Amour (review)

Jean-Louis Trintignant and Emmanuelle Riva play a Parisian couple in their 80s. When she has an attack, he nurses her thru the final agonizing days. Michael Haneke is a skilled director, who’s at his most stark and dispassionate, which translates into interminable pacing, uncompromising camera and oblique narrative. If you like watching the deterioration of a woman in a detached, heavy and b... »

Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan III (review)

This film has been flying under the radar (only playing in Richmond at Criterion) and/or may be the target of a Charlie Sheen backlash. Either way, it’s got a pretty good pedigree. Sheen plays a graphic designer who’s suffering over a breakup. Bill Murray and Jason Schwartzman deliver amusing comic turns and director Roman Coppola gives the whole thing a lighthearted touch. This could ... »

Beautiful Creatures (review)

It’s opposite day in teen romance world: Instead of vampires, it’s witches (or Casters, as they call them). Instead of Portland, the deep South. Instead of a mortal girl, it’s a boy, He (Alden Ehrenreich) isn’t a pretty boy, but has charm and personality. She (Alice Englert) isn’t typical pretty either, but can act OK. Much of the screen time is spent with the two of ... »

Good Day to Die Hard (review)

Bruce Willis is back for the 5th time traveling to Russia, where ends up with him in a mighty battle over nuclear weapons with his son. It goes like this: a few lines of throwaway dialogue, then a flashy fight. Repeat for 97 minutes. The first chase sequence is spectacularly over the top. And it gets bigger from there. The father/son thing provides almost as much conflict as the humdrum villains a... »

Masquerade (review)

Many years ago, a Korean ruler becomes mysteriously ill, so his leaders find a lowly look-alike to take his place. After some awkward false starts, he starts to relish his role and becomes a even better sovereign. While the story and performances are effective there are either flaws in the narrative or some of the details got lost in the translation. As expected with historical Asian films, the se... »

Dark Skies (review)

This is the worst alien invasion movie ever. Weird, unexplained things start happening to a family. Turns out they’re being tormented by beings from another planet, while we’re tortured by the filmmakers. There’s no logic behind what’s happening, so instead of a payoff we get an ending that just… But not before we endure 97 minutes of dull family drama with endless ominous ... »

A Royal Affair (review)

This is based on the true story of a love triangle (King Christian VII, his queen and his doctor) and the changes they brought to Denmark in the age of Enlightenment. The plot unfolds predictably with able performances and gorgeous period richness (esp. the costumes). It’s told in classic historical style with mild passion, intrigue and drama, but nothing about it is special. If you like thi... »

Jack Reacher (review)

This was going to be Tom Cruise’s new franchise, based more than a dozen popular novels. The obvious difference: in the books Reacher is 6’5″, 250 lbs of solid muscle and Cruise is about half that size. Still, I was ready to overlook this and focus on the character. Cruise plays it quiet and tough, but that’s not really a style that works for him. After a sniper kills 5 peo... »

This Is 40 (review)

Leslie Mann and Paul Rudd (reprising the characters they created in “Knocked Up”) turn 40 and deal with complications in their marriage, family and careers. There’s not much of a plot line, just situations where they interact with each other and friends. In typical Judd Apatow style, the dialogue often feels improvised, but that doesn’t stop it from being very funny. The su... »

Hyde Park On Hudson (review)

The title refers to Franklin Roosevelt’s personal home, where he sought solitude and escape from his Presidential duties. It’s here that the first English king ever to step foot in the US comes to visit and ask for support against Hitler. This makes for entertaining social/political moments, thanks largely to the delightful performances by Samuel West and Olivia Colman as the monarchs.... »

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