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
Born in Little Rock, Ark., writer-director Jeff Nichols has slowly established himself as a strong force in independent film with his first two features, “Shotgun Stories” and “Take Shelter,” which took place in rural, working-class communities and starred the serpent-eyed Michael Shannon.
In his third film, the new “Mud,” a slightly bigger star, Matthew McConaughey, takes over the lead; Shannon gets a potent little supporting role. Read More
Its title and story may stem from “Snow White,” but “Blancanieves” is nothing like the soulless, effects-laden action spectacles that the thought of yet another fairy tale-rooted movie brings to mind.
This Spanish melodrama is a modestly scaled, exquisitely black-and-white, emotionally rewarding take on the Brothers Grimm fable.
It is also a classy, quirky salute to silent-era cinema.
Written and directed by Pablo Berger (“Torremolinos 73”), the film, like “The Artist,” celebrates silent movies and presents itself in the form of a silent movie. Read More
Many documentaries have been made about the movies, but none of them are quite like “Room 237.”The film is a work of criticism, scholarship, obsession and paranoia — all devoted to one movie: Stanley Kubrick’s “The Shining.”
Director Rodney Ascher interviews five people — journalist Bill Blakemore, professor Geoffrey Cocks, author and playwright Juli Kearns, performer and musician John Fell Ryan, and hermetic scholar Jay Weidner — who have one thing in common: an unhealthy obsession with “The Shining.” Read More