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Movie Reviews

'20th Century Women': Vive la Différence
Folks who require a certain amount of shock, awe and disturbingly aberrant behavior in their cinema might do well to skip filmmaker Mike Mills' highly intelligent "20th Century Women" and perhaps instead focus on the 3-ring circus currently posing as our national body politic. However, if you're the sort who still believes
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'The Founder': The Original Hamburglar
'I think my father would have enjoyed John Lee Hancock's "The Founder," an enthusiastic account of how Ray Kroc, a previously failed salesman, turned the McDonald brothers' pioneering, fast-food restaurant into a worldwide phenomenon. But while he would applaud the title character's passion and persistence, he'd
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'La La Land': On the One Hand, and Then on the Other
I already knew I was somewhat of a dreamer, but my generally warm and starry-eyed acceptance of wunderkind writer-director Damien Chazelle's "La La Land," a throwback/homage to the nascent movie musicals of the 1930s, also confirms that I am a hopeless romantic. The curious idea to have Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling play the sort of
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'Fences': Scales the Dramatic Heights
Denzel Washington's phenomenally touching, multitextured performance in August Wilson's "Fences" sings a heartrending paean to every dad who struggled to make a living, raise a family and preserve his human dignity in the face of herculean obstacles. Plying one of the most complexly realized, tragic American figures since
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'Why Him?': Why Waste Your Money?
For parents of a daughter approaching marrying age, James Franco's Laird Mayhew is your worst nightmare realized. On the positive side of the ledger, the Silicon Valley mega-billionaire would doubtless be a good provider. But topping the much longer list of negatives, he is a filthy mouthed libertine who thinks nothing of regaling you with
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'Manchester by the Sea': Set your Movie GPS
For those filmgoers who long for a movie with a beginning, middle and end, bereft of razzle-dazzle special effects and philosophy class mind benders, writer-director Kenneth Lonergan's soulfully touching "Manchester by the Sea" is just the ticket. But beware oh ye to whom such traditional fair initially appeals, as the astutely
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'Nocturnal Animals': Subspecies: Human
Imagine you are driving late at night on a desolate country road, hardly a speck of civilization in sight save for an occasional utility pole. It's spooky to begin with, but nowhere near as scary as when a car suddenly appears in your rearview mirror. You make a turn, just to see. The car follows. You make a couple more, random turns. There
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'Rules Don't Apply': The Politics of Entitlement
Maybe it's because I've recently had my fill of bragging billionaires that I was slow to build interest in director-writer-actor Warren Beatty's "Rules Don't Apply." The partially fantasized biographical sketch about the much mythologized Howard Hughes also starts off sluggishly and is a mite jagged. It isn't until
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'Moonlight': Illuminating
The DNA of everything that is wrong, sad and perplexing about race relations in the U.S. is poetically discerned and illuminated in filmmaker Barry Jenkins' Oscar-worthy "Moonlight." Jenkins ingeniously utilizes the low-budget, art house look of his sociologically profound film about a young black man's journey in ghettoized
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'Bleed for This': Middleweight Contender
To accent boxer Vinny Pazienza's close-knit family in director-writer Ben Younger's "Bleed for This," turning points in the pugilist's remarkable saga are inevitably marked by the clan crowded around the dinner table eating, with hardly room for a bread stick among them. There is a basic, anthropological purity in the
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