Local filmmaker Tiffany Shlain presents a loving account of her final months with her father — surgeon and author Leonard Shlain (“The Alphabet Vs. Read More
The French biodrama “Mozart’s Sister” profiles, with a mix of fact, respectable speculation and sheer fantasy, the other Mozart musical prodigy — Wolfgang’s older sibling, Nannerl — and presents a picture of the personal experiences and social attitudes that might have led to this gifted young woman’s withdrawal from a career in music. Read More
“Circumstance” follows two schoolgirls who joyfully party and dare to love each other in today’s Iran, a treacherous place for the rebellious-teen psyche aching to thrive.
Focusing on the oppression of women by theocratic authorities, the film is too lacking in depth and boggy with melodrama to be able to explore its themes powerfully. But the scenarios it presents are interesting, its heroines are impressively sympathetic, and its surfaces are heated and enticing. Read More
While too conventional and unexceptional to wow or deeply move us, the Nazi-hunter drama “The Debt” qualifies as a worthy thriller.
Working with a solid story and stellar actors, director John Madden delivers satisfying action and tension. Psychological texture, albeit in smaller doses, keeps the picture from succumbing to genre cliches and provides enough substance and seriousness to qualify it as a film right for fall. Read More
Its themes, which include the preciousness of friendship, are hardly novel, and as it moves from serio-quirky to melodramatic, its tonal inconsistencies can be frustrating. But when “The Hedgehog” focuses, as it often does, on the emotional life of its strongest character, this intimate dramedy is lovely and captivating.
You’ll have to shift your receptor settings to French and eccentric in order to appreciate this feature debut from writer-director Mona Achache, which is “freely inspired” by the similarly titled novel by Muriel Barbery. Read More
Presented as an epic-scale Hollywood romance centering on a big, bumpy, beautiful relationship, “One Day” is far from a disaster, but it fails to deliver the emotion, wisdom and true verve that its rushed-along story demands.
Cliches counter the bright spots, and the mismatched leads supply little electricity in this adaptation of the British bestseller. Read More
The comedic drama “The Help” dips into the momentously changing times of Civil Rights Movement-era Mississippi, with due spotlight cast on the experiences of African-American maids.
Adapted by filmmaker Tate Taylor from Kathryn Stockett’s bestseller, this is a frustrating movie — at times an affecting story of liberation, but too often a contrived Hollywood soap opera. Phony minidramas yank on your tear-jerk and laughter mechanisms when you want its splendid cast to stir you deep down. Read More
More than 40 years after author Ken Kesey and his Merry Pranksters shot footage of their madcap and momentous psychedelic cross-country bus trip, writer-directors Alex Gibney and Alison Ellwood have crafted a documentary from the shelved film project, which Kesey and company abandoned due to technical issues (and the hampering effects of something in the orange juice).
The result is “Magic Trip: Ken Kesey’s Search for a Kool Place,” a DIY-styled counterculture cocktail that contains improved footage, interview material, photographs and trippy animation. Read More
Its sci-fi hook may not be extraordinary and its love story improbable, but as its shattered protagonists connect and brighten while a luminous doppelganger globe suggests hope on the horizon, “Another Earth” tickles the imagination and is quietly stirring. Read More
An impressive lead performance and an efficient weaving of story threads make up for a lack of dramatic voltage in the French thriller “Rapt.” Writer-director Lucas Belvaux presents an intelligent, involving picture of privilege mentalities in this story about a top-of-the-world CEO whose star plummets after his brutal kidnapping sparks sensational media reports about his personal excesses. Read More
The basic ingredients are familiar in “Terri,” director Azazel Jacobs’ take on the indie coming-of-age dramedy. But thanks to the distinctively gentle, lyrical and humanity-rich tones with which Jacobs presents his misfit protagonist’s trip through the straits of adolescence, this is a movie filled with surprises. Read More
While too tonally inconsistent to achieve the mini-gem status that director Chris Weitz is aiming for, “A Better Life” is a welcome, down-to-earth and heartfelt alternative to the prevailing summer silliness and swagger. The film is a reasonably effective father-son drama and a notable immigrant-condition story that places a rare and thoughtful focus on the daily experience of living without papers. Read More
“Page One: Inside the New York Times” begins with a shot of the proverbial presses rolling, then explores how print journalism and the newspaper most associated with excellence and influence could soon be extinct. Read More
“Buck” profiles Dan “Buck” Brannaman, the influential horseman who overcame the wounds of a hellish childhood and found his calling as a voice for horse-training, using general principles based on kindness and understanding.
Possessing both cowboy charisma and inner character, Buck makes an ideal documentary subject. Director Cindy Meehl turns his story into a welcomely straightforward, movingly humane look at the finer qualities of equines and humans. Read More
Jokesters Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon play comic versions of themselves in the form of rivalrous showbiz buddies on a restaurant jaunt in rural England in director Michael Winterbottom’s breezy “The Trip.”
The film is a condensation of a six-episode BBC series, which was inspired by the dueling-performer personas created by Coogan and Brydon in Winterbottom’s film “Tristram Shandy.” That doesn’t spell the makings of a big-screen triumph.
But thanks to these actors’ inspired improvisations and winning rapport, the journey proves engaging and the laughs are frequent. Read More