Night Moves and Personal Apocalypses: The Films Of Kelly Reichardt

None of director Kelly Reichardt's films has made over $1 million at the box office. That seems about right. It's not that her superb dramas don't deserve a bigger audience. But because they're so intimate, so understated, they feel like secrets: the cinematic equivalent of the bootlegs die-hard Dylan or Dead fans… » 5/29/14 3:16pm 5/29/14 3:16pm

The Sleeping Beauty Reboot You Never Wanted: Maleficent, Reviewed.

Back in 2006, Patton Oswalt had a standup bit where he fantasized about going back in time and killing George Lucas so he'd never make the Star Wars prequels. In the imaginary conversation, Lucas tries to sell Oswalt on those reviled films by assuring the comedian that all the things he digs about the series—Darth… » 5/28/14 2:00pm 5/28/14 2:00pm

Draft Day Proves That Kevin Costner Should Just Make Sports Movies

Draft Day isn't a great movie, but it's good enough, and that's entirely thanks to the fact that Kevin Costner is in it. Costner is like your dad: You loved the guy at first, and then maybe you rebelled against him—thought you had outgrown him—but now you've come around to the fact that he gets you in ways that… » 4/11/14 9:52am 4/11/14 9:52am

No-Win Scenario: Errol Morris' Great, Infuriating The Unknown Known

On February 29, 2004, director Errol Morris won an Academy Award for The Fog of War. Subtitled Eleven Lessons From the Life of Robert S. McNamara, it consisted of a one-on-one interview with the former Secretary of Defense as he looked back at his management—and mismanagement— of the Vietnam War. But as Morris took… » 4/03/14 10:07am 4/03/14 10:07am

The Lone Avenger: Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Reviewed

When Marvel pooled its superhero talent for 2012's The Avengers, the rationale was obvious: If Iron Man or Thor or the Incredible Hulk could top the box office solo, just think how massive a summer blockbuster with all of them would be. And although the result was indeed a mega-hit—it's the all-time third-biggest film… » 4/01/14 3:35pm 4/01/14 3:35pm

Kick 'Em All: How The Raid 2 Turns Violence Into Art

Violence is such a constant in movies that we rarely appreciate when it's done well. The smallest hint of sexual content or nudity lands a film an R or a dreaded NC-17, but summer action blockbusters can inundate us with shootouts, explosions, car crashes, and off-screen deaths, and as long as there's no blood,… » 3/26/14 4:57pm 3/26/14 4:57pm

Sensational, Inspirational, Celebrational: Muppets Most Wanted, Reviewed

When Roger Ebert gave The Naked Gun a rave review back in 1988, this is how he praised it: "You laugh, and then you laugh at yourself for laughing. Some of the jokes are incredibly stupid. Most of them are dumber than dumb." Muppets Most Wanted is that way, too. This sequel to the very enjoyable 2011 reboot has all… » 3/19/14 5:43pm 3/19/14 5:43pm

Your Handy Guide For What Will Win The Oscar Categories No One…

One of the more competitive Oscars campaigns in recent years culminates Sunday, when millions of people will gather around their televisions and think, "Ellen DeGeneres is a pretty dull host, but at least she's not Seth MacFarlane." Tomorrow, Will and I will do our predictions for the eight major prizes, but here… » 2/26/14 7:21pm 2/26/14 7:21pm

I Wouldn't Buy This For A Dollar. RoboCop, Reviewed.

No matter what you think of director Paul Verhoeven's movies, the one thing you could never call them is dull. Whether it's Showgirls or Total Recall, Basic Instinct or Starship Troopers, they've got this giddy, slightly demented intensity that makes them feel campy, exuberant, alive. A Dutch filmmaker endlessly… » 2/11/14 6:25pm 2/11/14 6:25pm

Excellence, Not Ego: Remembering The Great Philip Seymour Hoffman

What surprised me the most when I heard the news of Phillip Seymour Hoffman's death was that his passing ran so counter to the reputation he had earned over his 25 years as an actor. Dependable, intelligent, consistently remarkable: These are the qualities we had come to associate with Hoffman's work. His death at… » 2/03/14 12:03pm 2/03/14 12:03pm

The 10 Movies I'm Most Excited To See At Sundance 2014

The Sundance Film Festival, which gets underway Thursday, is divided into lots of different sections. (For instance, there's the U.S. Dramatic Competition, the World Cinema Dramatic Competition, the U.S. and World Cinema documentary sections, and the Midnight films.) But for most outsiders, there are really two… » 1/15/14 6:25pm 1/15/14 6:25pm

Back In The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug, Reviewed.

Expectations are such tricky things when it comes to movies. Before the first installment in Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings trilogy debuted at the end of 2001, there was no guarantee that it would go on to become one of Hollywood's most profitable and Academy-approved franchises. Jackson and his creative team… » 12/10/13 5:22pm 12/10/13 5:22pm

Accept The Mystery: The Brilliance Of The Coen Bros' Character Studies

Joel and Ethan Coen have been making movies long enough now that it's possible for fans not just to have a favorite film of theirs but a favorite type of film. Perhaps you love their loopy comedies: The Hudsucker Proxy, Raising Arizona, The Big Lebowski. Maybe you're partial to their heist-gone-wrong thrillers: Fargo » 12/06/13 11:50am 12/06/13 11:50am

"Real America," Minus The Condescension: Out Of The Furnace, Reviewed.

When Barack Obama made his comment during the 2008 presidential campaign about some Americans clinging to "guns and religion" during hard times, he might have been referring to the characters in Out of the Furnace, the new drama from Crazy Heart director Scott Cooper. A subdued portrait of a blue-collar Pennsylvania… » 12/03/13 5:52pm 12/03/13 5:52pm

A Good Cry: How Alexander Payne Became The Auteur Of The Male Weepie

My favorite Alexander Payne movie is always going to be Election. His 1999 satire—about a high school teacher (Matthew Broderick) who makes it his mission to ensure that the ambitious Tracy Flick (a never-better Reese Witherspoon) fails to win her election for class president—wasn't just incredibly, darkly funny but… » 11/13/13 6:18pm 11/13/13 6:18pm

Geezer Minstrelsy. Last Vegas, Reviewed.

Hollywood movies get a lot of things wrong: Midwesterners, marriage, transforming robots. But Last Vegas reminds us that they're also terrible at depicting old age. It's not that studios don't make movies starring older actors—Escape Plan just came out—but when they do, they often paint a picture of the so-called… » 11/01/13 1:20pm 11/01/13 1:20pm

This Is Not Lesbian Pornography: Blue Is The Warmest Color, Defended

Blue Is the Warmest Color should have been one of the feel-good stories of the fall. A moving three-hour drama about a young woman named Adèle's (Adèle Exarchopoulos) coming-of-age while pursuing a passionate relationship with her first love, an out lesbian named Emma (Léa Seydoux), this French film won the top prize… » 10/22/13 5:45pm 10/22/13 5:45pm

Help The Aged. Escape Plan, Reviewed.

It's touching to watch Sylvester Stallone try to act. In his early days with Rocky, the guy had charm, an ability to reveal a light touch beneath his average-palooka demeanor. But in recent years, he's become as rigid as his face: a giant mass of muscles and mumbled words. His soft side all but absent now—and not so… » 10/18/13 10:30am 10/18/13 10:30am