Her, as you may have heard, is the story of a lonely Los Angeles man (Joaquin Phoenix) who purchases a Siri-like operating system simply called "OS1" that is being marketed as the first true example of artificial intelligence. Once he installs OS1 and hears a perky female voice (Scarlett Johansson) chattering back at him, and making him feel interesting, funny,… read more!
Movie Titles: H
Boy, the People's Republic of China sure went all-out when they wanted to make a fancy martial arts fantasy that was also pro-nationalist propaganda. For the most expensive Chinese feature ever (with a budget of a whopping $20 million - that's about as much as Adam Sandler makes per film), they hired one of their nation's greatest directors, Zhang Yimou… read more!
When I first heard about Hidden Figures, I had high hopes: Hollywood making a movie about black women is rare enough. To make a movie about nerdy black women is incredible. (Though 2016 produced at least two such films: don't miss Queen of Katwe.) But then I saw the trailer, and it looked pretty corny. But then I started hearing from everyone about how great the… read more!
Nick Hornby's popular British novel has been refocused from slackers in London to slackers in Chicago, John Cusack's home town, and what do you know - it's John Cusack! In this film, he plays a thirtysomething schlub named Rob, a not terribly with-it kind of guy who runs a barely-alive used record store, employs a couple of losers (the very… read more!
Viggo Mortensen plays Tom Stall, an ordinary family man in smalltown Indiana who owns the local diner. One night, when a couple of bad guys try to rob the place, Tom swiftly and effortlessly dispatches them. Instantly he becomes a local hero, attracting the attention of the TV news - and, eventually, a trio of villains (led by a wonderfully… read more!
This first-ever big screen Alfred Hitchcock biopic is fine as very light entertainment, but maddeningly unfulfilling as anything else. Focusing on the roughly one year period that Hitchcock spent developing and completing 1960's Psycho, the drama tries to balance the truly intriguing machinations behind the making of his horror masterpiece with the banal domestic tensions between Hitchcock (played here by… read more!
Entertaining if forgettable picture about Clifford Irving (Richard Gere, in a fine if noticeably Oscar-hungry performance) who in 1971 convinced the top brass at publishing house McGraw-Hill that he had been called upon by reclusive billionaire Howard Hughes to work with him on his official autobiography - even though Hughes had no idea who he was. Using an elaborate system… read more!
A relentlessly loony film that defies a clear logical interpretation, Holy Motors is the latest brainchild of beloved - and not very prolific - French madman Leos Carax. (It's only his second full-length feature since his landmark 1991 romance Lovers on the Bridge.) The setup is this: a mysterious "actor" (Carax regular Denis Lavant) cruises around Paris over the course… read more!
Kate Winslet is an Australian girl caught up in a mystical Indian cult. Harvey Keitel is an American "cult deprogrammer" who takes her into the Outback for 3 days to get her un-brainwashed. Though Holy Smoke's first act is excellent - Winslet's dreamy vision of India, compared with her desperate mother's impressions of filth and poverty when she arrives to… read more!
Sometimes you can really see the difference between great documentary filmmaking and mediocre documentary filmmaking. Spellbound, for instance, takes an innocuous subject – kids in a spelling bee – and turns it into a gripping, thought-provoking American saga. On the other side of the spectrum, Horns and Halos takes highly flammable material and squanders it, due to its filmmakers' muddled sense of purpose.… read more!
I admit that I am usually disappointed by American comedies. Most of them are just not funny. Yet once in a while I inexplicably feel a calling to head to a movie theater and watch one of them. I guess it's the optimist in me, because I find very few of them to be sharp, witty, inventive or surprising -… read more!
When the first feature from director-cowriter Edgar Wright and star-cowriter Simon Pegg, Shaun of the Dead, came out in 2004, it caught everybody by surprise. Not only was this tribute to zombie movies funny, sharp, scary, and extremely well-made, it was also poignant and real - something nobody expected out of a zombie movie. The two set the bar sky… read more!
Powerful fact-based drama about Paul Rusesabagina (Don Cheadle), the manager of the posh Hotel Milles Collines in Kigali, Rwanda, who inadvertently turned the four-star resort into a harbor for over a thousand frightened Rwandans during the terrible massacre of Tutsis by rebel Hutus in 1994. The film serves two purposes: The first is to recognize Rusesabagina's modern heroics - no… read more!
Dreary and annoying Oscar bait that examines the parallels between three troubled women: English novelist Virginia Woolf (Nicole Kidman), as she writes her masterpiece Mrs. Dalloway in 1923; a Los Angeles housewife (Julianne Moore) reading the novel in 1951; and a Manhattan literati (Meryl Streep) living the life of Woolf's title character in 2001. It's a neat concept, courtesy of… read more!
In ancient China, one of the Emperor's generals (Takeshi Kaneshiro) is sent to a brothel to track down a blind showgirl (Zhang Ziyi) who is believed to be part of an underground group of rebel assassins called the House of Flying Daggers. So he pretends to be a confederate of hers, later "rescuing" her from prison and, while on the… read more!
Northern California, the late '80s: Jennifer Connelly is Kathy, a recovering alcoholic who discovers one morning that her house is being repossessed by the county to be sold at auction, due to a bureaucratic mistake that she did not notice or fix in time. Ben Kingsley is Behrani, a former colonel for the Shah of Iran who escaped Khomeini with… read more!
Those even slightly familiar with the life of Martin Scorsese know about his fabled childhood, where little asthmatic Marty became enthralled by the movies as he was usually too sickly to play outside with the neighborhood kids. Only Scorsese knows how true this legend exactly is, but the image of him forlornly staring out of his Hell's Kitchen window at… read more!
What a strange specimen, this picture. Ang Lee is a great director. But he set out to make The Hulk look like a living comic book without thinking that maybe the movie should look like a movie instead. His hyperactive use of split-screens, zoom cuts, and superimposed shots actually suggests that he's trying to compensate for an unpolished script, as… read more!
Ben (Mark Duplass) is a thirtysomething Seattleite whose party days are long behind him and who has a normal job, a house, and a loving wife (Alycia Delmore). One night his hippie-ish old pal Andrew (Joshua Leonard) shows up unannounced at 2 am, and before Ben knows it, Andrew's made some new "friends" in town and is dragging him to… read more!
Already one of the biggest money-making films in history, the allure of The Hunger Games has been the subject of much scrutiny. I think it's enough to say that, given how many of the other box office champions of recent years include The Dark Knight, Titanic, the Twilight franchise, and the last Harry Potter movies, it's a testament to American… read more!