Movie Reviews

Starring: Sharlto Copley, Dev Patel, Ninja, Yo-Landi Vi$$er, Jose Pablo Cantillo, Hugh Jackman, Sigourney Weaver


The Story: An experimental robot that can think falls into the hands of some low-rent gangsters. The Lowdown: No, it's not the outright abomination some are claiming, but Neill Blomkamp's latest is still a noisy, ugly, barely coherent mess.
Starring: Charles Winninger, Arleen Whelan, John Russell, Stepin Fetchit, Russell Simpson, Ludwig Stössel, Dorothy Jordan

The Sun Shines Bright

In Brief:  By his own admission, The Sun Shines Bright was John Ford's favorite of his films. While I'm always a little skeptical of artists judging their own work — and how long they may or may not have felt that way — I'm inclined to accept his word in this case. The film is so much…
Starring: Jessica Harper, Joan Bennett, Stefania Casini, Flavio Bucci, Barbara Magnolfi, Udo Kier


In Brief: People have been asking for this for years — and here it is. I'm in the hit-or-miss column with Argento. I like his early thrillers, and I'm amused by Phenomena and Opera, but I have issues with a lot of his work, including Suspiria. It's the only Argento film I saw on its original release in a…
Starring: Joseph Cotten, Valli, Orson Welles, Trevor Howard, Bernard Lee

The Third Man

In Brief: Carol Reed’s The Third Man (1949) is about as close to a perfect film as you’re likely to get. It’s that rarest of movies in that it’s a filmmaker favorite (I’ve yet to meet the director who didn’t treasure it), a film buff’s delight and immediately accessible to the more casual moviegoer all…
Starring: Will Smith, Margot Robbie, Adrian Martinez, Gerald McRaney, Rodrigo Santoro


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.
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…
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…
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…
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…
Starring: Colin Clive, Mae Clarke, John Boles, Boris Karloff, Edward Van Sloan, Dwight Frye


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…
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.