Posted in: Review

Amy

Before becoming a punch line for tabloid-huffing, talkshow-loving misery vampires, Amy Winehouse wasn’t just a star talent, she was a constellation unto herself. Bursting into the moribund pop music scene of the early 2000s with verve and danger, she came on like some savvier Billie Holiday in a field of Auto-Tune tarts. There’s a heavy dose […]

Posted in: Review

Eden

A baggy, dead-end story of a Parisian garage DJ straining for Peter Pan agelessness, Eden bumps along with all the live-for-tonight randomness of its characters’ twilight habits. That is, until the bill comes due in a somber final act that belies much of the ecstasy- and champagne-fueled exaltation and romance that came before. One could […]

Posted in: Review

Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck

Brett Morgen’s deft and fascinating documentary about America’s last true rock star is shot through with inevitability. But that never detracts from the raw emotional power of a film made up mostly of Kurt Cobain’s nakedly confessional journals and recordings. Whether it’s Cobain’s mother Wendy O’Connor talking about how “Kurt had to be born,” or […]

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Clouds of Sils Maria

In this richly satisfying film about age and art, a battle of wills over a new production of a classic play becomes a Rorschach test for two women’s friendship. It’s another subtext-laden drama from Olivier Assayas, whose best work has dug into the simmering tensions of long-term relationships and come up with melodramatic gold. Clouds […]

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While We’re Young

Age is wasted on the old, especially when they want to be young again. When Noah Baumbach’s hit-and-miss comedy of urbane humiliation catches up with Josh (Ben Stiller) and Cornelia (Naomi Watts), they are stuck dead in middle age nowhere without a road map. A long-married couple doubting their comfortable but deadened relationship, they emphatically reassure […]

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Merchants of Doubt

One watches the earnestly comic documentary Merchants of Doubt with some confusion. That’s not because the story, about the professional deceivers who make a living pretending terribly dangerous things (smoking, climate change) aren’t so bad, is hard to follow. What’s difficult to parse is the PG-13 rating. This is, after all, a film in which […]

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Two Days, One Night

Nobody would accuse cinema’s hard-bitten neo-realist duo Jean-Pierre Dardenne and Luc Dardenne of playing to modern trends. But with their newest film it’s hard not to think of reality TV competitions or last-tween-standing dystopian sagas riddled with moral sand-trap choices: Be a good person and die/lose or be a bad one and survive/win. In the […]

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Tales of the Grim Sleeper

Most mysteries start with an assumption: Somebody, somewhere, cares that the killer or killers are brought to justice. The mystery at the core of Nick Broomfield’s gripping, sickening documentary Tales of the Grim Sleeper is of a different sort. It’s a riveting story: A serial killer initially suspected of killing ten women in Los Angeles during […]

Posted in: Review

Inherent Vice

“Thinking comes later,” mumbles Larry “Doc” Sportello (Joaquin Phoenix) at the start of Paul Thomas Anderson’s foggy, funny film of Thomas Pynchon’s psychedelia-noir Inherent Vice, only he never quite gets around to it. A lot of things get in his way, you see, from the moment that his ex-old lady Shasta Fay Hepworth (Katherine Waterston, […]