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
Ken Burns, the PBS top-notcher whose documentaries feature American subjects great, terrible or iconic, returns to the big screen with “The Central Park Five,” in which he revisits a sensationally reported violent crime along with the shameful miscarriage of justice that followed it.
As a dissection of the case and an examination of law-enforcement methods that can yield false confessions, the film merits a look. Read More
More than a decade ago, Peter Jackson turned J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Lord of the Rings” into a filmed trilogy running slightly more than nine hours, and then nearly 12 hours in extended editions on home video.
It made sense, considering the literary epic spanned 1,200 pages. But when Jackson announced he was going to make the 320-page prequel “The Hobbit” into a nine-hour trilogy as well, it began to sound less like storytelling and more like marketing. Read More
Bill Murray deserves to be mentioned among the greatest comic actors in cinema history.
Although the thought of him playing Franklin D. Roosevelt is not very funny, in Roger Michell’s “Hyde Park on Hudson,” FDR becomes a most amusing — as well as sad and searching — Murray-like character.
“Hyde Park on Hudson” takes place mostly over the course of a weekend in June 1939 when King George VI and Queen Elizabeth visited America while FDR was serving as the country’s 32nd president. Read More
A bonkers fantasia whose title refers to hope inspired by a Pepsi can, “Generation P” is a trip and a treat. Ideas and gusto make up for messiness and overload in this Russian satire about advertising and its effect.
Adapting the novel by Victor Pelevin, director and co-writer Victor Ginzburg serves a vital cocktail that suggests a mix of “Brazil,” David Mamet’s media-spin satires, rabbit-hole tales and theme comedies such as “How to Succeed in Advertising,” along with a dominant Russian gene that keeps things fresh and unique. Read More
Skateboarder Danny Way is a daredevil from a broken home — that’s the main message in the documentary “Waiting for Lightning.”
Bay Area-based director Jacob Rosenberg — who has been filming skateboarding for decades — aims to serve up a pithy examination of what motivates the seemingly fearless extreme athlete. Read More
“Killing Them Softly” is the new movie by New Zealand director Andrew Dominik, who made one of the best films of the past decade, “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford.”
Brad Pitt, who played James, gives another commanding performance in this drama as Jackie, a hit man brought in to clean up a messy situation.
Three not-too-bright criminals (Scoot McNairy, Ben Mendelsohn and Vincent Curatola) decide to rip off a mob-protected card game run by Markie Trattman (Ray Liotta), intending to pin the job on Trattman. Read More
High-definition live transmissions beamed from New York’s Metropolitan Opera and other major houses to movie theaters across the country are becoming the new normal for enjoying the genre.
The seventh season of “Met: Live in HD” is showing in 1,900 theaters in 60 countries. In the Bay Area, presentations are being held at select Cinemark, Regal and AMC theaters, with live showings at 9:55 a.m. Saturdays for most operas. Encore presentations are on Wednesdays, typically several weeks after the live openings. Read More