Most movies tell us everything we need to know about their characters instantaneously. They're familiar types and personalities, and their narrative journeys amount to little more than filling in the blanks.
Asghar Farhadi's "The Past" opposes that cautious approach. In a similar fashion to the Iranian filmmaker's superb "A Separation," the movie reflects the real world...Read more »
Ben Stiller is a gifted director who has performed a full-on 180-degree turn from snarky fare like "Tropic Thunder" to tackle this new adaptation of "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty," James Thurber's famed 1939 short story that inspired a well-liked 1947 movie starring Danny Kaye.
It's a sincere effort about a forty-something dreamer played by Stiller whose days vacillate...Read more »
"Her" imagines a futuristic world in which a lonely man falls in love with an advanced, sentient operating system. That's not too far-fetched in this era of smartphones and tablets, with our lives becoming increasingly contained within those devices.
Spike Jonze's tender romance has more on its mind than a heightened commentary on a pervasive cultural trend, however. It's a movie...Read more »
In one sense, "Lone Survivor" is a myopic enterprise. Writer-director Peter Berg demonstrates an abiding lack of interest in the larger geopolitical and human circumstances surrounding Operation Red Wings, the failed 2005 SEAL Team 10 mission in Afghanistan that the movie re-creates.
But what the picture lacks in perspective it makes up for in sheer visceral force: This is a steadfastly...Read more »
Time and time again, the same scene greets us in "The Wolf of Wall Street." Jordan Belfort (Leonardo DiCaprio) strides to the front of the Stratton Oakmont trading floor, the alpha dog facing his pack, where he delivers a frenzied stem-winder on the American Dream, masculinity, the joys of financial prosperity and the thrill of a good sale.
Martin Scorsese's camera lingers behind...Read more »
"Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues" arrives in theaters following an endless promotional campaign that has seen Will Ferrell as Ron Burgundy starring in everything from Dodge Durango commercials to North Dakota news broadcasts.
That relentless push followed years of stops, starts and speculation concerning this sequel to Ferrell and Adam McKay's 2004 hit about an incompetent, sexist...Read more »
Saving Mr. Banks Directed by John Lee Hancock Starring Emma Thompson, Tom Hanks, Colin Farrell Rated PG
"Saving Mr. Banks" is an amiable but profoundly confused bit of corporate propaganda. That's to be expected, given that it's a Disney movie about Walt Disney essentially browbeating the reluctant P.L. Travers (Emma Thompson), the creator of "Mary Poppins," into consenting...Read more »
American Hustle Directed by David O. Russell Starring Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence Rated R
My goodness, a lot happens during "American Hustle," David O. Russell's live-wire late '70s/early '80s- style show loosely based on the FBI Abscam operation.
The camera dances and darts, pushes in and pulls away, as stars Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Bradley...Read more »
Some Velvet Morning Directed by Neil LaBute Starring Stanley Tucci, Alice Eve Not Rated
"Some Velvet Morning" is essentially a hybrid of cinema and theater, joining the tradition of conversation-centric movies such as "My Dinner with Andre."
There's a camera, two actors and a script, with the greatest visual embellishment consisting of the contrast between a character's...Read more »
The career of any great movie actor often can be traced back to a single moment, or series of moments, in a single film, where the audience takes notice as a star is born.
You know what I mean: Tom Cruise sliding across the floor in "Risky Business"; Liza Minnelli exploding onto the stage in "Cabaret."
Oscar Isaac ("Drive") has a scene like that about two-thirds...Read more »