Into the Woods

Stephen Sondheim’s fairy-tale mashup gives us the magic in act one,  then uses act two to try to teach us something deeper about being a failed, jaded adult. That second hour is irredeemable drudgery, as the story betrays itself and the audience and  drags  to a lame...

Unbreakable

Angelina Jolie again tackles a big, challenging story set against the horrors of war, and once again delivers a well-crafted film that fails to fire on all cylinders. Something’s missing here that would transform a powerful set of facts into a moving story.—————— Directed by Angelina Jolie Starring: Jack O’Connell, Domhnall Gleeson, Miyavi, Garrett Hedlund Review: 2.5 stars (of five) As with her feature debut as a director, 2011’s In the Land of Blood and Honey, Angelina Jolie’s unbroken is a well-made film with engaging actors, a skillful and assured directorial hand, a powerful...

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

The final Hobbit installment is called “Battle of the Five Armies,” so you can’t say you’ve been warned. It’s a lot of battling, between a lot of armies, and not quite enough of anything else to satisfy fans of things besides extended, exhausting combat sequences. —————— Directed by: Peter Jackson Starring: Martin Freeman, Richard Armitage, Luke Evans, Ian McKellan, Evangeline Lilly, Orlando Bloom, Cate Blanchett Review: 2.5 stars (of five) The third Hobbit move is an extended—seriously extended—fight scene, a brutal, exhausting third act to the lengthy adaptation of the Tolkein...

Wild

Directed by Jean-Marc Vallée Starring: Reese Witherspoon, Laura Dern Review: 4 stars (out of five) Wild adapts Cheryl Strayed’s 2012 autobiographical account of a thousand-mile hike along the Pacific Crest Trail, and the graphically screwed-up life that got her there. In a fairly...

The Theory of Everything

Directed by David Marsh Starring: Eddie Redmayne, Felicity Jones, Charlie Cox Review:  3.5 stars (of five) The Theory of Everything is a decently engaging biopic whose main flaw–not getting deep enough into either the importance of Stephen Hawking’s science or the mechanics of a powerful love–is mitigated by terrific performances from its lead actors. Eddie Redmayne is amazing as Hawking, from doctoral student on the verge of physical decline to utterly immobilized genius, that astonishing mind trapped in a twisted, mute body.  There are three phases to Redmayne’s performance. At the film’s beginning,...

Interstellar (and in...

Cowritten and directed by Christopher Nolan Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain, Michael Caine Review: Incomplete, but leaning toward 2.5-3 stars This isn’t quite a review of Interstellar. My IMAX screening of the film broke down three-quarters of the way through...

The November Man

Director: Roger Donaldson Starring: Pierce Brosnan, Olga Kurylenko, Luke Bracey Review: 2.5 stars (of five) The November Man clearly has a noble goal—to be a James Bond film for grownups—and on an emotional level, on a shut-up-and-go-with-it level, it succeeds quite entertainingly. ...