Drawing from the pool of notorious baddies, “Gangster Squad” resurrects mobster Mickey Cohen, casting him as the villain pursued by a unit of Los Angeles cops who break conduct codes and commit mayhem en route to nabbing him. With its top-notch cast and potentially compelling antagonist, the film might have been a vital blend of popcorn and prestige entertainment. Sadly, it’s just another cartoonish actioner. Read More
When Marlon Wayans was a kid in New York City, he lived down the street from a plant that printed Mad magazine.
He and his brothers would read copies for free, savoring the vicious wit of the movie parodies.
Years later, he became the co-creator of a series of successful parody movies in the same vein, from “Scary Movie” and “Dance Flick” to his latest, “A Haunted House.” Read More
Spanish filmmaker Luis Buñuel is back on the slate of revived oldies, and “Tristana,” his 1970 drama about a vengeful inversion of control in a sexual relationship, is the feature attraction.
The film isn’t the best Buñuel, but it is good Buñuel, and coming from the 20th-century artist who created surreal scenarios and sadomasochistic characters with iconoclastic aplomb, that’s enough. Read More
“Zero Dark Thirty” is extraordinary not because it’s about the hunt for Osama bin Laden, but because Oscar-winning director Kathryn Bigelow uses the subject to examine related, and equally important, topics.
In another filmmaker’s hands, the movie would likely have been something to tolerate during awards season before being forgotten. Yet Bigelow has created the best film of 2012. Read More
With the film industry award season under way — the 85th Academy Awards nominations will be announced Jan. 10, and the ceremony is Feb. 24 — comes The S.F. Examiner’s annual, unscientific compilation of critics’ top picks for 2012. Read More
As its redemptive hero toils on a chain gang, traverses a mountain, trudges through sewers and enters a revolutionary barricade, (among other intense trials), the movie musical “Les Miserables” is a zero-subtlety spectacle for the Occupy age and the current Oscar-campaign climes.
But it also is a risk-taking and frequently affecting movie that sings its not entirely artificial heart out. Read More
Though Victor Hugo's "Les Misérables" has been made into many movies, adapting it from the monumental stage musical to the screen for the first time seems like it would be daunting.
But Oscar-winning director Tom Hooper ("The King's Speech") decided to let go of cinematic tricks and simply have the cast sing the famed songs by Claude-Michel Schönberg, Alain Boublil and Herbert Kretzmer live – recording them right there on camera. Read More
Outrageously talented writer-director Quentin Tarantino has made tightly constructed, polished films as well as outrageously diverging works of near-insanity.
He also is a brilliant critic, somewhat like Jean-Luc Godard, making movies about movies and deconstructing them in endlessly inventive ways.
Even Godard hit rough patches. With “Django Unchained,” opening Tuesday, Tarantino takes a small story and turns it into a big sprawl, and the fit isn’t quite right. The movie’s points are so broad — slavery is bad, movies never show it — they almost drift by unnoticed. Read More
Two damaged people whose compatibility seems even unlikelier than today’s Mayan-predicted apocalypse share a superbly evolving bond in “Rust and Bone,” the latest grit-and-grace drama from French writer-director Jacques Audiard. The potentially ridiculous is made engrossing by the director’s tonal mixology and exceptional actors. Read More
Did the kid in you ever dream of flying or want to run away and join the circus? Erica Linz did, and the results are on display in the new 3-D film “Cirque Du Soleil: Worlds Away.”
Written and directed by Andrew Adamson, the film, which opens Friday, was produced by Oscar winner James Cameron. Read More