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Film Review

Signifying Nothing

by Shawn Stone October 29, 2015


  Aspiring writer Edith Cushing (Mia Wasikowska) has a spirit problem. She’s haunted by the childhood memory of her mother’s ghost, who appeared to her and warned her away from a place called “Crimson Peak.” She’s ...

Love and Loss

by Shawn Stone October 22, 2015


  There is tragedy in longing for someone to return when they never will. Coming Home is the tragedy of longing for someone to return when they already have. Based on a novel by Geling Yan, who ...


The Spy Who Liked Me

by Ann Morrow October 22, 2015


  There is very little spycraft in Bridge of Spies, Steven Spielberg’s latest war drama, and since the setting is the Cold War, there is more bluffing and feinting than battling—though its few action sequences are ...

Burden of Dreams

by Shawn Stone October 15, 2015

  The most popular movies today use all the technical wizardry available to create worlds that exist only in the imagination. In The Walk, Robert Zemeckis uses Hollywood’s CGI paintbrush to re-create the twin towers of ...


The Hucksters

by Shawn Stone October 8, 2015


  There’s a moment in Electric Boogaloo, the riotous documentary about Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus, legendary schlockmeisters of Cannon Films, when filmmaker Mark Hartley zooms in on a copy of a 1980s Variety film preview. ...


Cartoon Cartel

by Shawn Stone October 8, 2015


The promos for this film looked pretty good, promising a gritty look at the drug-fueled carnage on both sides of the Mexican border. Sicario is indeed gritty, violent and bloody, but it’s not exactly insightful ...


Neighborhood Evil

by Shawn Stone September 24, 2015

  Thanks to the gruesome skill of convicted gang boss James “Whitey” Bulger, Boston is the new “it” location in gangster films. First there was The Departed, a remake of a Hong Kong crime drama that ...


The Jerk in the Mirror

by Shawn Stone September 10, 2015


  Steve Jobs was almost universally beloved. He was also, in many ways, a horrible person. When he died, there was an outpouring of grief from all over the world as people stood and wept outside ...


It Had To Be You

by Shawn Stone September 3, 2015


  Loosely based on a 1950s French crime novel, Christian Petzold’s Phoenix uses postwar Berlin as the setting for a story of—note the title—self-discovery and regeneration. What makes this avoid the “risen from the ashes” cliché ...


A Supposedly Fun Tour

by John Rodat August 27, 2015


  I loved David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest, and consumed it in a near-nonstop multi-day bout. When the novel was released in 1996, I was 28 years old and, more or less, still in college. I ...


American Story

by Shawn Stone August 20, 2015


  When N.W.A.’s album Straight Outta Compton was selling millions of copies in the late 1980s as a genuine critical and pop-culture phenomenon, one of the least likely long-term prospects would have been the group becoming ...


Poor Relations

by Shawn Stone August 20, 2015


  Superheroes are the dominant movie form, and there is one aspect of this genre that has proven particularly irksome: the origin story. Sony swaps out the actor playing Spider-man and what happens? They go back ...


Super Failure

by David King August 13, 2015


  Director Josh Trank shouldn’t take all the blame for the cinematic atrocity that is Fantastic Four. No, we all should. Spend the hour and 40 or so minutes actually watching the movie and it quickly ...



by Shawn Stone August 6, 2015


  “I am Tom Fucking Cruise! There is no greater action star in the world!” Ethan Hunt, the character Cruise plays in the Mission: Impossible films, doesn’t actually break character and scream this in the latest edition, ...

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Was This Trip Necessary?

by John Rodat August 6, 2015


  In an age of billion-dollar franchise movies, it’s not surprising that producers would get behind an attempt to revive the popular, if (ahem) artistically inconsistent Vacation series, originally put out under the National Lampoon banner. ...


A Study in Mortality

by Ann Morrow August 6, 2015


  “The deerstalker? I’ve never worn one.” So says Sherlock Holmes (Ian McKellen), and he would know. His Japanese host (Hiroyuki Sanada) is disappointed to learn that the most beloved facts about the famous sleuth (no ...


Endured, Not Enjoyed

by John Rodat July 30, 2015

TRAINWRECK - 2015 FILM STILL - Pictured: Amy (AMY SCHUMER) chats it up with LEBRON JAMES as himself - Photo Credit: Mary Cybulski

© 2015 Universal Studios. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  Comedian Amy Schumer has been on a roll, recently. Her sketch-comedy show Inside Amy Schumer is both popular and highly acclaimed. Even her professional peers—perhaps the pettiest, bitchiest profession on the planet—heap praise upon it, ...

Hearts Beat Faintly

by Ann Morrow July 16, 2015


Adapted from Vera Brittain’s much-admired, best-selling memoir of World War I, Testament of Youth should be better than it is. Swedish actress Alicia Vikander plays Vera with a flawless British accent and impeccable, lip-trembling emotion, ...

Love Among the Floribundas

by Ann Morrow July 9, 2015


  Louis XIV, the Sun King, who made absolute monarchy a divine right, is getting older. And his new palace at Versailles has been under construction for ages, and still isn’t worthy of his absolute divineness. ...

Life Lessons

by Shawn Stone July 2, 2015


  Spoiler alert: The “girl” dies. The “me” in the title Me and Earl and the Dying Girl is Greg Gaines (Thomas Mann), an awkward high school senior wracked by self-loathing who has worked really hard to ...

Live and Let Laugh

by Shawn Stone June 25, 2015

Susan Cooper (Melissa McCarthy) ist eine ganz besondere Agentin. Foto: 2015 Twentieth Century Fox

  The latest Melissa McCarthy comedy is a shrewd, funny send-up of spy films, complete with a Bond-style theme song, a smashing opening set piece and enough world travel to give Daniel Craig jet lag. McCarthy ...

Candy-Colored Despair

by Shawn Stone June 25, 2015


  The hitmakers at Pixar—led by Pete Docter, director of Up and one of the key writers on the Toy Story series—take us literally into the mind of a girl on the cusp of childhood’s end ...

Meaner, Faster, Smarter

by Shawn Stone June 17, 2015


  Nothing brings out my inner misanthrope quite like the Spielbergian approach to children and families. The children in his films are uniformly unbearable. (OK, maybe not Drew Barrymore in E.T.) That’s why the crushing disappointment ...

All About Yves

by Ann Morrow June 11, 2015


  Yves Saint Laurent was one of the brightest stars of fashion for most of the 1970s; among his era-defining designs were the Mondrian dress and safari suit. The glamour of his high fashion demi-monde makes ...

Fractured Fairy Tale

by Shawn Stone June 11, 2015


There are few more fascinating stories in 1960s rock & roll than the Beach Boys. They became superstars when they were little more than kids; three of the members were brothers (and another a cousin); ...