Movie Reviews

Starring: Jafar Panahi


In Brief: There's censorship, and then there's the Iranian government's treatment of director Jafar Panahi. Despite a 20-year ban on making films or writing screenplays, Panahi has continued to work and rack up festival awards, smuggling his films out of the country in defiance of all efforts to silence him. Winner of the 2015 Berlin International…
Starring: Diana Wynyard, Anton Walbrook, Frank Pettingell, Cathleen Cordell


In Brief: No, this is not the Gaslight you're thinking of — this is the 1940 original that you've probably never seen, starring Diana Wynyard and Anton Walbrook in the roles Ingrid Bergman and Charles Boyer would make famous four years later for MGM. Directed by Thorold Dickinson, this version is definitely not as polished as George Cukor's 1944…
Starring: Tom Hardy, Michelle Williams, Riz Ahmed, Scott Haze, Reid Scott, Jenny Slate, Melora Walters


The Story: A down-on-his-luck journalist finds an unlikely path to redemption when an alien life-form invades his body, giving him superpowers and a hunger for human flesh. The Lowdown: A silly, mindless comic book movie that drops the pretension and revels in its own ridiculousness.
Starring: Bradley Cooper, Lady Gaga, Andrew Dice Clay, Dave Chappelle, Sam Elliott

A Star Is Born

The Story: A rock star with addiction problems falls in love with a talented singer-songwriter after an unlikely meet-cute and fosters her career, only to see their relationship unravel as her success eclipses his own. The Lowdown: A classic story made utterly redundant and irrelevant by deficient writing and direction — but partially redeemed by a strong…
Starring: Peter Lorre, Otto Wernicke, Theodor Loos, Ellen Widmann


In Brief: Yes, Fritz Lang’s first sound film, M (1931), has a few awkward moments, in which Lang hasn’t quite mastered the new medium, but this old warhorse of art cinema works more than it doesn’t and still registers as a compelling work by one of the undisputed masters of film. And calling it an old…
Starring: Samuel L. Jackson, Jason Flemyng, Greta Scacchi, Colm Feore, Jean-Luc Bideau

The Red Violin

In Brief: The so-called portmanteau film — a collection of stories in a single vessel — is by its very nature a tricky proposition. Even the best of them — Julien Duvivier’s Tales of Manhattan (1942), the multidirector Dead of Night (1945) — rise and fall on the quality of the individual episodes. Duvivier’s film, for…
Starring: Gael Garcia Bernal, Leonardo Ortizgris, Alfredo Castro, Lisa Owen, Bernardo Velasco, Leticia Bredice

Museo (Museum)

The Story: Two veterinary students pull off an impossible museum heist but find themselves unprepared for what comes next. The Lowdown: A remarkably stylish and visually inventive crime thriller that breaks new ground in an old genre.
Starring: Benjamin Dickey, Alia Shawkat, Josh Hamilton, Charlie Sexton, Sam Rockwell, Steve Zahn, Kris Kristofferson, Richard Linklater, James Ourso


The Story: A biographical dramatization of the tragic life and untimely death of influential country singer-songwriter Blaze Foley. The Lowdown: A touching and evocative portrait of a troubled genius dragged down by inner demons in a classic case of life imitating art.
Starring: (voices) Channing Tatum, James Corden, Zendaya, LeBron James, Common


The Story: A young yeti begins to question everything he's believed in when he meets a seemingly mythical human being. The Lowdown: A pleasant and frantic animated movie with a worthy message, but nothing really inspiring to set it apart.
Starring: Kevin Hart, Tiffany Haddish

Night School

The Story: A dyslexic high-school dropout must attend night school and get his GED to land his dream job and win back the love of his life. The Lowdown: Try as he might, director Malcolm D. Lee can't recapture the near-transcendent raunchiness of his hard R-rated Girl Trip within the softer, cuddlier PG-13 formula.
Starring: Emma Thompson, Fionn Whitehead, Stanley Tucci, Ben Chaplin, Eileen Walsh

The Children Act

The Story: A judge must weigh her legal obligations against her emotions when she decides the case of a young Jehovah's Witness refusing medical treatment for his leukemia. The Lowdown: A bloated melodrama with no clear objective and a murky moral sensibility.
Starring: Amy Forsyth, Reign Edwards, Bex Taylor-Klaus, Tony Todd, Roby Attal, Christian James, Matt Mercurio, Stephen Conroy

Hell Fest

The Story: Six hormone-addled college students must evade a masked killer in a horror-themed amusement park. The Lowdown: What the actual hell.
Starring: Gabriele Ferzetti, Monica Vitti, Lea Massari, Dominique Blanchar


In Brief: When this ran in 2007, I wrote: “The four-star rating I’ve afforded Michelangelo Antonioni’s L’Avventura (1960) is born of a desire to approach the film as objectively as possible. Objectively, this is an important film — maybe even close to a great film. The rich, detailed, deep-focus black-and-white images that make up the…
Starring: Chevy Chase, Bill Hader, Amy Poehler, Maya Rudolph, Martin Short, Melissa McCarthy, Lorne Michaels, Paul Shaffer, Cecily Strong, Laraine Newman

Love, Gilda

The Story: A biograpic documenting the life of comedian and cancer crusader Gilda Radner. The Lowdown: A lightweight but professional doc that provides little in the way of new insight but plenty of personality thanks to its scintillating subject.
Starring: Moira Shearer, Robert Rounseville, Robert Helpman, Pamela Brown, Leonide Massine

The Tales of Hoffman

In Brief: This is the odd-film-out in the major works of Michael Powell and Emerich Pressburger — rarely spoken of in the same breath with their standard classics, The Life and Death of Col. Blimp, Stairway to Heaven, Black Narcissus and The Red Shoes, yet clearly part of the same creative impetus behind those films. It’s a…
Starring: Martina Gedeck, Ulrich Mühe, Sebastian Koch, Ulrich Tukur

The Lives of Others

This is one of those movies I’m supposed to like a lot more than I do. But the fact is that I’m pretty indifferent to this as filmmaking, despite the quality of its screenplay and acting. That isn’t to say it’s a bad movie — just one that, for me, misses greatness. Many people feel…
Starring: Oscar Isaac, Olivia Wilde, Mandy Patinkin, Olivia Cooke, Antonio Banderas

Life Itself

The Story: A sprawling, time-hopping metanarrative on the subjects of love and loss. The Lowdown: Yet another insipid and cringe-worthy melodrama taking the "it's all connected" route while landing the biggest dissociative emotional belly flop of the year.
Starring: Michael Moore

Fahrenheit 11/9

The Story: An odd assessment of Donald Trump's presidency from one of the cinema's most provocative voices. The Lowdown: A disappointingly disorganized political analysis from "documentarian" Michael Moore that misses its chance to say anything new or to say anything well.
Starring: Jack Black, Cate Blanchett, Owen Vaccaro, Sunny Suljic, Kyle MacLachlan

The House with a Clock in Its Walls

The Story: A young orphan comes to live with his uncle, a warlock in the midst of a supernatural struggle to save the world. The Lowdown: Horror director Eli Roth makes a marginally convincing transition into PG territory with this fantasy adventure flick that almost works.