In 2007's Grindhouse, the commercially unsuccessful double feature experiment by Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino, the highlights were arguably the trailers for non-existent exploitation films that played between the two features. Rodriguez's own phony trailer, "Machete", gave audiences a taste of what I wish Grindhouse had more of: sex and chaos. In 2010, Rodriguez has finally gotten to take his… read more!
Movie Titles: M
Dark, unsettling film noir about young factory worker Trevor Reznik (sounding a bit like Nine Inch Nails frontman Trent Reznor, no?), who, horrifyingly emaciated and admitting to not having slept for a full year (nor eaten, one would assume), starts communicating with a dangerous-looking stranger whose actual existence is questionable. Unlike other "What's the secret?" movies, while The Machinist lets… read more!
Someone in the New York Public Schools system came up with the curious but laudable idea of forcing all the district's fifth graders to go through ballroom dance training, with the top schools competing annually for a coveted trophy. Because this is New York, you have literally thousands of kids from all ethnic and economic backgrounds trying to out-dance each… read more!
At 70, George Miller returns to the movie franchise he abandoned 30 years ago, and shows all these whippersnappers how film action is properly done. With Mel Gibson now aged out of the Max Rockatansky role, a nearly silent Tom Hardy takes over, and the film picks up at an indiscriminate time after events of the previous Mad Max installments. The… read more!
Actors Jon Favreau and Vince Vaughn team up for the first time since the indie film Swingers (written by Favreau) turned them into stars. Both have gained an alarming amount of weight in the 5 years since Swingers, and now they play a couple of lunkheads who are hired by mob boss Peter Falk to participate in a marginally dangerous… read more!
Magnolia is about a bunch of messed-up LA residents whose unhappy lives interconnect, sort of. Sound like Robert Altman's Short Cuts? Sure, but Anderson is after some other idea - something about the sins of the fathers being visited on the sons, I guess, since nearly every character in the film is either a father who has treated his children… read more!
Terrific character study starring Catalina Saavedra as Raquel, the live-in domestic servant for a rich but likable family in Santiago, Chile. Recently turning 41, and having been in the employ of the family for twenty years, Raquel is becoming like an old cat: possessive, territorial, and very, very grumpy. She even picks and chooses which of the four kids to… read more!
The Coen Brothers play it (comparatively) straight this time around, with a somber black and white noir about a nondescript barber named Ed (Billy Bob Thornton) living in a small California town in 1949, who decides to take a chance in life by investing in a get-rich-quick scheme involving the burgeoning dry cleaning industry. In order to raise the capital… read more!
Typically quirky, deadpan, seriocomic portrait of losers living on the edge, from a man who has forged his career out of such films: Finland's Aki Kaurismäki. Though perhaps best compared to American filmmaker Jim Jarmusch in terms of his pacing and style, Kaurismäki is little-known outside of Europe; perhaps his films' dour wit rarely translates into dollar signs for US… read more!
This is the third feature film from not-especially-prolific writer/director Kenneth Lonergan, following the lovely You Can Count on Me and the overrated Margaret. Like its predecessors, Manchester by the Sea explores what happens to ordinary people after tragedy strikes. It does so with honesty and a scruffy, foul-mouthed grace, even if its story unfurls over familiar ground. Casey Affleck is Lee, a taciturn Boston janitor… read more!
Pretty much as you'd expect, this is a cute, informative, and often very beautiful documentary about the complicated breeding habits of the emperor penguin. The big mystery is why this became such a huge box office hit in the US during the otherwise dud-packed summer of 2005. Perhaps people were so desperate to see something of quality in cinemas that… read more!
Low-key, realistically-shot drama about a 17-year-old Colombian girl (Catalina Sandino Moreno) who agrees to work as a drug "mule", ingesting capsules of heroin and smuggling them into the United States. Suffice to say, it's neither a fun nor glamorous trek for poor, headstrong Maria, but writer/director Marston refuses to let his story devolve into a routine violent crime thriller. I… read more!
I want to like Sofia Coppola's films. I really do. A female studio director is rare enough in the first place. But to have a female American auteur - well, at the moment, Coppola stands alone. I think it's important to have women helming big-budget films, and equally important to give them credit where it's due (despite the fact that… read more!
This year's Winter's Bone. A slow, quietly unsettling, Sundance-sanctioned drama about the titular multi-identitied character (Elizabeth Olsen), a young woman who escapes from a small cult in rural upstate New York. Retrieved by her generous though estranged sister Lucy (Sarah Paulson), Martha - rechristened "Marcy May" by the cult - seems all right at first, but she gradually starts to… read more!
It's becoming an annual tradition: A-list director and A-list movie star make movie about astronaut lost in space. And so after 2013's Gravity and 2014's Interstellar we have 2015's The Martian. It's less suspenseful than Gravity, less ambitious than Interstellar, but enjoyable stuff, balancing serious science with Hollywood hokum. Matt Damon is Mark Watney, an easygoing astronaut on a manned mission to Mars, presumably mankind's first.… read more!
Anderson's highly anticipated followup to There Will Be Blood, The Master's reputation precedes it, as it had been reported for quite a while that the film was a dramatization of the early days of Scientology and its leader L. Ron Hubbard. In fact the titular "Master" - one Lancaster Dodd (Anderson regular Philip Seymour Hoffman) - is obviously modeled on… read more!
Thoroughly engaging sea yarn based on the novels by the late Patrick O'Brian (the script is adapted from two separate books, Master and Commander and The Far Side of the World, hence the unwieldy title), about the crew of the H.M.S. Surprise, a British naval ship fighting the French in 1805, at the height of the Napoleonic Wars. Much more… read more!
Amusing if minor comedy about a sleazy hitman (Pierce Brosnan) who's losing his touch, and the naive yuppie (Greg Kinnear) he befriends in Mexico City and lures into his cockeyed world. A story sort of emerges where each man, at some point in time, needs the other's help to get through a sticky situation, but really this movie is enjoyable… read more!
Regardless of our undying puritanical ire over Woody Allen running off with his ex's adopted daughter Soon-Yi Previn (they've now been happily married for over eight years, so the joke's on us), Americans have a funny relationship with Allen: All the US critics are hailing Match Point as his best work in years - a thoughtful, non-gimmicky return to his… read more!
Brand new science fiction, written for the screen, and made by a pair of comparatively unknown writer/directors (the Wachowskis' only previous effort was the decent, but hardly revelatory, low budget crime thriller Bound), starring Keanu Reeves of all people - yet it works. It works because the Wachowskis have such a confident vision, with special effects that stretch the limits… read more!