Film Reviews Stories 1 to 10 of 163  
8/4/2014
Film Reviews: Coldwater, Fifi Howls From Happiness, The Hundred-Foot Journey
Coldwater *** Troubled Brad (P.J. Boudousqué) is taken to a juvenile rehabilitation center, where he is “broken down” by The Colonel (James C. Burns). The facility’s brutal methods are geared to “change” difficult teens. Abused in the name of reform, Brad witnesses crimes and eventually, expectedly rebels. While the first half is predictable, Coldwater gets more engrossing at its midpoint, when Brad’s hometown friend, Nunez (Chris Petrovski), arrives. Brad soon plans to serve up a cold dish of revenge. While the sadism is vivid, and the acting uneven, Coldwater’s message about mistreatment in juvenile reform centers compensates ...
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7/25/2014
Film Reviews: Dinosaur 13, I am Happiness on Earth, Very Good Girls
Dinosaur 13 Opens Aug. 15**** A stunning documentary, Dinosaur 13 chronicles the strange-but-true story of Peter Larson, part of a team that found a T-Rex in the South Dakota Badlands back in 1990. His discovery, though, while significant and important, was soon seized by the FBI. Larson and some colleagues became the subjects of a lengthy and complex court case. Dinosaur 13 nimbly takes viewers through the events, and it’s a helluva story. Director Todd Douglas Miller may show some bias, and he raises a few unanswered questions about Larson’s business practices, but his clear presentation of the material ...
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7/21/2014
Film Reviews: A Summer's Tale, Kidnapped for Christ, The Nance
A Summer’s Tale *** In this belated American release of the late Eric Rohmer’s 1996 film A Summer’s Tale, Gaspard (Melvil Poupaud) hopes to rendezvous with Lena (Aurelia Nolin) in the beach town of Dinard. He ends up meeting Margot (Amanda Langlet, terrific), who is more suited to him. But she introduces him to Solene (Gwenaëlle Simon). Now Gaspard has three potential girlfriends. As in most Rohmer films, the characters talk and talk about their feelings rather than act on them. They also think they know what they want, but they don’t. As such, A Summer’s ...
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6/25/2014
Film Reviews: Life Itself, They Came Together, Violette
Life Itself  * * * * Based on the late Roger Ebert’s memoir, Life Itself is a lovely, fitting tribute to one of America’s most famous film critics. Ebert’s career, which began in newspapers and exploded on television, includes highlights such as writing Russ Meyers’ bra-busting Beyond the Valley of the Dolls and winning a Pulitzer Prize for film criticism. Director Steve James’ empathetic documentary also candidly addresses Ebert’s battles with alcoholism and cancer, as well as his supportive relationship with his wife, Chaz, and his combative relationship with TV partner Gene Siskel. Ultimately, Life Itself reveals that Ebert lived ...
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6/16/2014
Film Reviews: Broken Heart Land, We Are The Best!, Yves Saint Laurent
Broken Heart Land* * * * Broken Heart Land is a poignant, inspiring documentary that shows how Nancy Harrington transformed the grief she experienced after her gay son Zack’s suicide into activism. The film chronicles efforts to speak out about her son, join a PFLAG-like group, MOM (Mothers of Many) and campaign for equal rights for LGBT citizens in Norman, Okla., including supporting a City Council race for the openly gay Jackie Farley. This incredibly moving film gets up close and personal with the Harrington family and their supporters—and detractors, as it even-handedly shows the impact one gay young ...
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5/30/2014
Film Reviews: X-Men: Days of Future Past, Before You Know It, Godzilla, Remembering the Artist, Test
X-Men: Days Of Future Past* * * * When it comes to superheroes, I prefer mine messed up (Batman) or metaphorically wrought, like the X-Men. The latest installment, directed by the beleaguered Bryan Singer, is a time-traveling extravaganza, long on plot and fantastic effects, short on character development. This bothers me less than it does in, say, Godzilla, since we know these characters from the last six installments. The cast is good (though most are underutilized—sorry, again, Halle Berry), with the standouts being Michael Fassbender’s Magneto, Evan Peters’ Quicksilver, and, especially, James McAvoy’s Charles Xavier. The core theme—a plea ...
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5/15/2014
Film Reviews: Filth, The Love Punch, Night Moves
Filth* * * This frenzied adaptation of a novel by Irvine Welsh (Trainspotting) has Bruce (James McAvoy, charmingly manic), a corrupt cop, exploiting his co-workers’ weaknesses—which includes a photocopied penis-guessing contest—to earn a promotion. The naughty Filth has wicked fun chronicling Bruce participating in erotic asphyxiation, prank call phone sex, cross-dressing and other “perversions.” It is more ironic-amusing than nasty, though there is one icky vomit scene. However, the depraved Filth cannot maintain its tricky high-wire act and also be sentimental and serious. As Bruce comes undone—haunted by guilt, he sees grotesque animal faces on people—so does ...
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4/29/2014
Film Reviews: The Immigrant, Neighbors, Walk of Shame
The Immigrant Opens May 16** The Immigrant opens in 1921 as Ewa (Marion Cottilard) and her sister Magda (Angela Sarafyan) arrive at Ellis Island. Magda has tuberculosis, and Ewa is marked for deportation. Enter Bruno (Joaquin Phoenix), who gives Ewa a job in his burlesque house—as a prostitute. This grim, ponderous melodrama soon becomes a grim, ponderous love triangle when Bruno’s magician cousin Orlando (Jeremy Renner) falls in love with Ewa. The characters are mostly despicable, and jealous Bruno’s fights with Orlando over Ewa are ludicrous. Cottilard emotes while Phoenix over-emotes. Even with gorgeous cinematography and period sets, director ...
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4/16/2014
Film Reviews: Finding Vivian Maier, Proxy, Young and Beautiful
Finding Vivian Maier* * * * *The late Vivian Maier was an amateur Chicago street photographer who left an unbelievable legacy—hundreds of thousands of outstanding images. John Maloof (who co-directed with Charlie Siskel) just happened to purchase a box of Maier’s negatives at an auction and was astonished by his discovery. Viewers will be as well. This extraordinary documentary uncovers the secretive Maier’s true story. An inveterate hoarder, she was extremely private, never exhibiting or sharing her work, and many interviewees emphasize that Maier would be very unhappy about all the attention being paid to her now. ...
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4/2/2014
Film Reviews: Divergent, 10 Rules for Sleeping Around, Nymphomaniac: Volume II
Divergent * * * If we’re to believe the rash of young adult novels that have become popular over the last decade, America’s youth (young women, especially) should just give up now, because in the near future life will suck. Based on Veronica Roth’s trilogy Divergent and starring Shailene Woodley and the amazingly sexy Theo James—those lips!—this is basically The Hunger Games set in post-apocalyptic Chicago. Future dystopia, check. Warring factions, check. Brooding hotties and girls coming of age, check. That said, it’s a well-done adaptation, less engaging than The Hunger Games’ first installment but brisk popcorn entertainment. —D.L. 10 ...
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