Movie Reviews

Starring: Mae Whitman, Robbie Amell, Bella Thorne, Bianca A. Santos, Skyler Samuels, Ken Jeong, Allison Janney


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.
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.
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…
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…
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.
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.
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…
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…
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…
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,…
Starring: Julianne Moore, Kristen Stewart, Alec Baldwin, Kate Bosworth, Hunter Parrish

Still Alice

The Story: A woman wages the inevitably losing battle against Alzheimer's disease.  The Lowdown: The performances of Oscar-nominated Julianne Moore and Kristen Stewart — along with a frequently solid script — elevate this blandly directed and slightly soapy movie to the level of a must-see.
Starring: Irene Dunne, Randolph Scott, Dorothy Lamour, Elizabeth Patterson, Raymond Walburn, Charles Bickford, Akim Tamiroff

High, Wide and Handsome

CANCELED due to weather. This will be rescheduled. In Brief: Rouben Mamoulian did his most important work at Paramount, but he'd left the studio in 1933. In 1937 he came back for one more film — the little seen and mostly forgotten High, Wide and Handsome. The film was an obvious attempt — with its period setting,…
Starring: (Voices) Tom Kenny, Bill Fagerbakke, Rodger Bumpass, Mr. Lawrence, Clancy Brown

The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water

The Story: After the secret recipe to the wildly popular Krabby Patties disappears, SpongeBob and his archrival Plankton must travel through space and time to recover it. The Lowdown: A likable collection of bad jokes and casual nonsense that’s simply too long and exhausting.
Starring: Mila Kunis, Channing Tatum, Sean Bean, Eddie Redmayne, Douglas Booth, Tuppence Middleton

Jupiter Ascending

The Story: A lowly Cinderella-esque drudge turns out to be the rightful owner of the Earth. The Lowdown: It's big. It's goofy. It's highly imaginative. It has a little something on its mind. And it's fun. In other words, it's a film from the Wachowskis.
turning point
Starring: Anne Bancroft, Shirley MacLaine, Tom Skerritt, Mikhail Baryshnikov, Leslie Browne, Martha Scott

The Turning Point

In Brief: Oh, it garnered 11 Oscar nominations — but took home nothing at the end of the night. (Sometimes you can't even bamboozle the Academy.) I know — at least judging by all the gush on its IMDb page — that The Turning Point (1977) has its admirers, but let's face it, it's really…
Starring: Jeff Morrow, Mara Corday, Morris Ankrum, Louis Merrill, Edgar Barrier, Robert Shayne

The Giant Claw

In Brief: The Thursday Horror Picture Show is serving Grade-A turkey this week with Fred F. Sears’ deliriously dreadful The Giant Claw. To give some barometer of its quality, consider that it was released in June of 1957, and even though Sears died in November of that same year, in the intervening five months he managed…