Movie Reviews 356 results

Jay Stone and Katherine Monk. Definitive reviews. Trusted critics.

3.5Score

Olive Kitteridge: HBO miniseries showcases McDormand’s killer sardonic skills

OLIVE KITTERIDGE (2014, HBO Miniseries) Starring: Frances McDormand, Richard Jenkins, Bill Murray. Directed by: Lisa Cholodenko. Three and a half stars out of five Watching Frances McDormand’s face is a bit like reading a great Victorian novel. She may be giving us a straightforward chunk of dialogue, but beneath the surface, an entirely different narrative is taking place. Beneath every wrinkle lies a wealth of understated passions, existential awareness and razor-sharp wit that brings emotional currency to every role, including her turn as Olive Kitteridge, the central character in Elizabeth Strout’s 2008 novel. Reunited with her Laurel Canyon director Lisa Cholodenko, McDormand takes this story of a smart, but calloused schoolteacher to the very edge of melodrama without losing her balance, which is probably the miniseries’ biggest victory because its very structure screams soap opera. With Richard Jenkins and Bill Murray sharing the frames, we get a little breathing ...
4Score

I Wake Up Screaming: An eggs and break-your-legs film noir feast

I Wake Up Screaming (1941 FOX) Starring: Betty Grable, Victor Mature, Carole Landis, Laird Cregar Directed by: H. Bruce Humberstone Four stars out of five Whether it’s the spontaneous eruptions of Over the Rainbow steaming through the score, the bizarre screen presence of Laird Cregar as a creepy cop with perfect elocution, or the architectural angles of Victor Mature’s eyebrows, there’s more than one reason why this seminal piece of film noir is nothing short of a wacky masterpiece. Shot just before the attack on Pearl Harbor, and riddled with allusions to mounting political tensions, this adaptation of Steve Fisher’s novel ‘Hot Spot’ still feels contemporary thanks to its thematic obsession with celebrity. Carole Landis plays Vicky, a diner waitress who becomes the Eliza Doolittle of a sports promoter played by Mature. At first, her success is welcomed as part of a game, but when she announces she’s bailing on New York for a movie career in Los Angeles, ...
2Score

Sean Penn locks, loads and loses it in The Gunman

It's some fast times for a weary CIA spy in Pierre Morel's schlocky thriller featuring Penn as a feisty character named Jim Terrier   -30-
3.5Score

Chappie reboots best bits of Blade Runner, Robocop

Droidful! A hacked version of Robocop, Chappie takes place in the not-too-distant future, when violent crime has gone viral and police resources are too stretched to contain the chaos.   By Katherine Monk Infused with ambient paranoia, apocalyptic imagery and an overall sense of social collapse, Neil Blomkamp’s movies operate in a familiar science-fiction setting, but they feel significantly different from Hollywood spectacle. Where the likes of Lucas and Spielberg find ways of affirming all-American value systems through hero-centric stories, Blomkamp doesn’t seem at all interested in themes of god and country. If anything, the South African filmmaker (who makes his home in Vancouver) focuses on the opposite: He ignores the grand rhetoric of the visible and the valued in an effort to hear the slang of the common folk. In his brilliantly bleak feature debut, District 9, Blomkamp re-invented the alien invasion theme by weaving it into Apartheid metaphor, ...
2Score

The Lazarus Effect falls flat

Movie review: The Lazarus Effect Raising the dead gets tired in hipster Frankenstein story as Olivia Wilde and Mark Duplass play mad scientists looking to overcome the fundamental rules of nature
1Score

Circling the Drain: Hot Tub Time Machine 2

Starring: Rob Corddry, Craig Robinson, Clark Duke, Adam Scott, Jason Jones, Directed by: Steve Pink Running time: 93 minutes One star out of five MPAA Rating: Restricted   By Katherine Monk No matter how many times you scour afterward, the filmy scum left by Hot Tub Time Machine 2 lingers like greasy dark ring around the brain. A sequel to the surprisingly okay 2010 comedy about four down-and-out dudes who are given a second chance at redemption with a trip to the past via the titular spa equipment, Hot Tub Time Machine 2 had some built-in appeal: Escapist entertainment has its place in life, and sometimes, all you want to do is take off your cerebral corset and get naked in a hot bubble bath of silliness. It’s not that much to ask for, really: A couple of good jokes to keep you listening to the dialogue, characters that prompt empathy, and maybe a plot that doesn’t have to be explained in every other scene. I congratulate screenwriter Josh Heald ...