Reviews

Focus (Warner Bros., R)

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Written by Pete Timmermann Thursday, 26 February 2015 21:15

focus_75It seems a shame that Focus isn’t better than it is—it’s like they manufactured it to be forgettable.

 

The Lazarus Effect (Lionsgate, PG-13)

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Written by Samantha LaBat Thursday, 26 February 2015 21:08

lazarus_75The Lazarus Effect starts strong and ends strong, but dramatically loses momentum in the middle.

   

Ballet 422 (Magnolia Pictures, NR)

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Written by Sarah Boslaugh Thursday, 26 February 2015 18:23

ballet_422_75Ballet 422 is a fascinating documentary that will appeal not only to ballet fans, but also to anyone who appreciates the hard work required to bring a new artistic creation successfully to life.

 

The DUFF (CBS Films, PG-13)

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Written by Pete Timmermann Thursday, 19 February 2015 23:34

duff_75It’s hard to fault The DUFF for aspiring to be as good as those aforementioned high school classics, but really it only makes The DUFF suffer when held up against them.

   

Hot Tub Time Machine 2 (Paramount Pictures, R)

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Written by Lea Vrábelová Thursday, 19 February 2015 23:27

hot_tub_2_75Once again directed by Steve Pink, the time-traveling hot tub is back with a sequel, and it hit my demographic right on the head.

 

Red Army (Sony Pictures Classics, PG)

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Written by Pete Timmermann Thursday, 19 February 2015 23:09

red_army_75The main reason why Red Army works so well is that it focuses primarily on one notable of the Red Army team, Slava Fetisov, and he’s quite a character.

   

Fifty Shades of Grey (Focus Features/Universal Pictures, R)

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Written by Pete Timmermann Thursday, 12 February 2015 13:55

fifty_shades_75Fifty Shades of Grey is fine if you want to keep up with what everyone will surely be talking about for the next week, but then surely stop talking about forever after that.

 

Kingsman: The Secret Service (Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation, R)

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Written by Matthew Newlin Thursday, 12 February 2015 13:46

kingsman_75Vaughn pushes everything to eleven to make the point that the whole concept is just silly so we might as well enjoy it.

   

Two Days, One Night (IFC/Sundance Selects, PG-13)

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Written by Pete Timmermann Thursday, 12 February 2015 13:40

two_days_one_night_75Their new film, Two Days, One Night, certainly ranks among their best, and does a good job of encapsulating what to expect of a film from the Dardennes.

 

 

Jupiter Ascending (Warner Bros., PG-13)

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Written by Pete Timmermann Wednesday, 04 February 2015 16:45

Jupiter_ascending_75Jupiter Ascending is amusingly bad, not infuriatingly bad, so you can look for it to become a staple of Mystery Science Theatre 3000-type events in the years to come. Think of it as a cross between The Matrix and The Princess Diaries, but with a whole lot of Battlefield Earth thrown in.

   

The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water (Paramount Pictures, PG)

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Written by Samantha LaBat Wednesday, 04 February 2015 16:12

Sponge_Out_Of_Water_75The action/adventure elements of the story are fun for kids, but for adults it just seems to drag on. We know where the story is going and spend the majority of the film waiting for it to get there rather than enjoying the ride.

 

Black or White (Relativity Media, PG-13)

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Written by Pete Timmermann Thursday, 29 January 2015 20:20

black and_white_75It’s a film of division, not inclusion, and if we hadn’t all seen this film a million times before we might mistake it for trying to show us how we’re all different, not how we’re all the same.

   

Still Alice (Sony Pictures Classics, PG-13)

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Written by Pete Timmermann Thursday, 29 January 2015 20:15

still alice_75Her portrait of Alice is humane and convincing, and Moore is one of the only actresses I can think of who can go from being a commanding presence in a classroom to a feeble, memory-deprived woman inside of the same film without hiding behind heavy aging makeup.

 

Black Sea (Focus Features, R)

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Written by Lea Vrábelová Thursday, 29 January 2015 20:10

black sea_75There is a very smothering feel—the men are so dirty and so sweaty that you can almost smell them on the screen. If you like that kind of panicky feeling, I suggest you watch this film.

   

Mommy (Roadside Attractions, R)

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Written by Sarah Boslaugh Thursday, 29 January 2015 20:05

mommy 75It’s better to accept Dolan’s film on its own terms and allow him to take you where he wants to go without trying to pigeonhole the experience he is delivering in the process.

 

A Most Violent Year (A24, R)

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Written by Pete Timmermann Thursday, 29 January 2015 19:54

most violent_75It’s being marketed as something of a Goodfellas type of throwback, which isn’t far off the mark, but for the most part all of the violence has been stripped away, and the 80s aesthetic and decadence is what remains.

   

Project Almanac (Paramount Pictures, PG-13)

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Written by Samantha LaBat Thursday, 29 January 2015 19:06

project almanac_75I want to note for sci-fi fans that this film focuses less on the time travel and more on the things that the characters want and what drives them toward their actions.

 

Oscar-Nominated Animated Short Films 2015 (shorts.tv, NR)

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Written by Sarah Boslaugh Thursday, 29 January 2015 11:50

boslaugh oscars_shortfilms_2015_75If you’re weary of the endless discussion about which nomination actually deserved it, it can be great fun to step away from the features and dip into the Oscar-nominated short films.

   

Oscar-Nominated Live-Action Short Films 2015 (shorts.tv, NR)

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Written by Sarah Boslaugh Thursday, 29 January 2015 11:43

boslaugh oscars_shortfilms_2015_75One thing AMPAS has gotten right is preserving the Oscars for short films…they still offer a chance to see a variety of work from directors who aren’t exactly household names yet, but may be some day.

 

Art and Craft (Oscilloscope Pictures, NR)

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Written by Pete Timmermann Thursday, 29 January 2015 11:27

art and_craft_75To again pretend this was a fiction film, I’d criticize it for having poor characters, but since it’s nonfiction that particular objection doesn’t stick.

   

Everly (Radius-TWC, R)

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Written by Samantha LaBat Thursday, 22 January 2015 22:48

everly 75The best thing about this film is you have absolutely no idea what will happen from one moment to the next. 

 

20,000 Days on Earth (Drafthouse Films, NR)

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Written by Pete Timmermann Wednesday, 21 January 2015 21:18

film 20000-days-on-earth_smIt’s a stubbornly avant-garde film that doesn’t really offer much exposition, music, or show footage.

   

The Boy Next Door (Universal Pictures, R)

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Written by Samantha LaBat Wednesday, 21 January 2015 21:15

film boys-next-door_smWhat I did not expect was for the film to be worse than I originally imagined.

 

The Wedding Ringer (Screen Gems, R)

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Written by Matthew Newlin Thursday, 15 January 2015 21:12

weddingringer 75Garelick flirts with gross out humor in the vein of The Hangover, but never fully commits so the blend of comedic styles feels uneven. 

   

American Sniper (Warner Bros., R)

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Written by Pete Timmermann Wednesday, 14 January 2015 23:26

sniper 75This could have been a good film, if not for poor storytelling, bad characterization, bad effects…bad everything.

 

Blackhat (Universal Pictures, R)

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Written by Pete Timmermann Wednesday, 14 January 2015 23:18

blackhat 75These fighting and chasing and shooting and blowing up sequences are necessary because, you know, computer hacking isn’t visually interesting enough for a mainstream audience.

   

Mr. Turner (Sony Pictures Classics, R)

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Written by Pete Timmermann Wednesday, 14 January 2015 23:08

mrturner sqMr. Turner is an obstinately artful film, which wholly fits its subject.

 

Paddington (The Weinstein Company/Dimension, PG)

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Written by Pete Timmermann Wednesday, 14 January 2015 22:53

paddington sqWe come to learn that all bears’ names sound like something between a burp and a roar, which makes sense, I suppose.

   

Selma (Paramount Pictures, PG-13)

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Written by Pete Timmermann Friday, 09 January 2015 11:15

film selma_smSince David Oyelowo is too much of a professional to let the seams show, he may not get the recognition her deserves.

 

Inherent Vice (Warner Bros., R)

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Written by Pete Timmermann Friday, 09 January 2015 11:10

film inherent-vice_smIt isn’t so much about the story, but about the details along the way, the ambiance you create.

   

The Gambler (Paramount Pictures, R)

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Written by Pete Timmermann Thursday, 25 December 2014 11:34

gambler 75It expects you to care that this fictional character wants another card at 18 when you don’t give a shit about him in the first place.

 

Into the Woods (Walt Disney Studios, PG)

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Written by Pete Timmermann Monday, 22 December 2014 14:04

film into-the-woods_smDirector Rob Marshall opens up Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine’s stage musical nicely, making it feel sufficiently cinematic and not just like a filmed play.

   

Unbroken (Universal Pictures, PG-13)

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Written by Pete Timmermann Monday, 22 December 2014 14:01

film unbroken_smIf you think of it as a cross between Forrest Gump, Life of Pi, and The Deer Hunter, but based on a true story, you wouldn’t be too far off.

 

The Imitation Game (The Weinstein Company, PG-13)

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Written by Pete Timmermann Monday, 22 December 2014 13:58

film imitation-game_smThere’s a high degree of forced and borderline silly conflict here, which doesn’t sit well given the dramatic reality of the story.

   

Annie (Columbia Pictures/Sony Pictures Releasing, PG)

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Written by Pete Timmermann Thursday, 18 December 2014 22:36

annie2014 sqGluck and his team deserve credit for making a good mainstream musical, and also a solid family film for the holidays.

 

Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb (20th Century Fox, PG)

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Written by Lea Vrábelová Thursday, 18 December 2014 22:26

nightatthemuseum3 sqWe have seen it all before in the previous two movies; of course, that does not make it any less entertaining.

   

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