May 21, 2010 |
Early in this uneven yet moving documentary, a university janitor greets a woman exiting the restroom he's about to clean. She doesn't respond. Neither does she look at him nor acknowledge his presence in any way. In "The Philosopher Kings," director Patrick Shen insists that we look at individuals usually relegated to the margins. That straightforward insistence is the lifeblood of the film, which profiles eight people who work as custodians at institutions of higher learning. The sole woman notes that when she tells people what she does, they usually clam up, certain that nothing interesting could possibly ensue.
April 20, 2012
This can't be correct: Cloris Leachman and Tara Reid topline a period horror-thriller about a young boy who becomes convinced the Manson family has moved into the cornfield in back of his house? And it's not some mad parody but, rather, an earnest effort, which makes it even more weird. The absolute best part of "The Fields" is simply that, letting the very idea of this cast and this story marinate in the brainpan for a moment before coming to the obvious common-sense conclusion: This cannot possibly work out. And indeed the film, directed by Tom Mattera and David Mazzoni from a screenplay by B. Harrison Smith, is flat and lifeless, not even the odd object promised by its unlikely cast, who play it straight and with little energy.
July 18, 2012 |
No film this year faces higher expectations than "The Dark Knight Rises," the ambitious conclusion to Christopher Nolan's pitch-black Batman trilogy. And yet, like the caped crusader himself, Nolan has been known to pull off some pretty remarkable feats - the latest being that "Rises" appears to live up to the hype. The Times' own Kenneth Turan calls "The Dark Knight Rises" a "dazzling conclusion" that "is more than an exceptional superhero movie, it is masterful filmmaking by any standard.
April 27, 2012
In the film "Elles"from director Malgoska Szumowska, Juliette Binoche plays a Paris magazine journalist who interviews two young women (Anaïs Demoustier, Joanna Kulig) putting themselves through school working as prostitutes. The girls envy her bourgeois stability while she comes to want their self-possessed freedom, though the lives of all three are shown to be not quite so clear-cut. Binoche proves why she is such a world-renowned actress with the way she conveys ideas flickering across her brow and flashing behind her eyes.
April 12, 2012
First-time feature director Kat Coiro gives an oft-tread story a snappy new spin in the hip and enjoyable comedy "Life Happens. " After underdog Kim (an endearing Krysten Ritter) loses out for the last nearby condom to brasher roommate Deena (Kate Bosworth, also fine) during the BFF's simultaneous one-night stands, Kim ends up a devoted but ill-prepared mother of a baby boy. With the child's me-first, surf star dad (Rhys Coiro, Kat's husband) decidedly absent, Kim must navigate the demands of single motherhood, her thankless job assisting a hellish canine patron (Kristen Johnston)
February 10, 2012
If Stephen Sondheim and Brian De Palma had collaborated on a horror musical, they would never have made "Don't Go in the Woods," an undercooked, "Glee"-like hybrid of grating indie pop songs and forest slasher flick. The people who did make it — debut feature director Vincent D'Onofrio, and screenwriters Sam Bisbee (responsible for the songs) and Joe Vinciguerra — operate under the lazy artistic assumption that simply touching chocolate and peanut butter together magically makes a Reese's Cup. Instead, a young all-male band of five ventures into wooded seclusion to concentrate on new material, whereupon they perform what sounds like the same whiny lament over and over, bicker, hook up with girls and get knocked off in turn by a masked killer.