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Friday, February 19, 2016

Movie Review: The Witch Conjures the Demon-Haunted World of English Settlers From Real Accounts

Posted By on Fri, Feb 19, 2016 at 12:34 PM

The Witch ★★★ ½ Now playing For seventeenth-century English Puritan Joseph Glanvill, belief in the supernatural was a prerequisite for belief in God. Folktales about ghosts, witches, and devils weren't just children's pastimes, but a vital part of the historical record. The stories Glanvill collected captured readers’ imaginations long after skepticism became the norm for England's educated bourgeoisie, inspiring early gothic novelists who saw supernatural fiction as a history of consciousness. Through meticulous research and detailed craftsmanship, director Robert Eggers returns to the roots of Anglo-American horror in The Witch, reconstructing the demon-haunted world of early English settlers from their...

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Friday, February 12, 2016

Movie Review: Deadpool Is Spider-Man But With Nudity, Gore and No Fourth Wall

Posted By on Fri, Feb 12, 2016 at 12:42 PM

Deadpool ★★ ½ Now playing With the irreverent action comedy Deadpool, Marvel Entertainment jumps headfirst into the hard-R end of the comic-book movie spectrum. The results are mixed. The good news is that the film is better than the trailers suggest—largely because the best jokes are far too filthy to put in general-audience previews. The bad news is that the movie isn't as clever as it thinks it is, and the essential shabbiness of the concept can't be obscured. Deadpool is basically a wisecracking superhero movie, like Spider-Man, but with extended nudity, extreme gore, and lots of wink-nudge meta irony....

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Friday, February 5, 2016

Movie Review: A Delightful Satire of Postwar Hollywood in Hail, Caesar!

Posted By on Fri, Feb 5, 2016 at 11:11 AM

Hail, Caesar!★★★★ Now playing If Hail, Caesar! is the Coen brothers’s Contempt—Jean-Luc Godard's 1963 mock epic about the making of a historical blockbuster in postwar Hollywood—then it's an homage that inverts Godard's satirical aims. Caesar’s moral center doesn’t belong to a lone writer or director struggling against the corrupt studio systems, but to producer and studio executive Eddie Mannix (Josh Brolin), who has the unenviable task of managing the egos and personal crises of the “creatives” in his charge. Mannix is an actual historical figure, and a colorful cast of Coen regulars, newcomers, and star cameos is playfully split between real...

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Thursday, February 4, 2016

Movie Review: A Body in a Glacier Cracks Open a Long Marriage in 45 Years

Posted By on Thu, Feb 4, 2016 at 11:20 AM

45 Years ★★★ ½ Opening Friday Writer-director Andrew Haigh’s most fiendish ploy in 45 Years is that he provides precious few hints of the good times shared by Kate Mercer (Charlotte Rampling), a retired schoolteacher, and Geoff (Tom Courtenay), a retired factory manager. No pictures of the couple adorn the walls of their provincial English home, nor has their four-decade-long marriage produced any children. There’s little enmity—just the agreeable everyday of an “old married couple” on the occasion of their forty-fifth wedding anniversary. But their languid tranquility is rattled when Geoff receives a dispatch from Swiss authorities informing him that...

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Friday, January 29, 2016

Movie review: Real-life maritime rescue story The Finest Hours is Disneyfied disaster porn

Posted By on Fri, Jan 29, 2016 at 9:05 AM

The Finest Hours★★★ Now playing On February 18, 1952, a massive nor'easter crashed upon the New England coastline with colossal waves and gale-force winds. The storm was so powerful that not one but two massive oil tankers split in half off the coast of Cape Cod. With four separate floating husks in the water—and four potential rescue situations—the local Coast Guard was stretched dangerously thin. The circumstances ultimately led four very brave men to pilot a ridiculously small boat into a ridiculously big storm. That's the set-up for Disney’s real-life seagoing drama, which delivers astounding visuals wrapped in unapologetic hokeyness....

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Friday, January 22, 2016

Movie review: The awful, ugly Dirty Grandpa is the comedy equivalent of torture porn

Posted By on Fri, Jan 22, 2016 at 1:50 PM

Dirty Grandpa ★ Now playing Dirty Grandpa is easily the worst movie of the new year so far, and it will surely be a strong contender at the end of the year, too. In fact, in the dizzying moments after being bludgeoned by this miserable specimen, I was convinced it's among the worst movies ever made. That's a rare moment in a film lover's life, and something to savor, in a weird way. Zac Efron headlines, ostensibly, as uptight law-school graduate Jason Kelly, who's preparing to wed his even more uptight fiancée (Julianne Hough, suffering through a standard-issue bridezilla role)....

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Movie review: Charlie Kaufman returns with Anomalisa, a singular stop-motion fable about consumer capitalism and the male ego

Posted By on Fri, Jan 22, 2016 at 12:26 PM

Anomalisa★★★ Now playing In the opening shot of Anomalisa, Charlie Kaufman's return to film after 2008's divisive Synecdoche, New York, an airliner is framed against a majestic sunset. A cacophony of voices—passenger chatter, a flight attendant's recited instructions—surrounds us as the camera slowly pulls back to reveal our vantage point as that of neither god nor man, but of a puppet in another plane. It's a marvelous way of introducing us to Kaufman and co-director Duke Johnson's stop-motion simulacrum of the modern world's most banal environments: airports, hotels, the Midwest. This ambiguity of perspective carries through the rest of the one-of-a-kind...

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Friday, January 8, 2016

Movie review: Todd Haynes' Carol is a harrowing, exquisite story of forbidden love in the 1950s

Posted By on Fri, Jan 8, 2016 at 3:03 PM

Carol★★★★ Now playing With Carol, filmmaker Todd Haynes continues to delve into forbidden love during a tense, conflicted era. In 2002, he had ’50s housewife Julianne Moore flirting with African-American gent Dennis Haysbert (while her husband, Dennis Quaid, was busy failing to suppress his homosexuality) in the period melodrama Far from Heaven. But while that was practically a Douglas Sirk tribute in ironic quotation marks, Carol is more like a same-sex Brief Encounter. And just like that classic love story, the subject matter is handled with genuine, romantic sincerity. Once again tripping back to the beautiful but hopelessly repressed ’50s,...

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Friday, December 18, 2015

Toilet humor meets family values in Sisters, the new comedy starring Amy Poehler and Tina Fey

Posted By on Fri, Dec 18, 2015 at 9:57 AM

Sisters Now playing Sisters stars Amy Poehler and Tina Fey as Maura and Kate Ellis, terminally immature siblings whose empty-nester parents decide to finally sell their childhood home. Poehler sweetly plays the straight woman to Fey’s not-totally-believable middle-aged lady gone wild. It’s a completely competent comedy that occasionally hits some very funny notes, though it mostly stays within the tried-and-true formula of mainstream American comedy: toilet humor meets family values. In the spirit of revenge—and for the sake of giving Maura the bad-kid fun she never allowed herself to have—the sisters decide to throw a rager the night before the...

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Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Movie review: J.J. Abrams potently remixes a modern myth for a new generation in Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Posted By on Wed, Dec 16, 2015 at 4:24 PM

Star Wars: The Force Awakens★★★★ Opening wide Friday Remember the moment near the end of the original Star Wars when Luke Skywalker piloted his X-wing through a last-ditch run on the Death Star, turning off his targeting computer to rely on the Force instead? That’s what director J.J. Abrams does with Star Wars: The Force Awakens, the gargantuan commercial and artistic endeavor opening wide on Friday. He's delivered a triumph in an unexpected fashion, flouting the usual reboot expectations and grooving with the Force to essentially make a disco remix of franchise mythology. Dodging spoilers with this release is an...

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Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Movie review: The Good Dinosaur is a throwback, and not just in the evolutionary sense

Posted By on Tue, Nov 24, 2015 at 1:58 PM

The Good Dinosaur ★★★ Opening Wednesday The publicity materials for Disney and Pixar’s The Good Dinosaur focus on the fact that it’s set in a world where an asteroid didn’t hit Earth and dinosaurs continued to evolve. What goes unmentioned is that the premise is an excuse for an old-fashioned children’s adventure story—a “boy and his dog” tale where the dog is the boy and the boy is a dinosaur. Making the protagonists the more expected species would have resulted in something not unlike the adventurous coming-of-age tales that once populated children’s literature—and which were often adapted into Disney films...

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Friday, November 6, 2015

Movie review: Suffragette is a fiery political thriller disguised as a British prestige picture

Posted By on Fri, Nov 6, 2015 at 3:08 PM

Suffragette ★★★★ Now playing Those expecting a proper period piece will be sorely disappointed by Suffragette, a restless and angry drama that sometimes plays out like a violent political thriller. The film is set in London, eight years before the 19th Amendment was ratified in the U.S., at the moment when the women's suffrage movement was turning militant. Carey Mulligan plays Maud Watts, a desperately poor washerwoman eking out a miserable existence in London circa 1912. Maud is a wage slave in an era when the term is, for all practical purposes, nearly literal. The industrial laundry she's been laboring at...

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Movie review: Reclaiming original Bond lore, Spectre is a step back for the franchise

Posted By on Fri, Nov 6, 2015 at 11:52 AM

Spectre★★  Now playing Until now, Ernst Stavro Blofeld and the rest of the SPECTRE global crime syndicate hadn’t appeared in a James Bond film since 1971’s Diamonds Are Forever. But in 2013, after decades of rights-wrangling, MGM and the estate of film producer Kevin McClory finally reached a legal settlement, allowing Bond’s original infamous foes to return to the franchise. As its title might let on, the 24th Bond film is overeager to reintegrate its birthright, shoehorning it into the narrative reboot that began with Daniel Craig’s 007 and temporarily rejuvenated the franchise. But the slapdash Spectre is a nostalgic...

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Friday, October 30, 2015

The Strange Beauty Film Festival is a warm, unpretentious haven for experimental film

Posted By on Fri, Oct 30, 2015 at 8:12 AM

Strange Beauty Film Festival Shadowbox Studio, Durham Thursday, Oct. 22, 2015 We pull into the Ample Storage facility off East Club Boulevard. Glorified storage units line up like a mini-strip mall. A plumbing business, a hair salon and a church, among others, make up a wonderful little community of entrepreneurs. Shadowbox Studio, where we have sometimes hosted our experimental film series, Unexposed, stands out from the others with its artistic, homey vibe. As we’re buying tickets for the Strange Beauty Film Festival, an hour before its kickoff, Tom Whiteside of Durham Cinematheque is setting up his double-projector 16mm film in...

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Thursday, October 29, 2015

Movie review: The Assassin is a gorgeous, unusually intimate martial-arts costume drama

Posted By on Thu, Oct 29, 2015 at 1:45 PM

The Assassin ★★★ ½ Opening Friday Listen, I’m not going to mince words: Good luck finding out what the hell is going on in The Assassin. Renowned Chinese filmmaker Hou Hsiao-Hsien’s first movie in seven years, which earned him the best director award at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, is an epic martial-arts period piece that’s beguiling, ambiguous and—for some, at least—frustrating in its storytelling. Good thing it’s also one of the most visually breathtaking films you’ll see this year. Nie Yinniang (Shu Qi, a ravishing Hou regular) is an assassin in 9th-century Tang Dynasty-era China. She’s ruthless and efficient,...

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Friday, October 23, 2015

Movie review: Steve Jobs is a bittersweet symphony about the man who put a thousand songs in your pocket

Posted By on Fri, Oct 23, 2015 at 11:52 AM

Steve Jobs★★★★ ½ Now playing Steve Jobs is essentially a three-act opera. Each part is set at different times, inside different California concert halls, with composer Daniel Pemberton’s soundtrack accompanied by dollops of Bob Dylan and indie rock. The same characters rotate through each act, and at one point, Jobs (a mesmerizing Michael Fassbender) likens them to an orchestra that he conducts. But instead of being sung, the lyrics are set in screenwriter Aaron Sorkin’s distinctive cadence. When scolded for shunning his young daughter, the stubborn, visionary and messianic Apple guru retorts, “God sent his only son on a suicide...

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Friday, October 16, 2015

Movie review: Tom Hanks is a Cold War Atticus Finch in Spielberg's Bridge of Spies

Posted By on Fri, Oct 16, 2015 at 2:00 PM

Bridge of Spies★★★ ½ Now playing The childlike wonder that once accompanied the release of a Steven Spielberg film has been supplanted by an appreciation of the director’s finely honed craftsmanship, a maturation that parallels his preferred story lines. The now 68-year-old Spielberg still dabbles in the adventure flicks of his filmmaking yesteryear. But now they turn out like The Adventures of Tintin and Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Bridge of Spies is Spielberg’s stab at a Cold War spy film, filling another chronological gap in his growing oeuvre of historical dramas. The titular thoroughfare refers...

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Monday, October 12, 2015

The lost Colony: With the Raleigh art-house set to close, we reflect on its legacy as a hub for indie and retro film fans

Posted By on Mon, Oct 12, 2015 at 1:43 PM

As several new theaters try to change the local moviegoing experience, one of the Triangle’s centers for independent film is about to shut its doors for good. Last week, the News & Observer reported that the Colony, which has operated in North Raleigh since 1994, will close in late December, as part of a plan to consolidate resources and fund improvements to parent company Ambassador Entertainment’s flagship, the Rialto, in Raleigh’s Five Points neighborhood. The Colony has a long history, opening as Six Forks Cinema in 1972. By the 1980s, it had become a second-run movie house. Then it was restored by...

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Friday, October 2, 2015

Movie review: Apollo 13 meets Cast Away in sci-fi master Ridley Scott's The Martian

Posted By on Fri, Oct 2, 2015 at 1:48 PM

The Martian ★★★ ½ Now playing With its earnest discussions of orbital velocities and hexadecimal alphabets, director Ridley Scott’s The Martian is one nerdy-ass science fiction movie—in a good way. Matt Damon headlines as astronaut Mark Watney, a biologist on the Ares III manned mission to Mars. In a recognizable near future, NASA is properly funded and technology is sufficiently advanced to enable giant interplanetary space ships to make regular trips to Mars. Things quickly go sideways, however, when a rogue dust storm hits the Ares III landing party on the surface of the planet. Watney is separated, presumed dead...

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Friday, September 25, 2015

Movie review: Anne Hathaway and Robert De Niro trade intergenerational life lessons in The Intern

Posted By on Fri, Sep 25, 2015 at 2:29 PM

The Intern★★★ Now playing Nancy Meyers is a one-woman show. The writer-director of Something’s Gotta Give and It’s Complicated is known for tightly controlling every aspect of her films, going so far as to personally fill each side table with vases of fluffy peonies and roses to evoke a sense of manicured luxury. Her consuming attention to detail, in both her characters and their gorgeously sculpted world, is inspiring if admittedly unrealistic. In her latest, it’s easy to see Meyers in young ingénue Jules Ostin (Anne Hathaway), a woman who is so committed to her company’s success that she takes...

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Friday, September 18, 2015

Movie review: Notorious Boston mobster Whitey Bulger immortalized, if not revealed, in Black Mass

Posted By on Fri, Sep 18, 2015 at 10:19 AM

Black Mass★★★ Now playing Johnny Depp’s reptilian portrayal of James “Whitey” Bulger in Black Mass seems spawned from Method acting animal work. His translucent eyes and capacious brow connote a coiled copperhead, though his skittishness suggests one in the midst of shedding its skin. And like the wayfarer who stumbles upon an ornery ophidian, director Scott Cooper seems petrified of his star. He dares not detract focus from the danger on display, even if it means missing the forest for the tree snake. Whitey (“Call me Jimmy”) Bulger and his Winter Hill Gang ran roughshod over South Boston from the...

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Thursday, September 17, 2015

Movie review: See '70s disaster-movie throwback Everest in the theater or not at all

Posted By on Thu, Sep 17, 2015 at 2:54 PM

Everest ★★★ Opening Friday There are movies you want to see on the big screen if you're going to see them at all. Big spectacle movies just don't scale down that well to the screens and speakers of your living-room TV, computer screen or—god help us—mobile device. Everest is just that kind of movie. Based on a true story, it's an old-fashioned disaster drama with cutting-edge visual design. There are sights and sounds that will make your heart race and your stomach drop. Filmed in IMAX 3D, it's built from the ground up to be experienced on a really...

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Friday, September 11, 2015

Movie review: I see old people! M. Night Shyamalan does the twist in The Visit

Posted By on Fri, Sep 11, 2015 at 11:17 AM

The Visit★★★ Now playing Fairly or not, when you go into an M. Night Shyamalan movie, you expect a twist. The director made his bones in Hollywood with 1999’s The Sixth Sense, which features one of the most cleverly obscured script flips in the history of scary movies. Shyamalan's plot-twist movies since then have usually been underwhelming (Signs and The Happening) and occasionally underrated (The Village). In his prior effort, the breathtakingly awful After Earth with Will Smith, Shyamalan pulled off his greatest trick by turning a $130 million budget into nothing at all. The director's new film, The Visit,...

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Thursday, September 3, 2015

Movie review: A surprisingly slapdash adaptation of Bill Bryson's book A Walk in the Woods

Posted By on Thu, Sep 3, 2015 at 12:03 PM

A Walk in the Woods★ ½  Now playing Travel writer Bill Bryson is bored. Semi-retired in a stately New England homestead, he longs for one more grand adventure. Bryson (Robert Redford) stumbles upon his chance when he takes a stroll and discovers that the Appalachian Trail runs right through his neighborhood. Inspired, he decides to hike the entire thing, despite his advanced age and inexperience with wilderness camping. Bryson partners with his old college pal, Stephen Katz (Nick Nolte), another restless 70-something. The two men had a falling out long ago—Bryson became a publishing success; Katz a drunken womanizer—and they...

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Friday, August 21, 2015

Movie review: Jesse Eisenberg is more Zuckerberg than Bourne in American Ultra

Posted By on Fri, Aug 21, 2015 at 10:27 AM

American Ultra ★★ Now playing American Ultra tries to be a slacker romance, a dark comedy and an ultra-violent action thriller, but inelegant tonal shifts and slapdash production keep it from ably accomplishing any genre. Doing his time in the dog days of this summer movie season, Jesse Eisenberg plays Mike Howell, an unmotivated pothead living in frustrated obscurity in a fictional West Virginia podunk called Liman. Mike’s live-in girlfriend, Phoebe (Kristen Stewart), wants him to move away, but he suffers from a psychological aversion to leaving town. So he toils at the local five and dime and spends his...

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I've been to the last 2 NC ComiCons in Durham. It's a great event, but the panels are kind of …

by Ruby Sinreich on NC Comicon and Oak City Comicon Consolidate Brands as New Competition From Florida Looms (Arts)

Also, don't miss Illogicon this weekend http://illogicon.org/ - it's another great fan event!

by Mike S Broder on NC Comicon and Oak City Comicon Consolidate Brands as New Competition From Florida Looms (Arts)

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