The Book Thief

Director: Brian Percival Starring: Sophie Nelisse, Geoffrey Rush, Emily Watson, Ben Schnetzer Rating:  4.5 stars (out of five) The Book Thief is a very enjoyable, well-made film–one of the most engrossing I’ve seen this year.  Director Brian Percival leads a very talented, mostly German cast through a tale straddling World War II.  A young girl is sent to live with a new, adoptive family in 1938, and we follow her story closely through the war until it concludes in 1945.  Set entirely in a small village–almost entirely on one street–it’s far removed from the action of the war, but touched daily by it...

Thor: The Dark World

Directed by: Alan Taylor Starring:  Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, Natalie Portman, Anthony Hopkins, Rene Russo, Idris Elba, Jaimie Alexander, Kat Dennings Review: 2.5 stars (of five) Watch me struggle publicly with my arbitrary need to assign a “rating” to this flick:  For a fan of the Thor comics by the likes of Jack Kirby and Walt Simonson, the second Thor film is worth three stars out of five.  It delivers a lot of pleasures for fans of this stuff.  Fans of the first movie, or the greater Avengers movieverse, will find that it scratches the same itches with less lag, but also less coherence; three stars from that...

12 Years a Slave

Director: Steve McQueen Starring: Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender, Benedict Cumberbatch, Paul Giamatti, Sarah Paulson, Brad Pitt Review: 4.5 stars (of five) 12 Years a Slave is a powerful, brutal piece of filmmaking that wins entirely on the careful eye and discipline of its director,...