Bleak portrait of the life of ethnic Kurds living on the border between Iran and Iraq, focusing on a cluster of newly-orphaned children who try to survive a harsh, snowy winter on their own. Their only potential for income comes from smuggling goods across the border, and the risk of being shot in an ambush is high. As an added… read more!
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An inexplicably eerie film about a middle-aged businessman named Vincent (Aurelien Recoing, looking like a cross between Kevin Spacey and Dan Aykroyd) who, after being fired from his job, hides his unemployment from his family, and in fact starts getting hooked on telling lies, even concocting a bogus investment scheme to swindle money out of dear friends, strangers, and his… read more!
Faithful adaptation of Audrey Niffenegger's novel about a man named Henry DeTamble (Eric Bana) who suffers from a unique genetic condition that causes him to time travel randomly - across various stages of his own life - for a few minutes, hours, or even days at a stretch, and Claire Abshire (Rachel McAdams), the woman who loves him throughout his… read more!
Having hated Mike Figgis's Leaving Las Vegas, I had my prejudices walking into this film, though I admit that the gimmick behind it is intriguing. In fact, the gimmick is the only interesting thing about it: Timecode's screen is divided into four quadrants, each one displaying a single, unedited take from a handheld video camera. All four cameras are synchronized.… read more!
Expertly crafted low-budget time travel movie about a middle-aged man (Karra Elejalde) who, after catching a glimpse of a naked woman in the forest outside his new house, goes into the woods to take a closer look and is suddenly stabbed in the arm by a fiend in a pink head bandage. If that's not weird enough, the man, fleeing… read more!
This atmospheric spy picture, set mostly in 1974, has a simple enough setup: There's allegedly a Soviet mole at the very top of the British intelligence community, and George Smiley (Gary Oldman), who once belonged to that elite half-dozen of super spies before being forced into retirement after a botched deal in Budapest, is quietly tapped to ferret out said… read more!
After the sensational success of his previous film, Midnight in Paris, Woody Allen trots off to another beloved-by-tourists European capital for more whimsical fantasy, with significantly less satisfying results. To Rome With Love intercuts four different and totally unconnected storylines: in one, Allen (in his first on-screen role since 2006's Scoop) travels to the Eternal City to visit his daughter,… read more!
It's curious, the apathy that has greeted this film. It's been just two years since The Tree of Life opened to great discussion, critical acclaim, multiple Oscar nominations, and a hotly divided audience. Perhaps Malick is paying the price for this surprisingly prolific third act in his career: when you start releasing movies every two years, they're no longer "events". Which may be what the… read more!
The young director of the Swedish sleeper hit Show Me Love returns with an even better follow-up, this one a charming slice-of-life portrait of a 1975 leftist commune and the various well-meaning kooks that populate it. You know there's some justice in the world (or at least in Sweden) when something like this can outgross The Grinch in its home… read more!
I'm rather surprised at the limp reception this film has received in the US. Just look at those directors: Gondry won millions of fans with his inventive music videos and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Carax has more of a cult following, thanks to his extravagant features Lovers on the Bridge and Pola X. And Bong made a big… read more!
This story about a small middle-class Japanese family whose father is laid off from his job and hides it from his wife and sons may bring to mind the similar (and excellent) French drama Time Out. And just as Time Out felt like a thriller, Tokyo Sonata at times plays out more like an end of the world movie than… read more!
I feel like a broken record this year: An original science fiction movie comes out, critics pan it, audiences are indifferent, I see it anyway, because I want to support non-sequels and because I like the director, and in the end it's... not as bad as they say, but frustrating in its unfulfilled promise. To wit: Jupiter Ascending, Chappie, and now Tomorrowland.… read more!
Toni Erdmann's premise is simple: Ines (Sandra Hüller) is a thirtysomething workaholic whose father Winfried (Peter Simonischek) is a practical joker. Concerned that his daughter is losing her soul to her job, Winfried dons a fright wig and some ridiculous false teeth, pretends to be a freelance consultant named "Toni Erdmann", and insinuates himself into Ines's work life – all to inject some humor into her… read more!
Leigh's intimate portrait of Victorian theatre superheroes Gilbert & Sullivan and the making of their musical masterpiece The Mikado. Leigh deserves kudos for taking such unusual subject matter and mounting a lavish, $15 million film about it. It's also a terrific examination of the creative process as we follow the composer and librettist through their individual writer's blocks in 1884… read more!
Not many films really deserve to be called "docudramas" - so few, in fact, that the word has come to mean "a fictional film based on real-life events" - but Touching the Void reclaims the term, blending talking-head documentary with dramatic re-enactments perfectly to tell its story the best way it can be told. In 1985, mountain climbers Simon Yates… read more!
Fairly routine cops and robbers movie ably directed by Ben Affleck, who also co-wrote the script (adapted from Chuck Hogan's novel Prince of Thieves) and stars as a clever crook who knocks over a Boston bank with his three cronies (chief among them a hothead played by Jeremy Renner, finally getting the A-list projects he deserves). He then rather inexplicably… read more!
Everybody and their mother has already seen this film by the time I'm sitting down to write this review, so I won't say much, other than I found it highly enjoyable. Not everybody can make a sequel work, but Pixar clearly has some of the best story people working in American cinema today. Toy Story 2's narrative is airtight and… read more!
I'm just going to come out and say that Toy Story 3 is as perfect as Pixar gets. And if you've been reading my movie reviews for a while, you know that I'm not one to agree that Pixar's output improves with each subsequent movie: yes, I did enjoy WALL-E and Up, but I wasn't among those who found them… read more!
Generally gripping multi-story drama about Americans and Mexicans on all sides of the failed "War on Drugs", based on the British mini-series Traffik. Like all of Steven Soderbergh's work, this film is stylish, gritty, creative, honest, and well-made. If I don't find Traffic the be-all end-all drug saga that other critics are claiming it to be, it's for one reason:… read more!
Training Day lets Denzel Washington finally play a creep, and the actor is clearly enjoying the experience, for he gives us one of his most energetic performances since Glory. Washington plays Los Angeles Police Detective Alonzo Harris, a corrupt, foul-mouthed cop showing his new partner Jake Hoyt (Ethan Hawke, playing it squeaky clean as written) how to survive the mean… read more!