movie review

Movie Review: "Lucky"

Oct 20, 2017

Movie Review: Our friend Larry Thomas is back with a review of Lucky, featuring the final screen performance of the late character actor Harry Dean Stanton.  Lucky is now showing at the Esquire Theatre in Clifton.

Movie Review: The Zero Theorem

Oct 3, 2014

Where, you may ask, has been director Terry Gilliam of late? He’s had a couple of misfires that never finished production, particularly his Don Quixote film. But he’s back with a new film titled The Zero Theorem, which takes him back into the realm of existential science fiction. In fact, he refers to this film as the third leg of a trilogy, which started with Brazil and continued with The Twelve Monkeys.

Movie Review: Boyhood

Aug 8, 2014

Every so often a film is released that causes both critics and audiences to become besotted with praise. Such films are compared to Citizen Kane, and are predicted to sweep the Oscars. The last time such a furor erupted it was for Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master starring Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Amy Adams, and Joaquin Phoenix. I hated it.

Movie Review: Life Itself

Jul 25, 2014

A really good documentary film is at its best when it chronicles the life, times and works of a truly exceptional individual. Such is the case with Life Itself, based on the autobiography of arguably the most famous film critic of all time, Roger Ebert. Oscar-nominated director Steve James, most famous for his basketball epic Hoop Dreams, was given an all access pass to Ebert during his final months before he died of cancer. It didn’t help his condition that a botched surgery left him with no lower jaw, unable to speak or eat.

Movie Review: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

Jul 21, 2014

The old saying goes “everything old is new again.” Except when it comes to the summer movie crop of 2014, in which all the retreads, reboots, and remakes seem like those that came before. And Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is no exception. This particular cycle of cinema began in 1968 with the original film Planet of the Apes, which spawned four sequels, two TV series, a 2001 remake from director Tim Burton which was less than well-received, then 2011’s Rise of the Planet of the Apes, which I recall was actually pretty good. Now comes the 2014 Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, which is pretty much a casserole of plot points, social commentary, and high-tech action scenes in yet another effort to mine bags of box office coin from a proven commodity.

Movie Review: Snowpiercer

Jul 11, 2014

If you’re tired of the sci-fi genre being hijacked just so Tom Cruise can make another movie, or director Michael Bay can churn out another overlong, turgid Transformers epic, then there’s a new film you should flock to immediately. It’s called Snowpiercer and it’s not playing everywhere, so you’ll have to seek it out.

Hollywood's classic car flicks

Jun 20, 2014

Once again it’s summertime, and the living is… well, in many instances… mobile. What with enjoying the seasonal events and travels, and the upcoming weekend of big racing at the Kentucky Speedway, I started thinking about the symmetry between two of Americas great loves: cars and movies.

Movie Review: The Angriest Man in Brooklyn

Jun 13, 2014

With all the various platforms available for movie delivery these days, there are some films that totally slip by unnoticed, since they don’t get a regular theatrical release. Such is the case with The Angriest Man in Brooklyn. It had a one-week run in New York and Los Angeles, and then went to the video-on-demand section of your cable or satellite provider. Despite the title, and presence of star Robin Williams, it’s not a comedy. Williams plays an attorney in Brooklyn whose hard knocks have completely soured him on life, and he’s determined to take it out on anyone who’s handy, which he does with great regularity. A minor incident causes him to go to his doctor, who is out of town. The attending physician tells Williams that a previous scan revealed a brain aneurism and that he is likely to die within the next ninety minutes. So what would you do in such circumstances? Live it to the fullest? Try to reconnect with those from whom you are estranged? Or be even angrier?

Movie Review: Cold in July

Jun 6, 2014

In the never-ending search for critical adoration and separating moviegoers from their hard-earned dollars, filmmakers seem to embrace the theory that “more IS more.” They try to cram 10 pounds of “stuff” into every two-pound bag to appeal to as wide an audience as possible. That’s to be expected with the blockbuster films, but it sometimes works its way into the smaller, low-key titles as well.

Movie Review: Godzilla

May 30, 2014

It’s summertime, and the movies are, generally, quite predictable. During this high-volume season of ticket sales, the major studios seem preoccupied with loading the schedule with masters of disaster. If it’s not a remake, reboot, retread, or sequel, then it’s not on their radar. Every so often, that’s not a bad thing, such as last summer’s hero-packed epic The Avengers, or this year’s second Captain America tale. But more often than not, the studios either sidestep or totally ignore what the vision should be for any given summertime movie.

Such is the case with Godzilla, the first atom age monster spawned in Japan in 1954 as a mournful cry against the surge of the uber weapons. The very first Godzilla film was not welcome in America in its original form, since it was against something we were promoting… nuclear weapons. It wasn’t released here until two years later in a badly cut version with added scenes of American actor Raymond Burr, just on the verge of becoming TV’s Perry Mason, as a reporter telling the story from a different perspective. And, of course, dubbed in English.

Movie Review: Ida

May 16, 2014

We are all on a journey of discovery from birth to death, and most of us have the help of friends and family to fill in the blanks. But what if you had to connection to your past, and were ready to enter adulthood with no clue as to who or where you came from.

Movie Review: Fading Giggolo

May 9, 2014

It’s quite easy to be a fan of John Turturro, the actor. He’s turned in a wide range of quality performances since 1980. Most notable on his resume are three films with the Coen Brothers, Miller's Crossing, O Brother Where Art Thou, and Barton Fink, four with Spike Lee including his terrific Do the Right Thing, and even stepping up to the high-tech action genre with a recurring role in three of the Transformer films.

Movie Review: Le Week-End

Apr 25, 2014

Movies have always had a love affair with Paris going way back when most films were shot in a studio, to the Oscar-winning An American in Paris with Gene Kelly singing and dancing all over the place to Gershwin’s music, to the more recent Midnight in Paris, Woody Allen’s love letter to the great city.

There’s a new film out now in which Paris once again is a character. It’s titled Le Week-End and despite the French title and Parisian locales, it’s in English. In Le Week-End, two Brits who have fond memories of the town in which they once honeymooned, decide that a return visit may help recapture what they’ve been losing over the years as their marriage cracks and strains.

Movie Review: Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Apr 11, 2014

I recall the first Captain America film from a couple of years ago being an exciting, well-done action film based on the legendary comic book character. Now comes Captain America: The Winter Soldier, in which our hero, whom we last saw during World War II, emerges from his cryogenic sleep in the 21st century. Naturally, there needs to be a catastrophic crisis from which the Captain must save the world. Yes, the plot is that simple, but it’s all the other ingredients in this second outing that makes Captain America: The Winter Soldier such a spectacular thrill ride.

Movie Review: The Grand Budapest Hotel

Apr 4, 2014

After last year’s Moonrise Kingdom, I wasn’t sure if Wes Anderson could top, or even equal, himself with his next movie. He has. The Grand Budapest Hotel is a shaggy dog story, or in this case, a shaggy hotel story, set in a fictitious European country between the two world wars and into the years of communism.

Movie Review: 3 Days to Kill

Feb 28, 2014

I’m guessing that, in the course of your movie-watching career, you have found yourself in the position of choosing a film even though it sounds totally illogical, perhaps even stupid, but yet turns out to be well done and incredibly entertaining.  Such is the case with 3 Days to Kill. In some ways, it’s the typical action flick, but at the same time the atypical action flick.

Movie Review: Gloria

Feb 21, 2014

Larry Thomas has a review of the 2013 Chilean-Spanish drama Gloria, now showing at the Mariemont Theatre.

Movie Review: The Monuments Men

Feb 14, 2014

Sometimes it doesn’t pay to over anticipate a new film, as it can often end in disappointment. That happened to me last year with Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained. And now it’s happened again with George Clooney’s The Monuments Men. And although it pains me to say so, the fault has to lie with Clooney himself for choosing to wear so many hats on one head. He starred, directed, produced, and co-wrote this tale of World War II intrigue. We already know he’s a really capable actor and director. Maybe he should stick to doing what he does best instead of trying to cover all the bases himself.

Movie Review: Inside Llewyn Davis

Jan 10, 2014

Leave it to the Coen Brothers to come up with a film full of colorful characters, although not always likeable, delicious dialogue, and a tale that may hold moral implications for many viewers. Such is their latest outing, Inside Llewyn Davis. The title character is an aspiring folk singer at the beginning of the folk singing renaissance in 1961. He started as one-half of a duo, which broke up, and now he’s trying for a solo career. Llewyn Davis is completely at loose ends. He’s on the outs with what’s left of his family, has no permanent address, and is getting nowhere fast with his chosen profession. He spends the film on a journey of discovery…but for what? Fame? Love? Or maybe just looking for himself, whoever that may be.

Movie Review: Saving Mr. Banks

Jan 3, 2014

I’m more than likely in the minority on this film, but I have a few problems with Saving Mr. Banks, in which Tom Hanks as Walt Disney is having difficulty with the prickly author of the book Mary Poppins, played by Emma Thompson, who wants to micromanage every aspect of the film’s production. If you have seen the trailer, it appears to be a feel-good tale of moviemaking surrounding one of the most beloved films ever made. What the trailer doesn’t reveal is that it’s really two films in one.

Best and Worst Christmas Movies

Dec 13, 2013

Movie Review: Out of the Furnace

Dec 12, 2013

Almost everything I’ve read since seeing the new film Out of the Furnace makes comparisons to The Deer Hunter, which is legitimate. The film takes place in the hardscrabble world of a Pennsylvania steel mill town; the younger brother of the lead character is sent to Iraq, although we’re spared any footage of that deployment; it’s incredibly violent; and yes, there is a scene of deer hunting.

Movie Review: Lunafest festival at The Carnegie

Nov 22, 2013

It’s always an annual treat when Cincinnati World Cinema brings in the current Lunafest collection. This long-running series of short films by and about women is an excellent way for budding filmmakers to get noticed, and also do some good in the process. As always, a portion of the proceeds from these showings will go to the national Breast Cancer Fund, and locally, to the Eva G. Farris Education Center in Covington.

Movie Review: Thor: The Dark World

Nov 15, 2013

Many of the current comic book films are hit or miss with me. I loved The Avengers, even to the point of having it on my ten best list for the year of its release. Unfortunately, the current offering from Marvel Studios, Thor: The Dark World is nowhere near that good. I have not seen the first Thor film, so comparisons aren’t appropriate, but having seen the newest Thor adventure, I’m not particularly eager to catch up with the first one.

Movie Review: Last Vegas

Nov 8, 2013

It’s seems logical that the big success of the two Hangover films should inspire a similar tale that might be referred to as “the Hangover on Medicare.” That sums up the concept of Last Vegas, in which four lifelong friends meet in Las Vegas for the wedding of one of them and to have the bachelor party of a lifetime. After having seen the rather lackluster trailer a couple of times, I was not necessarily eager to see Last Vegas, but surprise…I really liked it. The cast was terrific, the dialogue funny, and the situations revealed a nice mix of surprises, reconciliations, and warm fuzzies.

Movie review: The Counselor

Nov 1, 2013

If you happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time and witness a train wreck, chances are it was an accident. Hopefully, no one would cause a train to wreck on purpose, causing a big expensive mess. However, if you’re witness to a train wreck of a movie, that has to be the work of lots of people with lots of money at their disposal to execute a misguided vision of what it is they’ve set out to make. Such a cinematic train wreck is The Counselor.

Two new independent films opened last Friday in our town. When Comedy Went to School is a loving look at what became known as the “Borscht Belt.” A couple of counties in upstate New York became a vacation haven for mostly Jewish-Americans from New York City.

Movie Review: Wizard of Oz 3D

Oct 19, 2013

Over the years, we’ve all been down the yellow brick road. Most have first taken the journey via one of the many television broadcasts. Some have actually had that first experience in a movie theatre. And like all movies, there are those who love it, those who hate it, and many with childhood memories of being scared silly by either the flying monkeys or the gnarly talking apple trees. No matter your side of the fence, The Wizard of Oz is a true classic.

Movie Review: Gravity

Oct 12, 2013

Ever since science fiction took off like a rocket at the movie box office in 1950, one of the favorite, and most feared, story lines was being lost in space, never to return to Planet Earth again. More often than not, these very low-budget astronauts were shot against cardboard sets, which occasionally moved when bumped into, almost never seemed to be without gravity of some sort keeping them upright and moving around, and only had a smattering of non-descript knobs to twiddle with. Yes, sixty-three years ago was the sci-fi Stone Age when it came to space travel in the movies.

Movie Review: Jobs

Aug 23, 2013

Sometimes Hollywood is too quick on the trigger to do a film biography of someone famous. Such is the case with Jobs, the story of Steve Jobs, creator of the Apple computer and all the Apple products that followed. Granted, his drive and foresight changed the way we all live and work in the 21st century, but do we need a biopic about him already? Probably not, especially since his life, work, and death are freshly inscribed on our collective consciousness.