AIDS and the cowboy
His recent work in film displays quite an impressive versatility for the very active and generally underrated Matthew McConaughey. In "The Lincoln Lawyer," "Magic Mike," and "Killer Joe," for example, he plays extremely different characters — a slick defense attorney, a sleazy strip club owner, a soft-spoken, polite hetman/deputy sheriff.
Spike Lee's new direction
Of all the movies he's directed in a decidedly uneven career, Spike Lee's newest production, "Oldboy," qualifies as the strangest and perhaps the least Spikeish of all his works. To begin with, the picture derives from an unusual source, a Korean movie based on one of those Japanese graphic novels known as manga.
Disney's latest animated musical satisfies and surprises
Once upon a time in
the kingdom of Arendelle, there lived two young
princesses: Anna (voiced by Livvy Stubenrauch
as a child, and Kristen Bell as an adult) and her older sister, Elsa (Eva
Bella, and later, Idina Menzel,
of "Wicked" fame). Elsa was born with the power to manipulate and create ice
and snow, which she loved showing off to delight her sister.
Feeling the burn
It's a difficult task crafting a successful middle chapter of an established story. On one hand, the tedious work of establishing the world in which the tale is set has been done; but on the other, without the benefit of a proper conclusion, you run the risk of delivering a less-than-satisfying experience for the audience.
Three hours of the new French film, "Blue is the Warmest Color," should convince even the most ardent Francophiles that the nation has lost its way and drawn a number of film critics along with it. Inspiring considerable discussion before it achieved a wide release, the movie deals with a familiar subject — a young woman's sexual awakening — but aroused some controversy because of its relatively graphic presentation of sexual acts, earning it the dreaded NC-17 rating, which often kills a motion picture.
Harry Potter's got The Beat
"Kill Your Darlings" marks the latest, and possibly most successful step yet, in Daniel Radcliffe's continued efforts to move away from his most recognizable role and carve out a career for himself beyond the world of Harry Potter. Since its debut at Sundance, director John Krokidas' film has gained notoriety as the film in which the former boy wizard plays gay and takes drugs.
Recently released on video-on-demand, "Dear Mr. Watterson" is director Joel Allen Schroeder's love letter to "Calvin and Hobbes" cartoonist Bill Watterson's comic strip about a mischievous 6-year-old boy and his best friend, a stuffed tiger named Hobbes. Far from juvenile, fans of the comic know how funny, moving, and wise Watterson's work could be.
An American story
One of the most important movies to appear in the current season, "12 Years a Slave" provides a relevant lesson in some of the darkest passages in the nation's history as well as a reminder of just how long a shadow that history casts. Beyond its relatively simple and straightforward story, it suggests the moral implications and the endurance of what Southerners euphemistically called their "peculiar institution."
The latest chapter in Marvel Studios' ever-expanding big-screen universe, "Thor: The Dark World" picks up not long after the events of 2012's "The Avengers" to check in on the continuing adventures of the heroic Norse god. Much like how "Iron Man 3" found Tony Stark in a darker place, suffering from PTSD after his near-death experience, Thor (Chris Hemsworth) is feeling a little glum because he really misses his girlfriend, astrophysicist Jane Foster (Natalie Portman).
The children's crusade
The ambiguity of its title reflects some of the same quality in the content of "Ender's Game." Ender Wiggin, the protagonist and intermittent narrator, plays numerous advanced versions of video games throughout the movie, some of them forming an integral part of the action; at the same time, as the script puns on his name, he accomplishes a sort of end game that creates the climax and even promises a sequel.
The Rochester Polish Film Festival, sponsored by the University of Rochester's Skalny Center For Polish and Central European Studies, celebrates its 16th incarnation this year. The festival will be screening eight feature-length films, along with two shorts, at the Little Theatre (though Opening Night selection "Roman Polanski: A Film Memoir" will screen at the Dryden Theatre), each shining a spotlight on Polish culture in its myriad forms.
Choice and fate
Ridley Scott's pictures display the talents of one of the most visually creative directors in Hollywood. Movies like "Alien" and "Blade Runner" demonstrate his penchant for using established genres to reinterpret traditional material and move the forms in new and fascinating directions.
After a three-season-long TV series on MTV and three feature films, it's a safe bet that by now you probably know whether or not you fall within the target demographic for a "Jackass" movie. The franchise's latest, "Bad Grandpa," finds the crew experimenting with the addition of an actual narrative to the formula of stupid human tricks performed with their standard disregard for personal safety.
In 2009, Dr. George Tiller was murdered, gunned down while in church by an anti-abortion extremist angered by the fact that Tiller performed late-term abortions at his clinic. Four years later, Martha Shane and Lana Wilson's empathetic and deeply humane documentary, "After Tiller," examines the impact that his death has had on the debate over abortion rights, as well as the lives of the only four remaining doctors (all former colleagues of Tiller's) in the country who still perform the controversial procedure.
Bullying and bloody revenge
Back in 1998 Gus Van Sant directed a remake of Alfred Hitchcock's classic horror flick "Psycho," which simply duplicated the original almost shot-for-shot, without adding to or changing or reinterpreting the material. Kimberly Peirce accomplishes much the same result in her new picture, "Carrie," a remake of Brian De Palma's 1976 film; like Van Sant she pretty much copies the first movie without any significant changes in plot, characters, or theme.
The transparent trap
For nearly the entire year leading up to the release of "The Fifth Estate," WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has actively campaigned against the film, which depicts the creation of his controversial online organization. He's done everything he can to ensure the film's failure; supposedly he even met with Benedict Cumberbatch early on to implore him not to accept the lead role in the film.