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movie reviews

Under the Skin

7

Scarlett Johansson

Directed by: Jonathan Glazer

Visionary inventiveness is such a lost art in contemporary cinema that impatient audiences may bolt for the exits at Under the Skin. Those who stick it out and let Jonathan Glazer's film flood their senses are in for something extraordinary. Plot? Here's what you need to know: An unnamed woman, played by Scarlett Johansson with unshakably alluring menace, cruises the streets of Scotland in a cargo van looking for men. She's not the usual femme fatale. She's an alien, and ... | More »

March 27, 2014

Noah

6

Russell Crowe

Directed by: Darren Aronofsky

The floods is threat'ning My very life today Gimme, gimme shelter Or I'm gonna fade away —The Rolling Stones Pick your gospel: the Scriptures or rock & roll. Both figure into director Darren Aronofsky's Noah, a biblical epic that follows no rules except its creator's teeming imagination. The damn nerve! Yeah, like you'd expect Aronofsky the firebrand to trot out a gentle story of Noah escorting animals two-by-two into his ark while God destroys the world b... | More »

The Raid 2

7

Iko Uwais, Arifin Putra

Directed by: Gareth Evans

It is possible that you saw 2012's The Raid: Redemption and were left feeling meh by this Indonesian explosion of martial-arts mayhem. Of course, if you don't get jazzed by The Raid and its sequel, The Raid 2, we are no longer talking. I mean, people, the visceral fighting heat that Welsh-born, Jakarta-based director Gareth Evans packs into these films singes the screen. Here's a taste of the plot: Pencak silat master Iko Uwais is back as police officer Rama, now going underco... | More »

March 20, 2014

Muppets Most Wanted

5

Ricky Gervais, Tina Fey

Directed by: James Bobin

You can't hate on the Muppets. At least, I can’t. But after the delicious treat of 2011's The Muppets, with Jason Segel and Amy Adams joining Kermit, Miss Piggy and the gang, Muppets Most Wanted feels like tasteless leftovers. Segel is especially missed as star and co-writer. The plot? A ruthless agent (Ricky Gervais) conspires to have Kermit sent to a gulag run by – yikes! – Tina Fey, while Kermie's evil Russian double replaces him on tour. The breaking point... | More »

Nymphomaniac, Volume One

6

Charlotte Gainsbourg

Directed by: Lars Von Trier

I refuse to render a final verdict on the latest cinematic outrage from Danish provocateur Lars Von Trier until Volume Two drops its undies on April 4th. But I will say this for Volume One: It's a mesmerizing mind game. Not for the sex. Reportedly, there is a 5.5 hour Nymphomaniac floating around somewhere with lots more good stuff. But the unrated international version presented in America still has its fair share of naked name actors, like Shia LaBeouf, who uses a penis stand-in for ge... | More »

March 13, 2014

Need for Speed

3

Aaron Paul

Directed by: Scott Waugh

What to say about a racing movie that's stuck in idle as drama? For starters, don't race to see it. Need for Speed is based on a racing video-game franchise that has sold 150 million copies. It stars Aaron Paul (Jesse on the immortal Breaking Bad). Paul is a good actor, with two Emmys to prove it, but he's not a screen-filling star presence in the muscle-bound mold of Vin Diesel (The Fast and the Furious). This stings because there's nothing to distract you from a plot so ... | More »

Bad Words

7

Jason Bateman

Directed by: Jason Bateman

Forget all the usual feel-good shit they're shoveling at the multiplex. Bad Words, starring Jason Bateman in a tour de force of comic wickedness, takes sinful pleasure in rubbing our noses in the toxic joys of revenge. Let me explain. Bateman, who also makes a killer feature-directing debut, plays Guy Trilby, a 40-year-old proofreader, who decides to enter a kids' spelling bee. Guy plays hard. Gloves off. Sun Tzu's The Art of War has nothing on Guy for rules of intimidation. A... | More »

March 6, 2014

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