Movie Reviews

Annex - Laurel & Hardy (Babes in Toyland)_NRFPT_04
Starring: Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy, Charlotte Henry, Felix Knight, Henry Kleinbach

Babes in Toyland (March of the Wooden Soldiers)

Babes in Toyland — which generations of children have grown up knowing only by its re-issue title, March of the Wooden Soldiers — is the second of Laurel and Hardy’s excursions into opera or operetta (no, they don’t sing), and it’s by far the most elaborate and most popular. It’s been a Christmas staple for…
Starring: Amy Adams, Jake Gyllenhaal, Michael Shannon, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Isla Fisher, Armie Hammer, Ellie Bamber, Laura Linney.

Nocturnal Animals

The Story: An L.A. art gallery owner reads a novel dedicated to her by the ex-husband she abandoned, and its violent imagery prompts her to reevaluate their relationship. The Lowdown: A twisty thriller hiding a deeper significance, Tom Ford's second film is stylish, dark and irreverent in all the right ways.
Starring: Kika Magalhaes, Will Brill, Olivia Bond, Paul Nazak, Clara Wong, Flora Diaz, Diana Agostini. (English, Portuguese dialogue)

The Eyes of My Mother

The Story: A young girl on an isolated farm suffers a tragic loss that will lead her to address her loneliness through decidedly unorthodox means as an adult. The Lowdown: Nicholas Pesce eschews traditional horror genre tropes while showcasing a deep knowledge of classical cinema in this exemplary debut feature.
Starring: Aisholpan Nurgaiv, Rhys Nurgaiv, Kuksyegyen Almagul, Boshai Dalaikhan.

The Eagle Huntress

The Story: A thirteen-year-old Kazakh girl defies cultural gender roles by excelling in eagle hunting, an avocation traditionally only engaged in by the men of her isolated mountain community. The Lowdown: An aesthetically stunning documentary that presents a powerful feminist message but falls prey to its filmmakers' influence.
Starring: Mackenzie Davis, Caitlin FitzGerald, Lawrence Michael Levine, Khan Baykal, Alexander Koch, Colleen Camp, Jane Adams.

Always Shine

The Story: Two actresses find their friendship torn apart by interpersonal rivalries and society's expectations of women when their vacation takes an unexpectedly surreal turn with fatal consequences. The Lowdown: Director Sophia Takal's lofty ambitions are undermined by an ideologically conflicted script, but exceptional performances save the production from outright failure.
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Starring: Sonia Braga, Maeve Jinkings, Humberto Carrão


The Story: Sole tenant of a Brazilian apartment complex defies offers from construction company to relocate after living there for decades. The Lowdown: An introspective on aging and modern Brazil, this film seriously takes a long time to deliver its very serious commentary.
Starring: Aaron Eckhart, Clarice Van Houten, David Mazouz, Catalina Sandino Moreno


The Story: An unorthodox exorcist (or evictor) who enters the minds of the afflicted is called in to remove a demon from the body of a child. The Lowdown: A curious concept isn't enough to make up for the general goofiness and low budget horrors on display.
Starring: Mary Woronov, Patrick O'Neil, James Patterson, Astrid Heeren, Ondine, Candy Darling, John Carradine

Silent Night, Bloody Night

In Brief: 'Tis the season for holiday horrors with the THPS, so for the next three Thursdays we'll be showing a selection of seasonal slashers sure to sate the sadists. We're kicking things off with the film that started this surprisingly replete subgenre, 1972's Silent Night, Bloody Night. This may well be one of the earliest examples…
Starring: Solveig Dommartin, William Hurt, Sam Neil, Max von Sydow, Jeanne Moreau

Until the End of the World

In Brief: Wim Wenders’ Until the End of the World (1991) is both like a Wenders film (check out the soundtrack) and not. The film — at least till it hits the final stretch — is as quirky as anything the filmmaker ever did, but it’s a bit more playful. It’s certainly one of the more…
Starring: Irene Dunne Cary Grant Beulah Bondi Edgar Buchanan Ann Doran

Penny Serenade

In Brief: As far as two-tissue tearjerkers go, they don't get much weepier than George Stevens' 1941 Cary Grant, Irene Dunne dram-com, Penny Serenade. Grant and Dunne play a couple whose marriage deteriorates following the loss of a child, and the melodrama doesn't come anywhere close to ending there. For all its emotionally exploitative holiday-set heartstring tugging the…
Starring: Timothy Leary, Ram Dass, Robert Redford, Roshi Joan Halifax, Andrew Weil, Huston Smith

Dying to Know: Ram Dass and Timothy Leary

The Story: Timothy Leary and Ram Dass reconcile their fractured friendship and recall their long, strange trip in the months leading up to Leary's death in 1997. The Lowdown: Documentarian Gay Dillingham finds an affective new angle on an extensively covered chapter of counterculture history by using the two men's mythology to address weighty existential dilemmas surrounding mortality.
Starring: Auli’i Cravalho, Dwayne Johnson, Rachel House, Temuera Morrison, Jemaine Clement, Nicole Scherzinger, Alan Tudyk


The Story: In order to save her island community from ecological collapse, a young girl must reconnect with her culture's seafaring past and enlist the help of a trickster demigod to right an ancient wrong. The Lowdown: A slightly more considerate and ethnically inclusive variation on the virtually unassailable Disney model of family-friendly story telling, Moana hits all…
Starring: Warren Beatty, Lily Collins, Alden Ehrenreich, Alec Baldwin, Annette Bening, Haley Bennett, Candice Bergen, Matthew Broderick, Dabney Coleman, Steve Coogan, Ed Harris, Oliver Platt, Martin Sheen, Paul Sorvino

Rules Don’t Apply

The Story: An ambitious young driver and a naive starlet, both under the employ of Howard Hughes, fall in love while struggling with their employer's eccentricities. The Lowdown: A passion project long in the making for director-writer-producer-actor Warren Beatty, Rules Don't Apply is very clearly the singular vision of its creator — with all of the contingent benefits and pitfalls…
Starring: Brad Pitt, Marion Cotillard, Jared Harris, Simon McBurney, Lizzy Caplan, Daniel Betts, Marion Bailey, Matthew Goode


The Story: A Canadian intelligence officer and a French resistance fighter try to start a family under the shadow of suspicion during WWII. The Lowdown: A better concept than the film that resulted, Allied wears its influences on its sleeve but fails to live up to its Classical Hollywood antecedents.
Starring: Billy Bob Thornton, Kathy Bates, Christina Hendricks, Tony Cox, Brett Kelly

Bad Santa 2

The Story: Original "Bad Santa" Willie Soke returns for more misanthropic holiday high jinks, this time with his malicious mother in tow. The Lowdown: An unnecessary sequel to a film that should've been allowed to stand on its own, Bad Santa 2 falls short of its potential — if not of reasonable expectations.
Starring: Eiji Funakoshi, Harumi Kiritachi, Junichirô Yamashiko

Gamera the Giant Monster (Daikaijû Gamera)

In Brief: When the AFS showed the original Godzilla last year, I brought a date who called it the worst movie she had ever seen. We are no longer on the best of terms, and needless to say, she will not be invited to our screening of Gamera. While it's not a great film in the classical sense of…
Starring: Jacqueline Bisset, Valentina Cortese, Dani, Alexandra Stewart, Jean-Pierre Aumont, François Truffaut

Day for Night

In Brief: François Truffaut’s Day for Night (1973) is not only a great movie about movies, but it’s fascinating as an example of how international cinema truly is. By this I mean that while we think of foreign film as a separate world, Day for Night is clearly the kind of movie that could only have…
Starring: Aleksandr Antonov, Vladimir Barsky, Grigori Aleksandrov, Ivan Bobrov

Battleship Potemkin

In Brief: It wasn't that long ago that Sergei Eisenstein's Battleship Potemkin — then known mostly as Potemkin — was in the top five of nearly all lists of the greatest films ever made. While the 1925 Soviet film seems to have been downgraded in recent years, it remains an essential of cinematic literacy, one…
Starring: Joel Edgerton, Ruth Negga, Marton Csokas, Nick Kroll, Terri Abney, Alano Miller, Jon Bass, Michael Shannon


The Story: A white man and a black woman in the Jim Crow South fight to preserve their family in the face of overwhelming odds, eventually taking their case to the Supreme Court and changing the course of civil rights history. The Lowdown: Deeply affective and masterfully expressed, Loving is an expertly crafted recounting of a crucial, if somewhat under-examined,…
Starring: Joe Alwyn, Garrett Hedlund, Vin Diesel, Kristen Stewart, Steve Martin, Chris Tucker

Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk

The Story: A young Iraq War soldier reflects on his heroism and that of his comrades when their story is turned into a patriotic stage spectacle by groups wanting to both celebrate and exploit their service. The Lowdown: More than just a story about war, and the terrific ensemble cast forces audiences to grapple with difficult answers…
Starring: Hailee Steinfeld, Haley Lu Richardson, Blake Jenner, Woody Harrelson, Kyra Sedgwick, Hayden Szeto,

The Edge of Seventeen

The Story: An introverted teen girl struggles to cope with her older brother's romantic interest in her best friend while her life seemingly crumbles around her. The Lowdown: Writer-director Kelly Fremon Craig crafts a funny and affective portrayal of the pitfalls of female adolescence that transcends its genre trappings.