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2.5 Stars

Unbroken Review

Unbroken Review

RATING: (2.5 STARS) With Unbroken, Angelina Jolie mistakes heroic misery for rousing inspiration. What should be—and is, in book form—a fully formed and moving story about unparalleled hardship and the triumph of the human spirit falls oddly flat on the screen. It’s a decent enough movie with moments of emotional and plainly visual beauty, but […]

Lucy Review

Lucy Review

RATING: (2.5 STARS) Lucy is a puzzling film insofar as it’s both fantastically inspired and utter garbage, and it’s really hard to tell where the two opposing qualities begin and end. On the one hand, director Luc Besson imbues the film with an energy heretofore untapped in science-fiction films that don’t have the word “Star” […]

Guardians of the Galaxy Review

Guardians of the Galaxy Review

RATING: (2.5 STARS) “What was it about?” It’s often the first question someone asks me when I tell them about a movie I saw, and it ought to be the easiest one to answer. The first cinematic adaptation of Marvel’s deep-space-set saga Guardians of the Galaxy challenges that notion. Here, a studio has neutered down […]

Bringing Out the Dead Review

Bringing Out the Dead Review

RATING: (2.5 STARS) Arguably one of Martin Scorsese‘s most forgotten (and forgettable) titles, 1999’s Bringing Out the Dead is a slippery eel of a film that eludes classification as defiantly as it does a traditional narrative trajectory. We never see our protagonist, Nicolas Cage‘s Frank Pierce, in a good place, so as far as the […]

Blood Ties Review

Blood Ties Review

RATING: (2.5 STARS) Though the film that couldn’t be more representative of a specific place (New York City) and time (the 1970s), Guillaume Canet’s Blood Ties deals with themes that are timeless. An intense sibling rivalry, one between a cop and criminal, takes center stage, but there’s more—arguably too much—going on in this story co-written […]

Nymphomaniac: Volume I Review

Nymphomaniac: Volume I Review

RATING: (2.5 STARS) Volume I of famous Danish provocateur Lars von Trier’s Nymphomaniac saga is…well…incomplete. This portrait of a woman’s journey into sex addiction builds and builds and builds, and if Volume II delivers on the promise introduced here, these two drifting hours of character development will feel essential. On their own, they just don’t. […]

Dallas Buyers Club Review

Dallas Buyers Club Review

RATING: (2.5 STARS) “There ain’t nothing out there that can kill Ron Woodroof in 30 days.” —Ron Woodroof He was right. The Texas electrician lived with HIV and AIDS for the better part of seven years, from 1985 until his death in 1992. During those seven years, he founded a group that passed illegally trafficked […]

Passion Review

Passion Review

RATING: (2.5 STARS) Passion seems like the absolutely perfect title for the latest thriller from director Brian De Palma. An absolutely batshit crazy film with a truly internal logic that folds in on itself at every turn, Passion‘s four lead characters all think they’re in love at various points throughout the film. Love and lust—i.e. […]

At Any Price Review

At Any Price Review

RATING: (2.5 STARS) For fans of Ramin Bahrani movies, At Any Price is source of both jubilation and frustration. Finally, after toiling in relative obscurity and making small, character-driven films with mostly unknown actors, this talented, young filmmaker gets a chance to stretch his legs. How odd it is, then, that he fumbles the ball. […]

Archie’s Final Project Review

Archie’s Final Project Review

RATING: (2.5 STARS) This review was written as part of “The CK’s Not-So-Secret Santa Review Swap (in July)”, a community project from The Cinematic Katzenjammer. Please catch up with the idea for this project and the other reviews written for it here. Archie’s Final Project boasts a rather fascinating concept, a compelling story, and an […]

Superman Returns Review

Superman Returns Review

RATING: (2.5 STARS) It took 19 long years to get Superman back to the big screen after the epic awfulness that was Superman IV: The Quest for Peace. Superman Returns, from director Bryan Singer, is the first in the series without Christopher Reeve and Margot Kidder, and while it has a number of problems, the […]

Star Trek Into Darkness Review

Star Trek Into Darkness Review

RATING: (2.5 STARS) Overstuffed and overly serious, Star Trek Into Darkness fails to capture the magic J.J. Abrams brought to Star Trek, his 2009 reboot of the popular sci-fi series. It’s far from a horrible summer movie; On the contrary, its almost overwhelming imagination and brisk pace mean you’re in store for nearly two hours […]

What Richard Did Review

What Richard Did Review

RATING: (2.5 STARS) A film that’s equal parts quiet and disquieting, What Richard Did hinges on a single moment. Like Julia Loktev’s The Loneliest Planet last year, the circumstances and consequences surrounding this moment are complicated. Director Lenny Abrahamson presents the moment, its circumstances, and its consequences as an enormous gray area; His camera is […]

To the Wonder Review

To the Wonder Review

RATING: (2.5 STARS) If you like your films full of feeling, To the Wonder is for you. The latest from enigmatic director Terrence Malick sacrifices story, character, and dialogue to give the world a film full of and about feelings. The feelings in To the Wonder walk, talk, and interact with other feelings. They have […]

Killing Them Softly Review

Killing Them Softly Review

RATING: (2.5 STARS) It took five years following The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford for Andrew Dominik to return to the director’s chair. Five years is a long time to build anticipation for an obviously skilled filmmaker, and his skill is what gets Killing Me Softly through some narrative rough patches. […]

Smashed Review

Smashed Review

RATING: (2.5 STARS) To convincingly play drunk is one of an actor’s greatest challenges. Too often, an onscreen alcoholic comes off as loud, abrasive, and goofy—which would be spot-on if it all didn’t feel so forced. Denzel Washington dialed the drunk act down in last year’s Flight—a borderline remarkable film led by an unquestionably remarkable […]