An aspiring dancer with more optimism than talent tries to find her footing in "Frances Ha," and her clunky attempts to do so, which constitute most of the action in this serio-dizzy comedy, add up to an 86-minute puff of joy.
Credit the collaborating talents of writer-director Noah Baumbach and his star and cowriter, Greta Gerwig, for providing the brightness and the buoyancy.
With its depiction of college graduates not quite ready for adulthood, the film recalls Baumbach's "Kicking and Screaming." Read More
Academy Award-nominated filmmaker Noah Baumbach met actress Greta Gerwig when he cast her in his film “Greenberg.” Now, not only are they a romantic item, they have entered into a fruitful working relationship, co-authoring the wonderful screenplay for “Frances Ha.”
Baumbach, who made “The Squid and the Whale,” directs, and Gerwig stars as Frances, a charming, optimistic, scatterbrained apprentice at a New York dance school whose world falls apart when her best friend and roomie moves out. Read More
Filmmakers David Siegel and Scott McGehee, who met at UC Berkeley, never have compromised, releasing just five films in 20 years, including “Suture,” “The Deep End,” “Bee Season” and “Uncertainty.”
Their latest film, the intelligent, heartbreaking “What Maisie Knew,” which opened this year’s San Francisco International Film Festival and gets its theatrical release this week, displays the same high quality.
Based on Henry James’ 1897 novel and updated to modern-day New York, the movie concerns a messy custody case. Read More
Notorious criminals who inspire movie biopics rarely are colder or nastier than Richard Kuklinski, the high-achieving contract killer who likely killed more than 100 people while working for the mob.
In “The Iceman,” Kuklinski comes alive, courtesy of actor Michael Shannon, as an intensely unembraceable protagonist while displaying just enough humanity to be watchable and sometimes riveting.
Unfortunately, the movie undermines his superb performance by failing to treat Kuklinski with adequate depth. Read More
Fresh from the San Francisco International Film Festival, Sarah Polley’s third film as director, “Stories We Tell,” is unlike her previous feature films, the superb “Away from Her” and “Take This Waltz.”
But “Stories We Tell” is not just any documentary. It’s a unique, emotional and surprising ride about a powerful event in Polley’s life.
Instead of facts, Polley deals with memory, doubt and a host of other tenuous concepts. As the movie begins, she interviews her sister, who poses the very good question, “Who cares about our family?” Read More
Very few — if any — TV shows have had the lasting cultural impact of “Star Trek,” which first aired in 1966.
Since then, there have been five other “Star Trek” TV series as well as games, toys, books and 12 movies, including the new “Star Trek Into Darkness.”
Three of its stars weren’t alive when the first TV series aired.
John Cho (“Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle”), who returns as Sulu, loves hearing stories from fans, especially those about fathers and sons bonding over the show. Read More
The formula is as false as ever in the romantic comedy “Love Is All You Need.” But between cliches, director Susanne Bier supplies wonderful sparkle as her characters fall in love amid wedding-party minidramas in an Italian landscape overly conducive to sunset scenes.
Bier is known for making tragedy-laced family-centered melodramas such as “Brothers” and “In a Better World.” Changing gears, she now presents a semi-Danish pastry containing a Hollywood rom-com recipe shaded with signature serio-touches. It’s lightweight but engaging enough. Read More
Narratively flawed but admirably ambitious and occasionally splendid, “At Any Price” details trouble in the heartland. Established indie writer-director Ramin Bahrani delivers some uncharacteristically phony melodrama in this most commercial film he’s made to date. But his trademark human shades and social textures prevail, and the result is a gripping look at the cutthroat world of modern farmers. Read More
Thanks to the brilliant casting of Robert Downey Jr., Tony Stark — aka Iron Man — is the most fun of all movie superheroes.
Unlike the army of muscular pretty boys, Downey brings incredible talent, charisma and personality to his roles. He has gifted Stark with an infectious, devil-may-care attitude and an array of ready wisecracks.
In “Iron Man 3,” however, Stark is a little skittish from his experiences in last summer’s “The Avengers.” He can’t sleep, and he doesn’t want to talk about it. Also, he’s begun to experience panic attacks. Read More
Dark are the workings behind the amiable visage of the central character of “Simon Killer,” an amoral psychodrama about an American in Paris and his unsavory unraveling.
Credit character-focused direction, a stirring lead performance and an efficient use of style for making a potentially off-putting film compelling.
Writer-director Antonio Campos, who directed the disturbed-teen drama “Afterschool” and produced the cult-escapee story “Martha Marcy May Marlene,” also displays an interest in disaffected and disturbed souls this time around. Read More