While no one expects a film titled “Bullet to the Head” to be a long-lost sequel to “Brief Encounter,” fans of action-flick biggies Walter Hill and Sylvester Stallone might figure the debut collaboration by the director and actor to offer personality and verve.
Yet the beef-and-blam drama is a cliched, lackluster attempt to re-create the spirit of former glory. Read More
A combination of rock legend, different drummer, musical traveler and irascible mess, Ginger Baker makes for a compelling, sad and darkly entertaining subject in “Beware of Mr. Baker,” writer-director Jay Bulger’s documentary about the Cream and Blind Faith percussion force.
Via old footage, relatively recent interviews and animation, the film serves as a colorful chronicle of Baker’s lifelong wild ride and a multishaded portrait of a famously talented but infinitely difficult artist. Read More
“Broken City” offers little to brighten the cockles of moviegoers’ hearts during this month that’s typically a vacuum for film lovers. While the actors make it watchable, it’s bogged down by cliches and predictable plot turns, and it is ultimately a familiar and forgettable political drama.
Director Allen Hughes — whose collaborations with his twin brother, Albert, include “Menace II Society,” “Dead Presidents” and “In Hell,” — continues to depict humans’ baser aspects in this solo effort, written by playwright Brian Tucker. Read More
The Mostly British Film Festival opens Thursday, celebrating its fifth anniversary. Oldies, upcoming releases and films that local moviegoers may never otherwise get to see will screen over eight days.
Twenty-five films of varied genres from the United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia and South Africa screen at the Vogue Theatre in the series, which benefits the San Francisco Neighborhood Theater Foundation. Read More
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
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
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
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
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
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
The actor species gets the satirical skewer and an admiring embrace from writer-director Henry Jaglom in “Just 45 Minutes From Broadway.” In both arenas, the movie flops.
An overly theatrical treatment of viable comic material dooms the film, which Jaglom adapted from his play. What is intended as a valentine to the acting profession and psyche becomes a turnoff. Read More
“What if someone really good made a horror picture?”
That’s the enticing proposition Alfred Hitchcock puts forth in the new biopic “Hitchcock,” a dramedy about the making of the movie “Psycho,” the director’s risky, triumphant fusion of terror and art. Read More
“Anna Karenina” is back, regardless of whether we need another adaptation of Leo Tolstoy’s tragic story of love, longing, locomotives and, when things work well, some pithy social material in between. Director Joe Wright gives it an original go, but his stylized, design-heavy approach undercuts essential passion. Read More
With an assignment botched and a cyberterrorist unapprehended, 007 and longtime boss M must save the world and their own standing as modern and efficient agents in the new James Bond thriller, “Skyfall.” They demonstrate that the James Bond franchise, however hoary an institution, remains relevant and vital. Read More
The well of Holocaust stories that make for informative and engrossing cinema may never run dry, and “The Flat,” Israeli director Arnon Goldfinger’s documentary about Jewish-Nazi collaboration, adds to the catalog.
Goldfinger has crafted a combination home movie, investigative document and big-picture journey that explores skeletons in family closets, German and Jewish modern history, and how the human need for self-preservation can be dubious.
That may add up to a bit of a bog, but a strong pulse and driving purpose keep things on track. Read More