In Praise of Average

Why it matters to recognize stuff that's just OK

Mad Max: Fury Road

George Miller's Mad Max: Fury Road reboot is straight-up, wall-to-wall bonkers

Far From the Madding Crowd

Far From the Madding Crowd tells an old story with contemporary resonance

Little Boy

Little Boy shows how "faith-based" movies are nothing of the kind
Gauntlet thrown down: Whatever "faith-based films" are meant to be about, for the most part, it sure as heaven isn't about faith.

Avengers: Age of Ultron

Avengers: Age of Ultron's spectacle serves a tale of humanity at its best
Early in Avengers: Age of Ultron, there's a scene that plays to some of the movie's biggest laughs, built around one of the pillars of the Marvel Universe: the fact that the hammer of Thor (Chris Hemsworth) can only be wielded by one who is worthy.

Ex Machina

One killer performance overrides the high-concept sci-fi of Ex Machina
Oscar Isaac doesn't exactly make an "entrance" in Ex Machina, at least not in the conventional sense that we think of as a character's first appearance.

Monkey Kingdom

Disney again makes you care about creature characters in Monkey Kingdom
If you watch enough movies for a long enough time, it's hard to imagine something about "The Disney Way" isn't bound to drive you nuts eventually.

While We're Young

Noah Baumbach takes another funny look at finding a life direction
Over the course of Noah Baumbach's 20-year career as a filmmaker, it's been fascinating watching him wrestle with the idea of where you are in your life, and what you're supposed to be doing with that time.

Furious Debate

Two critics go head-to-head over their differing perspectives on the Fast & Furious series
Scott Renshaw: As we approach what may or may not be the finale of this particular incarnation of the Fast & Furious series (review not available at press time), I wanted to try to wrap my head around why it's such a big deal to so many people.

Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter

The powerful need to be understood drives Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter
"This is a true story," reads the introduction to the Coen brothers' 1996 film Fargo—and Kumiko (Rinko Kikuchi) takes the Coens at their word.

Insurgent

Storytelling clutter gets in the way of the romantic star power of Insurgent
The most interesting aspect of 2014's Divergent was its fundamental resistance to establishing its own story and world-building.

Cinderella

Cinderella finds a version of the Disney classic stripped of its charm
It's time for those of us who write about film to admit it: The war for Hollywood's soul is lost. It was lost a long time ago.

The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel revisits an amiably bland anthology formula
Join me, if you will, on a journey back to the late 1970s in America. Jimmy Carter was president, lapels were wide, and those who were not fever-ing on Saturday nights were often spending them in the comfortable embrace of the crew of the Pacific Princess ...

Focus

Focus mistakenly emphasizes romance over sleight of hand
If a real-world con game has to be meticulously constructed in order to work, a movie about con games—like Focus—has to be even more meticulously constructed.

McFarland, USA

An inspirational true story finds the wrong focus in McFarland, USA
In recent years—particularly in regard to the transformation of New York City's Times Square from a locus of iniquity into a tourist-friendly hub of consumerism—people tend to wield the word "Disneyfication" in a negative context.

Song of the Sea

Oscar nominee Song of the Sea may be unique, but it's not awesome
Second-guessing Academy Award nominations is one of the most cherished pastimes of movie lovers; sometimes, it's more fun than watching the Academy Awards themselves.

Two Days, One Night

Not just one magnificent character study, but a dozen smaller, equally fascinating ones
Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne have carved out a magnificent filmmaking career built on exploring one simple but essential subject: the consequences of and rationalizations for our moral choices.

Sundance 2015 Wrap-Up

Sundance 2015 finds its own identity apart from last year's success stories
There's often a sense that any given Sundance Film Festival—perhaps in keeping with the way everything about the movie industry feels—is chasing the previous year.

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Recent Comments

  • Re: Avengers: Age of Ultron

    • Your mileage may vary, Sterling.

    • on April 30, 2015
  • Re: Avengers: Age of Ultron

    • How are people not burned out on superhero movies yet? It's the same shit over…

    • on April 30, 2015
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