The Jungle Book

The remade Jungle Book should suck. We’re conditioned to expect a childhood heroes and myths to be ground into cynical action-and-effects bonanzas of the sort that would steamroll over the charming, gentle animated musical from 1967. And the opening—with young Mowgli running breakneck through the jungle with a pack of animals, fleeing a powerful jungle predator, suggested the film might live down to those jaded expectations. But hell, no, movie fans. I’m delighted to report that, instead, Jon Favreau—whose first Iron Man film remains the apex of the Marvel pantheon—delivers a touching, spirited movie that pairs an A-list...

Deadpool

Well, that was so much better than I expected. The latest Marvel movie to hit theaters is Deadpool, from the Sony pictures slate that has included mostly lackluster X-Men movies, diminishing returns on Spider-Man, and Fantastic Four flicks that have ranged from not–good to last...

Hail, Caesar!

The newest Coen Brothers comedy is a weird mix. The film got hearty laughs in a few places during my screening, but when the credits rolled after a rather abrupt ending, there were widespread gasps of “What?” “Huh?” and “What the fuck was that?” The trouble is that the Coens are...

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Star Wars: The Force Awakens is about two things. It is about a new generation of reluctant or unexpected heroes pulled into a cosmic battle of good and evil, and it is about the futility of engaging in that battle. In creating new heroes, director/co-writer J.J. Abrams and the greater Disney machine do a good job. Our two main heroes include a young woman whose origin vaguely echoes Luke Skywalker’s, but who has more grit than any of our original heroes. And then they humanize a stormtrooper and give us the potential for a fascinating story about identity and the creation of the self. (That these heroes are a woman and a black man,...

Carol

Director Todd Haynes takes two excellent actresses and surrounds them with a great supporting cast and a perfectly realized world in which to showcase the performances. It feels natural to say that the best thing a director can do if he’s got a good script and Cate Blanchett is to just...

Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2

The good news is, it’s over. The bad news is, you’ve got to endure two and a half numbing hours to get to the finish line. (My advice: Screw the finish line. Life is too short for this.) The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 (or Hunger Games 3.5, if you like) gives us the second half, more or less, of the third novel in this trilogy, and it hews closely to the source material. It’s interesting that, while the original novel was not exactly thrilling literature, the story’s flaws were not nearly so evident on the page as they are on the screen. Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 Director: Francis Lawrence Starring:...