobs Review

Steve Jobs Review

RATING: (3 STARS) End-to-end control. It’s a personal computing philosophy that drove Steve Jobs and comes up regularly as a point of confrontation in the movie Steve Jobs. Many of his contemporaries and colleagues felt end-to-end control, which restricts a device’s compatibility with other devices, would significantly narrow a user’s possibilities. And that’s exactly what […]

Ricki and the Flash Review

Ricki and the Flash Review

RATING: (3 STARS) One week before Ricki and the Flash opened in theaters, we were met with a film called The End of the Tour about author David Foster Wallace. The two films have next to nothing in common, but I bring up The End of the Tour because I think its title perfectly describes […]

Spotlight Review

Spotlight Review

RATING: (4 STARS) I wanted to open this review with some sort of flashy pun about how good journalism shines a light on the underserved or poorly treated in our society, and because this film is called Spotlight, it does a particularly good job at that. I couldn’t find the right quote, and I see […]

While We’re Young Review

While We’re Young Review

RATING: (2.5 STARS) While We’re Young is the type of film in which Vanity Fair publishes a full page interview with the question, “Are you a hipster?” It’s the type of film in which an echo effect is added to the final line in a climactic fight. It’s the type of film in which a […]

Spectre Review

Spectre Review

RATING: (3 STARS) Spectre is Daniel Craig’s fourth James Bond film, and for the fourth time, he’s carrying the franchise through an origin story. Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace combined to share with us the beginnings of Bond as 007. Skyfall represented the start of M, Q, and Moneypenny as we know them. Now […]

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