Movie Reviews

Focus-2015-Movie
Starring: Will Smith, Margot Robbie, Adrian Martinez, Gerald McRaney, Rodrigo Santoro

Focus


The Story: A con man and his one-time protege — and romantic interest — get tangled up in a scheme. The Lowdown: A clever and honestly surprising movie that’s held back due to the weak chemistry and miscasting of its two leads.
what-we-do-in-the-shadows-image-1
Starring: Jermaine Clement, Taika Waititi, Jonathan Brugh, Cori Gonzalez-Macuer, Stuart Rutherford

What We Do in the Shadows


The Story: The film invites you — and a never seen documentary crew — to spend some time with a houseful of old-school vampires who are trying to be modern. The Lowdown: Surprisingly fresh and funny — despite its dubious mockumentary approach — and blessed with appealingly goofy characters and even a few bona fide…
soloist
Starring: Jamie Foxx, Robert Downey Jr., Catherine Keener, Tom Hollander, Nelsan Ellis

The Soloist


In Brief: The Soloist is not a bad movie, but the best that can be said of it is that it qualifies as an honorable failure. Everything about The Soloist screams quality production — highly rated director Joe Wright, even more highly rated stars Jamie Foxx and Robert Downey Jr. and a message-heavy “true-life” story. What more could…
design
Starring: Fredric March, Gary Cooper, Miriam Hopkins, Edward Everett Horton, Franklin Pangborn

Design for Living


"Immorality may be fun, but it isn’t fun enough to take the place of 100-percent virtue and three square meals a day,” opines Max Plunkett (Edward Everett Horton) on more than one occasion in Ernst Lubitsch’s Design for Living. The film then goes out of its way to prove him wrong, which might seem a…
song5
Starring: Max Adrian, Christopher Gable, Maureen Pryor, David Collings

Song of Summer


In Brief: For years, Ken Russell cited Song of Summer (1968) as his favorite of his films. That’s understandable — and I wouldn’t say it was wrong (to the degree that a favorite can even be wrong) — but I would caution against taking his word on any given film as etched in stone, because…
Poster_-_Frankenstein_02
Starring: Colin Clive, Mae Clarke, John Boles, Boris Karloff, Edward Van Sloan, Dwight Frye

Frankenstein


In Brief: James Whale’s Frankenstein  was only the second entry in the first wave of cinematic horror, but it’s also what can be called the first modern horror picture. By that I mean that the film is unapologetic about its horror content. There is none of the reticence of Tod Browning’s Dracula (1931) here. Frankenstein is a film that…
_N8A4266.NEF
Starring: Mae Whitman, Robbie Amell, Bella Thorne, Bianca A. Santos, Skyler Samuels, Ken Jeong, Allison Janney

The DUFF


The Story: When a girl finds out she's a DUFF (designated ugly fat friend), she sets out to change her life. The Lowdown: Likable enough high school rom-com can't overcome the been-there-done-that predictability of its story. Still, it's painless and pleasant.
Maps-To-The-Stars-16
Starring: Julianne Moore, Mia Wasikowska, John Cusack, Evan Bird, Olivia Williams, Robert Pattinson, Sarah Gadon

Maps to the Stars


The Story: The lives of a supremely dysfunctional group of Hollywoodites intersect with tragically inevitable consequences. The Lowdown: Part Hollywood satire, part dark melodrama, all fascinating David Cronenberg film. Some will love it, others will absolutely hate it.
7wonders
Starring: Lowell Thomas, Paul Mantz

Seven Wonders of the World


In Brief: It really isn't possible to review one of these Cinerama showpiece movies. They exist — apart from making a few bucks — solely to wow the viewer with the Cinerama process. To honestly assess them on that basis, you'd have to see them in a Cinerama theater on a Cinerama screen with the…
royal3
Starring: Gene Hackman, Anjelica Huston, Ben Stiller, Gwyneth Paltrow, Luke Wilson, Owen Wilson, Bill Murray, Danny Glover, Seymour Cassel, Kumar Pallana

The Royal Tenenbaums


In Brief: When I say that Wes Anderson's The Royal Tenenbaums (2001) is probably my least favorite of his films — exempting Bottle Rocket (1996) — understand that I'm talking in terms of relative superlatives. It was my introduction to Anderson — which might better be called my full-immersion baptism. This was back in the…
invisible invaders
Starring: John Agar, Jean Byron, Philip Tonge, Robert Hutton, John Carradine

Invisible Invaders


In Brief: Perched somewhere on the border between Ed Wood's Plan 9 from Outer Space (1959) and George Romero's Night of the Living Dead (1968) is Edward L. Cahn's Invisible Invaders (1959). Its plot concerns aliens invading the Earth by occupying the bodies of the recently dead — just like Plan 9, which went into general release afterwards but was made…
httm2_header2
Starring: Rob Corddry, Craig Robinson, Clark Duke, Adam Scott, Gillian Jacobs

Hot Tub Time Machine 2


The Lowdown: After re-jiggering the past to suit their needs with their time machine made out of a hot tub, three buddies travel into the future to stop a murder. The Story: A flaccid, unimaginative and chuckleheaded raunchy comedy whose only novelty is that it exists in the first place.
MacFarland-Trailer
Starring: Kevin Costner, Carlos Pratts, Ramiro Rodriguez, Maria Bello, Johnny Ortiz

McFarland, USA


The Story: A former high school football coach on his last chance takes up a job coaching cross country in a poor, Hispanic California town. The Lowdown: A wholly perfunctory, inoffensive and vaguely watchable uplifting sports flick that’s riddled with clichés and a lack of surprises.
mr turner
Starring: Timothy Spall, Paul Jesson, Dorothy Atkinson, Marion Bailey, Lesley Manville, Ruth Sheen

Mr. Turner


The Story: A film on the last 25 years of the British landscape painter J.M.W. Turner. The Lowdown: This is nothing short of a masterpiece with a central performance of immense, if hard to penetrate, power from Timothy Spall. But be warned, it's a prickly, difficult film that lacks much in the way of a…
fifty shades of grey
Starring: Dakota Johnson, Jamie Dornan, Jennifer Ehle, Eloise Mumford, Victor Rasuk, Luke Grimes, Marcia Gay Harden

Fifty Shades of Grey


The Story: Billionaire S&M aficionado tries to win over guileless 27-year-old virgin. Object: discipline. The Lowdown: Awful acting, dreadful dialogue and tepid titillation combine to sink this essay in pseudo-sexy tedium.
kingsmanb
Starring: Colin Firth, Taron Egerton, Mark Strong, Samuel L. Jackson, Michael Caine, Mark Hamill, Sofia Boutella, Samantha Womack, Sophie Cookson

Kingsman: The Secret Service


The Story: The supersecret Kingsman agency has to go head-to-head with a madman with an extreme — and extremely lethal — plan to solve climate change. The Lowdown: Wildly inappropriate, politically incorrect, possibly reprehensible, ultrastylish, violent, bloody, over-the-top fun that will delight some and appall others — and may well delight and appall some at…
songofthesea-premiere
Starring: (Voices) Brendan Gleeson, Fionnula Flanagan, David Rawle, Pat Shortt, Lisa Hannigan

Song of the Sea


The Story: Two children — sent to live with their grandmother — attempt to trek back home, only to find out the sister is entangled in a fantastical mystery. The Lowdown: A handsome looking film with a story that’s too basic to be memorable.
the show
Starring: John Gilbert, Renée Adorée, Lionel Barrymore, Edward Connelly, Gertrude Short

The Show


In Brief: Tod Browning's The Show (1927) is one of the director's best films — and also one of his most unknown. I suspect the problem is that it cannot in any real sense be pigeonholed as a horror picture, and unlike Browning's better known silent films, it doesn't star Lon Chaney. The closest it…
santa sangre
Starring: Axel Jodorowsky, Blanca Guerra, Guy Stockwell, Thelma Tixou, Sabina Dennison, Adan Jodorowsky

Santa Sangre


In Brief: Praised by many (including Roger Ebert) and vilified by others, Alejandro Jodorowsky’s Santa Sangre (1989) sits poised uneasily between the world of art house cinema and exploitation horror. Because its slasher horror content is occasionally so extreme, it originally earned an NC-17 rating — a rating that was later surrendered by the filmmakers in order…
ccinshanghaistill
Starring: Warner Oland, Irene Hervey, Keye Luke, Jon Hall, Russell Hicks, Halliwell Hobbes

Charlie Chan in Shanghai


In Brief: Charlie Chan in Shanghai marked the fourth Charlie Chan movie not adapted from a novel and the second one to feature Keye Luke as Charlie's No. One Son, Lee Chan. As most of these films were — it's more obvious if you see them in order — it was designed to directly relate to…
PDVD_094
Starring: Michael Crawford, John Lennon, Roy Kinnear, Lee Montague, Jack MacGowran, Michael Hordern

How I Won the War


In Brief: “I saw a film today, oh boy,” sings John Lennon in the song “A Day in the Life” from The Beatles’ Sergeant Pepper's album. He then goes on to remark that “the English army had just won the war” and notes that while “a crowd of people turned away,” he “just had to look,…