Movie Reviews

Starring: Cate Blanchett, Lily James, Richard Madden, Helena Bonham Carter, Nonso Anozie, Stellan Skarsgård, Derek Jacobi


The Story: Live action version of the Cinderella story. The Lowdown: It looks terrific. It's also faithful to a fault — and that's exactly the problem, since it makes it on the dull, unadventurous side.
Starring: Liam Neeson, Ed Harris, Joel Kinnaman, Boyd Holbrook, Vincent D’Onofrio

Run All Night

The Story: A father and his estranged son must outrun his lifelong friend, a gangster whose son they had a hand in killing. The Lowdown: A competent, often entertaining action flick that gets bogged down with its need for heavy plot dynamics.
Starring: Heinrich George, Kristina Söderbaum, Horst Caspar, Gustav Diessl, Paul Wegener


In Brief: Kolberg (1945) is famous — or more properly, notorious — as Josef Goebbels' massively expensive propaganda flop. The idea behind this yarn about the town of Kolberg organizing a resistance front to Napoleon's army was that it was going to put the fight back into the German people. Well, not only was it…
Starring: Harvey Fierstein, Anne Bancroft, Matthew Broderick, Karen Young, Eddie Castrodad, Ken Page

Torch Song Trilogy

In Brief: Harvery Fierstein adapts and stars in this film of his hit play. It's often rather simply described as being about "a gay man's search for love." Well, yes, it is that, but it's a lot more. Fierstein plays Arnold Beckoff, an unattached professional drag queen with a history of failed romances that he…
Starring: Elena Lyadova, Vladimir Vdovichenkov, Aleksey Serebryakov, Roman Madyanov


The Story: A lower-middle-class man fights the system to save his land while struggling to hold his already splintered family together. The Lowdown: Grim and deeply pessimistic, the film is nonetheless compelling viewing and deserving of our attention.
Starring: Marshall Thompson, Shirley Patterson, Kim Spalding, Ann Doran, Dabbs Greer, Ray Corrigan

It! The Terror from Beyond Space

In Brief: Though it's pretty indefensible as objectively good in any normal sense, It! The Terror from Beyond Space (1958) is a towering classic of 1950s sci-fi horror cheese. It's more fun, more memorable and certainly more influential than the handful of big-budget sci-fi movies of the era. After all, none of its pricier brethren can lay…
Starring: James Stewart, Josephine Hull, Peggy Dow, Charles Drake, Cecil Kellaway


In Brief: Mary Chase's play Harvey won the 1945 Pulitzer Prize for drama, which speaks volumes about the value of a Pulitzer Prize. It is whimsy in its most virulent form — you know, the kind where we are told that crazy people are saner, nicer and better than the rest of us. The formula…
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Starring: Maggie Smith, Judi Dench, Bill Nighy, Dev Patel, Ronald Pickup, Celia Imrie, Richard Gere, David Strathairn

The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

The Story: Further events with the residents and operators of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. The Lowdown: It's not up to the original and probably doesn't need to exist at all, but this follow-up is certainly a fine way to spend a couple of hours with our old friends from the first movie.
Starring: Vince Vaughn, Tom Wilkinson, Dave Franco, Sienna Miller, Nick Frost

Unfinished Business

The Story: A businessman and his two inept partners travel the world trying to seal one huge deal before their company turns to ruin. The Lowdown: Incredibly maudlin, overtly unfunny R-rated comedy with an aimless, unsatisfying plot and zero likable characters.
Starring: Sheila Vand, Arash Marandi, Marshall Manesh, Mozhan Marnò, Dominic Rains

A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night

The Story: A lone female vampire prowls the nearly deserted streets of Bad City, Iran. The Lowdown: Fascinating, moody, deliberately paced, often compelling — and very odd — take on the vampire genre mixed with the art film. It's also flawed in some serious ways, but on balance, it's certainly worth a look. It's also…
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.