Frederick Wiseman makes immersing films that transpire inside societal institutions — capturing clockwork, rituals and random sparks with adeptness, and offering observations that leave viewers feeling enriched at the end.
“Boxing Gym,” a nonfiction flick with all the trimmings — along with a keen, graceful mediation on human aggression — is the latest such success by the veteran documentarian. Read More
Sofia Coppola is sometimes chided for having it too easy, and born into Hollywood royalty — she’s the daughter of Francis Ford Coppola — but it’s evident she’s a unique filmmaker, and one of the most interesting working today. Despite the perceived glitz and glamour behind her life, the 39-year-old director makes the most breathtakingly delicate movies imaginable, from her acclaimed Bill Murray comedy “Lost in Translation” in 2003, to the misunderstood costume epic “Marie Antoinette” from 2006. Read More
Anna Faris is free to speak her mind.The 34-year-old Baltimore native, who earned High Times magazine’s coveted Stoner of the Year award in 2007 for her star turn in the comedy “Smiley Face,” knows the drill when it comes to televised interviews — smile for the camera, stay peppy and keep the tone light.But at press day for the live-action “Yogi Bear,” in which she stars opposite Tom Cavanagh, Justin Timberlake’s animated Boo-Boo Bear and Dan Aykroyd’s even more animated Yogi, she’s free to be candid. Read More
The journey to “TRON: Legacy” would have to wait just another minute — early audiences were asked to check their phones at the door, lest they attempt a little techno handiwork of their own — but after 28 years, what’s another 60 seconds? Besides, the last thing this digitally dazzling sequel needed was extra circuitry in the theater. Read More
The family dynamics are as brutal as the boxing scenes in “The Fighter,” a biopic about the ascent of welterweight Micky Ward. Directed by David O. Russell, the film is too fractured in focus to achieve the emotional bang that its dramas, both in and outside the ring, aim for. But it’s a powerfully acted, colorfully spun underdog tale and breaking-away story. Read More
Premise-of-the-week honors go to “Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale,” a warped comic fable that dips into icy Nordic folklore and serves up a sinister, scrawny Santa Claus who eats naughty kids. Just 80 minutes long and limited in dramatic thrust, it’s a slight and patchy film. But its high points are significantly wicked, entertaining and underlyingly human to enable it to qualify as a holiday-catalog mini-gem. Read More
Early this year, Jeff Bridges won his first Oscar after four previous nominations yielded no hardware. Now he is returning to the scene of one of his most unusual and iconic adventures — Disney’s “Tron” (1982) — in a sequel, “Legacy,” opening Friday that the 61-year-old Los Angeleno never expected to see. Read More
The last time Melissa Leo was nominated for an Academy Award, in 2009 for the blue-collar drama “Frozen River,” she was a sentimental favorite among critics, but a decidedly long shot to beat out Meryl Streep, Anne Hathaway and eventual winner Kate Winslet.
Now the 50-year-old is earning accolades again, this time for her supporting role in “The Fighter,” David O. Russell’s biography of Lowell, Mass., brawler Micky Ward, opening Friday. (The San Francisco Film Critics Circle ranked her nuanced portrayal of a domineering mother among the year’s best.) Read More
From the royal-biopic tap comes “The King’s Speech,” an awards-season release about a pent-up monarch and the unconventional speech therapist who helps him build confidence and realize his strength of character. The recipe-book presentation surely doesn’t do the story justice, but the cast is sensational, and the result is a treat. Read More
Writer-director Tanya Hamilton reveals a postrevolutionary America that seldom appears on film screens, and explores the reverberations of violence via a handful of quietly powerful stories in “Night Catches Us.” It’s a period drama in which former Black Panthers juggle 1960s ideals with Jimmy Carter-era realities.
Hamilton employs routine storytelling devices but achieves freshness and grip by creating characters worthy of viewers’ emotional investment and by filling their streets and living rooms with an air of history and a tone of hauntedness. Read More