I envy anybody who goes to see Predestination with absolutely zero idea of what it's about. If this is you, then stop reading this immediately, block out all other synopses and reviews, and watch the film. I post this warning not because Predestination is great. It's merely okay. But when a movie's enjoyment depends greatly on its plot twists, the problem is that you're always on the lookout for them. Twists… read more!
Movies Released in 2015 (in alphabetical order)
In 1823, a fur trapper named Hugh Glass was mauled by a bear in South Dakota, left to die by his colleagues Thomas Fitzpatrick and Jim Bridger, and crawled some 200 miles back to what then passed for civilization. That basic premise, along with a few morbidly fascinating details about how the severely injured Glass made it through the bitter Dakota winter, provide the factual basis… read more!
Room is the little indie that could. Released to critical acclaim but meager audience interest, it had been slowly chugging along at art houses for three months before I finally caught up with it, shortly after it received surprise Oscar nominations for Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Adapted Screenplay, along with a less surprising nomination for Best Actress. These accolades are precisely… read more!
Emily Blunt stars as a Phoenix-based FBI agent who joins a federal task force to go after a Mexican drug lord. Once the team (led by a smug Josh Brolin, perfectly cast) takes her out of legal jurisdiction, however, and over the border into Juarez, Mexico, this squeaky-clean cop smells a CIA plot. And guess what? She's not wrong. Sicario has a tremendous… read more!
Good old-fashioned journalism drama about the four Boston Globe reporters who in early 2002 broke the story about widespread pedophilia and conspiracy in the Catholic church, opening the public's eyes to one of the biggest scandals in recent history. McCarthy, a sometime actor who's made a bigger name for himself as a director of thoughtful, adult-oriented indies like The Station Agent and… read more!
In an era where studio blockbusters are becoming increasingly actor-agnostic, Spy is that rare creature: the star vehicle. Sure, there's action, there's comedy, there's lighthearted social commentary, but Spy's success rests entirely on Melissa McCarthy's shoulders. I went to see Spy almost in spite of McCarthy. I have no problem with her; she simply doesn't compel me to see her work. But… read more!
Like many little boys, I worshipped Star Wars when it first came out. In that pre-VHS era, the movie played at our local blockbuster palace (San Jose's late lamented Century 22) for over a year, allowing me to catch it at least ten times on the big screen – and that was even before the re-releases. (This was nothing; several classmates boasted of… read more!
It's impossible not to compare Steve Jobs with The Social Network. Both have scripts by Aaron Sorkin. Both are about key figures – and key moments – in Silicon Valley, the current driving force behind American culture. Both have stellar casts and hip directors. The similarities end right there. Yet Sorkin's reputation overrides everything else, since right now, aside from… 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!
2015 is a banner year for Amy Schumer: as her TV show gathers even more mainstream popularity, she also debuts as a big-screen leading lady – in a movie she wrote herself, no less. Too bad Trainwreck, despite its charms, is such a formulaic romantic comedy. Hitting all the marks in this moribund genre, Trainwreck has Schumer playing Amy, one of… read more!
In 1974, a French tightrope artist named Philippe Petit illegally strung a wire between the newly-completed twin towers of the World Trade Center, then walked across it. I never even heard of this story until years after September 11, 2001, when Petit became the subject of the 2008 documentary Man on Wire. Presumably, that film's makers figured that 2008 was long enough after 9/11 so that their fun little doc wouldn't bum… read more!