Film

Undefeated

Undefeated is a solid piece of filmmaking that is also too little too late. The Oscar-winning documentary by Daniel Lindsay and T. J. Martin concerns the travails of a high school football team in a poor black neighborhood of North Memphis that overcomes years of futility thanks in large part to a white volunteer coach who inspires them to believe in themselves both on and off the field.
March 7, 2012

Albert Nobbs

Albert Nobbs's journey from page to stage to screen has been long and bumpy. Simone Benmussa adapted a short story by Irish writer George Moore into the play The Singular Life of Albert Nobbs; this was then nearly made into a film by the celebrated Hungarian director Istvan Szabo. The fact that the project was still alive and kicking in 2011 is due, in large part, to the determination of Glenn Close.
March 4, 2012

Man on a Ledge

Man on a Ledge is a nifty little entertainment about an ex-cop (Sam Worth­ing­ton) framed for stealing a diamond owned by a ruthless magnate (Ed Har­ris). He escapes from custody and stages a suicide threat on the window ledge of Harris's hotel as a diversion while his allies break into his accuser's vault to prove the theft was a hoax.
February 21, 2012

Carnage

Carnage plays out entirely in a New York City apartment, where two couples are trying to deal with a playground incident involving their 11-year-old sons, one of whom struck the other in the mouth with a stick. In the process, the film—directed and coscripted by Roman Polanski, based on Yasmina Reza's play God of Carnage—peels back the skin of each supposedly caring parent, revealing the person beneath the civilized facade.
February 7, 2012

We Need to Talk About Kevin

The primary reason to im­merse yourself in the jagged world of We Need to Talk About Kevin is the towering lead performance by Tilda Swin­ton, an actress of continuing spontaneity who traveled a circuitous route through experimental and art cinema before embarking on a second career in the mainstream.
February 5, 2012

The Iron Lady

The Iron Lady, which stars Meryl Streep as Margaret Thatcher, is the worst biopic since Nixon. It's so cautious that it lacks a coherent point of view, and it's so scattered that it tells you almost exactly nothing.
January 24, 2012
Documentarian Steve James has a journalist's nose for a great story. His beat is the challenges faced by low-income city kids, in this case young Chicagoans whose lives are blighted by the cycle of violence.
January 23, 2012

Young Adult

Judging by the ads, you might think that this tale of a former high school prom queen who returns to her small Minnesota town to reclaim her old boyfriend is a light story filled with big yucks and a happy ending. But director Jason Reitman and screenwriter Diablo Cody are serving up a dark story about wasted lives and shattered dreams that coyly takes a few cheap potshots at the clueless folks who populate a small town.
January 17, 2012

The Descendants

Alexander Payne's film fancies itself a tragicomic story of spiritual redemption. But despite the many characters and subplots employed to help build the tale, it is a house of cards.
January 8, 2012

Like Crazy

Like Crazy is a love story about an American boy (Anton Yelchin) and an English girl (Felicity Jones) who meet in their final year of college in Los Angeles, fall in love and opt to spend the summer together in the States before she returns to London.
December 28, 2011

War Horse

War Horse is ideal material for Steven Spiel­berg. His adaptation of the children's novel by Michael Morpurgo comes to the screen by way of the celebrated National Theatre stage version, which has been entrancing audiences of all ages on Broadway since last season.
December 25, 2011

Martha Marcy May Marlene

This first feature by writer-director Sean Durkin, a big hit at the 2011 Sun­dance Film Festival, centers on an enigmatic character with a minimal back­story. Martha (Elizabeth Olsen) is a 22-year-old who has spent the past two years living in a cult community in upstate New York.
December 15, 2011

Shame

You might assume that an NC-17 movie about sex addiction starring the striking Michael Fass­bender and featuring rampant nudity and graphic depictions of various sex acts would have a certain erotic allure. You would be wrong.
December 12, 2011

Footloose

Craig Brewer, the extraordinary young director of Hustle & Flow and Black Snake Moan, brings his sharp ear for southern culture's tone and rhythms to this remake of a 1998 pop musical (itself a remake of a 1984 film) set in a small Georgia town. The problem is that the material is still Footloose.
December 4, 2011

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