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. ...

Sin City: A Dame to Kill For

Director: Robert Rodriguez, Frank Miller Starring: Jessica Alba, Mickey Rourke, Josh Brolin, Eva Green, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Rosario Dawson, Powers Boothe Review: 4 stars (of five) The long-in-coming sequel to 2005’s Sin City is in some ways a better film than its predecessor.  While it does not quite have the mania for mayhem and gross bodily injury that made the original a weirdly obsessed meditation on genre tropes, it has a better sense of story and character, and better balance. I recently described the first Sin City to a friend as:  “Did you ever wish you could watch a Jim Thompson novel come to life while you’re...

Guardians of the Galaxy

Directed by James Gun Starring: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, David Bautista, Bradley Cooper (voice), Vin Diesel (voice), John C. Reilly, Glenn Close, a lot of CG guys in globally dispersed cube farms Review: 2.5 stars (of five) Guardians of the Galaxy was a letdown, a frenetic mix of CGI action and tired “badass antihero” cliches. If a computer algorithm were applied to every action movie of the last half-decade, then used to generate a script off the keywords “science fiction,” “body count” and “antiheroes,” this script would’ve come out, with all its gunfire and teen-level...

A Most Wanted Man

Directed by Anton Corbijn Starring: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Rachel McAdams, Willem Dafoe, Grigoriy Dobrygin Review: 3.5 stars (of five) A Most Wanted Man is a well-made film with a strong central performance by Philip Seymour Hoffman anchoring a very good cast. Yet I was not as taken with it...

Boyhood

Written and directed by Richard Linklater Starring:  Ellar Coltrane, Lorelei Linklater, Ethan Hawke, Patricia Arquette, Marco Perella Review:  5 stars (of five) Richard Linklater’s Boyhood is a marvelous film. You should see it. When the lights came up after my screening of the 2 hour, 45-minute movie, the only thing I wanted was for the projectionist to roll it again. The film can be considered on two levels. Any film must be judged on the quality of its story (and all the elements–the acting, the direction, etc.–that tell the story). This film can also be judged by the particular gimmick or stunt that has garnered it...

The Immigrant

Directed by James Gray Starring: Marion Cotillard, Joaquin Phoenix, Jeremy Renner Review: 4.5 stars (of five) Marion Cotillard is an amazing actress.  The Immigrant does not give her the wild range of material that Cate Blanchett enjoyed in her jaw-dropping performance in Blue Jasmine, but...

Maleficent

Director: Robert Stromberg Starring: Angelina Jolie, Elle Fanning, Sam Riley Review: 2 stars (of five) I wanted to like Maleficent, but the filmmakers refused to meet me halfway.  Or perhaps their effort extended exactly halfway, in their halfhearted attempt to retell a classic Disney...