Movie Titles: S

A Serious Man

A Serious Man

Offbeat even for a Coen Brothers movie, A Serious Man opens in a Jewish village in 19th century Poland, with a scene in subtitled Yiddish that has a never-explained connection to the rest of the story, set in 1967 Minneapolis and centering on Larry Gopnik (Michael Stuhlbarg), a nerdy physics professor whose finds his quiet life suddenly falling apart: his… read more!

Session 9

Session 9

I was curious about this low-budget indie horror movie specifically because it was shot in Danvers, Massachusetts – the city where I was born. Thankfully, I wasn't born in the film's central location, the now derelict state mental institution, where five macho construction workers (led by talented Scottish actor Peter Mullan and the once-hot David Caruso) are hired to strip… read more!

Sexy Beast

Sexy Beast

Ray Winstone stars as Gary "Gal" Dove, a onetime London gangster who has retired to sunny Spain with his ex-porn star wife and their two friends. All is peaceful until an unwelcome face from his past comes to visit: Don Logan (Ben Kingsley), a psycho with a short fuse who has been sent by their former boss Teddy Bass (Ian… read more!

Shadow

Shadow

In 1987, Zhang Yimou debuted with the drama Red Sorghum, and instantly became China's preeminent – and often persecuted – auteur. 32 years and 20 feature films later, it's hard to say where his career is going. On the one hand, he's been helming big historical epics with failed crossover appeal (The Flowers of War, The Great Wall). On the… read more!

Shaft

Shaft

Who's a sex machine? Not this John Shaft – he's a killing machine! And so it goes with this very '90s update of the '70s blaxploitation classic. Whereas the audience for the 1971 Shaft wanted a strong, sexy, no-nonsense black man of the streets, here Hollywood believes today's audiences prefer a sexless black Terminator with an endless supply of bullets… read more!

Shallow Hal

Shallow Hal

I never thought I would be a fan of the Farrelly Brothers back in the days of Dumb and Dumber, but they have grown on me. Though best known for their gross-out gags (of which Shallow Hal is mostly bereft), what I find remarkable is the brothers' sense of humanity. They do more for the acceptance of people's differences than… read more!

Shame

Shame

Something akin to American Psycho only with murder replaced by sex, Shame is the sophomore feature from British artist-turned-filmmaker Steve McQueen – no relation to the late movie star. The suddenly ubiquitous Michael Fassbender stars as Brandon, a wealthy Manhattan corporate nobody who has a sex addiction. (Or so the film wants us to believe – for much of its… read more!

Shang-Chi

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings

Marvel's apparently earnest push for diversity continues with its first Asian American superhero movie, based on a character little-known outside the comics world. (At this point, Marvel movies are practically original content, as far as mainstream audiences are concerned. It's one thing to adapt the familiar Captain America, quite something else to adapt Guardians of the Galaxy.) Similarly little-known is… read more!

Shanghai Noon

Shanghai Noon

Jackie Chan plays a member of the Chinese Imperial Guard who, in 1881, races to the Old West, where he and a reluctant cowboy (Owen Wilson) team up to save a princess - and each other - from an array of bad guys. I hadn't seen Jackie Chan in an American film up until this point, and while his charm… read more!

The Shape of Things

The Shape of Things

Writer/director LaBute adapts his four-character play about a college nerd (Paul Rudd) hooking up with an an arrogant art student (Rachel Weisz) who immediately sets to improving his appearance, affecting his relationship with his former roommate (Fred Weller) and the roommate's fiancee (Gretchen Mol). The results of this adaptation reveal why most plays fall flat when brought to the screen:… read more!

The Shape of Water

The Shape of Water

The Shape of Water begins with a montage, set to accordion-heavy French music straight out of Amélie, of a mute cleaning lady named Elisa (Sally Hawkins) getting ready for work. It's the early 1960s. Elisa lives above a Baltimore movie theater. Her neighbor is a charming, closeted gay illustrator (Richard Jenkins). She dances her way down the hall. A fire… read more!

Shattered Glass

Shattered Glass

Smart, absorbing drama about Stephen Glass, a 25-year-old reporter for the esteemed political news magazine The New Republic who was fired in 1998 for partially or completely fabricating 27 of the 41 stories he had written for the publication. Hayden Christensen does an amiable job as Glass, an ingratiating nobody who deflects suspicions with self-deprecating comments like "Are you mad… read more!

Shaun of the Dead

Shaun of the Dead

A slovenly Londoner (cowriter Simon Pegg) decides to win back his uptight girlfriend and make amends with his poor fretful mother – and darn it if it doesn't happen on the eve of the End of the World, where everybody in London is turning into flesh-eating zombies! What starts off as a silly, even one-note comedy – poor Shaun doesn't… read more!

Shazam!

Shazam!

I have no personal recollection of Shazam! being an actual comic book; I only remember it as a lame Saturday morning live action series in the 1970s. So when I first saw the billboards for this Shazam!, I figured it was another TV show like Arrow or Gotham. After all, who would pay to see this campy character in a… read more!

She Said

She Said

It's a shame that so few people cared to watch this drama about the two New York Times journalists whose article about Hollywood über-producer Harvey Weinstein's rampant sexual abuse ultimately led to his imprisonment. Perhaps audiences figured they already knew the story, or that the film would be depressing or scolding. In fact She Said is gripping cinema – relevant,… read more!

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows

There seems to be new trend in studio blockbusters based on popular franchises: saving the best-known villain for the sequel. It's a risky move – and any risky move is unusual for Hollywood – because if the first movie flops, then the fans will never get to see how that series will handle their favorite bad guy. But if the… read more!

Shutter Island

Shutter Island

Bumped from its original release date of October 2009 (earlier that year, the film's advance pedigree may have been one of the reasons why the Academy optimistically increased its number of Best Picture nominees from five to ten), Scorsese's latest is a freakshow thriller set in 1954 where an obviously disturbed young Federal Marshall (Leonardo DiCaprio) is sent to a… read more!

Sicario

Sicario

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!

Sicario: Day of the Soldado

Sicario: Day of the Soldado

In my review for 2015's Sicario, I noted that Emily Blunt's priggish FBI agent was a weak center in a story about CIA involvement in the drug war, and that the film's ultimate star, Benicio del Toro, deserved a movie of his own. Three years later, the awkwardly-titled Sicario: Day of the Soldado grants my wish. And the results are… read more!

Sicko

Sicko

More entertaining, angering, depressing agitprop from Michael Moore. This time he takes aim at the US health insurance industry. No surprises there: Almost every American has had some sort of nightmare story in terms of dealing with their insurance company, so it's an easy target. Yet while this is an important film to see - especially for those who mindlessly… read more!