• The-Diary-of-a-Teenage-Girl-1

    Review: Diary of a Teenage Girl

    Monday, August 24, 2015

    The Diary of a Teenage Girl, a pedophile drama gussied up with non-judgmental makeup, strikes one as more odd than innovative. Fifteen-year-old Minnie Goetze (a rather good Bel Powley) opens the film declaring, “I had sex today,” and you sure can tell it changed her. Set in the free-love 1970’s in San Francisco, Marielle Heller’s […]

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  • PHOENIX

    Review: Phoenix

    Monday, August 24, 2015

    Christian Petzold’s Phoenix creates a bracing tension between rediscovery and denial, between traumatization and angst. Nina Hoss, one of the world’s finest film actresses, portrays Nelly Lenz, a concentration camp survivor who undergoes plastic surgery that essentially grants her a new face after her old one was shot up by Nazis. At the film’s outset […]

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  • 05

    Review: American Ultra

    Friday, August 21, 2015

    A stoner comedy by nature relies on an undercurrent of paranoia. In American Ultra Mike Howell (Jesse Eisenberg) quickly loses the edge of thinking everyone is after him when–lo and behold–before long everyone is indeed after him. Also gone with the stoner conceit is the notion that this film is somehow a comedy. What looks […]

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    Review: The End of Tour

    Monday, August 17, 2015

    A film consisting primarily of two writers talking to each other turns out to be The End of the Tour’s strength rather than its weakness. David Foster Wallace (an excellent Jason Segal) at one point says to Rolling Stone magazine profiler David Lipsky (Jesse Eiesenberg), “David, this is nice. This is not real.” As close […]

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  • JwsLv

    Review: The Man From U.N.C.L.E.

    Friday, August 14, 2015

    Given the plethora of technical bells and whistles in Guy Richie’s The Man From U.N.C.L.E. (the extra punctuation is as wearying as much of this film so I will only reference the title once) the onus is on Richie to provide sufficient plot and character. He almost makes it on the character front but if […]

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Review: Nightcrawler

Lou Bloom is a sick pup. That he has no clue of his particularly eerie insularity makes him all the more entertaining. And scary. In a performance which is particularly outstanding, Jake Gyllenhaal gives us a Lou who is bent on making it in the big world out there–in this case, Los Angeles, and specifically, […]

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Review: The Mule

Based on true events, Tony Mahony’s comedic thriller, The Mule, features co-director Angus Sampson in the role of working class fool, Ray Jenkins: a nice, innocent, and naïve guy, living in a small neighborhood in 1983 Australia with his protective parents. He is forced out of his comfort zone when his childhood friend, Gavin (Leigh […]

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Review: Goodbye to Language 3D

Jean-Luc Godard on several occasions in his new film, Goodbye to Languge 3-D, places two images atop each other. Close one eye, you’ll see one image; close the other, a different image. Do neither and you’ll get a headache. Small price to pay for the experience of indulging the French master and allowing him to […]

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Review: 52 Tuesdays

The Australian drama 52 Tuesdays, directed by Sophie Hyde, follows 16 year old Billie as she struggles to adjust to her mother’s gender transition. When Billie’s contact with her mother is limited to Tuesdays after school and she is forced to live with her father, she undergoes her own transition into womanhood through unusual sexual […]

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Review: Birdman

Long takes consisting of swooning, uniquely-angled camera shots are set to the riveting backdrop of a hypnotically spare solo jazz drum. Weaving Antonio Sanchez’s dazzling minimalist score around the action and as an ironic comment on it, director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarittu has created a movie that essentially plays as much like a brilliant piece of […]

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Review: Whiplash

Channeling both Lee Marvin and Nurse Ratched, J. K. Simmons plays Terence Fletcher, absolutely nailing one of those rare movie performances that manages to go over the top without a trace of insincerity. He’s, of all things, the music instructor from hell–his veins popping out when he’s going off. His idea of teaching includes relentless, […]

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Review: Legend of Korra “The Coronation”

“The Coronation” sets up a lot of conflicts and plot devices that will likely pay off big time later in the season.  First and foremost, the ruthless Kuvira has been pushed firmly into “main antagonist” territory.  She has the makings of a great villain. She’s savagely intimidating and always gets what she wants; a potentially […]

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Oct
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PFF23 Review: Two Days One Night

In the haunting Two Days, One Night, directors Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne add a profound level of morality drama to their customarily brilliant trove of social reality themes explored since their outstanding first film, Le Promesse (1997). What is unique this time is they are working with an actress who is emerging as one of […]

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PFF23 Review: The Last Five Years

The intermittently uplifting yet often pretentious The Last Five Years contains hardly any dialogue that is not sung. Pleasantly containing several songs of depth and wit, the film struggles with the thinnest of story lines and its pleased-with-itself structure. Anna Kendrick, who is very good, presents her character, Cathy’s story backwards from the end, while […]

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Oct
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PFF23 Review: Human Capital

Human Capital blends a razor-sharp depiction of Italian class tension with an engrossing mystery. Based on a novel by American author Stephen Amidon, the film unfolds in separate chapters, each of which repeats the same events from the different perspectives of various characters. The film, deriving its title from the world of insurance, boasts powerful […]

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Oct
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PFF23 Review: Girlhood

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PFF23 Review: Mommy

French Canadian wunderkind Xavier Dolan (he made and starred in I Killed My Mother at 19) seriously gets in you face with the extravagantly jarring Mommy. The brutal arguments between out-of-his-mind, tantalizing, violent-zero me, ADHD 15-year-old Steve (Antoine-Olivier Platt) and his tough yet unconditionally compassionate mom Diane (a great Anne Dorval) have to be seen […]

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