“The Adjustment Bureau” is a metaphysical thriller about love, fate, free will and some rather novel hat tricks. It centers on a politician whose love for a dancer puts him in dangerous conflict with cosmic authorities when it bucks destiny’s master plan.
Buoyed by breezy direction and terrific actor rapport, the movie is a potential springtime sparkler. But a dearth of original ideas and a reliance on Hollywood hooey as a romantic condiment bring it down. Read More
Darkness smites Detroit, in the form of a mammoth blackout and creepy shadows that steal the bodies and souls of nearly all in town.
Only a few survive, and they struggle and scramble to remain in the light and thus stay alive. That’s the promising premise of the ultimately fizzling “Vanishing on 7th Street,” a horror thriller in which stylish landscapes and nifty creep-out tactics can’t offset the problem of an inadequate story. Read More
“Kaboom” is the latest concoction from the beaker of Gregg Araki, the free spirit known for making films about restless youth, free-flowing sex, and big- and small-picture calamity. In this new comedy, he takes viewers into the beds and heads of some horny post-millennial college students. It’s a feverishly vibrant but dramatically uneven rush of doomsday tripping and campus carnality. Read More
“The Eagle” takes us into the Scottish highlands with two armored young questers who seek to recover a lost golden emblem for Rome and provide hearty derring-do, in impressive 2-D, along the way.
Loaded with pulse and ambition, the movie is formulaic and fractured in focus, aiming to be both a serious human adventure and an entertaining action flick and achieving neither. Read More
Sufficiently gripping and sprawling enough to qualify as epic-scale, and sunny enough despite its subject matter to land a Best Foreign Language Film nomination, “Outside the Law” presents the revolutionary struggle for Algerian independence as if it were a Hollywood action flick spliced with a postwar neo-realist drama spiked with DNA from “The Godfather.” Crazier still, writer-director Rachid Bouchareb generally pulls off such an unlikely saga. Read More
Erotic, stylish and often-juicy fun, writer-director Im Sang-soo’s “The Housemaid” is an experience far fresher and more personality-rich than most of what passes for original studio material, despite its status as a remake and its familiar story involving the mistreatment and seduction of a servant girl.
Unfortunately, however, this South Korean drama does not sustain its sizzle in either of the arenas in which it initially appears headed for distinction — psycho-soaper or wicked satire — over the long haul. Read More
The Mostly British Film Festival launches its third annual lineup Thursday, and Anglophiles and cinema lovers of all stripes are likely to find something to savor. Domestic dramas, war stories, culture-clash comedies, gangster flicks, award-winning documentaries and a quirky indie about two traveling psychics are on the bill — some before a regular theatrical run and some that local filmgoers may otherwise never have the chance to see. Read More
“Nenette” offers viewers the singular experience of spending 67 minutes in the company of a zoo orangutan as she goes about her daily humdrum of eating, drinking, napping and, perhaps voyeuristically, watching the people who have come to see her. While hampered by its inability to enter the head of its intelligent, strong-minded subject, this French documentary triumphs as a thoughtful look at how people view animals and at the dilemma of captivity. Read More
Released and restored after a decades-long shelving, “Nuremberg” was made during the denazification period to serve as an official account of Nazi atrocities and of the landmark trial where chief Nazi perpetrators were judged and sentenced.
Originally shown only in postwar Germany, this 1948 documentary still makes a weighty, stirring impression.
A product of both artistic and governmental design, the film was written and directed by Stuart Schulberg, who worked with the Office of Strategic Services’ John Ford-headed Field Photographic Branch. Read More
Although the daily experiences of its central subject may sound plucked from a potboiler, “Bhutto” is an earnest, informative and intricately researched documentary about the life and history-making career of Benazir Bhutto, who was killed in 2007 while campaigning in Pakistan. While too conventionally made and sympathetically toned to constitute a knockout or revelatory portrait of the mold-breaking but tainted former prime minister, the film is a high-caliber, tidbit-rich, gripping combination of family saga, celebrity profile, political thriller and Pakistani-history lesson. Read More
Premise-of-the-week honors go to “Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale,” a warped comic fable that dips into icy Nordic folklore and serves up a sinister, scrawny Santa Claus who eats naughty kids. Just 80 minutes long and limited in dramatic thrust, it’s a slight and patchy film. But its high points are significantly wicked, entertaining and underlyingly human to enable it to qualify as a holiday-catalog mini-gem. Read More
From the royal-biopic tap comes “The King’s Speech,” an awards-season release about a pent-up monarch and the unconventional speech therapist who helps him build confidence and realize his strength of character. The recipe-book presentation surely doesn’t do the story justice, but the cast is sensational, and the result is a treat. Read More
Gutsy, zippy and exuberantly gay, “I Love You Phillip Morris” is not without its pleasures as it defies conventional dictates regarding what a prison film and a big-star gay romance should be.
But this serio-madcap chronicle of the outrageous crimes of an upright cop turned pathological swindler and love-struck jailbird proves uneven as a comedy and, beneath its lusty surfaces, lukewarm romantically. Read More
While its story is too stock and its central relationship too bland to enable it to achieve knockout status, “The Square” is a stylishly entertaining and strikingly dark look at the consequences of behaving basely, a comedy-laced tragedy both accessible and artful.
Demonstrating navigational agility, a respect for tradition, and a bent for the outrageous, first-time feature director Nash Edgerton has crafted a worthy suspenser that both exploits and transcends standard noir stories involving body heat and bags of money. Read More