Paul Thomas Anderson's tale of a man drawn into a quasi-religious cult is puzzling and provoking, with remarkable performances at its heart.
A based-on-truth tale about people manipulated into criminal acts by stranger on the phone.
Melanie Lynskey and Blythe Danner are fine in this small family comedy, but it's a
Two documentaries of diverse style and aims show what can happen when first-world filmmakers take a look at other cultures.
A story about a novel about a novel should have been erased from the word processor, not made into a film.
A film meant to evoke "Do the Right Thing" is more muddled than powerful.
In the 23 (!) years since the fiery summer's day of "Do the Right Thing," Spike Lee has had some moments of glory ("Malcolm X," "Inside Man," "4 Little Girls") and inspiration ("Crooklyn," "Clockers," "25th Hour"), but he's never been able to capture the same power, pop energy, passion and polemic force as in that epochal film.
To see his newest work, "Red Hook Summer," is too see how far Lee is from his impressive best. A companion, of sorts, to "Right Thing," the film takes place in another Brooklyn summer, with young Flik (Jules Brown) dropped by his Georgia-based mom to live for a few months with her dad, Enoch (Clarke Peters), a storefront preacher and boiler repairman in the local housing projects.
It's something of a coming-of-age story, with Flik learning the harsh ropes of big city life alongside an almost-sweetheart (Toni Lysaith) and avoiding the neighborhood tough guys (led by Nate Parker). Mookie the pizza man (Lee himself) makes an appearance (illogically still delivering pies on foot from Sal's Famous, which is nowhere near Red Hook), and there are other diversions, both filmic and narrative which sometimes engage but more often eat up time frustratingly.
The highlights, without question, are Bishop Enoch's fiery, musical, galvanizing sermons, which dot the story and are implicated with a sensationalist turn in its final portion. Peters ("The Wire") is superb in these scenes, without which "Red Hook Summer" would be a vague and somewhat desperate attempt to rekindle past promises. Lee is, as ever, a gifted image-maker, but his storytelling has gotten so lax over time as to barely register. This isn't the "Right Thing" in any sense.
(121 min., R, Hollywood Theatre) Grade: C-plus
Matthew McConaughey astounds and disturbs as a hit man preying on a wicked family.
Frank Langella is exquisitely dry and crusty as a retiree who devises a unique use for his robotic househelp
A rehabbed drug addict traverses his home town in search of a new start in a compellingly quiet film.
David Cronenberg's adaptation of a Don DeLillo novel is an exquisitely built torture machine -- for its protagonist and, perhaps, for its viewers.
A man poses as a missing boy, even though he's nothing like him, and pulls off the hoax with the boy's family.
Visiting relations turn a Manhattan couple's life into utter chaos, comically.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt is riding against the clock and a dirty cop in an energetic, if ordinary, thriller.
Dax Shepard writes, directs and stars, with real-life girlfriend Kristen Bell, as a man with a past on the run.
The second feature from Portland's Laika Entertainment is a grand romp for tweens -- and for those who appreciate fabulous filmmaking.
A new star and a new plot line are grafted onto the hit film series, and the result is exhilarating.
A crude comedy takes aim at the fallen state of American politics with scattershot results.
Takashi Miike's 3-D samurai movie is darker and slower than you might hope.
A portrait of a family building a 90,000-square foot house gives life to the cliche "filthy rich."
A lonely man dreams up the perfect sweetie, then wishes he hadn't.
A gross-out comedy from Denmark has laughs but little heft.
In "Klown," Danish TV comedians Casper Christensen and Frank Hvam join the ranks of Sacha Baron Cohen and the "Jackass" mob by turning their antics into a semi-improvised comedy about the vulgar and sometimes very funny antics of confused men behaving like witless boys.
Married Casper is planning on a weekend at a brothel and wants to bring uptight Frank along. But Frank, to score points with his pregnant sweetheart, drags along her pudgy nephew, which you would think would curtail Casper's coarsest and most explicit plans -- but, then, of course, you'd be thinking, which is something that people in comedy of this stripe don't often do.
There are real laughs in the film, yes, and enough sex and scatology to make anyone in the Apatow-verse blush. It isn't art, it's will-o-the-wisp thin, but it might well make you squirt your soda through your nose. And as there seem to be a number of people willing to pay good money for that sensation, there's glory for you!
(89 min., R, Hollywood Theatre) Grade: B-minus
A strong cast and a nifty begining quickly unravel into incoherence.
An epic film informs -- and sometimes rile -- but never bores: a feat in itself!