Film review: 'The Last Word'

Film review: 'The Last Word'

It's such a pleasure to see Shirley MacLaine back on screen in a leading role that I'm almost tempted to say it's worth sitting through something as formulaic and painfully contrived as "The Last Word." But let's not get crazy.

Film review: 'The Belko Experiment'

American white collar office workers become the subjects of a sadistic, bloody, social exercise in "The Belko Experiment," a horror movie that has aspirations of satire, but isn't sharp or smart enough to decide what point it's ultimately trying to make. The day begins much like any other at a remote outpost of the Belko Corporation, in Bogotá, Columbia.

Film review: 'Kong: Skull Island'

"Kong: Skull Island" director Jordan Vogt-Roberts clearly paid attention to the criticisms leveled at Gareth Edwards, whose 2014 "Godzilla" reboot used a less-is-more approach to the massive, atomic lizard. By contrast, Vogt-Roberts gets the human-smashing, monster action going early and often.

Film review: 'Kedi'

Turkish filmmaker Ceyda Torun turns her cameras on the infamous street cats of Istanbul in "Kedi," a charming, warm-hearted documentary tailor-made for cat people (or animal lovers of any stripe). For thousands of years, these mysterious creatures have ruled the streets of Torun's hometown, and in that time they've grown to be an integral part of its citizens lives.

Film review: 'XX'

The latest entry in the recent resurgence of horror anthology, "XX" benefits from an inspired hook: each of its four stories were written and directed by and star women in the lead roles (hence the female chromosome-referencing title). Made in direct response to the lack of opportunities for women filmmakers, particularly in the frequently male-dominated horror genre, the entertaining film has shivers and style to spare.

Film review: 'Logan'

With "Logan," Hugh Jackman makes his (supposedly) final appearance as Logan, a k a Wolverine, a character he's played to perfection for 17 years and across nine "X-Men" films. The third solo outing for Wolverine, this sad, stirring film focuses on the humanity and emotion of its story, making "Logan" a gory and surprisingly affecting elegy for the franchise's most beloved character.

Film review: 'The Red Turtle'

Directed by Dutch animator Michaël Dudok De Wit, "The Red Turtle" is at first fairly straightforward Robinson Crusoe-like fable about a sailor shipwrecked on a deserted tropical island. But what begins as a simple survival tale slowly grows into something much deeper and more enigmatic as it progresses.

Film review: 'My Life as a Zucchini'

Dark emotional terrain is contrasted against adorably whimsical style in "My Life as a Zucchini," the lovely stop motion animated film that was one of the five stellar Best Animated Feature nominees at this year's Oscars. After the death of his alcoholic mother, a shy, young boy named Icare (he prefers to go by "Zucchini," the nickname given to him by his mom) is sent to live in a group home.

Film review: 'Table 19'

It's a relatively clever concept for a comedy: a group of strangers meet when they're assigned to the "randoms" table at an acquaintance's wedding (reserved for courtesy invites no one actually expected to attend). As the day wears on, the band of misfit guests forge an unlikely bond, enlisting one another's help as they each face down their own personal crises.

Film review: 'A United Kingdom'

A touching historical romance, "A United Kingdom" is inspired by the true story of Seretse Khama, the crown prince of the Bechuanaland Protectorate (later known as Botswana) who unexpectedly fell in love with a white Englishwoman, Ruth Williams

Film review: 'Bitter Harvest'

German director George Mendeluk takes a stab at historical melodrama with "Bitter Harvest," a tale of star-crossed lovers swooning against the backdrop of real-life tragedy. Set in Ukraine in the early 1930's, the film follows a young peasant farmer and aspiring artist named Yuri (a bland Max Irons) desperately fighting to maintain his connection to childhood sweetheart, Natalka -- portrayed by Samantha Barks, who made a great screen debut in 2012's "Les Misérables," but isn't given much to work with here.

The 4th Annual Lubies

CITY presents its alternative take on the Oscars. These films might not up for golden statues, but they definitely deserve the Golden Everything Burrito

Film review: 'Toni Erdmann'

The premise of "Toni Erdmann" -- a practical joke-loving father tries to reconnect with his tightly-wound daughter by adopting a goofy alter ego and insinuating himself into her life -- sounds like the recipe for a broad, over-the-top comedy. But "Erdmann," from writer-director Maren Ade, exists on a wavelength all its own: the film is at turns funny, messy, absurd, sad, and very, very German.

Film review: 'John Wick: Chapter 2'

The original "John Wick" was the biggest and most pleasant surprise of 2014. Stylish, smart, and exciting, it's a B-movie executed with A-level precision.

Film review: "Julieta"

The latest from Spanish director Pedro Almodóvar, "Julieta" finds its inspiration in a trio of connected short stories by author Alice Munro that center around the titular woman as she reflects on her life and her relationship with her long-lost daughter, Antía. The story is a Douglas Sirk melodrama by way of a Hitchcockian thriller, but the filmmaker manages to combine elements of each together in a way that's completely Almodóvar. The film begins with middle-aged Julieta (Emma Suarez) on the verge of leaving Spain and moving to Portugal with her boyfriend, Lorenzo (Darío Grandinetti).

Film review: "I Am Not Your Negro"

Nominated for Best Documentary Feature at this year's Academy Awards, Raoul Peck's extraordinary "I Am Not Your Negro" uses as its framework an unfinished 30-page manuscript by author and essayist James Baldwin. The book proposal was started in 1979, and the final work was to explore the experience of being black in America viewed through the prism of the deaths of Baldwin's friends, and legendary figures of the civil rights movement, Medgar Evers, Martin Luther King Jr., and Malcolm X.


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