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Movie Reviews


Filmmaking artistry on first-rate display in ‘Three Billboards’

Thu, 16 Nov 2017 04:07:24 UT

“Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” begins where most stories should begin, already in progress. The pivotal event, the tragedy from which the central character can never recover, has already happened, and what we see is the aftermath, the crazy things that take place after the world has already tipped its hand and revealed its madness. The movie represents a leap forward for writer-director Martin McDonagh. “Three Billboards” is as clever and imaginative as McDonagh’s “In Bruges” in terms of how it makes characters collide in delightful and unexpected ways.

Capsule movie reviews for Nov. 19

Wed, 15 Nov 2017 23:41:58 UT

American Made The movie’s light, breezy tone doesn’t quite seem right — or even make sense — for this story of a TWA pilot turned drug smuggler in the 1980s. Still, Tom Cruise is his own quality control, so the movie is brisk and entertaining, anyway. Rated R. 115 minutes.—M.LaSalle A Bad Moms Christmas This rushed sequel to “Bad Moms” (2016) feels more like a financial decision than an artistic mandate. And yet, through all its plot and editing problems, the comedy does deliver a lot of laughs — with a trio of bad grandmothers joining bad moms Kristen Bell, Mila Kunis and Kathryn Hahn.

A successful new stab at ‘Murder on the Orient Express’

Thu, 9 Nov 2017 20:31:54 UT

Kenneth Branagh’s new adaptation of “Murder on the Orient Express” contains some of the best of old and new. Based on the novel by Agatha Christie, this is in many ways an old-fashioned entertainment, but it has the pace and visual richness of a modern movie. And it’s almost as star-studded as the famous 1974 adaptation, which starred Albert Finney, Sean Connery, Ingrid Bergman (in an Oscar-winning performance), Lauren Bacall and John Gielgud. Fans of the 1974 version may see this movie and think, “Oh, but the original was so much better.

Movie review capsules, Nov. 3

Thu, 2 Nov 2017 16:55:45 UT

All the Rage (Saved by Sarno) This is an advocacy film extolling the virtues of the late Dr. John Sarno’s unorthodox treatment for back pain. His idea was that much back pain has its genesis in repressed emotions from childhood, particularly anger. One of the filmmakers, Michael Galinsky, who gained some relief from Sarno’s methods, also turns the camera on himself. Whether this movie can convert a skeptic is questionable. Not rated. 94 minutes.—W.Addiego American Made The movie’s light, breezy tone doesn’t quite seem right — or even make sense — for this story of a TWA pilot turned drug smuggler in the 1980s.

Dysfunctional ‘Bad Moms Christmas’ still delivers laughs

Wed, 1 Nov 2017 13:00:00 UT

Comedy transpires in the most obvious places during “A Bad Moms Christmas.” A randy grandmother goes to a strip club. A small child says the f-word, repeatedly. Even smooth jazz artist Kenny G, perhaps the easiest target on the planet, gets mocked in a cameo. The rushed sequel to “Bad Moms” (2016) feels more like a financial decision than an artistic mandate. An atrophied plot withers and drops pieces of itself, like your holiday tree in mid-February. And yet, through all of the pointless detours, shameless product placement and odd timing — Christmas is still 54 days away, shouldn’t this be “A Bad Moms Thanksgiving”? — the comedy does deliver a lot of laughs.

Through its flaws, ‘Thank You’ has a powerful message

Thu, 26 Oct 2017 21:11:01 UT

The makers of “Thank You for Your Service” deserve a cinematic medal of honor for getting their film to a big screen. We’re in an age of sequels to sequels and reboots of reboots, where a well-reviewed movie that makes $400 million worldwide can be written up as a failure. And here’s an unflinching film about military post-traumatic stress disorder, with only a couple of action scenes, getting wide distribution. The good intentions go a long way, with another solid performance by Miles Teller (they seem to arrive weekly), and a rare nuanced look at the struggle of veterans. Its existence will help people, and bring understanding.

‘Goodbye Christopher Robin’: in Hundred Acre Wood, respite from war

Thu, 19 Oct 2017 07:01:00 UT

“Goodbye Christopher Robin” is an exquisite, beautiful film, and like most beautiful things, there’s something painful about it. It depicts a kind of beauty, innocence and purity that can’t be forever, whose existence forces you to stop and appreciate it now — and in the moment of appreciating it, to contemplate its future nonexistence. That’s really the governing emotion of this film, the pitch that it reaches and sustains from beginning to end, a kind of sadness in the midst of happiness, a paradise with an awareness of mortality. It’s the story of the creation of Winnie-the-Pooh by A.A.

‘Marshall’ an entertaining look at a justice’s early years

Thu, 12 Oct 2017 19:54:51 UT

Those of us old enough to remember Thurgood Marshall on the Supreme Court of the United States remember him as a stern, heavy presence. So what a surprise to meet him again in “Marshall” and to find out that, as a young man, he was a very cool guy — fearless and charismatic, and not just brilliant but up for a good time. “Marshall” is a historical drama that will introduce many Americans to the life and career of one of the 20th century’s most important lawyers. But if the filmmakers feel any responsibility to that fact, they wear it lightly — and well. “Marshall” is a serious movie, but it’s not preachy or didactic. Rather, it tells its 20th century story by reviving a surefire 20th century form, the courtroom drama.

‘My Little Pony’ movie best left for established fans

Thu, 5 Oct 2017 21:00:00 UT

The streets of pony wonderland Equestria are oddly poop-free, and almost impossibly festive. But as we’ve learned in “Trolls,” the Smurfs franchise and “The Three Amigos,” there is bound to be conflict when you build a society where there is no defense spending and 98 percent of your budget goes to party planning. “My Little Pony: The Movie” creates a rainbow-hued sparkle-encrusted equine world, then surrounds it with a predictable story and low production values. Putting the words “The Movie” in the title turns out to be a necessary reminder. The film looks like the cable network cartoon, simply expanded to larger physical dimensions for the big screen.

Government jobs bud as legal pot looms in Calif.

Sat, 30 Sep 2017 14:50:34 UT

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Recreational marijuana use becomes legal in California in 2018, and one of the things to blossom in the emerging industry isn't green and leafy - it's government jobs.

‘American Made’: It’s about the star, not the logic

Thu, 28 Sep 2017 02:43:21 UT

“American Made” is entertaining and brisk; and best of all, it stars Tom Cruise, whose work ethic is always to break a sweat, in every movie and in practically every scene. So this is a picture with lots of velocity and charm, and both of those go a long way. That’s practically the whole ballgame. People will like this movie. I pretty much liked this movie. But: Even while we’re watching it, a funny feeling sets in. Lots of things happen in “American Made,” but it’s as if the frenetic pace is to keep us from thinking about what we’re watching. Something here just doesn’t add up — not the character, not the story, not the zany-comic tone, not the whole situation.

Performances highlight challenging ‘Stronger’ biopic

Thu, 21 Sep 2017 20:23:28 UT

You could watch a dozen seasons of “Grey’s Anatomy” and never see a full tracheal intubation. Most movies and television shows that deal with a medical crisis don’t linger on the removal of breathing tubes, or the first shower after a traumatic injury, or the first bar fight that breaks out around a man in a wheelchair. But “Stronger” runs screaming in pain from the kind of simplistic inspirational storytelling that the subject matter usually yields. It’s about sacrifice, hurtful choices and what you can’t recover during your recovery.

Lawrence under siege in Aronofsky’s latest extravaganza

Thu, 14 Sep 2017 21:17:23 UT

Starting in 1998 with “Pi,” Darren Aronofsky has directed, with mixed results, a series of dazzling and confrontational movies that combine visual virtuosity with intense probings of dark psychological themes. His new film, “Mother!,” follows suit. It’s a horror story about the beleaguered wife of a narcissistic writer and includes some remarkable visions of hell on Earth. Aronofsky’s movies are not for everyone — provocations like “Requiem for a Dream” and “Black Swan” can feel assaultive, a deliberate test of audience endurance. Viewers willing to accept the challenge will be rewarded with passages embodying extraordinary moods and images.

They got ‘It’ right: Behind the horror and gore lurks real artistry

Thu, 7 Sep 2017 21:01:37 UT

The rebooted “It” earns the highest compliment for a horror movie: Even if it didn’t have the homicidal clown and sink spewing blood and missing children getting yanked into sewers, what remains would still be an engaging movie. It’s smart and funny and makes great effort to capture not just a time and place, but the specific feelings of being on the verge of adulthood and thinking the world is against you. There are questionable structural differences between this film and Stephen King’s literary source material, and those will be particularly noticeable to fans of the 1990 television miniseries.

Toronto Film Fest lineup will generate buzz, and debates

Thu, 7 Sep 2017 20:49:23 UT

NEW YORK — Few institutions in cinema can match the Toronto International Film Festival as a conversation-starting force. It simply has a lot of movies worth talking about. And this year, many of the films that will parade down Toronto red carpets will hope to shift the dialogue not just in terms of awards buzz, but in other directions, too: equality in Hollywood; politics in Washington; even the nature of the movies, themselves. At TIFF, expect debate. That’s what the filmmakers behind “Battle of the Sexes,” one of the anticipated films, are hoping for. The festival opened Thursday, Sept.