Starring: Kevin Bacon, James Freedson-Jackson, Hays Wellford, Shea Whigham, Camryn Manheim

Cop Car

The Story: Two kids make off with a seemingly abandoned police car that happens to belong to a corrupt sheriff, who was off disposing of a body. The Lowdown: Spare, unadorned and unsentimental crime thriller. Well done modern B-picture stuff that may be too cold-blooded for some viewers.
8 and a half
Starring: Marcello Mastroianni, Claudia Cardinale, Anouk Aimee, Barbara Steele

8 1/2

In Brief: If you only see one Federico Fellini film, 8 1/2 is the one to see. It's the film where Fellini emerged as the fully-formed fantasist he's most identified as. It's a beguiling fantasy about a filmmaker trying to come to terms with his life, his spirituality, his love life and the big movie already in…
Starring: Fred Allen, Binnie Barnes, Jack Benny, Robert Benchley, Sidney Toler, Jerry Colonna, John Carradine

It’s in the Bag!

In Brief: Whatever else can be said about the 1940s, it was not an era that produced much that could truly be described as "off-the-wall." Bing and Bob in their various "Road" pictures was about as wild as it got. One of the few exceptions to this rule is It's in the Bag! — the only starring…
Starring: Paul Wegener, Alice Terry, Iván Petrovich, Firmin Gémier, Gladys Hamer, Henry Wilson

The Magician

In Brief: Rex Ingram’s The Magician (1926) takes place of pride as being the first American horror film that doesn’t feel the need to offer up a rational explanation for its supernatural content. It also happens to be one of Ingram’s best films — and the film that had perhaps more direct influence on the Universal horror…
Starring: Jason Bateman, Rebecca Hall, Joel Edgerton, Allison Tolman, Tim Griffin, Busy Philipps

The Gift

The Story:  A couple's life is thrown into increasing disarray and dread by the arrival of someone from the husband's increasingly murky past. The Lowdown: A well-judged, slickly-made thriller that mostly eschews the trappings of the genre for more psychological unease and a disturbingly dark vision of the world.
Starring: Meryl Streep, Mamie Gummer, Kevin Kline, Rick Springfield, Audra McDonald

Ricki and the Flash

The Story: Facing a family crisis, an aging low-rent "rock star" returns to the family she abandoned years earlier. The Lowdown: Though it seems to strike a chord as "Boomer-bait" and capitalizes on Meryl Streep's name, this is a flat-footed comedy-drama with music — but the comedy is almost nonexistent, the drama heavy-handed and the…
Starring: (Voices) Justin Fletcher, John Sparkes, Omid Djalili, Richard Webber

Shaun the Sheep Movie

The Story: Shaun the Sheep leads the flock on an adventure in the city that turns out to be more than he bargained for. The Lowdown: Moderately successful attempt to capture the spirit of silent movie comedy with claymation sheep. More clever than outright funny, but invariably pleasant — and ought to appeal to younger…
Starring: Nicholas Rowe, Alan Cox, Sophie Ward, Anthony Higgins, Susan Fleetwood, Freddie Jones

Young Sherlock Holmes

In Brief: It's too big, too loud, too over-produced. Hey, Barry Levinson made it, Chris Columbus wrote it and Spielberg produced it. What did you expect? Young Sherlock Holmes was largely dismissed in 1985, and, of course, riled up a few Sherlockians (the literary equivalent of comic book fanboys). However, the latter have turned their…
Starring: Fernando Rey, Delphine Seyrig, Stéphane Audran, Paul Frankeur, Bulle Ogier

The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie

In Brief: If you’ve never seen a Luis Buñuel film, it’s high time you did, and this 1972 Oscar winner about six middle-class people and their interrupted efforts to have a meal together is a good place to start. The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie is more accessible than some of Buñuel’s work and might just…
Starring: Charlize Theron, Nicholas Hoult, Sterling Jerins, Christina Hendricks, Corey Stoll, Tye Sheridan, Chloë Grace Moretz

Dark Places

The Story: The sole survivor of a mass murder 25 years ago is forced by circumstances to confront the truth of what happened. The Lowdown: It may be little more than a convoluted — and fairly unpleasant — mystery thriller, but it's largely effective and holds the interest.
Starring: Karl Malden, James Franciscus, Catherine Spaak, Pier Paolo Capponi

The Cat o’ Nine Tails

In Brief: An early Dario Argento film (his second), The Cat o' Nine Tails (1971) is more mystery than outright horror — and its PG (originally GP) rating should clue you in on the fact that it doesn't really qualify as a giallo. In fact, it's closer to a German krimi than anything. But that…
Kitten (Cillian Murphy) leaning against wall
Starring: Cillian Murphy, Liam Neeson, Ruth Negga, Stephen Rea, Gavin Friday, Brendan Gleeson

Breakfast on Pluto

In Brief: Back before our current "information overload" era — which is to say 2005 — it was quite possible to walk into an awards-season critics' screening and encounter a movie you'd never heard of and knew nothing about. Such a film was Neil Jordan's Breakfast on Pluto — which I didn't even know was…
Starring: Joaquin Phoenix, Emma Stone, Parker Posey, Jamie Blackley, Sophie von Hasselberg, Ethan Phillips, Betsy Aidem

Irrational Man

The Story: A burned-out philosophy professor gets a new lease on life when he decides to commit the "perfect murder" as a kind of twisted good deed. The Lowdown: Though it just misses being one of Woody Allen's great films, this is still a worthwhile addition to his filmography and a must-see for admirers of…
Starring: Rosalind Russell, Forrest Tucker, Coral Browne, Fred Clark, Roger Smith, Patric Knowles, Peggy Cass

Auntie Mame

In Brief: First of all, it's too long. Second, Auntie Mame is adapted from a play and it marked the film debut of theater director Morton DaCosta — both of which conspire to make it feel like canned theater. (The fact that it was made in the 1950s and in Cinemascope — or Technirama, which is the…
Starring: Tom Cruise, Jeremy Renner, Simon Pegg, Rebecca Ferguson, Ving Rhames, Alec Badwin

Mission: Impossible — Rogue Nation

The Story: The fifth installment in the Mission: Impossible series — is pretty much what you probably expect. The Lowdown: It's certainly slick and often clever, but it's also too long, and the spectacle of Cruise trying to prove that age has not dimmed his physical prowess gets pretty silly.
Starring: Kyle Catlett, Helena Bonham Carter, Judy Davis, Callum Keith Rennie, Niamh Wilson, Jakob Davis, Dominique Pinon, Rick Mercer

The Young and Prodigious T.S. Spivet

The Story: An unusual, lonely 10-year-old runs away from home — and across the country — to accept a prize from the Smithsonian for inventing a perpetual motion machine. The Lowdown: Make all possible haste to catch this magical film because it will be gone by Friday. Everything about it is special.

Cranky Hanke’s Weekly Reeler July 29-August 4: Mission Infinitely Polar Vacation Lego Experiment — and More

In Theaters. It started out as a simple week — two mainstream titles (including one potential juggernaut) and three art titles. Then one of the titles (the less likely) decided it needed a Wednesday opening for reasons that are anybody’s guess, since neither the date, nor the movie is special. Oh, but it didn’t end […]