Vue Weekly (Edmonton, Canada)
The Last Witch Hunter (2015)
"Exposition, backstory, and action-dialogue cliché are all tossed into the pot and stirred up real bad. A hocus-pocus hodge-podge of balderdash and humbuggery. The only smells wafting from this cauldron are the odour of silliness and stench of stupidity."
Crimson Peak (2015)
"Sumptuously stylized and sound-scaped; there are a few Victorian moments of sublimated psychosexuality. But the sensation-novel plot and ghost-story atmosphere are too steamed-out here, chugging on; the ending gets too stabby, brutal and modern."
"A postmodern splish-splash, this film ziplines here, there, everywhere. The movie's feel skids from circus-tent carnivalesque to amusement-park giddiness. Never boring, Pan's also never sure what it wants to be."
Hyena Road (2016)
The Martian (2015)
"This stranded-astronaut movie can't muster all that much drama. Watney's crewmates just can't convey much emotion; Watney mostly emits smart-ass movie lines. NASA's tech and its astronauts' gutsiness and smarts are glorified to the point of porn-iness."
"Horror masquerading as action-thriller; a desert-Gothic descent into the nightmare-grotesquerie of Mexico's narco-war. Brutal and dismal in its Stygian twists, Sicario indicts the drug-war as a relentlessly macho, end-justifies-any-means battle."
The Intern (2015)
"Faux-feminist and whitewashily liberal. A movie that wants us to feel bad for a female executive-who's actually high-power-privileged-only for a great white father-substitute to be her perpetual personal cheer-er is far from feminist and damn near stupid."
"A more incisive, complex, contextualized (and less stilted) discussion of delivering babies and then delivering milk to them may not go down as easily, but it would be more nutritious food for thought than we ultimately get with Milk. "
"Boilerplates the YA-gloomy-future fad down to an obstacle-course at the worst-ever summer camp. Plot points are struck with predictable force; line after line battles hopelessly with cliché; camera shots are fired so routinely they feel pre-programmed. "
"Everest, the movie, in showing how the mountain conquers man, never explains the torturous trek's appeal, and that monstrous Himalayan peak ends up dwarfing the human stories here, struggling for air."
The Visit (2015)
"'Welcome to M Night Shyamaland! What's that? The new one? Well, there's creepy stuff, a Hansel and Gretel bit, grandma gets loony, the ride gets a bit Psycho with a kitchen knife and a basement, and...well, the last section's a bit rickety, really.'"
A Walk In The Woods (2015)
"Here, Bryson's a wizened cipher, wrapped in a grizzled grump, inside a pickled jerk. Patter gets pat, wise old-guy talk vies with lame wisecracks, and slapstick turns slapschtick. This slog's a waste of time and space."
Kahlil Gibran's The Prophet (2015)
"Too child-directed and broadly characterized; the commercial-minded, Disney-style high-stakes is a padding out of pondering-ness to ponderousness. This adaptation's more pose-y and cutesy than question-posing or poetically profound."
No Escape (2015)
"The Amazing Race remixed with The Killing Fields as a disaster-film, with anti-Asian racism simmering hatefully up from the bottom of the pot. An atrocity in its retrograde, racist exploitation of civil strife for tawdrily thrilling ends."
The Hateful Eight (2015)
"Many times I admired it for its craft, its game performances, its deft way with suspense... Yet by the time Hateful Eight was over, that admiration was overshadowed by its lazy cynicism disguised as western revisionism."
The Assassin (2015)
"All I can suggest is to try and come to this extraordinary, rapturous work -- as much a sequence of meticulous paintings and soundtracks as a movie per se -- with expectations in check, eyes wide open and ears tuned in. "
In Cold Blood (1967)
"Chief among the film's distinctions are the beautiful gloom of Conrad Hall's monochromatic cinematography... There are the fearless, wonderfully contrasting performances by Robert Blake and Scott Wilson as the sociopathic killers."
Coming Home (2015)
The Player (1992)
"The Player has enough truly hilarious bits and inspired sequences-that baroque opening-sequence shot is a masterpiece in itself-to make it well worth your time, its very silly story is ultimately a fairly paltry piece of social commentary."
My Beautiful Laundrette (1985)
Blind Chance (Przypadek) (1989)
"But one of the elements that makes this film so remarkable, and so cohesive, is that whether Witek finds himself a communist apparatchik or a dissident activist, some essential self dictates his actions."
The Forbidden Room (2015)
"This is an inherently excessive, artifice kissing, id-addled, beautiful movie-movie, autistically precise with colour, tone, crackle, neurosis and atmosphere, and rather less disciplined with regards to offering a mapable cosmology."
"This truly remarkable, beautiful film, the latest from Harvard's Sensory Ethnography Lab... refrains from feeding us context via traditional documentary tropes such as title cards or voice-over narration."
Ornette: Made in America (2012)
Black Sea (2015)
"The words of "Stronger Than Me" reverberate through this devastating film... we can't help but wonder if things would have turned out very differently had Winehouse's family, friends, lovers, collaborators and business partners been a little stronger."
Listen To Me Marlon (2015)
A Room With a View (1985)
"The film's charms are many but they are not the sort that resonate with any aspect of human behaviour with which I am familiar. When you get this English, or this Edwardian, or, rather, late Victorian, really, it's like science fiction, I suppose."
Burning Bush (2014)
"In its focus on everyday citizens, Burning Bush kindles and then fans a flickering hope for the masses of individuals down and out, waiting and wanting to rise up, consumed not by hate or fear but a desire for a fairer system and better lives."
Valentine Road (2012)
"Plumbs the pathetic depths of intolerance and distorted compassion in one of the supposedly most liberal states in the union. Its panoramic and both-sides approach to a brutal, traumatizing act of retaliatory violence chills and stills the heart."
When Marnie Was There (2015)
"A work as lush and lovely as you'd hope for from a studio that long ago made it clear that films about girls' magical inner lives were for everyone--and anyone who cares about maturely considered, deeply considerate cinema."
Hitman: Agent 47 (2015)
"So badly based on a video game that, with every new level of bland cool or serious silliness, you'll wish Mr 47 would scissor-jump barrels to blow Donkey Kong's brains out, or cart-chase Super Mario--anything to make this exciting at some bullet-point."
American Ultra (2015)
"That it all (mostly) works is some kind of small, mix-a-lot miracle. There's both wry comedy and dark laughs; only the action scenes are where the genres and tones don't come to a full boil. Still, all the non-spy-action-y stuff is pretty damn good."
Ricki And The Flash (2015)
"The ho-humminess of it all, punctuated by Movie Moments, warbles on. Even goes out like a treacly little jingle, not a burst of raging-'gainst-the-light rock 'n' roll fury, signifying something--hell, anything."
The Man From U.N.C.L.E. (2015)
"After racing out of the Brandenburg Gate, Ritchie bottles up all the period-flavour with no fizz; there's no real pop here to go along with the cool '60s culture. Not that the story's much more than B-rate bond. After two hours of this, you'll cry uncle."
Paper Towns (2015)
"This movie's relationship to teen-romance--flirting with it, undercutting it, swooning back into its clichéd thrall--is frustrating and intriguing in spurts. By the end, it's more like it's-a-wrap than the messy, crumpled-up drafts of life."
"Schumer's script does offer, for much of its game-time, some anti-heroine unlikeableness, anti-rom-com laughs, and a sense that, hey, pretty much all relationships--family, friends, lovers--are wonky and wrecky."
Magic Mike XXL (2015)
"Far less dark or subtle than MM, but far more boisterous, raunchy and exuberant, this is a movie that neon-lights the 'entertainment' in 'male entertainment,' even if it isn't much more than one last road-trip down memory lane."
Ted 2 (2015)
"This soft, squidgy sequel squanders its comic not-quite-crappiness by padding out its length and getting seriously dull in its exploration of a talking bear's 'personhood.' (Paddington versus Descartes, anyone? I thought not, therefore I zzzzzzzz.)"
Inside Out (2015)
Cool Hand Luke (1967)
"As this 'Southern' turns up the heat, the sense of sadistic oppression, of being looked down on by 'the man,' swelters and burns. The glowering sun eclipses the convict in its hellfire glow. Newman/Luke's knowing smile, though, burns on."
United Passions (2015)