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2013

Dirty Wars Review

Dirty Wars Review

RATING: (4 STARS) Dirty Wars is a devastating experience. It’s a film that chews up your hopeful, idealistic illusions regarding American leadership, spits them out, and leaves a cruise-missile-sized hole in your heart for good measure. Drone strikes and extra-covert military operations (including those that occur in nation-states we aren’t formally at war with) have […]

Call Me Kuchu Review

Call Me Kuchu Review

RATING: (3.5 STARS) There’s courage, and then there’s what the men and women at the center of Call Me Kuchu display. This exceptional documentary, from directors Katherine Fairfax Wright and Malika Zouhali-Worrall, chronicles the fight for LGBT rights in Uganda where homosexuality is illegal and almost became a capital offense. For these individuals, among them […]

Escape From Tomorrow Review

Escape From Tomorrow Review

RATING: (0.5 STARS) The more horrifying thing about Randy Moore’s Escape From Tomorrow—a David Lynch-inspired nightmare of a movie filmed covertly at Disney World—is how hypocritical its message feels. By setting such a disturbing movie at the “Happiest Place on Earth,” Moore pretty clearly wants to say some things about Disney’s dirtier side—the side that […]

Captain Phillips Review

Captain Phillips Review

RATING: (3.5 STARS) Movie magic happens when the right actor finds the right director. Jimmy Stewart was the perfect everyman to navigate the twisted worlds of Alfred Hitchcock’s thrillers. In Robert De Niro, Martin Scorsese found the ideal actor to bring his tough Italian leading men to the big screen. The list goes on and […]

Iron Man 3 Review

Iron Man 3 Review

RATING: (3 STARS) Whatever Marvel movie followed The Avengers was going to struggle to overcome the scaling back that, in this franchise’s very particular case, was unavoidable. Marvel movies, for better or worse, never take place in a vacuum, and for four years and five films, this studio was building toward something massive and unprecedented. […]

Gravity Review

Gravity Review

RATING: (4 STARS) “I hate space.” That quote represents a brief moment of levity in Gravity, an otherwise harrowing thriller, and it perfectly sums up its lead character, rookie spacewalker Dr. Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock). The film itself—or at least the stakes from which every bit of tension is derived—is better summarized by a quote […]

Prisoners Review

Prisoners Review

RATING: (4 STARS) Prisoners is the most tightly plotted 153-minute movie you’ll ever see. It’s a masterpiece of the crime genre that covers a lot of ground, but every crumb, clue, and detail dropped by director Denis Villeneuve and screenwriter Aaron Guzikowski is essential to its (murky-ish) resolution. Comparisons to films like Se7en and Zodiac […]

The Spectacular Now Review

The Spectacular Now Review

RATING: (3.5 STARS) Delightfully atypical and marvelously in tune with its lead characters, James Ponsoldt’s The Spectacular Now defies the rules of the high school dramedy subgenre as frequently and forcefully as Miles Teller‘s Sutter defies underage drinking laws. It’s a joyful, precious film built around a boy and a girl who love to live […]

Blue Caprice Review

Blue Caprice Review

RATING: (3 STARS) Director Alexandre Moors’ Blue Caprice takes the horror you felt watching We Need to Talk About Kevin a few years ago (assuming you could sit through it) and sets it in the real world. That isn’t to say Lynn Ramsey’s film about an evil teenage boy who goes on a killing spree […]

World War Z Review

World War Z Review

RATING: (3 STARS) World War Z doesn’t add anything new to the realm of zombie movies, but it’s filled with so much chaotic tension that I couldn’t help but admire it. Directed by Marc Forster and based on Max Brook’s best-selling novel, World War Z shares as much with the post-apocalyptic action flick (like War […]

The Bling Ring Review

The Bling Ring Review

RATING: (3 STARS) The Bling Ring is director Sofia Coppola‘s most satisfying and thematically precise film since 2003’s Lost in Translation. Her eye for style, subtly irreverent tone, and tendency to dissect the matters of Hollywood’s most privileged all find a glass-slipper-like fit in this story, based on a real events, of a group of […]

Blue Jasmine Review

Blue Jasmine Review

RATING: (3 STARS) In 1988, Pedro Almodóvar directed Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown. In 2013, Woody Allen directed Blue Jasmine, a.k.a. “Woman on the Verge of Another Nervous Breakdown (or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Stoli Martinis with a Twist of Lemon)”. Blue Jasmine is a far cry from […]

Touchy Feely Review

Touchy Feely Review

RATING: (1.5 STARS) Touchy Feely, the latest from writer-director Lynn Shelton, is the dreariest thing this side of Shelton’s hometown of Seattle. If the over-under on smiles cracked by the film’s quartet of main characters was four, I’d take the under. Even worse than the misery is the film’s thematic aimlessness. Shelton got at deep […]

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. […]

Lee Daniels’ The Butler Review

Lee Daniels’ The Butler Review

RATING: (3 STARS) If The Paperboy was director Lee Daniels unfettered, Lee Daniels’ The Butler (henceforth to be referred to as The Butler) is a film clearly saddled with self-importance. The film opens with a quote and closes with a dedication, but those are far from the only clues hinting that Daniels has big things […]

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