Movie Reviews

Starring: Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Aaron Paul, Octavia Spencer, Nick Offerman, Megan Mullally, Mary Kay Place


The Story: Story of a young woman's efforts to deal with her increasing alcoholism. The Lowdown: Smashed isn't entirely successful — sometimes sticking too closely to the movie alcoholic playbook — but sometimes it bears the unmistakable stamp of truth, especially in Mary Elizabeth Winstead's performance.
Starring: (Voices of) Chris Pine, Alec Baldwin, Jude Law, Isla Fisher, Hugh Jackman

Rise of the Guardians

The Story: The Guardians of Childhood bring their collective powers together to defeat the evil machinations of Pitch Black, the bringer of nightmares. The Lowdown: Surprisingly funny and creative with a terrific look. If you're looking for a family film, this is it.
Starring: Suraj Sharma, Irrfan Khan, Ayush Tandon, Gautam Belur, Adil Hussain, Rafe Spall, Gérard Depardieu

Life of Pi

The Story: The story of a young man and a tiger adrift for 227 days in a lifeboat and their struggle to survive. The Lowdown: Ang Lee's film is a triumph of technical wonders and magnificent images, but how satisfying it is on thematic and dramatic levels is likely going to be a question of…
Starring: Keira Knightley, Jude Law, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Domhnall Gleeson, Kelly Macdonald, Alicia Vikander

Anna Karenina

The Story: Bold new film version of the Tolstoy novel about the ill-fated love of a married woman falling for a dashing young man. The Lowdown: The most remarkable — certainly the most visually stunning — film of the year, this rethinking of Anna Karenina is a glorious spectacle of theater and film fused into…
Starring: Tony Curtis, Michael Ansara, Susan Strasberg, Stella Stevens, Ann Sothern, Burgess Meredith

The Manitou

In Brief: There is a strong possibility that William Girdler's The Manitou (1978) is the most preposterous horror movie of all time — and with one of the most peculiar casts ever assembled, starting with 53-year-old Tony Curtis as a swinging psychic of dubious authenticity. But really, how can anyone resist a movie that involves…
Starring: Gael García Bernal, Diego Luna, Maribel Verdú, Marta Aura

Y Tu Mamá También

In Brief: Alfonso Cuarón's brilliant and occasionally shocking (to some) 2001 film that translates the American "road film" into Mexican terms of both a sexual and political nature in a story about two indolent young men and an older woman on a trip to a beach that may not even exist. Perceptive and moving and…
Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Josh Peck, Josh Hutcherson, Adrianne Palicki, Isabel Lucas

Red Dawn

The Story: A ragtag group of teens must fight for their freedom after a surprise invasion by North Korea. The Lowdown: Run-of-the-mill action filmmaking and a healthy dose of xenophobic paranoia set inside a phony-feeling world full of one dimensional characters.
Starring: Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, Edward Everett Horton, Helen Broderick, Erik Rhodes, Eric Blore

Top Hat

In Brief: Long considered the best of the Astaire-Rogers movies, Top Hat has been downgraded to second place in recent years, but it remains a pure delight. After all, you've got Fred and Ginger, a studio-created Venice, a script that's both witty and silly, great supporting players, stylish direction and five Irving Berlin songs. Movies…
Starring: Charlton Heston, Betty Hutton, James Stewart, Dorothy Lamour, Cornel Wilde, Gloria Grahame

The Greatest Show on Earth

In Brief: Cecil B. DeMille goes to the circus — with everything that implies. It features big (or at least biggish) stars in melodramatic nonsense set against the big top. There are also circus acts, of course — lots and lots of circus acts, sometimes with stars (and their stunt doubles) taking part. The naïve…
Starring: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Catherine Keener, Christopher Walken, Mark Ivanir, Imogen Poots

A Late Quartet

The Story: When the cellist in a famous string quartet is forced to retire for health reasons, long-simmering tensions threaten to tear the group apart. The Lowdown: High-minded and well acted by all concerned, but not entirely persuasive. Neither the story nor the direction are up to the cast.
Starring: Daniel Day-Lewis, Sally Field, David Strathairn, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, James Spader


The Story: President Abraham Lincoln attempts to pass the 13th Amendment to the Constitution while the Civil War rages and various political pitfalls loom in the background. The Lowdown: A far too dreary, stylistically drab and solemn biopic that’s buoyed by a handful of strong performances, mostly from Daniel Day-Lewis.
Starring: Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner, Peter Facinelli, Elizabeth Reaser, Michael Sheen

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn — Part 2

The Story: It's the big showdown between the Cullens and the Volturi in the final episode of The Twilight Saga — and if you don't know who they are, this probably isn't for you. The Lowdown: Less stylish, but more entertaining than Breaking Dawn — Part 1, this still isn't much of a movie —…
Starring: Warner Oland, Boris Karloff, Keye Luke, William Demarest, Thomas Beck, Charlotte Henry

Charlie Chan at the Opera

In Brief: It's murder at the opera — and it's all somehow tied to the escape of a lunatic (Boris Karloff) from an asylum. Fortunately, Charlie Chan (Warner Oland) and his son Lee (Keye Luke) are on hand to see that the official police on the case don't get things wrong. One of the best…
Starring: Daniel Craig, Judi Dench, Javier Bardem, Ralph Fiennes, Naomie Harris, Albert Finney, Ben Whishaw


The Story: James Bond comes to grips with whether his type of agent still has a place in the modern world while taking down a revenge-seeking cyber-terrorist. The Lowdown: Slick and good to look at, Skyfall does some things very well, but goes on too long and wants to be weightier than it is.
Starring: John Hawkes, Helen Hunt, William H. Macy, Moon Bloodgood, Annika Marks

The Sessions

The Story: Fact-based story about a man in an iron lung and his efforts to have sexual relations. The Lowdown: The Sessions largely fulfills its promise as a frequently amusing, sometimes touching little movie of the uplifting variety, but never quite transcends this sense of well-intentioned TV drama.
Starring: Johnny Depp, Frank Langella, Lena Olin, Emmanuelle Seigner, Barbara Jefford

The Ninth Gate

In Brief: Roman Polanski's 1999 supernatural thriller The Ninth Gate is perhaps the closest the filmmaker has ever come to making a straightforward horror movie — even if it takes a good deal of the film's running time to get to the straightforward horror content. (Well, it's Polanski, after all, and he's not known as…
Starring: Duane Jones, Judith O'Dea, Karl Hardman, Marilyn Eastman, Keith Wayne

Night of the Living Dead

In Brief: This isn't just a screening of Night of the Living Dead (1968). This is the film (in a beautiful print, by the way) reconfigured (so far as the music is concerned) by local artists Silver Machine. Does the new musical track work? A good deal of the time, yes, it does. Does it…
Starring: Roger Moore, James Mason, Anthony Perkins, Michael Parks, David Hedison


In Brief: Roger Moore (taking a break from his 007 duties) plays a misogynistic, cat-loving Scot named Rufus Excalibur ffolkes: a man with a commando unit all his own who is called in to deal with terrorists (headed by Anthony Perkins, no less). The terrorists are threatening to blow up an oil rig in the…
Starring: Penélope Cruz, Carmen Maura, Lola Dueñas, Blanca Portillo, Yohana Cobo


In Brief: Perhaps Pedro Almodóvar's most viewer-friendly film, Volver is certainly the filmmaker's mellowest work. (All right, so it contains three murders, but, hey, they're understandable murders.) Clearly, Almodóvar was in a nostalgic frame of mind — possibly because the film marked the return of Carmen Maura to his roster of performers after 18 years…
Starring: Jason Schwartzman, Mark Wahlberg, Dustin Hoffman, Lily Tomlin, Jude Law, Naomi Watts

I Heart Huckabees

In Brief: David O. Russell's offbeat "existential comedy" about unusual detectives (Dustin Hoffman and Lily Tomlin) who claim to be able to help their clients solve the big questions that plague their lives — chiefly the questions beleaguring a poet/activist (Jason Schwartzman) and a disatisfied fireman (Mark Wahlberg). An effortlessly quirky film that's a good…
Starring: Carole Lombard, Fredric March, Walter Connolly, Charles Winninger, Sig Ruman

Nothing Sacred

The Story: Wrongly diagnosed with radium poisoning, a young woman becomes the toast of New York because she's dying — only she isn't. The Lowdown: William Wellman's unflinchingly cynical screwball comedy about the cult of celebrity scales the heights of satire as few films ever have. Stars Carole Lombard (gorgeous in Technicolor) and Fredric March…