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American values

Marion Cotillard gets a rough welcome in James Gray’s The Immigrant
The Immigrant  seamlessly folds elements of New York history and the American promise into a story about the varieties of captivity and loyalty.
By: CHRISTOPHER GRAY  |  June 11, 2014


Let's talk about sex

Lars von Trier gives you what he wants
Throughout its two volumes and four hours of explicit sexuality, masochism, philosophical debate, and self-analysis, Nymphomaniac remains the steadfast vision of a director talking to himself, and assuming you’ll be interested enough in him to listen and pay close attention.
By: CHRISTOPHER GRAY  |  April 09, 2014


Ashes and dioramas

Wes Anderson makes a film about nostalgia
History, rather than ennui, is the incursion that motivates this, his most antic and most somber work.
By: CHRISTOPHER GRAY  |  March 28, 2014


Passion of the strongman

A reclusive New Yorker takes the stage in Bending Steel
The film’s aim is modest and powerful: to focus on the physical and psychological hurdles Schoeck must overcome not only to become a true strongman, but also to become an engaging performer.
By: CHRISTOPHER GRAY  |  January 09, 2014


Performance and grisly reality collide in the astonishing Act of Killing

 Memories of murder
A group of genocidal Indonesian gangsters/government-sanctioned militiamen agree to discuss their crimes if they can do so on their own terms, by stylishly reenacting them in the mode of Hollywood genre films.
By: CHRISTOPHER GRAY  |  September 13, 2013


Blackfish exposes SeaWorld’s poor treatment of its prized possessions

 Bitter Orca
Gabriela Cowperthwaite’s unimaginative Blackfish has just enough gripping footage to make up for its unrelenting structural blandness.
By: CHRISTOPHER GRAY  |  August 08, 2013


Never go far

 Without a little Big Star
 Without a little Big Star
By: RICK WORMWOOD  |  July 25, 2013


Spencer McCall’s bewildering The Institute

Life is elsewhere
Ostensibly, the first feature film by Spencer McCall seeks to provide a portrait of a San Francisco organization called the Jejune Institute, whose mission hovers somewhere between the poles of self-help, performance art, disinformation, and an alternate-reality game. But if this is a portrait, we're not in art class anymore.
By: NICHOLAS SCHROEDER  |  May 10, 2013


Shane Carruth’s rapturous Upstream Color

Regaining Senses
One of the many triumphs of Shane Carruth's second film, Upstream Color , is that it demands to be heard as well as read.
By: CHRISTOPHER GRAY  |  April 24, 2013


Review: Emperor

Yes, Tommy Lee Jones plays the "supreme commander" of the US forces in this historical drama from Peter Webber ( Girl with a Pearl Earring ) that takes place after the Japanese surrender in World War II, and the Oscar winner puts in another towering performance.
By: BRETT MICHEL  |  March 12, 2013


Review: Oz the Great and Powerful

Sam Raimi nearly overcomes the unenviable burden of revisiting a classic by delivering dazzling footage, but not so the performances.
By: JORDAN RIEFE  |  March 07, 2013


Review: 21 And Over

As one of the Asian stereotypes in this hit-or-(mostly)-miss comedy from writer/directors Jon Lucas and Scott Moore says, "Fuck kids these days. Every one of you is drunk, stupid, and fat."
By: BRETT MICHEL  |  March 05, 2013


Review: Dead Man Down

Following the stunning success of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo , Danish filmmaker Niels Arden Oplev makes his English-language bow with this bleak film noir that values character over tension.
By: JORDAN RIEFE  |  March 08, 2013


Review: Jack The Giant Slayer

Stop me if you've heard this one before: a farm boy dreams of adventure, finds it, and falls in love with a princess along the way. (For everyone's sake, let's just hope she's not his sister.)
By: BRETT MICHEL  |  March 06, 2013


Review: The Last Exorcism Part II

Now that the shaky-cam nonsense has been left behind, what remains are textureless, overlit, sub-TV-quality visuals that only accentuate the fact that our protagonist, Nell Sweetzer (Ashley Bell), is at least a decade older than the 17-year-old exorcised sect-escapee that she's playing.
By: BRETT MICHEL  |  March 06, 2013


Review: Holy Motors

By: PETER KEOUGH  |  March 05, 2013


Review: Phantom

Simultaneously bizarre and banal, director Todd Robinson's military procedural seems designed to please no one.
By: JAKE MULLIGAN  |  February 27, 2013


Review: Snitch

Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson idles through this Ric Roman Waugh–directed action thriller as John Matthews, a construction company owner who infiltrates a cartel to persuade the DEA to set free his wrongly imprisoned son.
By: SCOTT SUGARMAN  |  February 27, 2013


Review: The Sweeney

No single subgenre is as tired as "loose-cannon cop breaks the rules to bring down a band of ruthless criminals."
By: JAKE MULLIGAN  |  February 27, 2013


Review: Identity Thief

Seth Gordon directs this funny, though formulaic, mismatched-duo comedy in which Jason Bateman's straight-laced family man must nab Melissa McCarthy, the identity thief who has ruined his credit, and haul her from Florida to Denver for prosecution.
By: BETSY SHERMAN  |  February 20, 2013
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