Modern Times

Playtime

Whenever I'm asked what my favorite film is, Jacques Tati's Playtime is the title I blurt out. And when all's said and done, that's for one simple reason: there's just no other movie experience like it.

Playtime is a lot of things. It's a virtually wordless movie that's inconceivable without its sounds. A razor-sharp reproach of reckless modernization, delivered almost invisibly, with a touch...

entered on 01/11/12 at 04:40 AM | read more »



Pedestrian Equestrian

War Horse

Steven Spielberg is an unrepentant schmaltz addict, and War Horse may represent his biggest binge to date. Crammed with comforting cliches and overstuffed with sentiment, this lifelessly dangling chunk of Oscar bait feels purely calculated to prey on the emotionally vulnerable. The rest of us calloused souls are forced to endure a pretty looking but ultimately shallow journey of a...

entered on 01/09/12 at 01:47 AM | read more »


Cutting Room for January 4

  • My excitement for Thor 2 has declined from “Odin’s beard” to “Loki’s muttonchops,” as Patty Jenkins has been taken from the director’s seat. Thus, instead of getting to see what a talented female filmmaker may do with a big budget sequel, we get to see what Alan Taylor, director of some episodes of “Game of Thrones,” can predictably do. Word has it that Natalie Portman, or Natpo as I call...

entered on 01/04/12 at 11:18 AM | read more »


<p>  The Hobbit</p>
Cutting Room for December 28

  • For those who get giddy at being teased, this was a heck of a week for teaser trailers. Not only did The Dark Knight Rises finally lift up its proverbial skirt to show us a hint of its knickers, but The Hobbit also gave us a delightful peek and a wink. Early reactions to both have been wildly positive, with the former getting a few sparse complaints regarding the voice used by Tom Hardy as...

entered on 12/28/11 at 01:52 PM | read more »



High School Confidential

Young Adult

Even if you don't feel you really know the main character in Jason Reitman's Young Adult, you've probably seen her. Maybe at the grocery story, or in a gas station. She's obviously very pretty, even though she's disheveled, with baggy sweatpants on, and remnants of last night's makeup visible behind the grimace and the big sunglasses.

In this movie, Charlize Theron plays one such girl. And...

entered on 12/28/11 at 05:01 AM | read more »


Don’t Fear the Reaper

Other 2012 prognostications may pale in comparison to the Mayans pointing to the heavens and calling their apocalyptic shot, but Quetzalcoatl ain’t got nothin’ on me! I, for one, reject armageddon, and offer you these three humble predictions.

Three shall enter, one shall leave

Given Nebraska’s frostbite addiction, I doubt I’ll get many arguments on skipping ahead to next summer,  when...

entered on 12/26/11 at 11:17 PM | read more »


<p>  Alexander Payne's <em>The Descendants</em></p>
Remarkably Unremarkable

Solely because 2010 was a regrettable stinker-of-a-year, 2011 was a measured improvement, insofar as we’re more likely to forget it altogether than remember it with remorse.

Greenbacks Make Us Blue

In a year that finally saw the birth of resistance to radical wealth distribution to the greedy few, nobody will pity Hollywood for the failure of its “mo’ sequels, mo’ money” strategy. For the...

entered on 12/22/11 at 06:35 PM | read more »


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The Babadook

A terrifying tale of an ooky pop-up book and motherly love.

GRADE
A


The Tale of Princess Kaguya

A water-colored take on a Japanese folktale that is prettier than it is interesting.

GRADE
B-


The Theory of Everything

"Out of this world" performances buoy a sub-par script.

GRADE
B+


Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1

Half of what promises to be an epic conclusion to a fabulous series.

GRADE
B+


Birdman

A delirously fun satirical send up of artistic pretension. 

GRADE
B+


The Overnighters

"The Grapes of Wrath" in documentary form set in North Dakota.

GRADE
A-


Interstellar

If this was humanity's last hope, give up.

GRADE
D


Nightcrawler

A condemnation of crime pornography with a chilling central character.

GRADE
A


No Big Bang

In 1965, Stephen Hawking wrote his first ground-breaking thesis and wed Jane Wilde. His paper argued that if a star can...

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Leni Riefen-stalling

On the one hand, any film subtitled “Part 1” is a naked cash grab. On the other hand, shut up and take my money, Hunger...

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Oopsie Genius

I know two things for sure: (1) Birdman aims to relentlessly drive home one singular point, one thoroughly expressed thesis...

more »


The Burden of Actual Christianity

Most praise for writer/director Jesse Moss’s documentary, The Overnighters, has rightly been focused on its Steinbeckian...

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