|Fabulous Baker Boys, The (1989)|
|Facts of Life, The (1960)|
|Fahrenheit 451 (1966)|
|Fairhaven (2012) |
January 30, 2013
Fairhaven is one of those indie films that veer between credibility and nonsense.
It breaks into various parts. Its opening scenes stumble, but as it develops it has its partially-redeeming moments.
An early scene, in which ... more
|Fame (2009) |
September 27, 2009
It's a party. Fame rocks!
At least part of the time.
At its best.
It also sputters.
Fame is not as bad as I feared -- given the deluge of negative reviews. If you're a tolerant viewer, you' ... more
|Family Plot (1976)|
|Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009) |
November 22, 2009
Everybody's Fine is a nice picture about a dysfunctional family which keeps secrets. It should appeal to nice, dysfunctional, secretive people in the audience -- which probably is the majority.
One wonders why Robert De Niro wou ... more
|Far from Men (Loin des hommes) (2015) |
April 18, 2015
A movie based on an Albert Camus story. Now that's existential.
In Far from Men (Loin des hommes), French writer/director David Oelhoffen enhances a spare Camus short story originally titled "The Guest," published ... more
|Fat City (1972)|
|Father of the Bride (1991)|
|Father of the Bride 2 (1995)|
|Feast of Love (2007)|
|Felony (2014) |
September 20, 2014
Australia has been an unending source of major movie stars.
Hugh Jackman, Mel Gibson, Cate Blanchett, Nicole Kidman, Toni Collette, Geoffrey Rush, Jacki Weaver, Guy Pearce, Chris Hemsworth, et al., have called Australia home.
The m ... more
|Few Good Men, A (1992)|
|Fifth Estate, The (2013) |
October 19, 2013
The Fifth Estate is a film about audacity made without audacity.
In trying to show the different sides of Julian Assange - the audacious founder of WikiLeaks - it doesn't take a side. It's muddled, uncertain, and som ... more
|Fighter, The (2010) |
December 13, 2010
A 3-ring circus goes to Lowell, Massachusetts, in The Fighter. Based on actual events, this circus is mayhem.
In the main ring are the daredevils, led by junior welterweight boxer "Irish" Micky Ward (Mark Wahlberg).
|Finding Nemo (2003)|
|Finding Vivian Maier (2014) |
April 19, 2014
Recently I was reminded of the value a critic can have when I received a passionate email from critic David Elliott.
David spent his career in Chicago and San Diego writing film reviews for major papers. He was with the San Diego Un ... more
|Finnigan's War (2013) |
February 7, 2014
Finnigan's War is a 21st century documentary about a 20th century war.
Begun in 2010 on the 60th anniversary of the beginning of the Korean War, Finnigan's War is director/writer/producer Conor Timmis' tribute to ... more
|Firemen's Ball, The (1968)|
|Fistful of Dollars, A (1964)|
|Five Easy Pieces (1970)|
|Flags of Our Fathers (2006)|
|Flight (2012) |
November 4, 2012
Flight is a bumpy ride. It swoops and sputters.
Denzel Washington has to hold it together as it dives and spirals. The one constant in the film is the provocative performance of Denzel as pilot Whip Whitaker, who is severely addicte ... more
|Fly, The (1986)|
|Force Majeure (2014) |
January 5, 2015
Force Majeure is the film that probably caused more intense discussion by viewers leaving the theater in 2014.
Not just Swedish viewers - universal viewers.
Force Majeure is a battle of the sexes, and a battle be ... more
|Forgetting Sarah Marshall (2008) |
May 1, 2008
Ok, I give up. The Slackers win.
In the last ten years, the Republican Party has had its revenge, the Nerds have had their revenge, and now the Slackers stand sloppy and tall.
I stand poleaxed.
The latest beating inflicted ... more
|Forgiveness of Blood, The (2012) |
March 7, 2012
The Forgiveness of Blood ends with the image of the expressionless face of a young woman. If audiences demand resolution, this does not provide it.
Is she stuck in the past or looking forward to the future? It is open to interpretat ... more
|Fortune, The (1975)|
|Fountain, The (2006)|
|Four Lions (2010) |
December 4, 2010
Four Lions is a wayward, fitful attempt at incisive comedy.
Finding humor in Four Lions is like searching for a weapon of destruction in Iraq -- where is it? Relating Four Lions to the brilliant Dr. Strangelove< ... more
|Fracture (2007) |
May 17, 2007
When you see a lot of movies, you fervently hope they won't blow it at the end. There's a legion of movies that are fine until the moment of truth, and then they collapse or turn mediocre. Sometimes they just end.
One of my favorite movies tha ... more
|French Connection, The (1971)|
|Friday Night Lights (2004)|
|Friends with Money (2006)|
|From Here to Eternity (1953)|
|From Paris with Love (2010) |
February 3, 2010
From Paris with Love is a raucous cartoon.
You have to decide whether or not you want to take this wild ride. It's dippy, dopey, and dizzying.
The Tasmanian Devil and the Road Runner have nothing on Charlie Max, played w ... more
|From Russia With Love (1963)|
|Frozen River (2008)|
|Funny People (2009)|
|G-Force (2009) |
August 1, 2009
G-Force stands for Gross-Force.
The first gross is the money G-Force has made. When it was released, it went to #1 at the box office, knocking off Harry Potter.
G-Force is a whirlwind movie for family audience ... more
|G.I. Jesus (2006)|
|Gambler, The (1974)|
|Game Change (2011) |
March 11, 2012
Game Change, in a way, is more potent than its political sources. Based on the book by Mark Halperin and John Heilemann (who has one line of dialogue as a reporter in the movie), Game Change was adapted for HBO by Danny Strong.... more
|Gangs of New York (2002)|
|General, The (1927)|
|Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953)|
|Get Low (2010) |
August 14, 2010
Robert Duvall is an acting treasure.
The 79-year old actor has had some of the most memorable roles in American movie history -- often as a supporting actor.
He played Boo Radley in To Kill a Mockingbird (1962), Major Frank ... more
|Get Smart (2008)|
|Getaway, The (1972)|
|Ghost Catchers (1944)|
|Ghost Rider (2007) |
March 1, 2007
Seeing Ghost Rider is like going to Saturday matinee serials at the Rialto eons ago.
It's a fanciful, puerile experience -- a fun day out for 9-year olds. Ghost Rider is a ridiculous melange of cheesy effects, talentless extras, corny plot a ... more
|Ghost Town (2008) |
October 2, 2008
Ricky Gervais has become a major international star. The British comic created and was the lead actor in the original British TV version of The Office (2006) and Extras (2007). He has won two Emmys and a Golden Globe. Now after a few bit parts h ... more
|Ghost Writer, The (2010)|
|Ghosts of Girlfriends Past (2009)|
|Girl in the Cafe, The (2005)|
|Girl Most Likely (2013) |
July 25, 2013
Girl Most Likely is phony from beginning to end. It's disingenuous tripe.
When I first heard much of it was set in Ocean City, New Jersey, I had some faint hopes that the fresh setting might stimulate a little life into the woul ... more
|Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest, The (2010)|
|Girl Who Played with Fire, The (2010)|
|Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (Män som hatar kvinnor), The (2010)|
|Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, The (2011)|
|Glory Road (2006) |
May 1, 2006
Glory Road? Make that Dead End.
The first time I knew race was more of an influence than a seven-foot center was when I went to support the Villanova basketball team in a game against West Virginia at Morgantown. I was a ... more
|Godfather, Part II, The (1974)|
|Godfather, Part III, The (1990)|
|Godfather, The (1972)|
|Godzilla (2014) |
May 13, 2014
Godzilla is primordial pap.
It is teeming with special effects, but everything else is unspecial. Godzilla probably originally was titled Goddrivel, written by Max Borenstein. It is crammed with a bevy of weary coincid ... more
|Gold Rush, The (1925)|
|Gone Baby Gone (2007)|
|Gone Girl (2014) |
September 30, 2014
Something is amiss in Gone Girl.
And it's not just the title character.
Based on Gillian Flynn's tremendously successful, best-selling novel, the transfer to film offered challenges.
In 2014, Gone Girl ... more
|Good Day to Die Hard, A (2013) |
February 13, 2013
A Good Day to Die Hard might be titled Rocky and Bullwinkle Die Hard. Except it's not that subtle. Or that good.
Those going to see the latest John McClane movie (the 5th) expecting another smart and sassy Die Hard, inste ... more
|Good German, The (2007)|
|Good Night, and Good Luck (2005)|
|Good Shepherd, The (2006)|
|Good the Bad and the Ugly, The (1966)|
|Goon (2012) |
April 8, 2012
Goon is based on chutzpah.
At the beginning of the movie, it says, "Based on a true story." That's usually the kiss of inauthenticity.
The movie Goon has a connection, often frayed, with the nonfiction ... more
|Graduate, The (1967)|
|Gran Torino (2008)|
|Grand Budapest Hotel, The (2014) |
April 23, 2015
Most people go to a movie with preconceptions. Expectations.
Sometimes critics go to a movie with only dire preconceptions. A director or actor has burned him or her badly in the past.
I have been avoiding writer/director Noah Baum ... more
|Grand Hotel (1932)|
|Grapes of Wrath, The (1940)|
|Great Debaters, The (2007)|
|Great Gatsby, The (2013) |
May 11, 2013
I went into a dark tavern after I saw Baz Luhrmann's The Great Gatsby. I wanted to get over the stilted, garish glitz - the 1920s embalmed in bloated bronze.
Slumped over the bar was a familiar figure - I did a double ta ... more
|Greatest Show on Earth, The (1952)|
|Green Hornet, The (2011)|
|Green Zone (2010) |
March 19, 2010
Green Zone is one depressing movie.
It's well-acted, well-directed, and well-written. So what's the problem?
The problem is that it's a political film about the snipe hunt for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, ... more
|Guard, The (2011) |
September 5, 2011
The Guard is a vulgar, Irish treat.
You may not understand Gaelic, but if you understand Familiar-Usage-Concerning-Kilkarney, you'll at least understand every other word in The Guard.
The Guard is the bo ... more
|Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)|
|Guns of Navarone, The (1961)|
|Hairspray (2007) |
August 30, 2007
I don't know what all the fuss is about. Lots of folks are raving about Hairspray. It received a 93 percent favorable rating from critics, compiled on Rottentomatoes.com. And audiences are dancing up to the candy counter for Mashed Potatoes. ... more
|Hangover Part 2, The (2011) |
May 26, 2011
Some movies try to solve the mystery of life. The Hangover Part 2 only tries to solve the mystery of the binge. It reaches that easily reachable bar.
The Hangover Part 2 is a ballsy, balls-up trip to nether regions that will ... more
|Hangover, The (2009)|
|Happening, The (2008)|
|Happy Feet (2006)|
|Happy-Go-Lucky (2008) |
February 16, 2009
Happy-Go-Lucky is flibbertigibbet cinema.
Mike Leigh directed Sally Hawkins in this paean to a peahen.
Sally Hawkins plays Sappy -- I mean Poppy. Poppy is a primary school teacher in London; she's on a journey to see the ... more
|Hard Day's Night, A (1964)|
|Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002)|
|Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2 (2011)|
|Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 (2010) |
November 27, 2010
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 plunges into a very dark, foreboding, disorienting vision.
It furiously teleports us to various bleak and alienating mise-en-scenes, to prepare us for the big finale of Part 2 next summer ... more
|Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009) |
July 22, 2009
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is an intoxicating potion of teenage hormones and evil spirits. Both are raging.
In the sixth movie in the Potter series -- one of the best -- about Harry's exploits at Hogwarts School of W ... more
|Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2007)|
|Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004)|
|Haywire (2011) |
February 5, 2012
What does a director do when the star of his movie is not an accomplished actress?
Director Steven Soderbergh faces that obstacle in Haywire, which stars Gia Carano, the Mixed Martial Arts star. He goes to great lengths to protect h ... more
|Headhunters (2012) |
June 14, 2012
Headhunters (Hodejegerne) is a roiling Norwegian mix of Hitchcock and Wile E. Coyote, with a generous dose of feces and blood.
If that sounds like a strange, absurd concoction, it is.
Headhunters starts slowly ... more
|Heaven Can Wait (1978)|
|Heiress, The (1949)|
|Help, The (2011) |
August 11, 2011
The Help is Mississippi-lite. It's certainly not Mississippi Burning (1988); it's Mississippi on Low Heat.
This doesn't mean it's not an entertaining movie: it is quite enjoyable. It just means it avoids authe ... more
|History Boys (2006)|
|History of the Eagles (2013)|
|History of Violence, A (2005)|
|Hoax, The (2007) |
April 12, 2007
The Hoax is the real thing.
It's a breezy, engaging caper. It's like a heist film of the 1970s, but the pilferers are literary men not bank robbers.Set in the early '70s, The Hoax rediscovers one of the essential themes of that era -- it ... more
|Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, The (2012) |
December 13, 2012
Seeing The Hobbit is like going to a timeshare presentation. First you have to sit through the boring stuff before you can take advantage of the spectacular benefits.
"This is the shire here. Please sign on the dotted line, and ... more
|Home at the End of the World, A (2004)|
|Honkytonk Man (1982)|
|Horse Whisperer, The (1998)|
|Hot Fuzz (2007)|
|How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000)|
|How to Train Your Dragon (2010)|
|Hunger Games, The (2012)|
|Hunger Games: Catching Fire, The (2013) |
December 1, 2013
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire probably shouldn't work. It's a sequel - the second of four films adapted from Suzanne Collins' literary trilogy.
The film is padded to a length of two hours and 26 minutes. It adds a ... more
|Hunting Party, The (2007)|
|Hurt Locker, The (2009)|
|Hustler, The (1961)|
|I Am Big Bird: The Caroll Spinney Story (2015) |
May 21, 2015
In the present contemporary era of video games and an increasingly militarized society, gentleness is going the way of humility. It's hard to find. But Big Bird still has it. He's an 8-foot tall, yellow bundle of joyful sweetness; he alway ... more
|I Confess (1953)|
|I'm Not There (2007)|
|I'm Still Here (2010) |
September 11, 2010
There has been a lot of discussion by reviewers whether or not I'm Still Here is a put-on.
Casey Affleck has made a "documentary" about his addled brother-in-law Joaquin Phoenix and JP's announcement that he is not g ... more
|Iceman Cometh, The (1973)|
|Ides of March, The (2011) |
October 6, 2011
The Ides of March is like the Obama administration -- it doesn't deliver.
Movies about politics should have power and, perhaps, even sting. When they're diluted, because of attempts to reach the mainstream, they often lose t ... more
|Imitation Game, The (2014) |
November 27, 2014
2014 may go down as the year the music kidnapped the movies.
Film after film this year is awash in music that tries to lead the audience by their ears.
It's as though directors - maybe the producers - don't trust th ... more
|Impossible, The (2012) |
December 18, 2012
The Impossible is like a big budget Lifetime saga. It's a mixture of screams and violins.
The movie is relentless punishment and relentless music. You'd better have a tolerance for both. One might leave the theater wondering ... more
|In a Better World (2010) |
May 2, 2011
How does a pacifist prevail in an ugly, hostile world? How do children grow up in a world of isolation, alienation, grief, and bullying?
The Danish film In a Better World won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film dealing ... more
|In the House (2013) |
May 31, 2013
In the House is a clever, cluttered, and transcendent film.
Director/scriptwriter Francois Ozon knows his Hitchcock well. He employs him effectively, but the clutter is his own.
Many of the French have always exalted Hitchc ... more
|In the Land of Blood and Honey (2011) |
March 3, 2012
It's hard to recommend a movie such as In the Land of Blood and Honey. It's more than two hours of misery and despair.
In the Land of Blood and Honey is a relentless, disturbing chronicle of cruelty. It is bleak and b ... more
|In the Line of Fire (1993)|
|In the Valley of Elah (2007)|
|Incendies (2011) |
June 7, 2011
Incendies is a grueling, harrowing trek in search of identity.
In French and Arabic, it was a Canadian nominee for the Best Foreign-Language Oscar. Director Denis Villaneuve based the movie on a play by Wajdi Mouawad.
Inc ... more
|Incredible Burt Wonderstone, The (2013) |
March 21, 2013
At one point in The Incredible Burt Wonderstone, Jim Carrey (street and web magician Steve Gray) says, "Sorry. Guilty pleasure."
Those three words capture the fitful, sometimes engaging entertainment.
Jay Mohr (anoth ... more
|Incredible Hulk, The (2008)|
|Incredibles, The (2004)|
|Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008)|
|Infinitely Polar Bear (2015) |
July 13, 2015
It's been a long time since I had dinner with Basil Rathbone. We argued about modern theatre. To my eternal regret, we didn't talk about Sherlock Holmes.
Now, decades later, in Mr. Holmes, Sherlock is in his dotage. It's ... more
|Informant!, The (2009)|
|Inglourious Basterds (2009)|
|Inherent Vice (2014)|
|Inside Llewyn Davis (2013)|
|Inside Out (2015) |
June 22, 2015
Film Critics can be like Riley in Inside Out.
Our core memories are precious.
When a character in Pixar's Inside Out makes an allusion to "Jake," it jogs the Chinatown core with aplomb.
I ... more
|Insider, The (1999)|
|Into the Wild (2007)|
|Intolerable Cruelty (2003)|
|Iron Lady, The (2011)|
|Iron Man (2008)|
|Iron Man 2 (2010) |
May 10, 2010
Iron Man 2 is a raucous, mediocre movie. It's a loud, inarticulate shout to greet the summer.
Iron Man 2 introduces the summer movies with generic noise and patented chaos. It's as summery as a Slurpee. Summer is the ... more
|Iron Man 3 (2013) |
May 5, 2013
I want my 4D.
I'm an American, and I should have 4D.
I've got 3D, but I want 4D. And 5D when it is concocted.
Who do the Asians think they are?
Iron Man 3 is in 4D only in Japan, China , and South Kor ... more
|Irrational Man (2014) |
July 31, 2015
What did Kierkegaard think of contrivance?
Woody Allen must have missed that chapter.
In his new film Irrational Man, Woody substitutes Off-the-Cliff Notes. Irrational Man is a rigged, contrived film about a philosoph ... more
|It Should Happen to You (1954)|
|It's a Wonderful Life (1946)|
|J. Edgar (2011)|
|Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit (2014) |
January 22, 2014
In Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, actor/director Kenneth Branagh comes up with a new form: IMAX-EGO.
Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit is a film that reels, stumbles, slides, and jerks. Behind the curtain - and in front of it - ... more
|Jersey Boys (2014)|
|Jimmy P. (2014) |
February 26, 2014
Jimmy P. is one of those movies that is elevated by its acting. An otherwise lackluster film is given impact and quality by the humanizing performances of its leading actors.
Jimmy P. - based on the nonfiction book Rea ... more
|Joan of Arc (1948)|
|Joe (2014) |
April 28, 2014
Joe is a shaggy killer-dog story.
It has the trappings of reality, but it fakes it.
Joe is the tale of struggling Southerner Joe (Nicolas Cage), who bonds with 15-year old Gary (Tye Sheridan), who wants to work with h ... more
|Jonas Brothers: The 3D Concert Experience (2009) |
March 19, 2009
I went to see the movie called Jonas Brothers: The 3D Concert Experience.
Not The Who. Certainly not The Who. The Jonas Brothers. They're more The What?
The Jonas Brothers are a contemporary phenomenon - ... more
|Joshua Then and Now (1985)|
|Judge, The (2014) |
October 11, 2014
Writing matters. It really does.
It becomes painfully apparent in The Judge, which has a weak, plodding screenplay that dulls its actors and wastes its possibilities. The Judge is not the film it could be and should be. It ... more
|Jules and Jim (1962)|
|Julie & Julia (2009)|
|Jungle Book, The (1967)|
|Jurassic Park III (2001)|
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