Movie Reviews

au hasard
Starring: Anne Wiazemsky, Walter Green, Francois Lafarge, Jean-Claude Guilbert, Philippe Asselin

Au Hasard Balthazar

In Brief: Gorgeous black-and-white cinematography marks every scene — indeed every shot — of Robert Bresson’s art-house perennial Au Hasard Balthazar (1966), a methodically paced, symbolic film that centers on the life of a donkey named Balthazar. That may not sound like the most appealing material for a feature film, but the key word is “symbolic.” This…
Starring: Greta Garbo, John Gilbert, Ian Keith, Lewis Stone, C. Aubrey Smith

Queen Christina

In Brief: Rouben Mamoulian's Queen Christina (1933) is probably the best film the legendary Greta Garbo ever made. It’s certainly in the running, and has two of the most iconic Garbo moments in her entire filmography. The film is more or less a biopic of the 17th-century queen of Sweden, but it’s not that interested in history.…
Starring: Paul Williams, William Finley, Jessica Harper, Gerrit Graham, George Memmoli

Phantom of the Paradise

In Brief: Brian De Palma fell into the category of the unruly little brother in the 1970s trio of him, Scorsese and Coppola. He was the one who was more interested in having fun with filmmaking than he was in being controlled or making any kind of a statement. Nothing about tackling “weighty” material seems to…
Film Noir Poster - Murder, My Sweet_White background
Starring: Dick Powell, Claire Trevor, Anne Shirley, Otto Kruger, Mike Mazurki, Miles Mander

Murder, My Sweet

In Brief: Edward Dmytryk's Murder, My Sweet (1944) isn't the first time a Raymond Chandler novel was brought to the screen. In fact, the same source novel (Farewell, My Lovely) had been reconfigured as The Falcon Takes Over two years earlier. But it did mark the first onscreen appearance of Chandler's private detective Philip Marlowe…
Starring: Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Gerard Butler, Brenton Thwaites, Geoffrey Rush, Chadwick Boseman, Elodie Yung, Rufus Sewell

Gods of Egypt

The Story: Outlandish rival-gods hooey. The Lowdown: It's really big — and really hokey and loud and unconvincing. The most astounding thing is how something this frantic and dumb still manages to be tedious.
blonde venus
Starring: Marlene Dietrich, Herbert Marshall, Cary Grant, Dickie Moore, Rita La Roy, Robert Emmett O'Connor

Blonde Venus

In Brief: Any movie that has Marlene Dietrich clamber out of a gorilla suit, don a blonde Afro and sing “Hot Voodoo” in front of a chorus line of African warrior dancing girls is OK by me — and Josef von Sternberg’s wonderfully preposterous Blonde Venus (1932) is that movie.  It’s everything a Sternberg film should be,…
Starring: Taron Egerton, Hugh Jackman, Edvin Endre, Christopher Walken

Eddie the Eagle

The Story: An awkward, unathletic Brit ends up an unlikely Olympic ski-jumper. The Lowdown: Simplistic and cliched like so many other uplifting sports films, but with a enough charm and a pleasantness to work as simple, feel-good entertainment.
Starring: Chiwetel Ejiofor, Casey Affleck, Woody Harrelson, Anthony Mackie, Kate Winslet, Aaron Paul, Norman Reedus, Clifton Collins Jr.

Triple 9

The Story: A gang of corrupt cops and ex-military contractors beholden to a Russian mob boss are tasked with a heist that can only be accomplished by luring a rookie police officer to his death. The Lowdown: A passable potboiler, ultimately full of sound and fury signifying nothing.
Starring: Adriana Asti, Julien Bertheau, Jean-Claude Brialy, Adolfo Celi, Milena Vukotic

The Phantom of Liberty

In Brief: Apart from the inevitable college screening of Un Chien Andalou (1927), my first acquaintance with Luis Buñuel was made in 1982 at the 47th Street Theater in New York City with a double bill of The Phantom of Liberty (1974) and The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie (1972). I’m not sure a more complete full-immersion Buñuel experience is possible. Whether…
Starring: Kristoffer Joner, Thomas Bo Larsen. Ane Dahl Torp, Fridtjov Saheim, Jonas Hoff Oftebro, Arthur Berning

The Wave

The Story: A geologist works against time and skeptics to save people from an impending tsunami in Norway. The Lowdown: Straightforward, solid disaster picture made a little different by its location.
Starring: (Voices of) Vinicius Garcia, Felipe Zilse, Alê Abreu, Lu Horta, Marco Aurelio Campos

Boy & the World

The Story: A little boy leaves his home in country in search of his father. The Lowdown: Less a story than an essay on the evils of modern life — its mechanization, dehumanization, etc. — tied to its thin narrative. Some of it is decidedly impressive, and has earned the film an Oscar nomination. Undeniably…
fellini satyricon
Starring: Martin Potter, Hiram Keller, Max Born, Salvo Randone, Mario Romagnoli, Capucine

Fellini Satyricon

In Brief: The tag line kind of says it all, "Rome. Before Christ. After Fellini." Fellini Satyricon (1969) is Fellini at his most unchecked and unfiltered. Calling the film disjointed is to miss the point, since it was adapted — or perhaps Fellinified — from Petronius' Satyricon, which exists only in fragments. The upshot of…
Starring: Stephan James, Jason Sudeikis, Eli Goree, Shanice Banton, Carice van Houten


The Story: The based on a true story of Jesse Owens as he heads to the 1936 Olympics in Berlin and the heart of Nazi Germany. The Lowdown: Despite the obvious importance (both historically and currently) of Owens’ story, Race is little more than a by-the-book uplifting sports film, with every cliché this entails.
Starring: Gregory Peck, Richard Basehart, Leo Genn, James Robertson Justice, Harry Andrews

Moby Dick

In Brief: If we must have a film of Moby Dick (and it seems we must), then John Huston's 1956 film is probably the best we're going to get. It offers a reasonable approximation of the story in terms that can best be described as operatic. No, it has little subtext, but it's strong stuff…
Starring: Joseph Fiennes, Tom Felton, Peter Firth, Cliff Curtis, Stewart Scudamore


The Story: The story of the period right after the death of Christ from the point of view of a Roman charged with finding Christ's body. The Lowdown: Better acting and directing than most faith-based films, but it ultimately sells its own premise short by being too easy, and too obvious, too soon.
Starring: Géza Röhrig, Levente Molnár, Urs Rechn

Son of Saul

The Story: A Hungarian Jew awaiting execution in Auschwitz is pressed into service overseeing the gassing and cremation of his fellow prisoners, until the death of a boy who may be his own son sends him on a quest to steal the child’s body and secure a Rabbi to perform a religious burial. The Lowdown:…
Starring: Carmen Maura, Angel de Andrés-López, Chus Lampreave, Verónica Forqué

What Have I Done to Deserve This?

In Brief: A much-beleaguered housewife addicted to No-Doze, a drug-dealing son, a crazy mother-in-law with a pet lizard, a son traded to a pedophilic dentist for the bill, a prostitute across the hall, a scheme to forge Hitler’s memoirs, a suicidal low-rent Lotte Lenya, kleptomania, murder (with a soupçon of Hitchcock), even a spot of…
1935_Werewolf_img3 (2)
Starring: Henry Hull, Warner Oland, Valerie Hobson, Lester Matthews, Spring Byington, Lawrence Grant

Werewolf of London

In Brief: Perhaps because it lacks a big horror star or a cult director, Stuart Walker’s Werewolf of London (1935) has never received quite the acknowledgement it deserves — despite the fact that it’s the first werewolf movie ever made. What’s particularly unfortunate about this is, for my money, Werewolf of London remains the best werewolf picture of all…
Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Morena Baccarin, Ed Skrein, T.J. Miller, Gina Carano, Brianna Hildebrand, Stefan Kapicic


The Story: A wisecracking, foul-mouthed superhero is out for revenge on the man who turned him into his present disfigured state. The Lowdown: Lavishly vulgar, completely disrespectful, gratuitously bloody — and an awful lot of tasteless fun if you're not turned off by those things.
Starring: Dakota Johnson, Alison Brie, Leslie Mann, Rebel Wilson, Anders Holm, Damon Wayans Jr., Jake Lacy

How to Be Single

The Story: Multiple stories — all built around Dakota Johnson going to New York to learn what it's like to be single. The Lowdown: It's not terrible, but neither is it especially good. It's mostly just innocuous.
Starring: Anya Taylor-Joy, Ralph Ineson, Kate Dickie, Harvey Scrimshaw, Bathsheba Garnett

The Witch

The Story: A family of Puritans is banished from its New England enclave over unspecified theological disagreements and strikes out to build a life in an unforgiving wilderness, only to find that the greatest threat they face is far from natural. The Lowdown: One of the creepiest horror movies to surface in years, The Witch…