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movie reviews

July 24, 2014

A Most Wanted Man

7

Philip Seymour Hoffman

Directed by: Anton Corbijn

The late Philip Seymour Hoffman will show up again onscreen in the supporting cast of the next Hunger Games. But the last full-scale Hoffman performance – and it's a master class in acting – comes in A Most Wanted Man, Anton Corbijn's tense, twisty and terrific spy thriller, based on John le Carré's 2008 novel. Hoffman, who died in February, plays Günther Bachmann, a German intelligence operative. Since 9/11, Günther has been heading a small-scale spy uni... | More »

Magic in the Moonlight

6

Colin Firth, Emma Stone

Directed by: Woody Allen

Let others decide if film is an art. For Woody Allen, filmmaking is a reflex. Since 1969's Take the Money and Run, he has written and directed a movie damn near every year, screw fickle critics, public scandal and the Hollywood rule of dumb. At 78, Allen shows no sign of slowing down. Not every Allen film reaches the heights that extend from Annie Hall, Manhattan and Hannah and Her Sisters to Crimes and Misdemeanors, Midnight in Paris and Blue Jasmine. But each bears the unique stamp of ... | More »

Lucy

4

Scarlett Johansson

Directed by: Luc Besson

Remember Limitless, the 2011 thriller in which Bradley Cooper becomes a whirling killer dervish from a drug that lets him access 100 percent of his brain? Well, Lucy is basically the same movie with Scarlett Johansson in the Cooper role. It's not a good trade-off. Johansson's Lucy is 100 percent in the looks department. Otherwise she's just a student in Taiwan who gets tricked into becoming a drug moll for the sadistic Mr. Jang (Choi Min Sik). When the drug implanted into her ... | More »

July 9, 2014

Boyhood

8

Ethan Hawke, Patricia Arquette, Ellar Coltrane, Lorelei Linklater

Directed by: Richard Linklater

Want to know what it's like to be in on the discovery of a new American classic. Check out Boyhood. Richard Linklater's coming-of-age tale is the best movie of the year, a four-star game-changer that earns its place in the cultural time capsule. Since I locked eyes, mind and heart on Linklater's indie landmark at Sundance in January, I've been urging you to see it and judge for yourself. Here's why: Boyhood lets us watch Linklater come into his own as one of the grea... | More »

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

6

Andy Serkis, Gary Oldman, Keri Russell

Directed by: Matt Reeves

Do you remember how gobsmacked we were in 2011 when Rise of the Planet of the Apes opened and we all thought it would suck and, well, it didn't? Sequel fatigue from four follow-ups to the stellar 1968 original, plus Tim Burton's plodding 2001 reboot, had left us with less than zero expectations. And then, pow, Rise got our adrenaline pumping with actors playing apes in motion-capture suits, using digital technology to help register ferocity and feeling, even in the subtlest eye blin... | More »

Life Itself

7

Directed by: Steve James

America's most gladiatorial film critic (those thumbs!) is celebrated with bawdy humor and unabashed heart in Steve James' documentary Life Itself. Cancer ravaged Ebert's body and robbed him of his voice, but he blogged about film till the day he died, in 2013 at age 71. The film is really a love story between Roger and his courageous wife, Chaz, and Roger and the movies. He let the world flow into his plain-spoken reviews, seeing film as "a machine that generates empathy." Hav... | More »

June 26, 2014

Transformers: Age of Extinction

0

Mark Wahlberg, Stanley Tucci

Directed by: Michael Bay

Michael Bay has done the impossible. With Transformers: Age of Extinction, the start of a – everyone duck! – second trilogy in his metalhead franchise, the Bay-man has made the worst and most worthless Transformers movie yet. I know, hard to believe, right? How could any summer blockbuster be as dull, dumb and soul-sucking as the first three Transformers movies? Step right up. Bay, with the help of screenwriter Ehren Kruger, is telling the same damn story as he did before. But th... | More »

Begin Again

6

Mark Ruffalo, Keira Knightley, Adam Levine

Directed by: John Carney

No disease. No teens dying. And yet Begin Again, from writer-director John Carney (the Irish dream-weaver of Once), hits the summer sweet spot by breezing in on waves of humor, heartache and ravishing romance. And irresistible music you can't get out of your head. Sure, Carney is redoing Once with bigger stars and a richer budget. Amazingly, you don't hate him for pulling it off. Begin Again wins you over by not overplaying its hand, allowing some feelings to go unexpressed. Dan, t... | More »

Snowpiercer

7

Chris Evans, Tilda Swinton

Directed by: Bong Joon-ho

I felt lip-smacking anticipation about seeing Snowpiercer, the first English–language film from South Korean menace maestro Bong Joon-ho (The Host, Mother). Just imagine: It's 17 years into the future. The world has frozen over, leaving almost everyone popsicles. The survivors are all living on a high-speed train – yup, the Snowpiercer – that keeps cracking through arctic blocks and zipping around the planet's periphery. Not everyone is equal. The have-nots, led by... | More »

June 19, 2014

Think Like a Man Too

3

Kevin Hart

Directed by: Tim Story

This will be quick. If you laughed at Tim Story's first Think, based on Steve Harvey's bestselling advice book for women, you'll probably ride along for this jacked-up, Vegas-set sequel in which dudes and dolls offer sexist approaches to throwing a bachelor party. The only reason I'd Think again is the return of Kevin Hart, who mines comic gold out of sloppy seconds. | More »

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