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ENTERTAINMENT
April 29, 2011 | By Robert Abele
For a horror filmmaker to traffic in vampires or post-apocalypse survival scenarios these days is to risk a collective "Really, again?" But resourceful writer-director Jim Mickle covers both in his realism-tinged indie "Stake Land" and shows that a savvy mixture of characterization, atmosphere and gore-eographed suspense can make even the most familiar fright tropes feel vaguely organic again. The template is a coming-of-age story in which our narrator — orphaned teen Martin (Connor Paolo)
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ENTERTAINMENT
April 24, 2014 | By Sheri Linden
"Next Goal Wins" is an irresistible underdog story - sports-fan credentials not required. The lively documentary follows the biggest loser in international soccer as it tries to break a 17-year winless streak. To use the word "organization" is putting too fine a point on it: The team in question resides in the South Pacific territory of American Samoa, and the volunteer players are about as far removed as you can get - geographically and every other way - from the business of high-profile, high-stakes athletics.
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ENTERTAINMENT
March 2, 2012
Although "Falling Away" would have benefited from stronger main character focus and a less episodic scene structure, writer-director Michael David Trozzo's feature debut proves a sincere, authentic, generally stirring effort. The film tracks the effect of a fatal school bus accident on three South L.A. teens: Elijah (Jason Finn), a hard-working kid aiming to leave the 'hood; his best friend, Julius (D'Angelo Wilson), a budding basketball star sidelined by a crash-related injury; and Emily (Jennifer Freeman)
ENTERTAINMENT
April 24, 2014 | By Sheri Linden
Nicole Teeny's first feature-length documentary unveils a little-known subculture, one that combines the Good Book with good old-fashioned competitiveness. But the National Bible Quiz Championship, with its teams of Scripture-spouting teens, isn't the main event in "Bible Quiz. " A smart, funny and disarming 17-year-old girl is the heart of this low-key charmer of a coming-of-age story. The intimate film, a prize winner at the Slamdance Film Festival, revolves around the experience of Mikayla Irle, a tomboyish 12th-grader with family troubles who finds a sense of belonging on a Bible Quiz team in Tacoma, Wash.
ENTERTAINMENT
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.
ENTERTAINMENT
May 21, 2010 | By Sheri Linden
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.
ENTERTAINMENT
July 18, 2012 | By Oliver Gettell
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.
ENTERTAINMENT
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.
ENTERTAINMENT
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)
ENTERTAINMENT
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.
ENTERTAINMENT
April 24, 2014 | By Robert Abele
A resourcefully stylish indie sci-fi entry from Britain, "The Machine" drapes sleek visuals over an artificial intelligence tale set in a top-secret British government facility where robots are being developed to fight a cold war with China. Empathic computer genius Vincent (Toby Stephens) has more on his mind, however, than creating a weapon-strength, self-aware being for his military boss (Denis Lawson). Vincent imagines a revolutionary future in which the brain-damaged (be they wounded soldiers or his medically afflicted daughter)
ENTERTAINMENT
April 24, 2014 | By Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times Film Critic
It sounds contrived, and it is. It sounds like a bit of a stunt, and it is that too. It may even sound boring, but that it is not. In fact, whip-smart filmmaking by writer-director Steven Knight and his team combined with Tom Hardy's mesmerizing acting make the micro-budgeted British independent "Locke" more minute-to-minute involving than this year's more costly extravaganzas. Though a dozen actors are listed in "Locke's" credits, Hardy is the only one who appears on screen in this real-time drama that unfolds inside a moving BMW during the 85 minutes it takes construction foreman Ivan Locke to make a nighttime drive from Birmingham to London.
ENTERTAINMENT
April 24, 2014 | By Gary Goldstein
When a documentary interviewee says, "My dad has been collecting penises as long as I remember," you know you've entered some unusual film territory. Such is the case of "The Final Member," which revolves around the Icelandic Phallological Museum, an exhibit hall devoted to preserved male genitalia from a variety of mammalian species except one: human. And it's the quest for that holy grail of specimens that drives much - frankly too much - of co-directors Jonah Bekhor and Zach Math's decidedly quirky, at times unappetizing film.
ENTERTAINMENT
April 24, 2014 | By Gary Goldstein
"Brick Mansions," Paul Walker's penultimate film (prior to "Fast & Furious 7"), is a dumb and ugly action picture that works strictly as a reminder of the late actor's head-turning good looks and modest charisma. Otherwise, this remake of the 2004 French thriller "District B13," directed by Camille Delamarre (editor of "Transporter 3" and "Taken 2"), is a dizzying mishmash of showy stunts, muddled narrative and some seriously risible acting and dialogue. Prolific filmmaker Luc Besson's screenplay, faithfully adapted from the "B13" script he wrote with Bibi Naceri, has relocated this dystopian crime tale from 2006 Paris to 2018 Detroit (as if the Motor City didn't have enough image problems)
ENTERTAINMENT
April 24, 2014 | By Betsy Sharkey, Los Angeles Times Film Critic
Director Nick Cassavetes, whose soft touch with romance was behind that classic date movie "The Notebook," is now responsible for the quintessential anti-date movie - "The Other Woman. " There is no question whose side he is on in this little bit of rasty business starring Cameron Diaz, Leslie Mann and Kate Upton. My advice to guys? Step away from the vehicle, because "The Other Woman" is out of control and intent on running down a certain kind of male. Even if you're not the lying, cheating, thieving type - that would be Mark, a slickster played by "Game of Thrones'" Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, juggling wife, mistress, other mistress and some other ill-gotten gains - there is bound to be collateral damage.
ENTERTAINMENT
April 24, 2014 | By Sheri Linden
As in many a thriller, the helpful stranger in "The German Doctor" turns out to be a monster. In this case, he's no run-of-the-mill sadist but Josef Mengele, Auschwitz's Angel of Death, and he finds prime subjects for experimentation in an Argentine family. The drama by Lucía Puenzo, adapting her novel "Wakolda," is a credible imagining of a brief period in Mengele's South American exile. The what-if conceit is intriguing enough not to be undone by increasingly heavy-handed symbolism.
ENTERTAINMENT
October 28, 2011
As romantic comedies go, the low-key "All's Faire in Love" has a cheeky beggar's appeal not unlike its setting: the hammy world of Renaissance Faire performers. Into this eccentric playground of role-playing costumers is thrown college football star Will (Owen Benjamin), who must join a motley theater troupe to earn a passing grade. Though always ready with a snarky comment about the tortured Elizabethan speechifying and past-era nerdiness around him, he becomes smitten with Kate (Christina Ricci)
ENTERTAINMENT
April 29, 1985 | KEVIN THOMAS, Times Staff Writer
"Creature" (Citywide) rips off "Alien" and then compounds the felony by doing it poorly. Ironically, this science-fiction horror picture is no cheap schlocker, but an earnest effort with decent hardware and special effects and a fine, soaring score. But director (and co-writer-producer) William Malone would have been better off having some fun with this pursuit and conquest of a Godzilla-like creature on the rampage on Titan, Saturn's largest moon. (The film was originally titled "Titan Find."
ENTERTAINMENT
April 10, 2014 | By Gary Goldstein
An alternately delicate and brutal retelling of the memoir by former World War II British Army officer Eric Lomax, "The Railway Man" is an impressively crafted, skillfully acted, highly absorbing journey into a dark corner of world history. Colin Firth plays Lomax in 1980, more than 35 years after being tortured at a Japanese labor camp in Thailand. He learns that Takashi Nagase, the Japanese interpreter at the helm of that cruel, unforgettable punishment, is still alive. Lomax will eventually cross continents to confront his erstwhile captor and hopefully quell the post-traumatic stress disorder that has plagued the self-dubbed "railway enthusiast" for decades.
ENTERTAINMENT
April 10, 2014 | By Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times Film Critic
For those who aren't aware that the NFL is America's secular religion, the awe-struck tone of the professional football-themed "Draft Day" starring Kevin Costner can't help but clue you in. Made with the league's complete cooperation, not to mention its spiritual blessing, this is an earnest and way-contrived endeavor that manages, due largely to Costner's efforts, to be genially diverting in a gee-whiz kind of way. Unless you're a committed pro...
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