cchclaw's Movie Ratings - Rotten Tomatoes

Movie Ratings and Reviews

Jason Bourne
Jason Bourne(2016)

"Jason Bourne" is exciting and frenetically paced at times -- but I really couldn't be sure it wasn't just a shot-for-shot remake of the prior film.

Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie
½

"Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie" lacks the freshness and trenchant wit of the original television series -- but oh my, it's fun!

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
½

The beasts may be fantastic, but the story?.... M'eh. "Fantastic Beasts" lacks the rich, engaging and inspiring world ofHarry Potter -- but what ever could match that? Knowing, going in, that the film couldn't possibly replicate the Potter magic, you may be pleased by the derivative storyyline. Otherwsie, you may count the minutes until the theater empties.

The Last King
½

I usually love Scandinavian films, but "The Last King" seems to lack the usual polish and attention to detail of those Norwegian films that make it to the United States. The film is good, but somehow, it has a made-for-TV quality that doesn't quite gel with the vast, magestic, frozen landscapes and the magnitude of the historical events. As a history lesson, it gets good marks, but as entertainment? -- M'eh.

Mechanic: Resurrection
½

Half-heartedly directed with a poorly written, unsophisticated script. Alba is dreadful. The whole thing has you saying "Huh?" to yourself -- yet somehow, it's still entertaining if you turn off your brain.

Arrival
Arrival(2016)

Despite the initial, surface parallels to "Close Encounters of The Third Kind" and some problems with the script, "Arrival" is a fresh story with a very good performance by Adams. The film is disorienting, to say the least, but "Arrival" certainly does deliver.

Blood Father
Blood Father(2016)
½

I always hate myself just a little bit when I like a Mel Gibson film, but "Blood Father" is actually very good. Despite the inane tag line (viz., "A Father Makes His Own Justice"), the film has a good script (even if somewhat cliched at times) with interesting characters and fine cinematography. Gibson's performance is excellent. I'm not a big fan of the dynamic sound editing, but otherwise it's good. Overall, it's a pretty darn good film.

Black Sea
Black Sea(2015)

It's "Das Boot" -- but less hopeful.

The Sum of Us
½

A satisfying and somewhat stirring examination of love and family. Crowe and Thompson give solid performances despite limited production values. "The Sum of Us" made me smile, so I guess I gotta recommend it.

The Infiltrator

A bit underwhelming considering the subject matter and the cast. Still, it's a servicable film with some messages eerily applicable to today.

Macbeth
Macbeth(2015)

This MacBeth is a dark, medieval tale lacking any regal luster, making it all the more brutal. Very fine acting from Fassbender and Cotillard, but it lacks the epic feeling one might expect.

The Wave (Bolgen)

With some very fine acting, "The Wave" is of that unique brand of disaster film that is actually quite harrowing.

High-Rise
High-Rise(2016)

"High-Rise" is decidedly low budget. Atrocious lighting, sound and acting are but the ground floor of the problems with this tear-down of a film. The dialogue and script should have been condemned before the public was allowed in. Despite its constellation of perplexing luminary talent, any curb appeal this film might seem to have merely conceals a crumbling foundation of unskilled directing. Sadly, this project is in sore need of a remodel.

Money Monster
½

"Money Monster" is preposterous -- yet entertaining in an unsophisticated way. It's hard to view the film as much more than a sop to the Occupy Wall Street crowd.

Our Kind of Traitor

"Our Kind of Traitor" is my kind of movie: intelligent and suspenseful. Fine acting from all players. Beautifully filmed with strong directing and cinematography. The film is flawless, although some may not like the slow-burn pacing characteristic of Le Carre films. You'll betray yourself if you don't see it.

The Girl on the Train

"The Girl On The Train" ain't no "Murder On The Orient Express". The solution to the mystery becomes obvious halfway through when the murder victim is show in flagrante delicto with a faceless person who has the distinctive physique of only one other character. Later, it is explicitly stated that the key character is not two of only three possible candidates. What's more, that key character is acting entirely consistently with how he/she has acted before. The mystery train apparently only stops in Obviousville.

Blunt's performance as a black-out drunk is entirely unconvincing. In fact, her sober moments are almost indistinguishable from her drunk moments. (Thank goodness for fuzzy focus and wobbly cameras or you might miss when her perceptions are through vodka-soaked eyes.) Threoux is tiresome and boring. Pacing is slow and the structure is unnecessary and almost haphazard. At least the cinematagraphy and set design are good.

Overall, the film is drab, dull and dank. If I were on this train, I'd carpool next time.

Holding The Man

Beautiful and affecting. I was not expecting such a graceful love story and poignant tragedy, even though I knew this film was about a gay relationship set in the 1970's and 1980's, during the height of the AIDS panic. Decent acting all around, with Corr of particular note. If you want a good cry over strength, love, loss and injustice, "Holding The Man" is a great place to start.

Star Trek Beyond
½

As usual, this film in the rebooted Star Trek series has a superb soundtrack and spectaular visual effects. The sets, costumes and makeup are second to none. The script was adequately paced and the film was well edited. However, even more so than in prior installments, the acting was unimpressive but it was still suffficiently immitative of the original crew. And as if the plot devices had been taken from Romulan pulp fiction, the story was weird and a bit confusing at times. Overall, "Beyond" is a good film, but it just does seem to make the leap to warp speed.

Imperium
Imperium(2016)
½

With strong performances by Collette and Radcliffe (even if Radcliffe is uneven at times), "Imperium" is a well paced and nuanced thriller set in the milieu of white separatist domestic terrorism. The tale is utterly chilling and well worth watching.

Anthropoid
Anthropoid(2016)

Flat characters and a slow plot hinder a dynamic tale from World War II history from getting off the ground. The acting was good, with fine (if unimaginative) costumes and hair styling, but otherwise the film lacks the polish one would expect from this type of film. If this film is trying to measure up to "Valkyrie", it has come up short.

Krampus
Krampus(2015)
½

A fun, silly bit of holiday horror. This film could have gone much further in several directions: campier, scarrier, darker. There are not many thrills under the tree, but it has some delightful henchmen lurking among the boughs and holly. The film's score is notably clever but not enough that you'll be likely add the soundtrack CD to your Christmas list.

Gods Of Egypt

A painfully bad mess of a tale. No wonder the gods were driven from Egypt long ago.

Free State of Jones

"Free State of Jones" is an interesting history lesson -- although lacking the panache and dynamism of an actual history lesson. The script is plodding and unfocued, and the story is puzzlingly episodic. The costumes and locations are good, but McConaughey oozes contemporary morality and seems ill-suited for this period piece. The only noticably good acting was from Mahershala Ali.

The film might have as lief been entitled "Talent-Free State of Jones". Spend your ticket money on popcorn and just hang out in the theater lobby, kids. This one's a stinker.

Independence Day: Resurgence

For those who wonder why multi-million dollar film projects are not often handed to 12 year old boys lacking life experience and common sense, witness what might happen in "Independence Day: Resurgence". If you thought the first alien invasion was stupid -- the stupidity come back with a vengence 20 years later, with super-sized, groan-inducing dialogue. If we make a few more films like this, the aliens might conclude we're not much worth invading.

The Haunted Mansion

"The Haunted Mansion" is the Olive Garden of Disney films: bland and seemingly pointless. You may not die from the experience, but is that really a blessing?

The Revenant
The Revenant(2015)

Exceptionally beautiful direction and screenplay by
Iñárritu. Superb cinematography. Poignant soundtrack. Brilliant performances (although Hardy's mumbling was difficult to discern oftimes). Fantastic costumes and sound. There's nothing not to love about this graceful, poetic and haunting film.

Hillary's America: The Secret History of the Democratic Party

A "documentary" from the same fact-free alt-right that denies evolution, global warming, dinosaurs, and the scientific method and that fears vaccines, GMO's, cloning, Harry Potter, pasteurization, and irradiated food. Sad. No thanks, Dinesh. I can see garbage in the dumpster behind the theater for free.

X-Men: Apocalypse
½

"X-Men: Apocalypse" is the strangest installment of the franchise yet. It's confusing and muddled. I just wish one of the X-Men had a superpower that could have explained what the heck was going on and why. This film really isn't worth the ticket price unless all you care about is seeing an overabundance of special effects.

Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates
½

Mike and Dave need better roles. DeVine and Plaza were the only players even remotely humorous and the script was more formulaic than a trigonometry midterm exam. Lighting and sound were good but there was nothing particularly funny or interesting about this film to make it anything more than marginally amusing.

Zootopia
Zootopia(2016)

"Zootopia" is a menagerie of delights with each exhibit seeming more excellently crafted than the last. This is the best Disney animated film since "Beauty and The Beast".

The Pirates! Band of Misfits

Cute, adventurous, funny and clever -- without being too cute, adventurous, funny or clever. The animation is delightful and the voice acting is well-done (for the most part), with particularly appealing performances by Imelda Staunton (Queen Victoria) and Hugh Grant (The Pirate Captain). It's a fun family film with something to enjoy for everyone.

Captain America: Civil War

Too clever. Too pretty. Too intense (at times). Too much of everything to merit 5 stars.

The Man Who Knew Infinity

Infinitely disappointing. How can such a fine cast give such an uninspiring performance? Turns out all it takes is a slow and unmoored script. What should have been a five-star film shot on location seems at times like a made-for-TV movie. "The Man Who Knew Infinity" is a nice picture to look at, but it becomes tedious and confusing almost as soon as it starts. Unless you're a mathematician who already knows the story and who can appreciate the high drama of reading proofs on the blackboard, I'd skip it.

Vampires: Los Muertos

I would say "Vampires: Los Muertos" is the vampire film with the worst acting I have ever seen -- but I've actually seen "Drink Me". This is bad, B-movie horror at its most milquetoast.

Green Room
Green Room(2016)

Churlishly defiant of logic. Those who think there just aren't enough films about intelligent skinheads and neo-Nazis with poorly masked British accents may find "The Green Room" enthralling. For the rest of us, it's just m'eh.

Tab Hunter Confidential

An honest and straightforward memoir from one of Hollywood's brightest stars from the 1950's. Tab Hunter engagingly recounts his life and behind-the-scenes Tinseltown business and politics. Those interested in Hollywood history or LGBT history will really enjoy this gem of a film.

The Huntsman: Winter's War
½

Entertaining, but slowly paced. There are plenty of references to Disney's Snow White story, but if you're expecting a Disney flick, you'll be disappointed. This is more of an action/adventure film (although surprisingly spare with the action and adventure). It's really not for kids. Great special effects and nice costumes dress up a somewhat formulaic script. Hemsworth is likable with a facile but puzzling Scottish brogue (I'm guessing it's Scottish -- there's no reason I could discern for any accent whatsoever). But great actresses are really the source of gravity in this film. Watch this film for the women -- not for the titular character, and you'll feel you got your money's worth.

Lord Protector: The Riddle of the Chosen

Ha ha ha ha ha ha! This is awful! Ha ha ha ha ha! Acting is still considered a "profession", guys! OMFG! This is awful!...and I love its delicious suckiness! Sometimes it's not the actors' fault -- it's the director's. And sometimes, just everyone sucks. It's also quite possible that some of the home video travel footage I store in my garage was accidentally cut into the main feature, so royalty payments are expected. I'm just sayin'.

Deadpool
Deadpool(2016)
½

Deadpool is the most asinine superhero ever. His character is insufferable, and the story structure is clunky. Sound, costumes and acting are better than usual, but I don't understand why anyone would claim to have enjoyed watching this bipolar fantasy.

Zoolander 2
Zoolander 2(2016)
½

Although not as funny as the original, "Zoolander 2" is hilarious. Great costumes and hair with some really fun characters (such as Kristen Wiig's character and "Don Atari"), there's a lot to appreciate (and laugh at) in this film. For instance, how can anyone resist laughing at a Neil de Grasse Tyson cameo declaring, "That's what I do. I'm Neil de Grasse Tyson, B-tch!"? The poor critical and audience reviews are not justified in my estimation. I would definitely recommend this film to anyone who enjoyed the first film, or anyone who just wants to see a silly film making fun of fashion, modeling and James Bond.

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice
½

Exceptional. Without question, the best Batman or Superman movie of the last 25 years excluding only Heath Ledger's "The Dark Knight" of 2008. Superb cinematography, very good acting, excellent direction, hair, costumes, and sound. The only draw-back was script writing and pacing, which were at times tedious, indolent and indulgent. Still, if you value character development more than action (as I do), this is an extraordinarily good comic book film.

My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2
½

This was a pleasant enough film with a few mild chuckles, but if the Greeks invented comedy, there's little evidence here. There seems to be a reason the Greek masters didn't write sequels frequently.

The Trust
The Trust(2016)

A splendid little film with a delightful soundtrack. Amazingly, I didn't hate Cage and Wood was more substantial than an elf. It's a bit quirky, but it's worth your while.

Lawrence of Arabia

A masterwork. The scene walking in the desert left me breathless. Highly recommended.

Hail, Caesar!
½

Nice costumes and hair don't make up for poor lighting and sound in this clunker of a film. If Gary Marshall didn't prove it in the last couple of years, the Coen brothers sure did with "Hail, Caesar" -- more stars does NOT equal more magic on the screen.

Only Lovers Left Alive

As an art film, "Only Lovers Left Alive" is beautiful, stylish and meditative. As a vampire flick, it's boring, aimless and anemic. Whether you like the movie or not will depend heavily on what you're looking for.

JFK
JFK(1991)
½

If you ever needed proof Costner can't act, look no further than this paranoid gobbledygook. Absurd premise and stupid characters. But the lighting is good....

London Has Fallen
½

Uncommonly stupid and so improbable -- nay, impossible -- that one cannot even enjoy the film as a fantasy. The dialogue is awkward and immature, as though the script were written by a high school freshman. F-bombs abound, especially when the secret service agents speak with POTUS, demonstrating a severe lack of sophistication in the director and scriptwriter. The characters are painfully unaware of their own surroundings and motivations. (One of many absurd examples is a dramatic death scene where a secret service agent insists the President leave a downed helicopter because it could blow up at any minute...followed 30 seconds later by the agent and President standing languidly next to the same downed helicopter in order to assess their gear and take stock of the situation. Oh, and the dialogue during that dramatic death scene is juvenile beyond words.)

The story is poorly plotted and uneven. The plot and script are unintelligent and reflect Trump-like misunderstandings of geopolitical power. For example, there is reference to drone strikes authorized by the G8. The G8 is an economic/political forum. The G8 does not possess an army! Nor has it ever aspired to! Does the director even know what the G8 is?! I'm embarrassed for the director -- this stuff is utterly cringe-worthy! The film is just a mess.

It is fun seeing the London landmarks though, so as a travel piece, it earns a star.

Now You See Me 2

If you liked the original, this sequel is every bit as fun.

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

Pride, Prejudice ... and Poor Directing. The story is fresh and enticing, but the direction is inexpert in this would-be period flick. The actors are hamstrung by inept direction, middling costumes and a clear unfamiliarity with period ambiance. From the plainly 20th century brickwork of structures in multiple scenes (is this a hipster coffee shop?), to the inexplicable Japanese handle wrap on swords used by 19th century Englishmen, to the bizarrely anachronistic London setting, "Pride & Prejudice & Zombies" is a confused mess. I both wish it were better, and wish it were worse. As it stands, the film is not satisfying from any perspective.

Dead Rising: Watchtower

Deliciously bad and campy, I couldn't turn my eyes away from this low-budget, glorious train-wreck of a film! On the brighter side, at least now I know Jesse Metcalfe is still alive; on the darker side, clearly his career isn't.

Fantastic Four
½

"Fantastic 4" is more a fantastic two-and-a-half. The rest just sucks.

The Finest Hours
½

Despite great special effects, the script is a wreck and the talented cast give completely underwhelming performances. Drowning in silly Disney naivety and sentimentality, this project should have been scuttled before it ran aground on the big screen.

Risen
Risen(2016)

"Risen" fails to rise to the top, but it's still a decent film for a relatively low-budget period piece. Fiennes' performance is somewhat disappointing but acting is adequate. Costumes are decent, and the locations/sets are good. Moments of good cinematography but underwhelming overall. As a full-fledged Hollywood film, "Risen" might barely merit three stars, but for what it is -- a lower-budget film from a genre mired in tripe -- "Risen" stands above the rest without quite being a savior.

The Witch
The Witch(2016)

"The VVitch" is I8oring.

Reign of Fire

What a waste of talent! Christian Bale,Gerard Butler, Matthew McConaughey, Alexander Siddig -- and not a single moment when acting mattered. Why wasn't Ben Kingley in this schlock -- it seems tailor made for him! (Think: "Blood Rayne", but a little better.) This film is muddled beyond belief, but it's pretty, so that counts for sumin'.

Joy
Joy(2015)

Neither all-wet, nor joyful, "Joy" is an interesting cinematic confection. Worthwhile, but derivative -- much like Joy's mop.

The 5th Wave
The 5th Wave(2016)
½

In the film, "The 5th Wave" refers to the fifth stage of attacks made on humans by alien invaders. It may also refer to the successive waves of nausea induced by this insipid bit of big budget YA drama-teen claptrap. For those who delight in sci-fi alien destruction movies -- despair. "The 5th Wave" joins the ignominious ranks of alien films that never actually depict the aliens on screen. (The ship shows up for 15 seconds in the sky, but no one ever seems to disembark.) It also may sire an entirely new genre of disaster films that do not actually depict any disaster.

Although "The 5th Wave" is marginally entertaining, one cannot resolve the nagging question posed by such an unfulfilling film: "What was the point of that?"

Brooklyn
Brooklyn(2015)

Delightful, but not exceptional. Kinda like the real Brooklyn.

Burnt
Burnt(2015)

Although some parts of the story seem a bit warmed over, Bradley Cooper is hot and Sienna Miller's quite saucy. However, as with Michelin's ranking system, it's not possible to award "Burnt" any more than three stars.

Carol
Carol(2015)

Carol is beautifully filmed, with elegant costumes, makeup and hair. The acting is superb, taking full advantage of a subtle script that allows the actors to plumb some unsettling depths of their characters. Perhaps among the most unsettling themes explored involves the juxtaposition of the naivety of youth with the imprudent self-deception of an experienced woman who is struggling to manage the countervailing demands of society and her own true nature. "Carol" is both agonizing and delicious.

The Hateful Eight

How can anyone be so hateful with such a cinematically beautiful film? As one expects from a Tarantino film, "The Hateful Eight" is an over-the-top bloodbath, humorous in its depravity. However, it's mostly well-acted (ahem! Channing Tatum) with an engaging and unconventional mystery -- so hopefully one can excuse the Tarantinine excesses. It's good entertainment and purdy to look at, so I recon it's worth your while.

Three Days of the Condor
½

"Three Days of The Condor" in 3 words: action-packed, thrilling and exciting! Admittedly, it doesn't strike much of a blow for 1970s feminism (cuz what woman wouldn't immediately jump into bed with a handsome man after a home invasion at gun-point and being chained to a toilet all day?! That's hot!), but if you get past the very dated sexism, politics and technology, it's quite an entertaining film.

The Gift
The Gift(2015)

I wish this "gift" came with a receipt so I could return it. Despite good-to-adequate acting and stylish cinematography, "The Gift" is so preposterously improbable and low on suspense, I don't think you'd get more satisfaction or thrills than watching Aunt Minnie unwrap her presents at her 90th birthday party.

RKO 281
RKO 281(1999)

Schrieber brings Orson Welles to life with a fantastic performance telling the story of making "Citizen Cane". There's much more drama and humor to it than I expected. Like the recent "Trumbo" film, this is a work best enjoyed by Hollywood history fans and cinema geeks.

Dog Day Afternoon

An honest, gritty and unexpectedly sensitive performance by Pacino with strong support from Durning make this film well worth watching. Although the film is dated in many ways, its social messages are as relevant today as they were back then.

Cradle Will Rock
½

In a word: "Disgusting". Not only is this film radically Marxist (even the Depression-era unions and FDR are depicted as selling out the workers as they march toward revolution!), but it's the most anti-Semitic film I ever recall seeing from a modern Hollywood production. Although the film's central hero, Marc Blitzstein, was of Jewish heritage as a matter of historical fact, that aspect of his heritage is never mentioned. The only references to Jews in "Cradle Will Rock" are a few gratuitous (i.e., completely unnecessary) mentions of Jews as friends of the lucripetous, rich characters and as friends of fascists, and in the person of Sarandon's character -- a sycophantic Jewish woman enamored with Mussolini who helps plunder Italy's cultural heritage (literally for bags of American cash!) and who implores Diego Rivera to compromise his art and Marxist ideology for Rockefeller cash. The apparent suggestion in "Cradle Will Rock" that Jews were complicit in their own persecution in the 1930's for the sake of money is disgusting, morally repugnant and wholly unworthy of the talent involved in this project.

I am absolutely shocked and appalled at this film. Although I agree that the production values were better than average and the impressive all-star cast's acting was better than average (Caution: Sarandon's Italian accent and persona were of surprisingly low, street busking quality!), the film's radical Marxist and anti-Semitic messaging leave little option other than an extremely low score. Recommendation: Skip "Cradle Will Rock" unless you're a Marxist or neo-Nazi.

God's Not Dead 2
½

Pretty actors -- pretty bad script. More of the victim mentality from the made-up "war on Christians", or "war on Christmas", or whatever the newest moral majority simper-fest might cough up. The film is purely a political manipulation. There's nothing even remotely intellectual or spiritual about this Hallmark screed -- it's just the same tired and unconvincing false victimology intended to gin up political outrage. Skip it, unless that's what you're in the market for.

Steve Jobs
Steve Jobs(2015)
½

Quite likely, the most boring film I have seen in years.

Good acting, but sub-par script with poor lighting, sound, editing and cinematography.

The Big Short
½

Who would have thought the the mortgage and bond market could be explained effectively and in an entertaining manner in the course of a two-hour film? "The Big Short" does just that, in an entertaining manner, making for an amazing accomplishment in storytelling.
The film is like a darkly funny "Moneyball," but without much of an exciting edge. (We all know what's coming and it's not much to revel in, even for these speculators.) Still, it's quirky enough to keep you interested in a story set in an otherwise dull world of banking.

Secret in Their Eyes

Although it's a bit slowly paced, the story is exciting, tense and inventive. I did not see the ending coming at me. However, that is partly because the story was quite hard to follow. The story is presented both in the present and 13 years prior. The problem is that it's nearly impossible to tell what is happening now, and what happened 13 years ago. Sure, there a little hints (one character limps now; Ejiofor has a few specks of gray in his hair, though not many), but unless you're constantly doing a detail check, you can easily miss that you have shifted back or forward in time. It's really quite perplexing. In the end, I just gave up and decided if something seemed out of place, then I must have been watching a different timeline 10 minutes ago.

The performances were all strong and nuanced -- likely the best I've seen from Kidman. But even the best performances did not make the timeline easy to follow.

In the Heart of the Sea

So Hemsworth seems to have a different accent from moment to moment -- and none of them sound like he's from Nantucket. So what?! No one other than Fairley seems to be able to pull the accent off very well. The score -- while very good, is derivative. The film has its problems.

"In The Heart of The Sea" is nevertheless a very good film. The sets, costumes and effects are remarkable. The directing is strong, and although choppy at times, it spares the viewer from what easily could have been a long, slow slog had the director taken this film too seriously. It is, after all, a story about whalers sailing around the world and not catching anything for more than a year. A more "epic" approach almost certainly would have been very, very boring.

I liked this film a good deal. If you're a fan of period films like I am, this is a worthwhile movie.

Victor Frankenstein

Monstrously stupid. Despite high production values, very nice costumes and a genuinely good performance by Radcliffe, this creature never should have been brought to life.

The Danish Girl
½

"The Danish Girl" is a beautiful film with good intentions, but it fails to appreciate the complexity of the issues tackled. In a strangely tone-deaf approach, Einar/Lili's transgender identity is portrayed almost as a fetish -- something that emerges as the result of trying on a dress in a juvenile prank. Surely the transgender community and the audience deserve more than that hogwash! Efforts are made later in the film to make the identity issue more deep-seated, but they are meager and fail to revise the initial impression. This is a substantial failing for a film ostensibly driven by some of the primary stresses surrounding gender identity. The film gets better in the last half and winds up being quite touching once we accept there's more to it than just a cross-dressing fetish.

Despite the directorial problems, the firm has fine cinematography, costumes and sound. Vikander is wonderful, but Radmayne is too simple to convey the depth of emotions that must be antagonizing his character.

The Boys of St. Vincent
½

If you thought "Spotlight" was wrenching, get ready for a real gut punch from this Canadian drama about abuse in a church orphanage! The first two-hour part focuses on the abuse and the second part focuses on the fall out many years later as the children have grown into young adults. The injustice is transporting.

The always excellent Henry Czerny gives a compelling performance as the overbearing Brother Lavin, the primary motivator at the orphanage. Johnny Morina is brilliant as one of the primary victims of the brothers. The film is a bit low-budget, apparently made for Canadian television, but is nevertheless well crafted. "The Boys of St. Vincent" is moving, terrifying and insightful. Highly recommended.

Spotlight
Spotlight(2015)

One of the great journalism films. Excellent acting all around (especially by Keaton) and a crisp script. "Spotlight" is well worth seeing.

Roman Holiday

"Roman Holiday" is remarkable just because Audrey Hepburn isn't gratingly over-the-top as she is in most movies. "Roman Holiday" is well-scripted and well-acted with gorgeous visuals shot on location in Italy. It's a charming film with wit fresh enough for a modern audience.

Mad Max: Fury Road

I'm not a fan of the Mad Max franchise, but "Fury Road" was excellent! "Mad Max: Fury Road" has a decent story (albeit with plot holes aplenty) and interesting characters with marvelous costume, makeup and special effects. It's truly spectacular.

Spectre
Spectre(2015)

Stylish in every way -- but a little too much of everything.

Slutty Summer

Wow. Who'd have thought an entire film could be shot in soft focus?

Giving leeway for a low budget, independent LGBT film, "Slutty Summer" is decent. The acting's not great, but good enough for what it is. Decent story. Acceptable script. Nothing really good about the film, but it's not bad either.

Freeheld
Freeheld(2015)

Heartfelt and heartrending, "Freeheld" is a real tearjerker of injustice, loss and hope. The dialogue lacks inspiration, but the intimate acting of Moore and Page make up for it.

Bridge of Spies
½

"Bridge of Spies" is a very "nice" film. There's nothing challenging, controversial, exciting, illuminating or particularly inventive about it. It's little more than a well-executed Hallmark film featuring Tom Hanks. Well done, but very corporate.

Trumbo
Trumbo(2015)
½

"Trumbo" benefits from exceptionally good acting from Cranston, and good performances by Fanning and Lane, as well as a compelling story, sets and costumes. Otherwise, there is not much more to the film than your standard, well-worn film. It is timely, to be sure -- but it offers little beyond its message and moments of well-chewed wisdom.

Sicario
Sicario(2015)
½

Excellent directing and cinematography, and a thoughtful script, make "Sicario" an impressive film, albeit slowly paced. The acting is superb from all, except possibly Blunt, whose occasional, affected naivety and weakness blended implausibly with the self-assured, tough and jaded agent who volunteers for an obviously dangerous assignment. On the one hand, she's tough as nails, is perfectly willing to consider shooting another agent in the back, and agrees to be on a team she is explicitly told is operating outside of the law. Yet on the other hand, she breaks down at times and is freaked out when she sees someone of the team acting outside of the law. Well, which one is it, Emily?! Are you a gritty cop or an idealist? It was like seeing two different characters on the screen, depending on what suited to moment most impact-fully. If one just approaches the film accepting that Blunt's character is just a bit unstable, then the film is excellent and entertaining. Otherwise, it's confusing and manipulative.

Grandma
Grandma(2015)
½

Although the subject may be distasteful to some viewers (the film centers around a young woman and her grandmother as they scrounge around for money to get an abortion!), "Grandma" is well worth watching. The complex and nuanced issues with which this dysfunctional family grapples on their journey are often just as distasteful and imposing as the unplanned pregnancy. "Grandma" effectively depicts family, support, disappointment and love among unabashedly flawed people with their own regrets. The film conveys a human message without preachiness or idealized characters. It resonates authentically and inspires reflection, which is the real value of the movie.

"Grandma" has great direction and a memorable (although not entirely unique) performance from Tomlin. As long as you're not expecting a feel-good film, "Grandma" will be worth your while.

The Last Witch Hunter
½

"The Last Witch Hunter" is clearly lost in the woods. The film has the bling: sexy stars, super visuals, energetic sound track, and a lot of exciting action. But other than that, it lacks substance: a confusing script paired with sub-par acting make for a confusing, messy witches' brew. No performer is good other than Caine, and possibly Englebrecht, and it is undoubtedly the worst performance Elijah Wood has had the misfortune of committing to celluloid. If you're looking for stupid, stylish action fun, this is an okay movie -- but otherwise, it culls the bottom of the cauldron.

Stonewall
Stonewall(2015)
½

"Stonewall" is probably one of Roland Emmerich's better films -- which isn't necessarily high praise considering the number of stinkers he's given us. Neither the significance of the Stonewall nor of the riots are explained very well, and none of the characters have much going for them in the interesting or likability departments. However, some of the particular struggles and injustices facing the LGBT community are set forth effectively. Overall, it's an adequate film worth seeing, but it is not likely to linger on your mind after leaving the theater.

Blended
Blended(2014)

Although it is far-fetched and awkward at times, "Blended" is funny and delightful in many parts. Barrymore and Sandler both perform better than usual. Terry Crews shines as an over-earnest musician and manages to steal the show at times. And there's a lot of pretty Africa images to boot. This is a perfectly serviceable and pleasant rom-com for a slow weekend.

Eragon
Eragon(2006)

I didn't hate this as much as everyone else. There's nothing new in the story or the filming, but it's all done well. It is weak when compared to "Lord of The Rings" or "The Hobbit", but it's much better than other fantasy films like Tom Cruise's "Legend". I personally found "Eragon" entertaining.

The Muppet Christmas Carol
½

A well done retelling of the classic Christmas story albeit with a few too many narrative interruptions, often with little purpose other than for the sake of telling an unneeded joke. The original Christmas songs are absolutely dreadful, but they're often sung with such joyfulness they can be forgiven. "The Muppet Christmas Carol" is a nice, unstuffy alternative for the kids -- old and young -- in your home.

The Deep End
The Deep End(2001)
½

Despite the riveting plot summary, the only things that rescue "The Deep End" from being bland are Tilda Swinton's strong performance as a terrified, desperate mother and a somewhat interesting music score. Otherwise, it's dime-a-dozen weekend afternoon TV fare.

Love & Mercy
Love & Mercy(2015)
½

"Love & Mercy" has some of the best acting I have seen from John Cusack, but there are script and direction weaknesses that make the story dull and incoherent at times. This story might have seen better told linearly.

Rosewater
Rosewater(2014)

"Rosewater" is well acted and constructed, but it lacks the emotional punch one would expect from the source material.

The Martian
The Martian(2015)

A great movie all around, which should be expected when Ridley Scott is dealing with excellent source material. My only criticism is that Scott did not invest enough in the actors. The film could have been much more powerful if Matt Damon had been allowed to play up the personal, emotional struggles of isolation and fear his character must have been going through -- as he has proven he is able to do -- rather than having him appear to be chipper and relatively confident throughout his harrowing ordeal.

Daniels, Ejiofor, Chastain and Mara also have proven abilities to dig deeper than the characters Scott gave us. The sole cognizable attempt at emotional expression and conflict was in Sean Bean's character, and it was a complete misfire. This is likely to be the only movie I'll ever see where Kristen Wiig is the deepest well of emotional expression.

"The Martian" is a very good film but it could have been -- and should have been -- even better.

Jurassic World

"Jurassic World" is exactly what you'd expect: great dinosaur special effects and sound with minimal investment in characters and mass market, dumbed-down acting for the Hallmark Channel set. Chris Pratt's character was bland for a hero and I wanted to spit in Bryce Dallas Howard's face once I had my fill of her cutesy, precocious girl-woman act, but putting the milquetoast characters aside, the story is paced nicely and ultimately, the film is exciting.

Despite the philosophical issues teeming in the entire Jurassic concept and broached in the film as if by drive-by, the movie is non-challenging and unintelligent. More than anything, "Jurassic World" is simple fun -- and unlike the titular park, may prove to be a good attempt at resurrecting something thought long extinct.

Ant-Man
Ant-Man(2015)

Surprisingly good for a film about one of the least interesting superheroes. "Ant-Man" has all the polished special effects, sets and costumes you would expect in the umpteenth superhero blockbuster -- but it's funnier and has more heart than the typical Marvel tent pole. It's better than many that have come down the studio chute in the last few years.

No Escape
No Escape(2015)
½

"No Escape" knows no subtlety. I was almost surprised that subtitles didn't appear throughout the movie notifying the audience of the messages and moments of pathos they were intended to perceive, in case those points were missed in the clunky script. It didn't help that the film's lead, Owen Wilson, was completely miscast -- unless a feckless, wimpy father was the hero Dowdle had in mind for his everyday American.

If you are a fan of action and suspense who doesn't really care about characters or story, then the film might not be so bad for you. There are some exciting moments (even if they later succumb to the silly), so it's not a complete dud. Overall, "No Escape" is a completely forgettable film.

Thirteen Days
½

Great script, better than average costumes, decent acting (I say that even with Kevin Costner in a leading role!), good directing -- and lots of historical drama. "Thirteen Days" is the Cuban Missile Crisis lesson you wish you'd had in high school.

The Little Drummer Boy
½

Preachy. Lackluster score and voice work, although with good musical performances. Find something else to make your yuletide bright.

The Man From U.N.C.L.E.
½

Suave, stylish and entertaining. I hope there's more to come!

Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens

"The Force Awakens" is a good and enjoyable film with all the excitement of the original, but without the poor script writing. Unfortunately, "The Force Awakens" overuses references to the original film -- meaning that nearly every plot twist is telegraphed almost from the first 20 minutes of the film for anyone who has seen the original. Liked the Death Star in the original? We got it -- but different! Liked the cantina scene in the original? We got it -- but different! Liked Darth Vader in the original? We got it -- but different! Liked the Jawas scavenging droids? We got 'em -- but different! Same goes for the "I am your father" moment, the Luke Skywalker character innately strong with "the Force", the entire plan for attacking the new Death Star, R2-D2, "emperor" communicating only via hologram, and smuggling messages in droids to keep them from the "First Order" (it's the "Empire" -- but different). Heck, nearly the entire original cast and the Millennium Falcon itself make appearances!

It's hard to argue that "The Force Awakens" isn't largely a remake of the original, but somehow, it's still effective. It's certainly a galaxy far, far ahead of the previous lame trilogy. Seeing "The Force Awakens" is worth your while, just don't expect any surprises.

The Godfather

Spectacular. Every time I see it, it gets better. From its flawless direction, to its exceptional score, to its (near-)flawless script, I have no doubt "The Godfather" is one of the best movies ever made.

Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials

A muddled story with hackish dialog. No notably good performances. Gillen was miscast and distracting, and I wasn't entirely sure he wasn't still playing Littlefinger from "Game of Thrones". There is enough action to keep it marginally interesting, however. You won't be impressed, but you'll feel you barely got you money's worth.

Guidance
Guidance(2015)
½

Quirky, hilarious, fun. Movies like "Guidance" are the reason I love indie films.

Do I Sound Gay?

Intelligent and insightful, but you still sound self-loathing.

Queens & Cowboys: A Straight Year on the Gay Rodeo

A remarkable look at an anti-stereotype community whose time is passing but is nevertheless still vibrantly alive. Great access, drama and information from this documentary. Recommended for all queens, cowboys and those in between.

Child 44
Child 44(2015)

It's not often that a movie is constructed in such an incoherent fashion that even the title merely hearkens back to an after-thought from the film, but "Child 44" is one such uncommonly haphazard film. The fact that Child #44 is indistinguishable in the film proves the utter lack of focus in the horrendously uneven, improbable and at times preposterous script. Of course, one might not feel sure that Child #44 isn't a central figure since the dialog is nearly impossible to hear through the actors' constantly mumbled Russian accents.

Although the acting is good and there are some admirable points to the directing, "Child 44" does not come close to the coherence of virtually the same story filmed in 1995 as "Citizen X" with Stephen Rea and Donald Sutherland. At least in that older film, there was some sense of scale and suspense -- in "Child 44", one hardly realizes it matters that there is a serial killer on the loose. Especially since everyone else is worse than the serial killer.

In sum, this film is boring and stupid. One cannot use an all-knowing, omnipotent, Russian security service as a constant plot device (who in the 1950s apparently have Star Trek teleporters to move characters from one end of the Soviet Union to the other within moments!), only to play off its utter cluelessness when it comes to matters of crime and security. The script and editing are just too silly to get my recommendation.

Mr. Holmes
Mr. Holmes(2015)

If you're looking for a detective adventure in the style of Guy Ritchie, you will be disappointed. On the other hand, if you're looking for superb acting and drama focused on issues of aging, look no further. It doesn't take a brilliant sleuth to reach the conclusion that "Mr. Holmes" is an exceptionally well made film.

The acting and script are beyond compare. At times, Sir Ian McKellen seems to channel Sir John Gielgud, in all the best senses. I would be shocked if Ian McKellen does not get a nod from the Academy for his performance in what is one of the best films of 2015. Hair, makeup, costumes, locations, cinematography, sound and directing are all excellent. With a slightly mischievous score and meticulous attention to texture and color in the visuals, "Mr. Holmes" is an elegant and rich feast for the senses.

I cannot recommend this film highly enough -- just don't watch it expecting action, adventure, or anything beyond mild mystery.

Faith Of Our Fathers

Sappy. Crappy. Obnoxious. Amateurish. Disappointing.

The Fall of '55

Filmed on video tape with witnesses of marginal quality, "Fall of '55" tells an important yet largely unmemorable tale of a witch hunt against the gay community in the 1950s. Kudos for making a record -- jeers for making something less memorable than your average true crime docudrama on the ID Channel.

Room on the Broom
½

"Room On The Broom" is a cute, non-challenging animated film. Despite its 27-minute run time, the story is presented slowly. Talented voice actors are wasted -- and frankly, other than narrator Simon Pegg, it's impossible to confidently tell that any of the credited stars actually voiced anything in the woof-, meow-, and ribbit-laden dialogue. The sound and sound editing are low-budget knockoffs of something straight out of your kids' favorite Saturday morning cartoon shows. The animation looks like it's from the latest Spyro video game. It's all put together for a nice, pleasant story, but I doubt you'd be willing to sit through the film more than once.

Vito
Vito(2013)

"Vito" is informative and moving as it paints the portrait of a truly unique individual in the LGBT rights movement. Filled with relevant footage and photos, the story is told though interviews with some presumably hard-to-get figures. "Vito" is an expertly crafted documentary well worth watching.

The Water Diviner

All the excitement you'd expect from a film about the battle for Gallipoli -- or, rather, from slogging through the mud of the battle field four years later in order to inexplicably, magically divine the places where your three sons died...one...by...one....in order to fulfill a promise to a depressed woman who killed herself long ago.

Quick tip: Save you ticket money and take a two hour nap instead!

San Andreas
San Andreas(2015)
½

It's true that there's a huge disaster in front of you, on the screen -- but probably not the one Brad Peyton had in mind when he threw this schlock together.

Dwayne Johnson isn't as bad as I would have expected, but that doesn't mean there's good acting to be found. (Although there is some nice eye candy in Aussie hunk HUGO JOHNSTONE-BURT.) Scenes are stolen seemingly whole-cloth from prior disaster films such as Independence Day, Volcano and 2012 -- including the lone scientist at CalTech who knows what's going on with his special laptop computer program but who must fight to get the warning out to a world that seems to ignore him for no discernible reason.

The story is silly and unsophisticated. (Can you really buy that one of LA Fire Rescue's handful of rescue choppers can just disappear and go on personal errands across the state of California all day during the very time a huge disaster is hitting the state?!) The dialogue and script are beyond inane (including one preposterous scene where a televised news anchor announces that most of the electricity in the city is "out" -- as shown on a functioning TV screen in a room full of operational computers and electronic devices being used to hack into LA-based media companies via the Internet from very nearby Pasadena).

The CGI effects are spectacular, but that's the only good thing about "San Andreas". The biggest fault here ain't deep in the ground -- it's on the screen in front of you.

Space Station 76

"Space Station 76" has one of the most creative, cohesive and brilliant set designs I have seen in a movie of such limited budget. Every exterior shot appears to reveal a new retro-tacky wallpaper or mural, to marvelous effect. The retro-hi-tech fixtures and fittings of the space station are brilliant and amusing. The costume wardrobe is no less inspired or impressive.

The humor in this film gravitates toward the visual -- the script is a black hole from which no laughs seem able to escape. Despite the bland dialogue, there is a galaxy of screen moments (including many subtle ones) that can launch a burst of laughter. There are nevertheless elements of brilliance in the script, such as universal, pervasive and understated 1970's sexism. It's really a hoot when you notice all the details and thoughtful touches that abound in the film.

The minor constellation of stars orbiting the project brings equal numbers of super novas and dwarf stars. In particular, Patrick Wilson and Marisa Coughlan ignite their comedy brilliantly. (If you ask me, Wilson's groovy retro mustache outshines them all!) Others seem to lack chemistry. In the inevitable moments when you start feeling the story is getting dull, just look around at the sets or costumes, and you'll likely spy something clever or humorous shining through.

Folsom Forever

If you have a friend from San Francisco who has forced you to watch his home movies, then you've already seen this film.

Boring, poorly edited, ill conceived. Just an amateurish mess. Skip it.

A Chorus Line
½

Who knew making a musical could be so dull? Filled with the all the horrendous hair and clothing fashions of the 1980's, "A Chorus Line" falls flat with poor acting and inept screenwriting. Although there is much admirable in the music, the 80's electo-orchestration is atrocious and there aren't strong enough voices to sing through the weaknesses. This ain't "off Broadway" -- it's just "off".

Such Good People
½

"Such Good People" is a technically solid film with good sound editing, lighting, makeup, costumes, etc. The comedic acting is acceptable to good. Pleasant soundtrack and decent script. The are some very funny moments, but there just isn't anything exceptional. "Such Good People" is "good" -- not "great".

An Honest Liar

An extraordinary tale about deception and the lies we unwittingly chose to believe. I gotta admit -- I never saw the twist at the end coming! The once-famous magician "The Amazing Randi", noted for debunking the likes of Uri Geller and Peter Poppoff , shows the depths to which people will descend to believe. Truly extraordinary, profound and exceptional as a documentary or human belief.

Boulevard
Boulevard(2015)
½

If you like angst-filled drama, "Boulevard" should be right up your alley. Although it's got nothing in the way of new material, "Boulevard" is amazing for its deep, compelling and nuanced performances by Williams and Baker. Aguire's performance is also notably good, although having less depth. Cinematography was strong throughout -- but damn! Did I mention how good Robin Williams was?

Reclaim
Reclaim(2014)

Reclaim regurgitates too many cliches and retold yarns to be regarded as reliably realistic in this kidnap double-cross retread. The script is regressive; the dialogue revolting. Cusack was remarkably creepy in his role but was regrettably otherwise terrible as an ersatz conspirator, lacking any credible intelligence, malice or drive. Cusack's attempted resurgence from the 1980s is a remarkable failure and he should be retired. A recrudescent Phillippe repents for prior bad theatrical renderings indifferently with a repeat performance of countless other films. Images of Puerto Rico are resplendent, but otherwise this film is recklessly removed from legal realities (no matter how recherche) in the denouement. Final verdict: reject "Reclaim".

Happily N'ever After
½

"Happily Never After"? Happily, never again! I'd take on the rabid wolf before sitting through this nightmare at grandma's house. Although there are original aspects to the story, this is a predictable and underdeveloped tale with inelegant animation. The voice work is not impressive for any of the actors, except possibly Wallace Shawn, who just has such an interesting voice anyway. The jokes were not clever and the story was bland in its denouement. Having thoroughly bored me within the first 30 minutes, the 87-minute run time seemed overly long.

Match
Match(2015)
½

Patrick Stewart gives a singular performance as a resignedly broken and isolated man in the sunset of his career. Although the story is a bit inauthentic at times, the characters wonderfully portray their individual circumstances of isolation -- some chosen, some imposed, and some not fully realized. "Match" is a poignant film but it may have been better had it broken from its stage roots and allowed the characters to venture out of Tobias' apartment rather than awkwardly fumble through implausible impulses to remain in the same room together.

A Little Chaos

Sumptuous costumes, beautiful locations, and a near-minimalist sound track put in exquisite juxtaposition to a baroque setting are not enough to save this humdrum romance from settling into dullness. Winslet is good, but Schoenaerts looks and comes across like Vladimir Putin at a costume ball. Rickman doesn't quite fit into the elegant surroundings and at times seems like a sovereign lacking confidence for no apparent reason. Methinks the French revolution might have come sooner had The Sun King been as flimsy as Rickman portrays him. The lack of impactful performances may have been influenced by a too-subtle script that the actors simply weren't able to pick up on. There are fine aspects to this film, but it's really not a crowd pleaser.

Cowboys & Aliens

An embarrassment for all involved. I'm rooting for the Indians, in this case.

Insurgent
Insurgent(2015)
½

Can we please send this Insurgent to Guantanamo? Woodley is dreadful. The film is overlong and almost boring. Winslet and Elgort were the only things I liked about this film.

Ex Machina
Ex Machina(2015)

Beautiful cinematography juxtaposed with fantastic CGI makes for am unusually, visually stunning film. Top notch directing by Garland. The weaving together of nature's majesty with technological power was brilliant. Wonderful acting. An original and creepy script. "Ex Machina" is well worth watching for any sci-fi fan.

13 Going on 30

...going on zero. I don't know whether it's more annoying watching a rom-com featuring an an immature main character with attention deficit, or suffering through a preposterous premise that no one even tries to explain. Garner was grating; Ruffalo was almost a prop. There's just not much to like unless you regularly fantasize about falling in love with someone unstable.

God's Not Dead
½

Do casting directors have to go to special agencies to assemble a cast so bereft of talent? This film is probably best appreciated by those who have not been to college and have no need for intellectual conversations with others.

Red Army
Red Army(2015)
½

For those interested in Soviet era hockey, this is a well deserving documentary telling the story from the perspective of the Soviet players. Although it lacks in any serious challenge or criticism, it is still quite informative and enjoyable.

Krull
Krull(1983)
½

Having revisited this film more than 30 years since I last saw it as a boy, I enjoyed "Krull" even more that I did then. The special effects are surprisingly strong for a film made in 1983 (for the most part), and the film score is excellent. Costumes are cheap but effective. The acting is dismal, but you do get to enjoy early performances from the likes of Liam Neeson and Robbie Coltrane. "Krull" is enjoyable as silly, retro fantasy fun.

White House Down

It's nice Hollywood still makes films for the gullible and stupid. No reason intelligent people should have all the fun. Atrocious acting by Gyllenhaal. An embarrassment for Foxx and Woods. Really good sets, special effects and sound, but none of it matters when paired with a ridiculous script and cringe-worthy dialog.

The Homesman
The Homesman(2014)

"The Homesman" is a remarkable western delving into numerous social issues all but ignored by other films of the genre (such as the role of marriage, the church's role in society, women's role in society, and social standing). Very good acting by all players and skilled directing by Jones make this nearly action-free film well worth seeing.

American Sniper
½

Well-directed and at times inspiring, "American Sniper" is a strange blend of Jingoism and a criticism of the violence inflicted on the American side of the Iraqi war. Unfortunately, this lop-sided approach dulls the film's broader message about the effects of war on humanity. Great acting by Cooper and exciting action sequences make the film worth seeing even if the film is a bit overlong.

The Impossible

With wonderful acting, "The Impossible" tells a captivating true story in which survival impulses, society, family ties and human kindness all shine and inspire. This is a very well done film.

'71
'71(2015)

A remarkable and compelling tale of a British soldier left behind rebel lines in a 1970's Northern Ireland rife with corruption and treason. The impact of the violence and extremist views on future generations is artfully and smartly played out making "'71" an effective message flick. Good costumes, sets and very good, engrossing acting by up-and-comer Jack O'Connell make this period film well worth watching.

Beyond The Reach
½

What promises to be a strong suspense story disappoints in delivering as an equally strong conclusion proves to be beyond the reach of the filmmaker. Nevertheless, there is some fine cinematography and decent script writing in the first two thirds of the film. Acting is adequate despite Douglas' at-times hammy performance.

What We Do In The Shadows

A supremely funny reawakening of the mockumentary genre -- with teeth. This sanguinary tale is very clever and surprising. Highly recommended.

Legend
Legend(1985)
½

Fantastic sets, costumes and relatively good acting do not make up for the silliness of the plot in this 1980s teen-boy fantasy flick. It's fun to see Cruise breaking into the major Hollywood ranks, be fore the embarrassing couch-jumping incident, but in the end, it's still Cruise and his skin-deep acting. Marginal fun, but this is one Legend that deserves to be forgotten.

Lucy
Lucy(2014)
½

Enormously entertaining with a spectacular performance by Johnsson and a good performance by Freeman. Good Locations and phenomenal special effects. The movie is just a lot of fun....however.... the story is implausible and unsophisticated. There is no explanation of how a fully functioning mind could control or impact biology or physics. If you can get over the silly, Deus ex machina elements of the story (and there are many), the film still can be a real hoot.

Woman in Gold

Through most of the film, I thought Mirren had simply reprised her role as "The Queen" with a German accent and dowdy frocks. ("Madness of King George", anyone?) Despite that and a too earnest performance by Reynolds, I found this to be a well-done picture and enjoyable picture. The (numerous) flash-back sequences were a bit jarring, but the film had a good story nonetheless. The film is a worthwhile tale.

Maggie
Maggie(2015)

By far, the best, most powerful performance of Schwarzenegger's career. "Maggie" is a gripping tale that puts a human face on -- of all things! -- the zombie genre. Remarkable cinematography and a subtle score make this film an excellent drama. Highly recommended!

Last Knights
Last Knights(2015)

I can understand why these are the last knights. "Last Knights" is a sword and shield tale set in a fantasy world -- although strangely, without any of the cool elements that make fantasy films entertaining. There's action a plenty to keep the teenage boys interested, but the story is a little odd. The plot's unusual meandering isn't any easier to follow when crucial lines are spoken by a handful of actors whose accents are so thick, I had no idea what they were saying. Freeman brought a gravitas to a role that simply couldn't capitalize on it. Owen was great for his role, but Peyman Moaadi as the emperor was completely miscast. "Last Knights" would be my last choice at RedBox on a Friday night.

Guys and Balls
½

A cute and fun German language film that warms the heart but utterly misses any opportunity to develop (or even acknowledge!) the angst of exclusion, loneliness, uncertainty and injustice that motivate the primary aspects of this film. The sports action scenes are much better than most similar LGBT soccer films (e.g., Kickoff), but the team-building aspect of the story is not sufficiently developed. "Guys & Balls" is a pleasant film, but it is not very satisfying.

The Dead Inside

Apparently this film was also released under the title "The Infected" (the title under which I saw it). Sadly, changing the title didn't make this film any better, but at least the new title suggests how sick I felt having watched it. This film is boring and derivative. One doesn't care about the characters, the script is weak, and there's really no reason to finish watching once you've rolled your eyes for the 15th time at the silly dialogue. It's just not very good. Astonishingly, however, I have seen worse horror films, so it's not a one-star in my book.

Seek
Seek(2014)
½

Despite its short length (a mere 76 minutes), "Seek" manages to address a number of difficult questions about relationships and identity. The film is very well-crafted for an indie film, with good acting and an impressive film score by Kevon Cronin. Although points of the story could have been developed more, the crackerjack ending makes any criticism of the script seem trivial. This film is absolutely worth your time even though there are moments that seem to drag at times.

Sophie Scholl: The Final Days

"Sophie Scholl" is a fine German film. Although it is focused on the hunt for, trial and execution of "White Rose" members in Nazi Germany, it is not so much about heroic opposition to Nazism, per se. The film is really about the loss of civil rights for ordinary (non-Jewish) German citizens, an eviscerated rule of law, and the general disintegration of the judicial system in Nazi Germany. This film is a real eye-opener and it is chilling to know much of the story was taken from actual transcripts.

Cinematography, sets/locations, costumes and direction are all good. Sound editing was not impressive. Acting was very good. This film is definitely worth seeing.

The One
The One(2011)

"The One" is a real face-palm of a film. It has all the necessary ingredients of a well done (albeit insubstantial) 4-star indie film -- all ingredients except one: a skilled scriptwriter. Either that, or every character in the movie is supposed to be schizophrenic for some unknown reason.

Characters' motivations seem to turn on a dime. The closeted character is uncomfortable with his sexuality one minute, then seemingly fully comfortable the next, only to instantly regress back to the closet in yet another. In one scene, the closeted character tells his paramour to get out of his life, and then the very next minute when he leaves the apartment, the closeted character is so obsessed he's stalking the paramour and following him to a gay bar, presumably jealous that the paramour might find someone else. It's just nuts! Hence, the "face-palm" at the start of the review.

Unfortunately, "The One" amounts to a string of squandered opportunities. This film would have been (and should have been!) much better, had it a decent script. As it is, it's just a nice-looking time filler.

Jupiter Ascending
½

Oh my. Jupiter ought to have just sat down until she had a good story to tell. The story is strange and forced, albeit with nice special effects. There's little chemistry between Tatum and Kunis. Undoubtedly, this film must be Redmayne's biggest embarrassment since his performancee is so hammy and unnatural, and since it comes on the heals of "The Theory of Everything". "Jupiter Ascending" really is not very worth watching.

Kingsman: The Secret Service
½

Stylish, fun, adventurous and silly, "Kingsman" is an exuberant mix between James Bond and Jason Bourne. There's little of substance and overmuch homage to Bond, but despite these problems, it's still a fun spy film. Colin Firth is marvelously overdone and suave as a Kingsman agent, and up-and-comer Taron Egerton is likable (if not totally convincing!) as the new recruit. "Kingsman" is worth your while in the same way that a James Bond marathon hits the spot on a long Thanksgiving weekend.

Clapham Junction

A disquieting film about the loneliness and desperation of isolation for gay men in a contemporary world at times unaware of, at times gleefully fostering, the discrimination and violence imposed on the gay community -- and the unsuspected visitation of the same in the perpetrators' own families. Haunting, beautiful, terrifying and disgusting in all its facets. Poor cinematography and disjointed story telling, but surprisingly good performances by Luke Treadaway and Joseph Mawle. One cannot help but be disturbed and moved by the injustice -- and at the same time, the victims' own violations -- as they deal in their own ways with being forced to live in the shadows. Despite its weaknesses, this is a very good tale worthy of consideration.

Little Miss Sunshine
½

A nice film about a dysfunctional family with a great script. Funny at times, but definitely original. Alan Arkin gives a great performance.

The Book of Life

Great animation, but a strange story that's not very engaging.

Drink Me
Drink Me(2015)
½

Mediocre acting (although a slightly better performance by Friel) with a bad script, poor continuity, and abysmal directing by Mansfield. There is a story, if you are willing to constantly fill in the gaps with your own imagination, but otherwise, important events come out of nowhere. This film could have been much better with a competent director, but as it is, it's little more than gay soft-core porn with a vampire fetish element. I would not recommend this film to anyone other than Chi Chi LaRue.

Liberace: Behind the Music

Slap-dash garbage. Mediocre acting (albeit with a better than expected Liberace impression of the titular subject). Disjointed, incoherent and just plain bad script. Shockingly few impressive costumes. And the house is one big, anachronistic mish-mash of the Hollywood Hills, Vegas, and Palm Springs houses. Poor makeup and video quality. Unless you knew the Liberace bio before, you won't have any better idea after this mess of a film.

Funny Girl
Funny Girl(1968)

Despite a tight and coherent film score, good singing, and a pleasantly avuncular performance by Pidgeon, "Funny Girl" is a real snoozefest. The only thing you'll find funny about this film is that you can't get your ticket refunded after you fall asleep in the middle of it.

Zombeavers
Zombeavers(2015)
½

A brilliantly funny satire lambasting B horror films, with attentive direction and editing. I loved everything about this truly hilarious horror film, including the songs in the closing credits ("Zombeavers" is absurdly performed in the style of a Sinatra-esque crooner), and even the end credits themselves (which includes a reference to "purple nurples" if you have the tenacity to actually read them). This move is a "must" for any true fan of campy, bad B-grade cinema. Very creative, and very marvelous.

Pitch Perfect
½

Although not as clever, talented or messaged as television's venerable Glee, Pitch Perfect is a pleasant diversion with fine singing and funny, snarky quips. It would have been better if the characters and situations were developed more. Only half of the potentially interesting characters were exhibited enough to generate real interest. I feel as though a lot of the films' potential was squandered. Still, it's solidly fun and entertaining -- just not as much as it could have been.

Just Before I Go

The low critic scores for this film are not deserved, in my opinion. "Just Before I Go" is a completely serviceable rom-com, competently acted and pleasantly entertaining. I see neither ineptitude in the director, nor inordinate raunchiness in the telling (despite a chronically masturbating character!). The film is not clever or innovative, but it also is not bad. I disagree with those who propose "Just Before I Go" has the potential to become a cult classic because there isn't anything truly unique, edgy or shocking about it. It's just a nice film with some off-color humor that tries but comes up short in addressing some serious issues. If I had paid $12 for a ticket to see this film at the theater on date night, I would feel I had gotten my money's worth and exactly what I expected.

Blackhat
Blackhat(2015)
½

The film's story and direction are both perfectly fine, run-of-the-mill, mass market Hollywood action. The problems here are the unconvincing and unheroic Hemsworth in the role of the hero, a typically snotty-for-no-reason Viola Davis setting an inappropriate tone, and some really, really, really stupid situations that should have been reconsidered by the director. However, if you can buy absurdities like men bulldozing their way through a parade with no one noticing, a man violently stabbing two men to death with a screwdriver in the middle of the parade (again!) with no one noticing, and crowds of people fleeing in terror TOWARD gunmen who are opening fire in the middle of a parade, then "Blackhat" may be a wonderful film for you. For the rest of us, we may need to work particularly hard to suspend disbelief if we are to enjoy this film.

The Devil Wears Prada

"The Devil Wears Prada" is a thoroughly enjoyable film with many quotable lines for the inner b!tch. Although it may not be particularly impressive from the perspective of script, character development or insight, for my money, the film features Meryl Streep's most enjoyable role as a shallow, Machiavellian ice queen. Brava, Meryl! Brava!

Kidnapping Mr. Heineken
½

"Kidnapping Mr. Heineken" is better than the critics' score suggests. The critics are right -- this film has a few issues. Kwanten's "English accent" sounds like Eliza Doolittle's closing night performance from the Rappahannock Community Theater troupe, but then again, how appropriate is an English accent on a blue collar Dutch criminal character in the first place? There's not enough action for a heist picture, but then again, this is a kidnapping picture -- not a heist picture, and by nature a hunker-down-and-hide kidnapping story will always be more static. Hopkins is a bit lackluster in his role, but as ceaselessly fascinating as it would have been to have him reprise his role as the imprisoned Hannibal Lector, it would have been inappropriate for the role of an aging, kidnapped Dutch beer mogul. All in all, "Kidnapping Mr. Heineken" is a perfectly good kidnapping tale with thoughtful costumes, good sets and locations, and decent writing.

Mr. Turner
Mr. Turner(2014)
½

The portrait painted of the artist in "Mr. Turner" is as muddled and murky as his paintings were perceived to be by Victorian London. Despite exceptional costumes, sets and locations, despite very good acting, and despite a sublime soundtrack, "Mr. Turner" is a complete failure of storytelling. Turner's motives are never explained other than that he is a fading star whose avant-garde work is not appreciated (although that is not a clear motivation in his relationships since his mistreatment of women seems to far predate his fall from the artistic firmament). Is he a misogynist who rapes and abandons the women in his life and who has merely moved on to the next? Or does he love the women in his life but feels he must hurt and deceive them in order to protect them (...from WHAT?)? The unanswered questions are legion and should not be mistaken for subtle script writing where clues supporting either conclusion are placed throughout the film. There are no clues, and any conclusions drawn by the audience are necessarily based on pure speculation. "Mr. Turner" should have been a five-star film, but the lack of a discernible story leaves the film a mere period atmosphere piece with no compelling reason to see it.

A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night

Brilliantly shot in black and white, "A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night" is an impressive film playing less on black-and-white morality than on the many shades of gray inhabiting that black-and-white world. The film has great cinematography and Sheila Vand delivers a haunting performance as the vampire. It is a cool, edgy and intelligent re-imagining of the vampire genre, reminding me in many ways of "Kiss of The Damned" (2013). It's well worth watching if you are willing to see a dramatic, character-driven vampire movie that plays down the traditional horror and gore.

Sunset Boulevard

Deliciously over-the-top with a satisfyingly dark turn -- and a hunky, young William Holden to boot! What's not to love? It's also great to see an at-times-unrecognizable bit of LA from 60+ years ago.

The Art of Being Straight
½

With surprisingly good acting and a smart script, The Art of Being Straight takes a nuanced approach to young adults' struggles with sexuality issues. The film failed to significantly grapple with issues of how the other people in the characters' lives might react and the impact of that reaction, which is unfortunate because it leaves the film feeling incomplete. Nevertheless, the film is funny, intelligent and well worth watching.

Kickoff
Kickoff(2010)

Even though the story is set on a soccer pitch, "Kickoff" does not have much to do with sport -- but it is fun. There are moments of humor and the character played by Rikki Beadle Blair is fabulous. None of the other characters really seem to connect, and the dramatic situations confronted by the characters throughout the film are too underdeveloped for the audience to care much about. "Kickoff" exudes low-budget amateurishness, albeit in a way that is still charming. It's a nice film, if not a particularly good one.

Poster Boy
Poster Boy(2006)

Sadly, the poster is the best thing about this movie. Low quality film, awful lighting, unappealing characters and almost nonexistent sound editing make this film hard to watch. The film thinks it's more profound than it is and comes off like the brainiac you knew in junior high lecturing you for 90-plus minutes on his thoughts about unremarkable topics.

Austenland
Austenland(2013)
½

This film is a lot of fun for the inner geek/romantic. Russell doesn't quite gel for as a character smitten with Jane Austin and Coolidge, while funny, is a bit too forced and frequent to sit right. JJ Feild is marvelous for his role. The plot doesn't quite make sense, but it's all good fun and thoroughly enjoyable.

Hot Guys With Guns

Gurrrrrl....this ain't a movie to show your momma! Very funny with merely adequate acting but produced well. An absolutely smutty plot that's embarrassingly stereotyped but fun. I'd recommend the film to an LGBT audience, but otherwise....gurrrrl.....

Auntie Mame
Auntie Mame(1958)

"Auntie Mame" is the funniest movie to come out of the 1950's. It's far funnier (and frankly, far better) than the Lucile Ball musical remake, "Mame", but it's nowhere near as charming. Despite its anachronistic set elements and its offensive stereotyping, "Auntie Mame" is a brilliant film and an absolute classic.

Mansome
Mansome(2012)
½

Although the male grooming topic is potentially intriguing (including mustache obsessions, metrosexuals, and competitive beard growing), there is no real focus through the divergent subtopics. Told with humor and a bit of satirized machismo, the documentary is lighthearted and does not offer any significant insight into deeper issues such as male insecurities with body image or cultural pressures on the modern American man. It's pure fluff: light, pleasant and unmemorable. As a "documentary", it's flimsy and undeserving.

Avengers Grimm
½

Wow. Grim, indeed.

The acting is atrocious. Ferrigno and relatively unknown actor Nemes were the best performers of the bunch. Van Dien has the skill and delivery of William Shatner which wasn't remotely appropriate for his role. The sets and/or script were not thought out clearly -- for example, the "Mirror, mirror on the wall" is not, in fact, on the wall -- which is painfully obvious during the recitation of the famous incantation.

Locations were overused with lazy camera work. The opening scene's fairlyland throne room is shot in the de-consecrated St. Vibiana's Cathedral in downtown Los Angeles, which has since been turned into an event venue for public hire. Camera angles are needlessly shot upward repeatedly showing the event lighting machines in the rafters, utterly destroying the illusion of fairlyland. Poor attention to detail by the director.

On the other hand, the story is innovative and interesting, even if the dialogue is stupid. The lighting is fascinating throughout, although that may be more by happenstance than design. The use of CGI was impressive for what appears to be a small budget film. And it is nice to see Dylan Vox involved in a project that doesn't boarder on porn or late night Logo fare.

For a junk movie, it's pretty well done -- but it's still firmly in the "junk" movie category.

Silkwood
Silkwood(1983)

"Silkwood" may not be particularly suspenseful, but its portrayal of extraordinary bravery from an ordinary woman does leave an impression. Tons of young, budding stars fill out the cast although their full range of skills has yet to develop. That having been said, it's the best bit of acting I can recall seeing from Kurt Russell. Cher's complete lack of glamour or pretense struck me as unusually authentic. It's worth seeing if for no other reason than reminding yourself how little things seem to change over the years.

Annie
Annie(1982)

Delightful, family-friendly film with fun songs and story. Sure, the characters are all caricatures and the film lacks direction and substance, but that's part of the charm. A nice bit of nostalgia made even sweeter by the 2014 re-make disaster.

Knights of Badassdom

This film had such marvelous potential to satirize and lampoon, but it really didn't measure up. There are funny moments in the film, but few of the jokes were particularly clever. The story is more silliness than satire, which is a mistake for this type of geek-targeted film. Special effects and makeup were moderate-to-low budget.

As for acting, Zahn and Simpson were the only good performers. Kwanten seemed to be reprising his "True Blood" role as Jason Stackhouse with geeky friends. Dinklage is given no opportunity to showcase his abilities. (I would have loved to see Dinklage turn in an overly dramatic, high fantasy performance in the style of "Game of Thrones", playing a truly dedicated fantasy geek on a damn-the-world holiday. Alas! The Fates decreed otherwise -- Dinklange's character was nondescript and could have been played by almost any Joe Schmoe.)

Overall, the film was a bit funny but its potential was sorely unfulfilled.

The Imitation Game

Brilliant acting, costumes, and script. Cumberbatch, Knightly and Dance are exceptionally good, as ever. Although the frequent time-hopping in the film can initially be difficult to follow, in the end, there are very solid reasons the story is so presented, to an impactful effect.

After seeing the film and discussing it with others, I was surprised to learn how few people knew the heroic and tragic tale of the man who essentially invented computers and won The War against Germany. This film is a fitting vehicle to introduce that history to new generations, with a story that is monumental without being heavy handed or Jingoistic.

Interstellar
Interstellar(2014)

A thrilling and cerebral space exploration adventure that does not shy away from difficult scientific theories as an integral part of the story. As intimidating as that might sound, the ideas are explained adequately and in brief, simple terms. Despite all the science, its real emphasis is on philosophy and humanity. Great special effects and cinematography with good performances. And who wouldn't love seeing Anne Hathaway do her thing in a space suit? See it!

The Circle
The Circle(2014)

"The Circle" was Switzerland's entry for the Academy Awards' Best Foreign Language category, and it measures up as a fine film. The film is a dramatized documentary about the first legally recognized same-sex couple in Switzerland. Although the acting and production values are akin to BBC productions, one gets lost in the world of shame, fear and suspicion that surrounded the gay community in 1950's postwar Europe. It's really a compelling time capsule that's worthwhile to experience.

Meet The Mormons

"Meet the Mormons" offers almost no insight into Mormonism and plays like an infomercial. Unless you're a Mormon who just wants to feel you're special because a movie was made about people like you, this film has almost no value.

Unbroken
Unbroken(2014)
½

"Unbroken" is a very well made film but it lacks the emotional heft one would expect. Zamperini is presented almost as a hapless, regular Joe to whom bad things randomly happen, and the primary strategy he seems to employ in the prison camps is not drawing attention to himself and not provoking his tormentors (a strategy seemingly at odds with the scenes shown from his childhood as a brash hoodlum and competitor). Very little attention is paid to showing the internal strength that got him through these terrible times. Since that internal strength is really what makes the story interesting, the film comes across as a lukewarm portrait of an everyday hero and is not very inspirational.

Exodus: Gods and Kings
½

Spectacular cinematography and CGI, with a daringly unconventional performance by Christian Bale. This is an fantastic and fresh retelling of a well-worn story. If you're looking for biblical fidelity or a romanticized version of Old Testament characters, this isn't likely to be a film you'd enjoy. However, if you're looking for an exciting period action movie with characters acting like real people rather than idealistic martyrs, "Exodus: Gods and Kings" is miraculous.

Pioneer
Pioneer(2014)
½

Despite Lang and Bentley being in the film, be forewarned -- the film is at least 75% in Norwegian with English language lines thrown in for atmosphere. This is not even close to Bentley's best work, although he's not really given an opportunity to shine. The acting is a bit above average, but nothing is noteworthy. The premise of the film should have spawned a more suspenseful story, and it likely would have in the hands of a different director. As it is, the film is only marginally more exciting than a slow-burn LeCarre film. The film's good, but its potential has been squandered.

The Dark Crystal

Fantastic puppetry with a charming and well-executed fantasy universe. The voice acting is quite good as well. On the other hand, the story is flat and the characters lack any depth whatsoever. All in all, an entertaining adventure story.

Hackers
Hackers(1995)
½

Despite having a number of now-famous actors in it, Hackers is one of their earlier films and the acting is -- well, a hack job. Despite the bad makeup, there is nothing one can do to make a group of young twenty-somethings pass for 16 and 17 year old high school students -- nor did I see the point of setting the film in a high school. University students would have been more credible. The story is a bit stupid and it relies on an early home-PC audience not being very sophisticated in technology matters. (Some viewers may find this aspect of the film both nostalgic and hilarious -- who am I to judge?) Costumes were puzzling and distracting in their "edginess". (If that was even the goal?) The film is from 1995, but it had the 80's trash studio junk vibe. Still, it's a marginally fun movie that could be worth watching if you have nothing better to do or you're feeling too lazy to change the channel.

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1

How many movies can you say you've seen where Liam Hemsworth is the best actor? This might be one of them. The acting is really dull in this film, with its somewhat exciting (and somewhat stupid) script. District 13 ain't the only thing that's revolting in this film.

Foxcatcher
Foxcatcher(2014)

Carell is excellent in "Foxcatcher", creating tension and putting us in an uneasy place by his out-of-place timing, reactions and cadences. He's downright creepy! Ruffalo and Tatum also were very strong performers. Great cinematography and atmosphere make up for a slow script, which is really more character driven than event driven. "Foxcatcher" is a very well done film worth seeing.

Snails in the Rain
½

An interesting and disquieting film touching on issues of sexuality, loneliness. shame, uncertainty and manhood. The acting is good but the story and characters could have been deeper. Plus, there's some real eye candy, making the film definitely worth watching once.

On the other hand, costumes were uncommonly lazy. I don't know how many scenes the lead was in where he supposedly came home at the end of the day with shirts on that still showed the creasing from the packaging. Come on! Get an iron and make an effort!

Whiplash
Whiplash(2014)

A superb film all around. Acting was excellent. Story was excellent. Cinematography was excellent. Who knew that a film about a drummer could be so intense and have me on the edge of my seat, holding my breath? "Whiplash" is an awesome experience.

Dorian Blues
Dorian Blues(2005)

Low-budget with decent acting and a pleasant script. It's nice that a light hand was applied to a film that could have been overwrought.

Love Or Whatever

Quite well done for a gay/lesbian themed rom-com. The film has a competent script and is lightly amusing, like most rom-coms. Poelle was likable as a gay cross between Seth Meyers and Matthew Perry.

Birdman
Birdman(2014)

Birdman has some of the best directing I have seen in a long time. Acting was great throughout (although I'm not convinced entirely about Galifianakis). Keaton's performance was superb and in a year when he wasn't up against Redmayne's Hawking, I have no doubt he would have won an Academy Award. Wonderful film editing and great effects. Spectacularly edgy soundtrack. The film is quirky, funny, profound and moving. The only reason I can find that someone might not to like this film is that it would be strange and confusing if you view the film literally rather than understanding that some of it depicts internal events rather than external ones. It won the Academy Award for best picture and director... and it definitely deserved it even in a year with so many quality films.

The Theory of Everything

It's pretty much mandatory that you see a movie that has both Eddie Redmayne and Charlie Cox in it, so I'm not sure a review is necessary. Obviously, the acting is wonderful throughout the film, and Redmayne's physical acting is legendary. Good costumes, great music and cinematography. Much like Professor Hawking (the subject of the movie), this film is beyond compare.

Predestination
½

A real mind bender of a sci-fi flick. The story is effectively told (which is an achievement because it could have been presented in a much more confusing manner). Although the story is intriguing, it ultimately is illogical and may leave you unsatisfied in the end. The film's nice to look at and done technically well. It's probably worth your time if you're looking for your Ethan Hawke fix.

Hotel Rwanda
Hotel Rwanda(2004)

The film is powerful and moving, but that's got more to do with knowing the horrible events actually took place -- not because of anything special about the film making (other than possibly Cheadle's understated Paul). Cheadle's acting was exceptional, and everyone else was good with the notable exception of Nolte who played his role as if he were a caricature of a gruff-but-lovable military careerist. It's worth seeing to remind yourself that this genocide really happened and the rest of the world really didn't care that much.

My Brother The Devil

An excellent film exploring issues of family, religion, culture, sexuality, poverty and what it means to be a man in challenging circumstances. Great direction and an excellent performance by James Floyd. Highly recommended.

The Judge
The Judge(2014)

"The Judge" is a decent film. Although Duvall gave a typically good performance, I don't think it was quite worthy of an Academy Award nomination. Duvall's character's motivations are unbelievable, or at least their complexities are not adequately explained or conveyed. Downey Jr.'s choice to play the prodigal son in an unregulated, manic manner was appropriate for the role although it was also unnecessary. Biily Bob Thornton's portrayal of an unctuous, ill-motivated prosecutor was absolutely delightful although unnecessary because his character really isn't doing anything shady or underhanded. In short, the characters and story were good, but the film might have been more effective if different choices had been made by (or for) the actors.

Stalingrad
Stalingrad(2014)
½

Despite its good CGI and and epic feel, much of "Stalingrad" has a strange made-for-TV quality. The script is unsophisticated and dull, with very little actually happening that might measure up to the historical siege of the benighted city. Make no mistake -- this film does little to shed any light on the historic events of World War II. Moreover, the script is so full of empty Russian bravado and propaganda one wonders if Vladimir Putin had a hand in writing it. The people watching at my house actually guffawed several times during some of the more over-the-top/revisionist "dramatic" lines delivered by the actors. The actors on screen seemed almost adequate, but the voice acting on the dubbed English version is atrocious with every character sounding the same and completely devoid of any feeling.

If the Nazis lobbed as many duds at Stalingrad as were lobbed by the actors in this film, I doubt there would have been a siege at all. "Enemy At The Gates" (2001) is a much better film in most every respect if you'd like to see a good Stalingrad war film.

John Wick
John Wick(2014)
½

John Wick" is the movie that Denzel Washington's "The Equalizer" should have been -- well paced, coherent, and exciting. Although his line delivery is still somewhat weak, Keanu Reeves appears to have taken some acting lessons. Reeves actually engages the audience in the story rather than becoming a distraction. Kudos to Reeves. This film is quite enjoyable even if it is excessive in its violence.

Lore
Lore(2013)

A fascinating look at the family of a Nazi officer after suffering defeat in 1945, and difficulty they and their countrymen have in grappling with a shattered world view. Beautifully filmed with a haunting performance by Rosendahl as she is forced from her cocoon of Nazi idealism and privilege into a world of privation, death and chaos. Excellently directed, "Lore" is a stunning and thought-provoking experience in a way different from any other World War II films I have seen. Highly recommended.

Horns
Horns(2014)

Delightful, funny and quirky -- with a mystery to boot. Radcliffe does a good job showing he has range beyond Harry Potter. It's a nice, strange diversion for a slow Saturday night.

My Beautiful Laundrette

I have seen this film on several "100 Best Films" lists (well, for sub-genres), but I just don't get it. Other than having progressive social messages, there's little that keeps the film from being a complete washout. The acting is not impressive -- and indeed, the main star (Warnecke) has an impenetrable, silly smile for no reason throughout the film, even when a smile is completely out of synch with what's going on around him. The cinematography, editing, sound and everything else technical sinks to the level of your typical 1980's "B movie". Even the opening credits are ineffective novelties, with titles spinning around like they're going down the drain with the rest of the movie. And the writing! Nothing is adequately explained other than the point that both Pakistani immigrants and blue collar street toughs perceive themselves to be disadvantaged by each other. Romances and sexuality issues come out of nowhere and subsequently disappear without even seeming to register on Warnecke's silly grin. I wouldn't recommend this movie to anyone other than film historians who care about its influence on 1980's British cinema because it sure ain't enjoyable otherwise.

Fury
Fury(2014)

For such a compelling story, this should have been a more compelling film. One is left with the question of "what is the point of it all?" Steeped with two-dimensional, swaggering bravado, the only character that develops at all throughout the film develops in a way that isn't particularly sympathetic and in a way that seems at odds with the tenor of the film. Does this film glorify war and heroic last stands, or does it depict war as the devourer of innocence and idealism? The message of the film is lost in the fog of war, which is really inexcusable.

Despite this essential weakness, it might still be said that the film has good costumes, lighting, editing, locations and makeup. Lerman's performance is the only noticeably good one -- the rest of the ensemble delivers the performance of a slightly overdone ham. The story is lightly entertaining, but the director really seems to have lost his focus. On balance, "Fury" is an acceptable film but its nowhere near the film it should be and will not go down in the history books as a great war film.

Dracula Untold
½

As a horror flick, this Dracula is toothless, earning two stars at best. The strange absence of blood from a vampire/war film renders the experience anemic. I also don't get the point of making a film that portrays pre-vampire Dracula as sympathetic and heroic -- and I certainly don't understand why a plot point would focus on Dracula's apparent ability to control his blood-lust or to sacrifice vampiric interests in favor of human ones -- that is, unless the studio hoped to turn this "Dracula" into a hero vampire in the mold of Wesley Snipe's Blade.

Despite these problems, approaching the film as an action film, it's actually quite enjoyable. The costumes and CGI are very good, and Evans and Dance deliverer very good performances (for an action/horror film), although the same cannot be said for Gadon and Murtagh, both of whom are merely adequate. There are some script problems, of course, which border on the absurd. For example, Dracula will single-handedly take on 1000 attacking soldiers, who all apparently stop their castle attack/charge to gather 'round and watch themselves be picked off one by one -- and during this process (which must have been over an hour or so, given Dracula's slaughter pace), none of the soldiers defending the castle seem to notice, because they only come charging out the gates (looking baffled) after Dracula has slain the entire attacking army!

If you can put up with silly writing, you aren't in the mood for a horror film, and you just want a mindless action movie, I would recommend this film. But now the true test: if there's a sequel made, I'll buy a ticket.

Good Bye, Lenin!
½

This film is billed as "hysterically historical". I found the film did not live up to that billing or the potential afforded by the film's concept. To me, the film was more a family drama come bildungsroman with occasional moments of light humor. It is acted well, with good sets and costumes. I enjoyed the film, but only once I abandoned my expectation of humor.

Hollywood to Dollywood
½

Less fun than the premise would suggest, "Hollywood To Dollywood" is a narcissistic road trip lacking focus...and soon runs out of gas. Filmed on low quality film (video tape) and lacking professional lighting, the project is difficult to enjoy. Although the subjects of the documentary are likable, at times the film seemed to be part southern gay bar travel guide and part therapy session. I don't know how many times the Lane Brothers declared that their mother must accept them as they are if she wants to be a part of their life, but the frequent proclamation was made tedious by the brothers' apparent inability to grow past their acceptance issues throughout the course of the film. In the first quarter of the film, award-winning screenwriter Dustin Lance Black comments that the script the brothers want to deliver to Dolly Parton is overlong and lacks focus. That critique applies equally to their contemporaneous documentary. Nevertheless, there were several instances in the film that provided insight into the culture of the Bible Belt and LGBT people's place in that culture, and that makes the film somewhat worth seeing.

Life Itself
Life Itself(2014)

A wonderful depiction of a man we thought of as the slightly grumpy uncle who visits our homes each week -- with his warts and all. The film was informative with great access to the people who could best tell us about Roger Ebert's life and person. Ebert and his family showed unflagging honesty and strength, even about the most painful and personal issues the audience might want to know about. The director has a talent for obtaining exceptionally personal stories and candid remembrances from those who knew him -- something I doubt many filmmakers could have achieved, and the reason this documentary is worth 5 stars. It may have been his final curtain call, but damn! What a show Ebert gave us.

Love Is Strange

A heartbreaking, inspiring and timely depiction of family, love and relationships in myriad forms. Understated but powerful performances, delivered with dignity and all the failings humankind is subject to, reflecting the often unforeseen human costs of injustice. A superb family drama. This film shows that love is not as strange as the the people who love -- or as beautiful.

The Boxtrolls

Spectacular, humorous and touching. There is nothing I would change about this film. Thoroughly enjoyable for kids and adults alike.

300: Rise of an Empire
½

Not as visually impressive as the first "300" film, but it is still quite nice. The acting is rather poor and passionless with the sole exception of Eva Green who plays her roll of a an evil warrior temptress to the hilt. The story is coherent and somewhat entertaining, but not really as epic as history would have allowed.

Southern Baptist Sissies

For some reason, I had been expecting a comedy musical in the style of The Book of Mormon. Boy -- was I wrong! This is a serious play (with many comedic moments) about the isolation of gays in society and injustice imposed by religion. It is undoubtedly the most effective translation of a live play to film that I have ever seen, and for that, the director gets big points. Although I was slow to warm to it, I did eventually become invested in the characters and was moved nearly to tears by the end. It has an excellent script with some very fine acting, particularly from the veteran actors. I recommend this film to those who are not uncomfortable with challenging their beliefs, culture and religion.

Margaret
Margaret(2011)

Margaret is an excellent film. The director has tackled a gritty and challenging subject with an exquisite eye to detail. The performances by Anna Paquin and J. Smith-Cameron are superb. There are some flaws such as minor story lines that seem to have no purpose or simply vanish, but those flaws are not enough to detract from the impact of the drama. For those who are not willing to wallow in the drama and who don't relish fine performances, Margaret will undoubtedly seem slow and uninteresting. However, for those who are willing and do so relish (I watched the extended edition at more than 3 hrs.), this is an excellent film despite its minor flaws.

To Be Takei
To Be Takei(2014)

A well done documentary with all the humor, candidness and dignity you'd expect from Takei himself. Great access to the man and those who know him.

Stonehearst Asylum

For once, a decent cinematic telling of an Edgar Allan Poe story! This film is by no means perfect, and Ben Kingsley seems to have dialed-in his performance, but it is still put together well. Great costumes, good lighting and editing, good script writing and enjoyable performances by Caine and Beckinsale. Recommended for a night of light suspense.

The Equalizer

You'd better know the back story to "The Equalizer" before going in, cuz it sure as heck ain't ever explained. The film has more plot holes and loose ends than the considerable number of bodies racked up by the end of the film. For example: the director makes a concerted effort to convey the idea that the titular star has insomnia -- a fact that figures NOWHERE into the plot or the abilities of the character. Characters perish by ambiguous means and for unclear motives. Aid is provided by a character professing an inability to access help, yet delivering the requested aid in spades without any clear motivation or ability. It's a total mess of a script! And to top it off, the first 45 minutes of the film are slow and almost devoid of any action whatsoever. However, in the second part of the film, the pace picks up quite gratifyingly and it becomes a humdinger of an action flick, filmed with slickness and a certain breathlessness at times. Marton Csokas is menacing and delivers and excellent performance. Overall, had the film skipped the first 45 minutes and used the time to explain the back story and character motivations, I would have rated this film as a 4 and a half star movie. In my view, one really needs to be a fan who already knows the characters in order to really enjoy the story.

Left Behind
Left Behind(2014)

If I were God, I'd have left Nicholas Cage behind long, long ago. Hopefully this inept film will be lost before Judgment Day.

Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead

Not informative, not entertaining, and not even in good taste. This "documentary" is nothing but self-promotion, self-aggrandizement and cynically commercial without offering any insight beyond "Americans eat poorly". However, if you enjoy chatting with people on a diet about how much fatter you are than them, or if you relish the awkwardness of seeing someone on a diet tell a man sitting next to his son at a greasy spoon diner that he'd rather be on a juice diet than die and abandon his children, then you might like this insufferable film. On the other hand, if you want to learn something other than how highly the filmmaker thinks of his own weight loss accomplishments, I would find almost anything else to watch.

Gabriel
Gabriel(2007)
½

Watchable, with great CGI, but not entirely well scripted. Although he's not overwhelmingly good, Andy Whitfield is good enough to make one wonder what might have been had he been given more time on earth.

If I Stay
If I Stay(2014)
½

"If I Stay" lacks the emotional punch that should have been easily in reach, given the story line. Moretz just wasn't able to muster more drama in her performance than one might expect from a "7th Heaven" season finale. Moreover, the various "should I stay?" questions seemed like foregone conclusions until the very end of the film. Although Keach and Enos turned in good performances, and Moretz did a spectacular job playing the cello (or acting like she was playing it -- I couldn't tell!), there was little else to recommend this film. I found the only real tragedy in the film was in its lost potential.

The Maze Runner
½

It's "The Hunger Games" mixed with "Lord of The Files"... except that any message it might have is missing due to the open-ended and unsatisfying conclusion. For those like me who have not read the books, you will feel frustrated by the lack of answers or clear hints about where it's all going. Nevertheless, the film was exciting at times, it's set in an intriguing world I'd like to know more about, and I found Dylan O'Brien's quite likable.

The Skeleton Twins
½

A moving film dealing with heavy, dark issues. I was surprised that Wiig, Hader and Burrell all broke out of their comedy boxes so ready for drama. Sadly, this film may have been just a bridge too far even for these skillful comedians: the issues were a bit too heavy to be handled expertly by these otherwise capable stars (with the exception of Ty Burrell, who was excellent for his role). Given the unpleasant subject matter and the overreaching of the cast, I didn't find the film as compelling as many other reviewers. Still, it is a very good film -- just not on my "Best Films of 2014" list.

Advise and Consent

A brilliant examination of American politics, blind hypocrisy, idealism, and self-interest. For my money, it's one of Don Murray's finest performances. The sets and locations are excellent, and as best as I can tell, at least some are authentic. (The film's trailer indicates that certain scenes were actually filmed in a real senate committee room!) Altogether, an excellent and exciting film.

Clash of the Titans

Fabulous special effects. They alone make the movie worth seeing. The story, on the other hand, is a bit hard to follow and contrived.

Strangers with Candy
½

Hilarious in a Tracy Ulman kind of way...only better. I laughed often and heartily at this over-the-top, crazy comedy.

The Shoes of the Fisherman
½

You won't find better costumes or locations/sets from 1960s movies -- although the film is a bit more dated than your average 60's flick.

Into the Woods

"Into the Woods" is a musical fairy tale told as an exceedingly long, run-on sentence. Although the performances were adequate and the film allowed grander visuals than might be possible on the stage, the director was unable to sustain any interesting elements throughout the film. Being in the audience to watch these characters sally into the woods was more of a predicament than an experience.

Pride
Pride(2014)
½

Pride manages to make a bleak situation (in which mine workers were crushed by The Iron Lady) into a heartwarming and hopeful tale of social cooperation and empathy. Bill Nighy and Paddy Considine gave particularly enjoyable performances as dignified but struggling members of a mining community. If I had to describe this film in one word, it would be "uplifting".

Rise of the Guardians

Although the animation was good and the story was certainly out of the box, I found its portrayals of beloved figures rather disconcerting. Who can warm up to a grumpy Russian Santa Claus who beats up the competition? Or a nasty, iconoclastic Easter bunny? It's just not a "fun" holiday film in my eyes, and seems to try too hard at being edgy.

Make the Yuletide Gay
½

Although there are no really good performances, this film is surprisingly charming and witty. Even if it won't become a holiday tradition, I'd recommend seeing it once.

Arthur Christmas

Humor, wit and humanity abound in this bright Christmas gem. It's a wonderfully innovative Christmas story with fantastic animation and great voice talent. I found it quite enjoyable.

A Most Wanted Man
½

Although slow and understated, A Most Wanted Man creates suspense with a new threat in a worn out world of bureaucracy and burn out. Hoffman and McAdams are marvelous.

About Time
About Time(2013)

Not your typical romcom, relying on a time travel fantasy element. This film is well acted and charming, with a surprisingly profound message. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

The Interview

OK -- so it's a stupid, sophomoric, frat-boy movie. Definitely not for the most discerning viewers. However, for a stupid, sophomoric, etc., movie, it's actually done well. Franco seems gratingly over-the-top at times, although in the end, his performance was well-suited for the role. Indeed, the entire cast did an adequate job, with interesting nuance from Park. If you saw this movie for a political reason, be satisfied that simply watching it satisfied your goal -- good or not...and it brought basic awareness of the regime's brutality to the masses. No need to think much further about the ramifications of this basic conveyance film.

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

Peter Jackson is really beating a dead horse when it comes to the final (one too many, if you ask me!) installment of the Hobbit. As always, the visuals are impressive and the script is well-written, but there's nothing new or exciting about the film. After 3 Lord of the Rings films, and after two previous Hobbit installments, the entire third Hobbit film felt like it could have been made from cut footage from the prior films. I was, quite frankly, bored after the first 15 minutes (which completed the Smaug story). The rest of the film was just one slow slog toward the main event -- which was no surprise given the subtitle "Battle of the Five Armies". As wonderful as the Hobbit/LOTR saga is, I must reluctantly admit I'm glad we've reached the conclusion.

Prep & Landing

Great animation with a fresh and fun story. The voice acting was pretty good too. It's definitely worth a peek during the Christmas season.

Kirk Cameron's Saving Christmas

Un-Christian in the worst, most commercial way. Maybe Santa can buy the scriptwriter some writing classes for Christmas?

Vampire Academy

The banter and back-story may be a bit too hastily presented to be entirely effective, but I still found the film entertaining and surprisingly funny.

Guardians of the Galaxy

A talking racoon? A super-human tree? Despite what would appear to be an absurd story, this film is actually quite entertaining.

The Hundred-Foot Journey
½

A wonderfully executed and heartwarming film with good performances. However, there were still some issues I had with the film: the "artistic" use of natural light was about a subtle as a jar of garam masala -- even to the point of being distracting. And strangely, the racial tensions were not sufficiently developed and seemed to suddenly vanish as soon as the issue was employed as a disturbing plot point. (It seemed odd that racial issues could have been a substantial consideration for some almost-never-seen townsfolk, yet those issues merited almost no discussion in the two main romantic relationships or in the Parisian developments!) Despite its problems, the film is charming and well worth seeing.

Hot Coffee
Hot Coffee(2011)
½

Quite informative and interesting. It shows plainly how the public has often been deceived into distrust of the judicial system and how politicians' "fixes" to the system have resulted in injustice to the populace.

Another Cinderella Story
½

One would think that a casting director for a film about dancing might want to hire actors who could act and dance. Not so, in this flimsy, straight-to-video dud. Although Jane Lynch has some enjoyable moments as the wicked stepmother, there's almost nothing recognizably "Cinderella" about this bit of teenage cotton candy. The story is thin and the characters far too shallow to maintain any interest. The film could have easily been entitled "Another Sleeping Beauty Story" because it will almost certainly put the audience into a deep, long snooze.

Ragnarok
Ragnarok(2014)
½

Exciting and well put together adventure story from Norway. Solid direction and strong script writing (for the genre). Commendable performances by Pål Sverre Hagen and Nicolai Cleve Broch -- and even decent performances by the child actors. It's a thoroughly enjoyable film.

The Nut Job
The Nut Job(2014)
½

The story idea is good, but the characters are unsympathetic and usually underdeveloped. The images are high quality, but there's a constant lack of naturalism in the movement of the characters -- so in that sense, it's poorly animated. Mostly good voice acting (except for whoever plays the dog -- totally unconvincing).

The Croods
The Croods(2013)

Inventive, fun (in a cute way) and well done -- but not compelling.

Talhotblond
Talhotblond(2009)
½

There will be no surprises for anyone paying attention to narration and structure, but I suppose it may be shocking to others who are not paying attention to such things. Great access to important subjects/witnesses and presented clearly and linearly. A well designed documentary.

Money Train
Money Train(1995)
½

Oh my. Why even think about it? It stars Wesley Snipes and Woody Harrelson. How could it be worth seeing?

The Unbelievers
½

This film did not really provide any significant insights into the subjects or their movement. I was a bit disappointed.

The Scarlet and the Black
½

A great history lesson with fantastic sets. Gregory Pack is a little underwhelming and cliche, but still powerful in his role. Nice work by Plummer. Good costumes. It's really exceptionally well put together for a made-for-TV film.

The Cardinal
The Cardinal(1963)

A very good film that takes on a number of difficult topics -- possibly too many. One of Preminger's best, if underrated, films, with a strong performance by Tryon.

Odd Thomas
Odd Thomas(2014)
½

Fun, mildly exciting and surprisingly moving for a film that seems like it would be half-baked. It's certainly fun to watch and worthwhile. Nice CGI special effects.

Pageant
Pageant(2008)

Illuminating -- not just the kitsch one might expect. A worthwhile exploration of the people who compete in drag beauty contests.

America: Imagine the World Without Her

Really not a movie for smart or inquisitive people.

Xanadu
Xanadu(1980)

Deliciously bad and campy. An absolute delight!

The Brotherhood

OMG. Where should I start? This film is horrible, but in a campy and amusing way. The writing and editing are horrendous. (E.g., a character suggests they leave a party to "go get coffee", and in the next scene, asks her date where he could have possibly found coffee at that hour. (!?!)) Terrible acting. The nature of the "brotherhood" isn't really explained although they don't seem to be vampires. Supernatural powers seem to be ad hoc. But it's so stupid, it's also kinda fun!

Eulogy for a Vampire

Really, really, really bad film making. The film is of a poor quality rarely seen. The director does not seem to realize that a scene can change without requiring an establishing shot -- actually, virtually the same establishing shot every time, showing the steeple of a church -- which is completely unnecessary because the ENTIRE STORY happens in the same monastery, so no one in the audience is likely to be asking, "Where are they now?" The makeup and special effects (i.e., "blood") look like things my sister and I did at Halloween when we were 10 years old. The acting? -- someone really raised the dead to cast this horror flick! Nevertheless, the story was slightly coherent and diverting, saving the film from a 1/2 star rating.

Test
Test(2014)

Really well-acted with incredible dance scenes. It tells the story of the AIDS epidemic from a different perspective: that of a real, everyday gay person who isn't already an activist or infected. The fear is real, but it's not all-consuming. Really, a worthwhile film.

X-Men: Days of Future Past

Michael Fassbender is fantastic. And the film's pretty good too!

John Waters: This Filthy World

Mildly amusing at first, but picks up the humor in the last half.

Draft Day
Draft Day(2014)
½

One of the rare films where Costner's understated and wooden persona is actually effective. I enjoyed the film quite a bit.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Pretty exciting although it would take a superhero to follow all the stuff going on at times. It's "in your face" Marvel....which is good. I'm just sayin'.

The Night Listener

A creepy and unsettling film. Robin Williams' performance was excellently suited to the character in this suspense film. I only wish we could have seen more of Sandra Oh.

The Fisher King

A powerful and moving performance by Robin Williams is tempered by Jeff Bridges who just doesn't seem up to the task of portraying a character of any depth. Oh, and that hair! Dare I comment on the gawd-awful early 1990's fashion?

Deadfall
Deadfall(2012)

Despite moments of impressive cinematography, this film is as bland and uninteresting as the snowy wasteland it's set in. Despite what should be a strong cast, the actors are not utilized to their potential and the whole experience is rather hum-drum. The film's decent, but not particularly interesting in any significant way. I wish I could wait for the spring thaw to see if any life might have sprouted in Kristofferson's salty patriarch character, but alas, I doubt any of us would make it that long.

Lone Survivor
½

I didn't find this film particularly moving or powerful, other than in knowing from the title credits that it's based on actual events. Undoubtedly the soldiers on which the film was based were true heroes, but there was not much humanity or likability portrayed by the actors in this film. (This is surprising for me given that Emile Hirsch and Ben Foster star in the film!) The film was technically strong, but I didn't come away with the Jingoistic enthusiasm I would have expected from a film like this.

The Normal Heart
½

A profoundly moving film (even if a bit awkward in transitioning from stage to screenplay). A remarkable performance by Ruffalo, of a caliber I have never seen from him before. A great performance from Roberts as well. For those under 30 years old, this is an effective way of communicating the desperation and fear of a time that should not be forgotten. Highly recommended.

The November Man
½

Somewhere between the Jason Bourne series and the suave James Bond, The November Man is an enjoyable covert agent I hope we'll see more of. There's plenty of action, although the story is difficult to follow at times and improbable. The locations are great and the acting is adequate. There's nothing terribly original about the plot or its development, but it's still a fun diversion.

Enemy
Enemy(2014)

Definitely not a pure "entertainment" type of film. I really had to think about this one after the film's conclusion to sort all the pieces out and put together what it was all about. On reflection, the film is directed very well. Not Jake Gyllenhaal's most convincing or moving performance; frankly, his character could have been played by other actors more effectively. Nevertheless, he was adequate for the role. This film is worth seeing if you want something you'll need to chew on after leaving the theater.

Belle
Belle(2014)
½

An very good historical film tackling slavery, race and the class system in Enlightenment Era Britain. Excellent costumes and locations with a typically outstanding performance by Tom Wilkinson. Gugu Mbatha-Raw portrays strength and incredible vulnerability in a very effective way. Good performances all around -- well, except for Draco Malfoy who bumbles through the plot line like a Slytherin trapped in his Harry Potter school days. Despite Felton and the not-quite-ready-for-prime-time sound editor, the film is really, really worth seeing.

Limitless
Limitless(2011)
½

For what's basically an "airport novel" story line without any surprising twists, there's enough action to keep the audience interested. Decent action and professionally made, earning this film a rating just slightly above average. It's worth the time if you're just looking for diversionary entertainment.

Stranger by the Lake

Excellent direction by Guiraudie outshines even the spot-on performances by Padu and Deladonchamps. An eerie masterpiece of isolation, loneliness and suspense. Undoubtedly one of the best films of 2013-2014. However, be forewarned that the film is extremely sexually graphic (on the level of "Shortbus"), but not gratuitously so. This would be quite an awkward film to watch with children in the room. But for adults, it's exceptional.

Mrs. Doubtfire

No doubt about it - Robin Williams is brilliant!

My Dinner with André

"Tedium" is the only thing on the menu -- served raw.

Lee Daniels' The Butler
½

A somewhat moving film done with grace and dignity, but lacking the emotional heft to be profound. Although Whitaker and Winfrey deliver, the performances of the rest of the A-List ensemble cast is hit-or-miss. Entertaining but unnervingly episodic.

Pompeii
Pompeii(2014)

The volcano ain't the only disaster vying for screen time in this block-bust of a flick. Chief among the disasters is Kiefer Sutherland, who puts on ill-fitting airs and an absurd British accent that seems to have been developed to entertain the minions at a children's garden party in North Hollywood. Kit Harington has lost any luster rubbed off from the Game of Thrones series, deadpanning his way through the muddle. The script is silly and defies probability. However, the special effects are pretty awesome with lots of hell fire and explosions to entertain the otherwise bored audience.

How To Be
How To Be(2008)
½

In answer to the question, "How To Be?" my suggestion would be "less boring and trite". Undoubtedly, this film proves what may have been lost in all the "Twilight" glitz: Pattinson can't act his way out of a paper bag. It's astonishing how his lack of talent is distinguishable even among the troupe of hack actors surrounding him in this movie. From bad lighting, to amateurish sound, to abysmal hair and makeup, there is almost no bottom to this fail-bag of a film.

Bye Bye Birdie
½

So out-of-date it's hard to relate to anymore, but the ridiculous excess still provides many opportunities for laughter. Much of the music is unremarkable; nevertheless there are a few classic gems. For fans of Paul Lynde, he really steals the show. It's just a fun (but dated) family-friendly vege-out film.

Divergent
Divergent(2014)

Slow at times, but still intriguing. Very fine sets, costumes and special effects. Shailene Woodley does a decent job (much better that Stewart in the Twilight series, and she certainly has more depth!) Theo James...well,.. I don't see what all the fuss is about. He's adequate, but he's sure no dynamo. Nevertheless, the story is exciting enough to make this a worthwhile film to see.

Venus
Venus(2006)

A beautiful and striking meditation on aging, living and facing mortality with a superb performance by the incomparable Peter O'Toole. Exceptional performances by veteran Phillips and newcomer Whittaker. Excellent performances all around with a uniquely inspiring script. An excellent movie in every way. A film that should not be missed.

Cockneys vs Zombies
½

Cockneys versus Zombies -- not much mystery to what this film is about. It's silly and fun, also as the absurd title would suggest. If you're not looking for anything serious, this film is a good way to pass the time.

Dawn of the Dead

Although the acting and make up are weak, is there really any honor movie where that can't be said? Cliché script and poor character development prevent a higher score for what is otherwise a surprisingly exciting and interesting film -- well, for a horror film, that is. Certainly a good remake.

Priest
Priest(1995)

A well-meaning film that touches on too many issues to be effective. Sadly, this results in a degeneration into preachiness to make its points. A good performance by Roache and a somewhat better one by Wilkinson. Barely adequate production values.

1313: Frankenqueen

OMG! Is this film supposed to be this bad!? The director actually replays scenes over and over (and absurdly, out of sequence!) in order to stretch a 40 minute film into and hour and a quarter! That's just lazy.... and boring. The sound is incompetent, and the location is nearly fraudulent. (A multimillion dollar manse furnished entirely by Ikea!?) The dialogue is beyond stupid and the entire film is uncomfortably immature. I have no words for how bad this film is. I feel like I woke up in Justin Bieber's frat pad! Dreck!

The Wolves of Kromer
½

A baroque tale touching on interesting themes. Amusing at times and innovative but poorly executed with sub-par acting, terrible lighting, bad sound editing and in need of a script rewrite. The werewolves ain't the real horror element -- it's the inane dialogue that will send chills up your spine. Despite its many problems, this film has a strange charm if you're in the mood for a strange film.

Ender's Game
Ender's Game(2013)

Meaningless with little thought to bigger issues. Really not acted or executed well. I'd prefer watching a rerun of Star Wars. Also, the fact that the story was written by the anti-equality NOM man Card makes the film unworthy of the time of fair-minded audiences.

Noah
Noah(2014)

If you didn't know it was a Bible story, this would just be bizarre and hard to follow. If you know it's from a Bible story, it's still bizarre -- just in a different, more frustrating way. Acting is up to par and costumes are better than average, but the CGI and cinematography are a big, bland "m'eh". I was kinda praying that the Creator would have flooded the editing room and washed away this project before I could be duped into buying the ticket.

The French Connection

Exciting. Surprising. And (not surprising!) and excellent performance by Gene Hackman.

The Best Offer

A film rich in symbolism and meaning, with a superb performance by Geoffrey Rush. Better than average cinematography and a twist that keeps you thinking and considering the message long after the film has ended. (Tell me the statute Rush hides behind isn't a brilliant allegory for the entire film! Brilliant!) The music gets high marks as well. Highly recommended -- even if you're only looking for a good caper movie.

After the Dark
½

Intriguing and artsy -- a group of students imagines various scenarios of global disasters and selecting what people would survive. A thought-provoking inquiry into human nature, society and the valuation of human lives. The acting is adequate (with several Harry Potter alumni) and nice sets, even if limited. The film is not particularly cinematic -- one imagines that the story could as easily been told as a stage play. Nevertheless, the experience is worthwhile.

W.E.
W.E.(2012)
½

Stylish to the point of being strange. The film seemed lifeless and lacking any significant point or emotion. This film would have made more sense as a photo shoot. "W.E." should be renamed "W.T.F.?"

The Monuments Men
½

The film has great costumes and is effective as a period film, but it lacks the drama of war and -- unless you already knew the history before watching the movie -- it is episodic and hard to follow. George Clooney and Bob Balaban gave particularly memorable performances, but the film seemed more dedicated to making a monument to the ensemble cast than to remembering the heroic work of a group largely forgotten in history.

Frozen
Frozen(2013)

Sorry -- I don't get the popularity of this film. While the animation was exceptional, all the songs but one were pedestrian and unmemorable. The story was silly and the story behind the princess' special freezing power was never explained. Disney has done many films better than this one, which I consider average, at best.

Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit

Technically strong and stylish with a good performance from Costner, although the plot is poorly developed and the detective work is improbable and almost entirely based on lucky guesses. Because of this, I really felt cheated out of half the suspense and it did nothing to give the impression that Jack Ryan was a particularly talented analyst. The film is fun, near-mindless action, but really is not worthy of the Jack Ryan franchise.

The Grand Budapest Hotel

Quirky, funny and thoroughly entertaining with a wonderfully over the top cast. Packed with visual and comedic delights you don't want to miss. Everything's grand about The Grand Budapest.

Price Check
Price Check(2012)

"Price Check" belongs in the Bargain Bin. Parker Posey is the only remotely compelling character and the film's potential messages are diluted by ambiguity. Comedy genre? We'll need a "price check" on that....

Philomena
Philomena(2013)

A remarkable film in every way. The acting was excellent -- a lifetime of pain and regret can been seen in Dench's eyes at certain times. The script was wonderful -- credibly showing different (but equally valid) reactions to unspeakable injustice by two people of different ages, faith experiences, genders, and educational backgrounds. This is one of my favorite films of 2013.

How I Live Now
½

"How I Live Now"? Apparently how Saoirse Ronan lives now is in a world where gradually toning down the hamminess of a performance passes as character development. The script really could use a little...umm...EVERYTHING. But for a low budget film, it actually does a lot with what it has.

Maleficent
Maleficent(2014)
½

I'd guess the reason Walt Disney didn't include Maleficent's backstory in the original Sleeping Beauty is that it's just boring. Maleficent gets high marks for special effects, cinematography and Jolie's strong performance. But the rest of the film may as well have been cast through the Los Angeles area phone book -- there's not another performance better than "adequate". Also, one cannot escape the feeling that the movie is essentially a 15-minute story stretched out over 90 minutes with a lot of tedious filler that really just does not seem to matter very much. All in all, it is a snoozer of a film.

Querelle
Querelle(1982)
½

It's as if Andre Gide directed a film written by Tom of Finland and cast by the Village People. Striking visuals. Avant garde, to say the least!

The Rape of Europa

Very informative documentary about the theft of art by Nazis and the real Monuments Men. (And it will fill in some of the information gaps in Clooney's Monuments Men film.) Highly recommended.

The Legend of Hercules
½

Apparently acting lessons were not among the Labors of Hercules. The true Herculean labor associated with this film seems to be the cleaning of the stables -- what dreck. CGI effects were glamorous and stunning at times; woefully inept at other times. The story was random and seemed sophomoricly episodic. The plot was unnecessarily stupid -- for example, killing the Nemean Lion in a distant place and then showing up with it skinned, tanned and cleaned in the next scene with the unnecessary and illogical comment that Hercules had been gone for a mere two hours. What?! This is a sad attempt to make a film far beyond the filmmakers' skill. Nevertheless. if you ignore the considerable amount of illogical and stupid permeating the film, it is fun -- and has a lot of great beef cake to drool over.

The Back-up Plan

Lopez's back-up plan should have been acting lessons. Lopez's performance was wooden and unconvincing. O'Loughlin was only marginally better. The script is nearly devoid of adult emotional response or innovation, almost like a Hallmark film. It's mildly distracting if you have nothing else to do while folding laundry at home but otherwise, the film is pretty useless.

I, Frankenstein

Based on Rotten Tomatoes reviews, I may be the only person who liked this film. I thought the story was innovative (although rather silly and unrealistic -- how can entire buildings collapse and firestorms arise without so much as a neighbor's light coming on next door or police coming to investigate?) The acting was adequate, but just barely. Still it was fun with good CGI and a lot of action. If you're not expecting much, as I wasn't, this film is a pleasant surprise.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

OMG. Get a haircut. Not the worst (I'm thinking No. 6), but also not the best despite it's shiny presentation. Character development starts in this film -- at least for the kids -- so it's a "must" for the series lovers.

Edge of Darkness

I've seen this film before, when it was titled something else just as unmemorable. Gibson played the same character in that movie too. Why waste the time on this one?

Magic Mike
Magic Mike(2012)

At first, the movie was so slow that I thought it wasn't about what I expected it to be about. ...Then, it was. Good story, but not portrayed as effectively as Boogie Nights with Mark Whalberg. Watch Boogie Nights instead for better drama with the same story.

Normal
Normal(2003)

Powerful performance by Wilkinson and a powerhouse performance by Lange (who actually stole the show). This is an very interesting story about a modern issue rarely thought about but nevertheless, profound.

Best in Show
Best in Show(2000)

The most brilliant offering from Christopher Guest, with a fantastically versatile and talented troupe of improv performers. True genius at work in this film, at every level.

Thor: The Dark World

Exciting and fun -- although the "aether" at the center of the plot is almost undecipherable, forced and improbable. Heck, the whole film is improbable -- but it's really nice to look at. Sadly, this is not one of Anthony Hopkins finest films -- that is, unless hamminess passes as Shakespearean in Asgard.

Barry Lyndon
Barry Lyndon(1975)

My favorite Kubrick film by far. Epic story with fine costumes and sets -- and a soundtrack to die for.

American Hustle

Fabulous costumes and hair make this film well worth seeing! A good story and strong cast. Stylish, enjoyable and fun.

Geography Club
½

Cute and heartwarming -- but not terribly compelling. Surprisingly strong production for an indie film.

Cirque du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant

Forget the Vampire -- the casting director clearly needs assistance! Dumb and poorly cast, but the film had a strange, Baroque charm that made it mildly entertaining nevertheless. And I can't help feeling that pitting the "vampires" against the "vampanese" (i.e., the violent vamps) was obliquely racist.

Kill Your Darlings
½

A thought-provoking film with rich characters. The only thing that kept me from awarding five stars was Dane DeHaan's character which never seemed to fully emerge from the second to third dimension. If we are meant to kill our darlings, DeHaan's safe in my book.

Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa
½

Jackass Presents: Bad Movie. Utterly cringe-worthy.

Out of the Furnace

The atmosphere of this film is gritty, bleak and menacing -- much like 2010's Winter's Bone. But it's even slower than Winter's Bone in plot development. Despite the exceptional cast, the actors were under-utilized. Fans of Christian Bale will be disappointed -- it's not one of his typical, stand-out performances. Because of these issues, I couldn't give Out of The Furnace anything more than an average rating. However, on the bright side, this has to be just about the only movie where I can say Woody Harrelson delivered a commendable performance.

Saving Mr. Banks
½

Glacial story development, and just down-right dull. Not a single noteworthy performance. How can a movie about a musical be so one-note? It may have taken Disney 20 years to make the "Mary Poppins" film -- and I felt each minute of the wait watching this snoozer.

Hunger
Hunger(2009)

I have never seen such a brutal, gut-wrenching prison film in my life! Complex emotionally and philosophically, the tensions never let up. Fassbender's commitment to the role is nothing short of astounding. The inhumanity and control of McQueen's first film towers above that of even his Oscar award winning "12 Years A Slave". If you're looking for raw, honest but brutal reality, this is a film for you.

All Is Lost
All Is Lost(2013)

Redford is really good in this dialogue-free film, but I gotta say my hat's off to the director. As I was watching, I noticed I was holding my breath at times. Really, an exceptional film.

Captain Phillips

A thrilling movie with themes of heroism, humanity and survival. Fantastic performances all around -- but I gotta say, I love Tom Hanks. Brilliant.

Mirror Mirror

A charming, creative (and uneven) re-imagining of the Snow White tale. Entertaining performances by Armie Hammer and Nathan Lane. Julia Roberts was a disappointment, seeming to have dialed it in with the passion and skill of a high school drama teacher.

Victor Victoria

Exceptionally enjoyable singing by Andrews. Wonderful presence by Preston and Andrews. Great, Oscar award winning music. Remarkably affirming attitudes for the early 1980s. I think I may have a new favorite comedy!

The Amazing Spider-Man
½

The only thing "Amazing" about this Spiderman Film is that the script made it to the screen. Dreadful.

The Great Raid
½

Terrible, sappy, made-for-TV quality. This film is beneath the caliber of the actors in it and almost trivializes the participants in the real-life event.

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
½

Slow, but true to the book. Convincing acting from almost everyone. (Ahem, Sam Claffin!) Nice visual effects.

Van Helsing
Van Helsing(2004)

Stupid idea for a story, but fun in an idiotic way. I'm embarrassed to say it, but I really liked it -- for a mindless action thriller.

12 Years a Slave

Great film in every way -- although if you've read Uncle Tom's Cabin, the plot won't offer any surprises.

Blades of Glory
½

Truly funny, but a bit overwrought.

Hyde Park on Hudson

"Hyde Park on Hudson" is to WWII dramas as "Moscow on the Hudson" is to geopolitical thrillers...but without the charm or the Russians. Although there is a stronger performance by Murray than usual and a decent performance by Linney, the plot is slow and meandering, offering no real insight into FDR, Eleanor or any of the other players. A real disappointment, although "stars" are awarded for production value.

Hitler's Children

A compelling look at the sense of blood-guilt shared by the descendants of some of the most notorious Nazi monsters. I found it thoughtful, disgusting and moving.

The Mirror Crack'd

An all-star cast usually indicates a lack of substance in a film -- one that relies on flashiness over story telling. The Mirror Crack'd is no exception. Nevertheless, it is an enjoyable film despite its credulity-stretching reveal and typical confession-without-compelling-evidence resolution. It's a fun lark, but not serious film...and the cat fights should be on every diva-watcher's "must see" list.

I Killed My Mother

A remarkable film from an 19 year old. Insightful and unflinchingly critical. Beautifully shot.

Beautiful Creatures

I strain to recall a movie where the hunky male lead was played by someone less hunky. Still, it was a fun movie with a coherent script and nice special effects.

Quo Vadis?
Quo Vadis?(1951)

Apparently, the term "quo vadis" translates to "boring" in both Latin and English.

Solomon Kane
Solomon Kane(2012)
½

It started out with some promise, with decent performance by Peter Postlethwaite (I hope for posterity, this wasn't his last film!), but it devolved into an incomprehensible slurry at the end with bigger holes in the plot than had the Titanic. The costumes and special effects were commendable -- but what really was the point of it all?

Blood Diner
Blood Diner(1987)

Possibly one of the worst films ever made (outside of The Room or any film by Uwe Boll). In the same sense that The Room became "good" because it was so fantastically bad, this film has a charm to its amateurish acting, dead character development and absurd script writing, bad lighting, absurd character interactions, ridiculous special effects and general, inexplicable suckiness.

Dallas Buyers Club

Superb acting. I see why Leto and McConaughey were nominated for acting Oscars -- I cannot think of any better performances in 2013. It was uncomfortable to watch at times: being of a certain age, I haven't seen anyone that ill in 20 years. A transporting film.

Prayers for Bobby
½

Excellent performance by Butler. Decent and often understated performances from Weaver and Czerny. Very well done for a made-for-TV movie, but somewhat underwhelming if it had been made as a general release feature film. Wonderful, thoughtful, real-life presentation of the struggles faced by everyday families with LGBT children.

How to Survive a Plague

An excellent documentary that effectively conveyed the desperation, fear and power of the gay community during the height of the AIDS epidemic. Really well done.

Mamma Mia!
Mamma Mia!(2008)

Disgusting, awkward and improbable. I guess it captures Abba perfectly...except the band demonstrated better acting abilities in their stage performances. This film was true dreck.

Lilies
Lilies(1996)
½

Traumatically bizarre.

Boogie Nights

A great film about the emptiness of youth, fun and the fast life. Re-watched it on the night of Hoffman's passing and it's no less remarkable than the times I saw it before.

Shortbus
Shortbus(2006)

If this firm didn't have considerable artistic and intellectual merit, it would be porn. But it does have merit and it has a LOT more to say than prurience or lust. In fact, such sentiments would be missing the point entirely. It's a brave and brash film about sexuality and relationships that makes one wonder -- why hasn't a film like this been made before?

Helvetica
Helvetica(2007)
½

Surprisingly interesting film. If thinking simply about simple things is the key to insight, this is the film for you.

The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones
½

Great action but the acting isn't really on an "immortal" level, if you know what I mean. (I really don't know how Jonathan Rhys Meyers will be able to live with himself.) The story is difficult to follow, frankly, but the faults are made up for in mindless adventure fun.

The Art Of The Steal
½

Well done and very informative documentary about the Barnes Foundation. The filmmakers are one-sided in their approach and seem blind to the hypocrisy of their their thesis but they have nevertheless made a compelling narrative.

Deceptive Practice: The Mysteries and Mentors of Ricky Jay

Great access to the man with a lot of historical figures and footage. But after seeing the film, I don't feel I have any greater appreciation for the man than before I saw it.

Mame
Mame(1974)
½

The film has its problems: Lucy sings like she's smoking during the songs, and she's way too old to keep up with the spirit of her character. Bea Arthur looks like a man in drag -- but didn't she always anyhow? Despite its problems, it's one of my favorites. It's energetic -- and the costumes: "scrumptious"! (Watch the film to get that reference.) If you're looking for a feel-good time, I recommend Mame.

That Guy... Who Was in That Thing
½

Fascinating and informative documentary interviewing character actors whose faces (but not names!) are known to all of us, and their experiences and struggles making it as a professional actor. I was enraptured!

The Sons Of Tennessee Williams

Interesting bit of civil rights history from New Orleans, but it lacked passion.

The Boys from Brazil
½

Exciting mystery and action. Olivier was a bit over-the-top and played up stereotypes to the hilt as an aging Nazi hunter.

The Muppets
The Muppets(2011)
½

Fun. Silly. Stupid.

Before the Nickelodeon: The Early Cinema of Edwin S. Porter
½

Interesting, but not very informative or thorough. An impressive panel of experts.

Rhinestone
Rhinestone(1984)

Although there is a discernible plot, the steps along the plot are not discernible. Terrible acting and even worse singing are the most distinctive features of this hapless 80's film. Nevertheless, it's still kind of fun in a bad-movie, lighthearted way.

The Falls
The Falls(2012)

Moving film from a challenging perspective. Acting was unimpressive generally, buy Benjamin Farmer was decent and Ferrucci had a strong moment at the end.

A Christmas Carol
½

Really a good version of an oft-sappy Christmas story. Very well acted by luminaries such as George C. Scott and David Warner.

Elysium
Elysium(2013)
½

Elysi...um...what?! I did not appreciate why this film was made. Foster's affected accent was futuristic and multicultural -- in the sense that it did not reflect anything you might hear in real life. Really, this film was just a great, big "What?!" Nice special effects, though.

Prisoners
Prisoners(2013)

Dark, eerie... and at times, hard to follow.

The Queen of Versailles

Sublime. Trash has never been so white!

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

Exciting, well acted, great visuals (although there are some surprisingly bad shots during the Mirkwood scenes where hobbit ears are glaringly fake and some home video quality shots during the barrel ride river rapids). I never read the book so I can't speak to the authenticity of the story -- which has been criticized by aficionados -- but for a casual viewer, I thoroughly enjoyed the film.

Love Free or Die
½

Inspiring and an important document of the civil rights battle. It's a wonderful film and highly recommended, but I wish it had an even broader message.

Man of Steel
Man of Steel(2013)
½

Visually impressive -- but otherwise, a dud. There's very little to root for. I guess it's still better than Superman II or III ... but that's just a guess.

The Wolverine

Not a great story -- nor are the motivating forces fully explained. With a touch of Deus ex machina driving the story along, I have to say I feel disappointed. The whole adventure seemed unnecessary on some level. The fact that the most significant scene for later films happens during the credits pretty much sums up the lack of significance of the plot. Nevertheless, great effects and cinematography. And I can't believe what amazing shape Hugh Jackman is in!

Django Unchained

I really don't understand why there's a need either to make or to watch Quentin Tarantino films. However, if you must, at least this one has a coherent storyline. I think all of these actors are much better than the caricatures they bring to life in this over-the-top bloodbath.

Now You See Me
½

Stylish and entertaining. Generally, the acting was good -- with the usual, notable exception of Woody Harrelson and the typically lackluster Mark Ruffalo.

Bonhoeffer
Bonhoeffer(2003)

Disappointing. There was no real attempt to explain Bonhoeffer's theology and there was little drama to the martyrdom. It seemed more like a documentary on the religious institutions in Germany under the Nazis.

The Incredible Burt Wonderstone
½

I liked this film and found it funny. Cliche, but still funny.

Cloudburst
Cloudburst(2012)

The film was not as emotionally captivating as the trailers suggested it might be. Still, it was competently filmed and acted with a nice story. It's also a positive sign of the times that the film was already outdated by the time of its release, with Maine (and all of New England) having already embraced marriage equality in 2012 -- making the illicit marriage run to Canada (the premise of the film) unnecessary. I suppose that should be celebrated rather than a point of criticism for the film. Try to imagine the film set in Montana, perhaps?

We Were Here
We Were Here(2011)

An important and engaging documentary about the unimaginable horrors of the early years of AIDS. Although I had head some of this before from older friends, it provided a much better, more complete account of a harrowing time. It is easy to forget the pain and fears of others, or just to know them in a detached academic way. We should never forget that an entire community dying was reality for some people.

Bridegroom
Bridegroom(2013)

Heartbreaking. An important document of the realities of discrimination. Put together in a very competent manner.

Sleepy Hollow
½

Although not true to the original material, it was an exciting, visually attractive Tim Burton film with a nice mystery to boot. Johnny Depp was not the best casting choice, in my opinion -- he made the story a little absurd at times. I think this is one of the last films Jeffrey Jones made before his infamous criminal conviction, so that makes it a little more creepy, I suppose.

Europa Report
½

This film isn't too different from Cuaron's "Gravity", to tell you the truth -- although without the stunning zero-gravity technology. It's a quite enjoyable and thrilling space disaster story.

The French Connection II
½

Not as exciting as the first installment (at least not until the final 15 minutes of the film), Perhaps too much time was spent on the addiction/recovery aspects of the story, and I did not feel the international political intrigue was played up as well as it might have been. Still, it is a worthy sequel.

Gravity
Gravity(2013)

A wonderfully thrilling movie directed by Alfonso Cuaron. The zero-gravity effects seems so realistic I felt as if I really were in space with the actors. Very good performances, although I did not connect with Sandra Bullock as much as I might have if her role was played by another actress. The 3D version was surprisingly effective.

Death on the Nile
½

Great locations (that may not even be available for filing these days), really great costumes, thrilling story with a surprise ending. What more could you want?! Lansbury is marvelously over-the-top as a faded lush. Ustinov really is the best Poirot ever bringing both humor and gravity when needed. On the down side: Niven plays his usual, shallow stock character; and the poorly-rendered foreign accents are a bit distracting. (I'm looking at you, Jack Warden!) Bette Davis struggles a little, but she still pulls it off. Despite the minor faults, it's a thoroughly enjoyable film.

Another Country

Good story with good costumes and nice location. Cinematography, makeup and lighting were not up to snuff, unfortunately. Bold story for its time.

Interior. Leather Bar.
½

Not at all what I expected. The film is not so much about the seedy material that might have been cut from the original Cruising film -- it's more about contemporary reactions to the material and challenging modern society's value judgments about sexuality. Thought provoking. I recommend this film for an audience with adult attitudes and open minds.

Who's Afraid Of Vagina Wolf?

Marginally adequate acting. A stale script that does have its moments of humor. Worth seeing if there's nothing better on TV.

I Am Divine
I Am Divine(2013)

A great documentary about a fascinating and outrageous subculture. Won Best Documentary at Q-
Fest Long Beach 2013. Interviews with everyone you could possibly want to hear from in Divine's life. A must-see documentary.

Corpus Christi: Playing With Redemption

A good documentary about the story behind a controversial play touching on Jesus and the religious communities. I want to see the underlying play!

Birthday Cake
½

Funny, and at times poignant, mockumentary with an over-the-top ending. The acting isn't particularly sharp, but there are good bits with Helen Shaver and Lee Meriwether. Jane Badler has a hilarious scene as a fading diva.

G.B.F.
G.B.F.(2014)
½

Stylish, contemporary. Has a mass/sass appeal like Glee (but without the singing). Well written with interesting, albeit largely superficial, characters -- but that's the point of this new take on Mean Girls. Wonderfully over-the-top costumes, even if sometimes ill-fitting. Willett gives a good performance as an awkward teen searching for his place in the High School world. Props to Xosha Roquemore for the S.B.F. (Sassy Black Friend) and -- wait -- isn't that Luna Lovegood as the militant bigot?! Awesome!

Casa de mi padre

Not clever. Not funny. Just Will Farrell, as usual.

Warm Bodies
Warm Bodies(2013)

Cute, but ultimately unbelievable and inconsistent. No notable acting. Just mindless, zombie entertainment without the horror element.

Emperor
Emperor(2013)

This should have been a much better film. Matthew Fox was a weak lead -- not expressive enough to deal with the role. The love story was ineffective almost to the point of being a distraction. Better than average cinematography, and good performances by Tommy Lee Jones and Isao Natsuyagi (Japanese Vice Chancellor), but nobody notable otherwise. It all ads up to a big "M'EH".

The Verdict
The Verdict(1982)

A great, and somewhat realistic portrayal of an anguished alcoholic lawyer trying to get justice and do good for once in a long while. James Mason was spectacular, but Paul Newman's performance was even more remarkable. Charlotte Rampling was the same, deadpan Charlotte Rampling you have seen elsewhere. I suppose it's nice she was in this film, but -- m'eh, coulda been anyone else.

42
42(2013)

Nicely presented, like a Hallmark TV movie. Lacks the emotional punch it should have had, but still a good film. I enjoyed Harrison Ford's portrayal of Mr. Rickey, but none of the performances blew me away.

Contraband
Contraband(2012)
½

A good action film with lots of twists, although none are especially striking. Wahlberg continues to disappoint by playing a tough guy role when he doesn't have the grittiness to pull it off. Still, it's a fun film.

Zero Dark Thirty
½

Compelling, dark drama. Effectively brings the tale of Bin Ladin's capture to life. Could use some stronger character development, but I guess that's not really what the film's about. Good action.

Trance
Trance(2013)
½

A surprising and exciting thriller in the same vein as Memento. Rosario Dawson is excellent as always -- I have no idea why she isn't considered to be in the top tier of actresses! Strong performances by French legend Vincent Cassel and James McAvoy. Beautiful sets and a sleek tone. Recommended -- at least if you're in a mind bending mood.

Kiss Of The Damned
½

An excitingly fresh vampire movie (in the way World War Z and 28 Days Later was fresh for zombies). Less action than expected, but more drama. Refreshing retro feel to the film/cinematography/audio. Recommended even for non-horor fans.

Free Fall (Freier Fall)

A great gay-themed drama with good acting and compelling chemistry. The film deals with complex issues honestly. Highly recommended.

Any Day Now
Any Day Now(2012)

Beautifully acted story of a time of painful bigotry, love and what it means to be a family. Highly recommended.

Showboy
Showboy(2002)
½

Witty, touching, uncomfortable at times, and always funny. This is a clever and unique story about a person too proud to admit failure and the struggles we all face when life hands us lemons. A great independent film. Certainly worth seeing.

Despicable Me
½

Well-done and engaging. Delightfully light-hearted. Amusing for adults without descending to stupid potty humor (a la Shrek). Great animation.

Gayby
Gayby(2012)
½

Surprisingly funny script for an independent LGBT film. (Such films tend to be too niche for wider appeal.) Decent acting with attractive cast. Recommended.

The Shawshank Redemption
½

Strong acting. Moderately inventive story, but not exactly unpredictable. A pleasantly uplifting film, but don't expect a transformative experience. PS -- Love the "Sisters" -- wish they won!

Raiders of the Lost Ark

A fun adventure/action story from the days before CGI when the story had to be the driving force behind a good action film. A true classic that should not be missed.

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
½

If "doom" has a temple, it's this movie. Stupid and forced. Barely more than a B movie.

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade

Definitely the best of the Indiana Jones films. An effective use of comedy in an action/adventure film that doesn't take itself too seriously. I recommend this film for a fun, worry-free weekend evening.

Conspiracy
Conspiracy(2001)

Shocking. Subtle. Monstrous. Beyond belief. Powerful story. Powerful performances. If you miss this story, something is WRONG with you.

World War Z
World War Z(2013)
½

They should have called this "World War ZZZZZZ". This is nothing more than "Contagion" plus "28 Days Later" with a pinch of CGI. On the other hand, if you didn't know Brad Pitt was aging, no need to doubt any long.

Unstoppable
Unstoppable(2010)
½

An exciting, suspenseful film. And it has Chris Pine. What more could you ask for?

Strangers on a Train

Pretty good film, but Hitchcock's done more exciting ones.

Chris & Don
Chris & Don(2007)

I really don't like the stereotypes, but what more could have been expected in emotionally hobbled earlier eras? Sad and uplifting at the same time.

The Life of Reilly

Wow. What a powerful retrospective on a life many might have dismissed as silly and insignificant. This intimate one-man-show reminds us of the profound humanity of those around us -- even those of whom we have not thought to take notice before. A real "check" on life and a beautifully disappointing time capsule.

The Hunt for Red October
½

A thrilling action movie, adequately cast.

Blade
Blade(1998)
½

Despite Snipes' poor acting ability, it's an exciting vampire action film.

The Sound of Music

One of the best musicals ever!

The Dying Gaul

Awesome film. The obsession and flawed characters are frightening!

Face/Off
Face/Off(1997)

This film might have been better if done with today's CGI. But then again, maybe not. The story's kinda foolish and no amount of modern technology can make it seem like Travolta can act. Travolta is the single worst element of this film -- his acting is so bad, it's a distraction.

Priceless
Priceless(2008)

Priceless? No...just low budget.

Yentl
Yentl(1983)

Well done, but Barbara is a bit hammy. Pleasant (although often unmemorable) songs. And again -- doesn't Mandy Patinkin play the pan flute for a living nowadays?!

ParaNorman
ParaNorman(2012)

Very well done animation, with a great story of acceptance of the different in oneself and others. A more sophisticated animated film in that it doesn't rely on screaming parrots and potty humor to pander to children or immature adults. Highly recommended.

The Train
The Train(1965)

Exciting story based on actual events in the resistance to Nazi occupiers during WWII. Good performance by Lancaster. Definitely worth seeing if this has somehow slipped under your radar.

Throw Momma from the Train
½

Ugh! And tie the director to the tracks! This is mindless dreck with a supremely annoying and unimaginative cast.

Up
Up(2009)

Very well done animation, with a moving soundtrack and well-developed characters and story (for a cartoon). I really enjoyed it.

Letters to Juliet
½

A very cute romantic movie, good for date night. Not a lot of substance, however. Amanda Seyfried had the sad misfortune of having been immortalized in celluloid before she learned how to act. I guess that kind of makes this film a tragedy?

The Scarlet Letter

M'eh. Demi Moore was a poor choice to star in this classic story. She doesn't really have the gravitas to pull it off and she's got zero chemistry with Oldman. I'd recommend it if you don't want to read the book and Cliff's Notes are too expensive. Otherwise, it's not much of a diversion.

Inception
Inception(2010)

Perhaps the story is complex, but not too complex if you pay attention...and pay attention, because the story's great! Joseph Gordon-Levitt is wonderful, as always. Fantastic CGI. Very entertaining.

A Bridge Too Far

Aside from a hokey sound track, this is an excellent WWII war film about real life events. And you'll see a cast of young stars who went on to greatness. Certainly worth watching.

The Bridge on the River Kwai

Powerful film about an aspect of WWII not many people learn about any more. Excellent performances all around, but particularly striking performance from the idealistic martinet Guinness.

Hitchcock
Hitchcock(2012)

What might have been a strong story was made somewhat confusing by bizarre flashbacks that muddied up the message. Interesting Hollywood history that probably should have played up social issues more effectively.

Red Dawn
Red Dawn(2012)
½

LOLS! Not worth seeing even if you're bored....unless you like looking at Chris Helmsworth. Bad casting, really sub-par script. Not even fun as a mindless romp through a world where things blow up. I didn't find it exciting because the whole thing didn't make sense and I didn't care about any of the characters.

The Good Doctor
½

This was a thrilling and disturbing film. Orlando Bloom's portrayal of the good doctor was haunting and intriguing. Michael Pena's approach was interesting as well. Highly recommended.

Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope

The most incredible special effects for the time, but the story is poorly conceived/developed and lousy acting by Fisher and Hamill. Really, if it weren't for the then-ground-breaking special effects, I'd give this a sub-par rating.

Windtalkers
Windtalkers(2002)

An insult to Native Americans. In this film, you may find yourself rooting for the Imperial forces of Japan to kill Nicholas Cage and put an end to our suffering.

Star Trek IV - The Voyage Home
½

Tiresome. Thank God the cast started to die off by this date.

Star Trek III - The Search for Spock
½

I wish they'd found Spock earlier in the film. Maybe the movie would have been interesting.

Star Trek
Star Trek(2009)

Exciting film -- albeit with an odd twist at the end. The casting was perfect and the special effects were satisfying. Praiseworthy creativity in the script. Highly recommended.

The Madness of King George

This film has a top-notch cast and a fascinating true story. The costumes and locations are perfect. I felt as though I had traveled back in time to events in the Age of Enlightenment that may not have been quite so enlightened.

Rescue Dawn
Rescue Dawn(2007)
½

Excellent performances by Bale and Zahn. (I know...Zahn! Who knew?) It's a fascinating history lesson with a compelling story and strong character development.

300
300(2007)
½

Visually impressive with a great story. Not much can be said for the acting -- but it ain't that kind of film.

The Birdcage
The Birdcage(1996)

GURL! You gotta see it! So many one-liners, I can't even begin to rattle them off.

The 40 Year Old Virgin
½

Very funny film. I wish there had been a sequel -- but then again, pretty much every Steve Carrell film since has been a sequel to this.

Ronin
Ronin(1998)

A thrilling suspense/action film with some unexpected turns. A great cast.

Steel Magnolias
½

Moving film. This is Olympia Dukakis' best role. I love it more than my luggage!

Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan

Disgusting. It isn't funny to be made to feel uncomfortable for other people for 83 minutes unless you have a serious personality flaw.

Attila
Attila(2001)

Made-for-TV quality. The famous Gerard Butler doesn't really shine. I'm still not convinced it was really him....

Gamer
Gamer(2009)
½

This is a really bad film. The script was so poorly written, Butler's considerable talents were left to wither on the vine.

Dracula 2000
Dracula 2000(2000)

Enjoyable. Any film where Omar Epps dies is enjoyable.

Big Eden
Big Eden(2001)
½

Beautifully acted and directed LGBT movie with an uplifting script. Highly recommended.

Bruno
Bruno(2009)

Moderately entertaining, and marginally clever. Kinda panders to the worst in us.

North by Northwest

Awesome spy adventure flick.

The Blair Witch Project

Awful trash. Not scarey...just pathetic.

Big Fish
Big Fish(2003)

Beautiful visually and emotionally. A wonderful examination of relationships and mortality. Albert Finney proves again what a fine actor he is.

Hot Tub Time Machine
½

Was this film necessary? I think not -- unless you're a child of the 1980s who never matured emotionally. Awful acting and a worse script. The costumes were the only redeeming element of the film.

Pan's Labyrinth

I really liked this strange (but not unsettling) Spanish film. It was mystical and magical...and very dark at the end. Del Toro's masterpiece.

Identity Thief

Not funny...or clever...or interesting.

Rise of the Planet of the Apes

Fun and exciting film with spectacular CGI. No surprises in the storyline, however. Lithgow is good but Franco's acting was not very convincing.

Julius Caesar
½

The best treatment of Shakespeare's Julius Caesar, by far. Hats off to Ms. Kerr for her riveting portrayal. John's Gielgud's "Et Tu Brute?!" was the finest of the many versions out there.

Alpha Dog
Alpha Dog(2007)
½

Disturbing and powerful film. Surprisingly strong performance by Justin Timberlake and Yalchin.

Sixteen Candles
½

Empty characters typical of juvenile 1980's films. Not worth the time.

Robin Hood
Robin Hood(2010)

Epic, powerful war scenes. Strong acting. Lots of fun!

Fantasia
Fantasia(1940)

This is a pretty boring film, and not an effective vehicle for getting kids interested in classical music. There's no coherent story. It's just not interesting.

Invictus
Invictus(2009)

A moving film but not as powerful as I anticipated. Nevertheless, it does have an important message and reminds one of the great heroism and uncertainty of post-Apartheid South Africa. Matt Damon and Morgan Freeman both give noteworthy performances.

The Social Network

Well acted and somewhat interesting. But I don't get all the hype.

The Laramie Project
½

Moving and important story. Great cast.

In Time
In Time(2011)

Odd and enjoyable sci-fi thriller, even if somewhat predictable.

I Am Number Four

Somewhat interesting plot that could have been more fun than it actually was. Then again, I could look at Pettyfer and drool for hours on end. Good movie? M'eh. But I'd see it again.

Love and Other Drugs
½

Anne Hathaway is superb as always...and any movie with Jake Gyllenhaal with his shirt off has gotta be in my top 10. It's an interesting situation for a romance, which sets it apart from so many other Matthew McConahay-type films.

Salt
Salt(2010)

Fun and exciting. An interesting twist at the end. It's just fun for a Friday evening...and Jolie's nice to look at!

Downfall (Der Untergang)
½

A very interesting look at an oft-over-reviewed subject.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
½

There is absolutely no question that this is the WORST film in the bunch...but then again, it's likely also the worst book. I don't know how anybody could follow this film if they hadn't read the books. In the last five minutes, there's a surprise reveal, "Hi, I'm the Half Blood Prince!" without ANY explanation whatsoever or mulling over of the titular mystery. Really bad effort at crafting a screenplay from the book. Still -- it's gets a slightly better than average rating BECAUSE it is Harry Potter and because even Spielberg can't cough up such fantastic visual effects.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 1

I needn't say after the prior reviews but visual effects are superb. And..."HI!"...Harry's grown up into a hot young man. The ending leaves one breathless and frustrated that another year must pass until the next installment. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Caligula
Caligula(1979)

Props for making a film like this in 1979...but...what....?!

Tormented
Tormented(2009)

Ugh! Can you get more unimaginative?! The film's message should be that the true "Tormented" ones are those who paid $10 for a ticket....

Gnade (Mercy)

Arbeit macht frei.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2

A perfect finish to a wonderful franchise. If only there could be more Harry Potter films. MAGNIFICENT!!!

Frühstück? (Breakfast?)

One of the most tiresome films ever made. Shame on Pfeuffer and his inept casting director.

Outrage
Outrage(2009)

Interesting, but sadly, not compelling. This should have been a better documentary.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
½

A solid installment in the Harry Potter series. Exciting with incredible special effects. Competent acting by young'uns that have grown up in the films. (Spectarcular performance by Fiennes, even if only for a few brief moments!) The films really begin to hit their stride in this installment. (Too bad we had the Half-Blood Prince to cock it all up....)

Young Frankenstein

Clever satire of old Hollywood horror films. Great over-the-top performances by Wilder and Kahn.

To Be or Not to Be

Very funny remake of a zany original. One of my favorite Mel Brooks films.

Spaceballs
Spaceballs(1987)
½

Moments of real humor, but it relies to heavily on the cornball schtick.

Children of Men

Strong performances by Clive Owen and Julianne Moore. An unsettling dystopian world which is fascinating to behold. A bit far-fetched, however, and the screenplay can be a bit preachy at times.

Bad Kids Go to Hell
½

This film has Judd Nelson in it. Do you really need any reviews to know how bad it is? I suppose that's supposed to be some "clever" reference to Breakfast Club since they both involve annoying kids in detention halls after school hours -- but that type of shallow reference should give you insight into how tortured the scriptwriting is.

The Room
The Room(2003)

Awful in a marvelously, horrible way! I love this hot mess of a film because the problems are just so obvious. Nothing is followed up on in the script. The actors are terrible. The script is beyond nauseating. There is no artistry whatsoever! Quite simply, it is a feast on franks and beans with boxed wine for the movie connoisseur. If you are prepared and know what you're in for, this film is just fabulous beyond measure!

Oblivion
Oblivion(2013)

Does anyone remember when Tom Cruise starring used to be a reason to see a film? To my mind, "Tom Cruise" on the marquee is just the hallmark of a bizarre and confusing film. I'm swearing off this fellow's films.

Maurice
Maurice(1987)
½

Is being gay really this boring?

Three Kings
Three Kings(1999)
½

A great war film with flawed, unheroic characters. Captures the mercenary spirit of (some) soldiers which undoubtedly exists but is rarely portrayed in war films. There is a beautiful sense of isolation and desperation depicted in this gritty film.

The Hangover Part III
½

If you want proof that not every successful film should be churned into a trilogy as now seems the fashion, look no further. I might have enjoyed the movie more if it had been acted by the monkey from Part II as a one-man show. The monkey certainly could have pulled off better dialogue.

Strange Fruit

The only mystery in this film is how it made it past the story boards.

Paris Is Burning

A timeless, classic LBGT film. Quite bold for its time...which I guess means it isn't exactly "timeless"....still....

Flicka
Flicka(2006)
½

Awful action; worse script. Shallow characters no one could believe or care about. I just wanted to grab the reigns and ride Flicka full-trot to the glue factory. A total waste of time. I was mostly offended by the immoral message imparted to children which seems to approve sassing their parents.

Blazing Saddles
½

Mel Brooks is at his best in this dated but hilarious film.

The Hangover Part II
½

Pathetic. And I don't mean just the characters. This film's a mess.

J. Edgar
J. Edgar(2011)
½

Great performances by DiCaprio and Armie Hammer. The film is put together well.

Silent Movie
Silent Movie(1976)

Clever idea for a 15 minute short film is dragged out to a full-length feature. Not only does the gimmick get old fast, but the non-silent era stars don't have the chops to pull off expressive silent acting. I almost never laughed. At least the theater will be quiet enough for you to fall asleep during this dud.

Murder by Decree
½

Decently exciting film for 1979. Christopher Plummer delivers a strong and subtle performance, but cannot hold a candle to Robert Downey, Jr.'s Holmes.

Life Stinks
Life Stinks(1991)

Heck! This MOVIE stinks! Not funny in the least.

Private Benjamin
½

Goldie Hawn -- I remember when she was cute. Sadly, cute grimaces don't make up for talent.

Protocol
Protocol(1984)

Non-offensive. Unexciting. Unfunny. Sounds like the perfect fit for a film about the State Department in the Reagan era.

Sleuth
Sleuth(2007)
½

Not as good as the original, but if you never saw that, it's got some twists worth seeing. Doubt this film will hit Branagh's resume.

Murder on the Orient Express

Great cast, but somewhat underutilized. Good mystery.

Journey 2: The Mysterious Island

Journey to ridiculous. But nice visuals/SFX. The Rock delivers the same crappola performance he's famous for...sadly.

The Loving Story

A powerful bit of history everybody should know. A very well put together documentary.

Bewitched
Bewitched(2005)
½

It's a sad day indeed when Michael Caine appears in the same film as Will Ferrell. Incompetent writing, mismatched cast and absurd dialogue make this film a dud.

Judge Dredd
Judge Dredd(1995)
½

Terribly acted. The script was mindlessly drafted. There's little of note in this film other than how "m'eh" it was.

Shutter Island
½

Imaginative and intriguing film. There's some really good acting in this film. You'll probably have to see it more than once to fully appreciate the story.

A Haunted House

Unimaginative and unsophisticated. Satire requires wit...this is just dumb.

A League of Their Own

A light-hearted story with a marginally-talented cast (e.g., Madonna, Rosie O'Donnell, Jon Lovitz, Lori Petty, Geena Davis -- not real powerhouse actors). Tom Hanks seems to be the center of gravity in this film -- but then again, he's the only one who's really pulling off the whole "acting" thing. Despite its flaws, it's a thoroughly enjoyable film with a great soundtrack.

The Aviator
The Aviator(2004)

An interesting biopic well-acted by DiCaprio. Nothing very bold about the film but it is well shot.

What Dreams May Come
½

A sumptuous, delicious reverie on life, death and relationships. Strong dramatic acting by Robin Williams and stunning visuals for the time. A truly beautiful and imaginative film.

Snatch
Snatch(2001)
½

An intriguing, interwoven plot. Much funnier than I expected. Pitt's accent was weak, but not to the point of distraction. Sometimes hard to discern the dialog due to heavy accents from the rest the cast. Still, thoroughly enjoyable caper.

Awakenings
Awakenings(1990)
½

Touching...but not really moving. Well-acted.

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King

Wonderful on every level. Love the characters and special effects. One of the biggest, most massive battle scenes ever put on the silver screen. A great end to a monumental epic.

The Day After Tomorrow
½

Nice special effect but not really a good story or good acting.

Batman & Robin

Well, at least Chris O'Donnell's nice to look at -- but that's about it for the "positives". The rest is a boring mess.

White Chicks
White Chicks(2004)
½

Funny. Offensive, but funny. Better than I'd have expected from the Wayans. Terry Crews is a comedic wunderkind. Props to Crews.

Generation Um...

It's sad to see how far a star can fall. Keanu: take some acting lessons already!

The World Is Not Enough

Amazingly, they made a Bond film that's ruined by the talentless Bond Girl. Denise Richards may be pretty to look at, but she's gotta learn to keep her mouth shut if she wants to remain attractive. Stick to pin-up work, Toots!

Cruising
Cruising(1980)

Interesting film -- if for no other reason than to see gay stereotypes from the late 1970s and early 1980s. Bold role for Paccino, played convincingly.

Star Struck
Star Struck(1994)

Pathetic, ham-handed acting by Kirk Cameron. Stupid script. Skip it.

Eastern Promises

A solid gangster film with some fresh (and some cliched) messages. Viggo Mortensen has an intriguingly reserved performance that added a great deal to the film's effectiveness. Definitely worth seeing, even if it lacks some of the punch that the typical gangster film delivers.

Psycho
Psycho(1998)

Don't know why there's so much hate for this remake. Hitchcock was great, but there's nothing wrong with imitation if it freshens or adds new dimensions. As Mattheson said, "What is borrowed must be repaid with interest." Handel openly copied others' works to great acclaim -- even copying and reshaping his own earlier music. So did Mozart when he recast Handel's Messiah and Acis & Galetea. As did Brahms in his "remake": Variations on a Theme of Haydn. Or Benjamin Britten's A Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra (which "borrowed" it's theme from Henry Purcell). Even Alfred Hitchcock's remake of "The Man Who Know Too Much" was much better than the original -- directed 25-30 years earlier by Alfred Hitchcock! I'm just saying: lay off the hate. It's no insult to have a new approach to a classic...and it's a tribute to the quality of the original when a major artist (like Van Sant) remakes/revises a cinematic masterpiece.

Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters

I don't understand why they made this movie. The studio clearly didn't care enough to bother developing a script, and they plainly thought there was no sequel potential or they would have tried to write characters about whom audience members might care. Someone seems to have made a decision to rely exclusively on CGI and blood-spilling, hoping that would be enough to get tickets sold. Hansel and Gretel joins the ignominious ranks of Brothers Grimm and Red Riding Hood (2011) as recent fairytale fails.

The Princess Bride
½

Amusing. Probably Cary Elwes best film, but that doesn't really establish him in the pantheon of cinematic greats. And why are they still making films with Mandy Patinkin in them? Doesn't he play the Pan flute for a living nowadays?

Judgment at Nuremberg
½

A bit overacted by Montgomery Clift, but stellar performances by Spencer Tracy and Maximilian Schell. Amazingly, even Marlene Dietrich was good. In any event, it's a great story. For those of you into good black-and-white films, this is recommended.

Steel Magnolias (2012)
½

Distasteful and pathetic attempt to remake a classic. This film demonstrates why the professionals should not do "warm up" for the amatures.

The Breakfast Club

A self-indulgent monument to the cultural wasteland that was the 1980's. Nearly competent acting for a script bereft of larger meaning. Never really answers the fundamental question, "Why should I care?" Sadly, this may be John Hughes best film.

Tron Legacy
Tron Legacy(2010)
½

A sad attempt to capture some of the magic of a dated film. The special effects were pretty good though.

Soldier's Girl

Made for TV quality, but a good and bold story. Props to Shawn Hatosy for his strong performance.

Zoolander
Zoolander(2001)

Very funny and clever satire of an industry that takes itself too seriously. My favorite Ben Stiller movie, by far!

Drive
Drive(2011)

Much slower pace than I anticipated -- it's not really an action film. Gosling, like always, delivers an excellent performance.

Lord of War
Lord of War(2005)

Nicolas Cage is the worst actor ever.

Star Trek Into Darkness

Thoroughly enjoyable, exciting sci-fi action. Zachary Quinto has a perfect command of the Spock character. Cumberbatch was excellent as the "villain" (I won't reveal the character's name!) I'm saddened that J. J. Abrams is leaving the franchise for that ridiculous step-brother franchise.

Behind the Candelabra

Superb acting by Michael Douglas. Strong performances by Matt Damon and Dan Akroyd. The largely recreated locations and costumes were spot-on, although an eye for detail could tell the costumes cheated a bit with flashy fabric that didn't exist in the 1970s. But then again, Soderbergh likely didn't have Liberace's budget! The film was true to the book, although my impression from reading the book was that the romance was a little more one-sided. I have been waiting for nearly 2 years to see the film come out, and it was well worth the wait. Liberace was a supremely interesting character living and thriving in a time when he really might not have been accepted. The symbiotic denial issues of the man and of society are equally fascinating, as is brought to life in this film.

Fireproof
Fireproof(2008)

I have no words for how bad this film is. The clumsy script is an insult to the message...and the acting is worse than sinful. Dimensionless, flat acting by an incompetent Kirk Cameron is notable. Does God really want people in marriages to be so emotionally deficient they blindly grasp at the ridiculous? I doubt even Jesus would forgive the film makers.

A Dangerous Method

The acting is above average, but not great. Even if the story is true, it's still uninspiring -- and frankly, I was bored. The costumes, hair and lighting were all high-quality.

Manon of the Spring (Manon des Sources)
½

Raves for the prior film, Jean de Florette. This film, however, is bizarre and unsettling. Story is nowhere near as brilliantly conceived or beautiful. Seems like a straight-to-video bit of billingsgate rushed to market by a slasher film director. I give it a "M'eh".

Jean De Florette

A beautiful film in every way. Well, almost every way -- Gerard Depardieu is not handsome even when caught on film when he was young and thin. Despite his aesthetic challenges, the story is marvelous and beautifully acted.

Jack Reacher
Jack Reacher(2012)

Like most Tom Cruise movies for the last 10-15 years, this one was hard to follow at first. And Tom Cruise is a bit old to play some of these types of characters. It was almost humorous in a scene close to the start of the film when old-man Cruise beat up a group of 5 young, purportedly hired thugs who should have known what they were doing. It's kind of sad to see where Cruise's career and vanity have taken him.

Super 8
Super 8(2011)

J.J. Abrams' most boring project. There's hardly even any aliens/monsters on screen to justify it as an Abrams-Spielberg film. A profound let-down for fans of these two giants.

Rush Hour 3
Rush Hour 3(2007)

There's not much reason for this film. There's nothing new in it and it's preposterous.

Texas Chainsaw

There's no "there" there. Someone at the studio wasn't thinking when they put this one together.

History of the World---Part I

A truly funny, episodic comedy. Kahn is great and the musical numbers are memorable.

The Silence of the Hams

The Master has lost his touch. So sad.

The Celluloid Closet
½

A decent historical reflection, if not somewhat self-indulgent.

The Big Gay Musical
½

High production values for an indie gay film, but really -- not the excellent film the reviews might reflect. I found it emotionally esurient and shallow with acting on par with Missouri community theater. Weren't these guys featured players on "Off Pitch"?

Boys Briefs 2

Just because it's a melange doesn't mean it has to be a hodge-podge.

Keine Lieder über Liebe
½

Vater, Vater! Varum hast du mich verlassen?!

TRON
TRON(1982)

I loved this movie when I was a kid in the early 1980s. Having seen it again as an adult, it's pretty stupid. But I guess it captures the wonder and imagination abounding when personal computing and video games were new. Interesting as an historical time capsule.

Beauty and the Beast

Magical and wonderful. Bright and vivid animation. Brilliant music with some of the best lyric writing you'll see in musical entertainment. Highly recommended for children and adults alike.

King Arthur
King Arthur(2004)

Great war film! Bizarre history angle, but I loved it!

Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves
½

A professionally made, solid film. One of the few Costner hasn't ruined.

The King and I

Great musical if not somewhat racist with Yul Brynner playing an Asian king.

A Passage to India

Beautiful cinematography.

Iron Man
Iron Man(2008)
½

Just a fun film. Robert Downey, Jr. plays an interesting hero.

Coraline
Coraline(2009)

Interesting story and fabulous animation. Not your usual animated feature -- a bit darker than I expected.

How the Grinch Stole Christmas

A Christmas classic wonderfully narrated by Boris Karloff (!!!) Having seen it again as an adult, it did not impress me as magically superb as it did as a child. But then again, what does?

Pariah
Pariah(2011)

The struggle and pain are palpable. An extraordinary performance by Oduye giving voice to a segment of the LGBT community I have never gotten to know. My life was enriched for having seen this film.

Leprechaun
Leprechaun(1993)
½

Awful film, but it has a campy value.

Law Abiding Citizen

Fun and exciting. I enjoyed it a great deal.

Captain Corelli's Mandolin

Nicolas Cage ruins yet another movie that might have been good.

A Royal Affair
½

Beautiful and enthralling.

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan

Without question, the best Star Trek film until the franchise was renewed by J.J. Abrams.

Immortals
Immortals(2011)
½

Visually stunning, but not the best storytelling.

This is 40
This is 40(2012)
½

Humorous, but didn't strike a chord in me. Additionally, the film is 30 minutes too long.

Premium Rush
Premium Rush(2012)

Fun, but not as exciting as I had anticipated.

The Long Walk Home
½

Great history lesson re the Montgomery bus boycott. However, production values are low and the acting is less than compelling. This could have been a much more powerful film.

Lincoln
Lincoln(2012)

Excellent acting by Day-Lewis and Fields. One rare film in that Gordon-Levitt is not compelling, for a change. It's also one heck of a history lesson.

The Four Feathers
½

Don't care what anyone else says. This is my second-favorite Heath Ledger film (second only to Brokeback Mountain). And Wes Bentley -- for all his personal problems -- is FRICKIN' HAWT in this film. (Wes -- hit me up on Flixster if you wanna date, m'kay?) Costumes and location magic? Holla!

Gigli
Gigli(2003)

OMG! It's like watching a train wreck (without the dead people). Sadly, I can't say there are no injuries -- at least as far as public respect might go. I thought this was so bad that on reflection, it became funny. Think "funny" in the sense that "The Room" is funny for all its delicious incompetence. This movie is a must-see for anyone into truly bad cinema -- but if you're looking for simple entertainment or nonvegitative stimulation, this film ain't for you.

I Love You, Man

Funny but cliched. I don't really get what the point of such a movie is, but maybe they don't all need to have a point if they make you smile for a few moments.

Meet the Fockers
½

As the title suggests -- this ain't highbrow entertainment. Nevertheless, it's passable.

Night at the Museum
½

Non-threatening. Non-offensive. Non-intersting but somehow still pleasant.

Wedding Crashers

Amusing, but nothing special.

4:44 Last Day on Earth

I couldn't get very far into this absurd movie. I gave my copy away to an artsy friend. She couldn't finish it either. Trash. It's just trash. Mercifully, the movie's short so you can at least tell people you got half way through it.

Contagion
Contagion(2011)

Epicly bad movie, with great stars and good acting that can't overcome a really, really, REALLY bad script. I almost would rather having the sickness than watch this fail of a movie again. The wretching you hear ain't the virus...it's the audience.

The Flying Scotsman

Nothing special. And, as an American, my hand was constantly on the rewind button so I could understand all the Scotish accents. Noot m'eh fehvrut moovie, bu' it wus a gud sturie.

Perfume: The Story of a Murderer

Great costumes and good acting. But the story's a bit...odd. Not a satisfying conclusion at all.

My Boy Jack
My Boy Jack(2007)

Surprisingly strong film, but it would have been more thought provoking with deeper examination of the post-mortem effects on the family. Jack's sister virtually vanishes from the struggle, and Kipling's interaction with the king is so devoid of expression (at least as to Jack) as to become filler. Kim Cattrall's performance was magnificent and makes the movie worth seeing on it's own. Kudos to Daniel Radcliffe for continuing to step outside the Harry Potter box and proving he's an actor of substance beyond the franchise.

Paranormal Activity

OMG! Why?! Are people really THAT stupid?

The Perks of Being a Wallflower

If you can manage watching the first hour of the film without contemplating your own teen suicide, then you must have read the book. I read the book and I was still bored to tears. Last 15 minutes of the film are worthwhile, if you're not in a stupor when you get to that point.

Argo
Argo(2012)

Very good and compelling. Strong performance by Alan Arkin and Garber. Still -- Best movie of the year?! Not quite, in my opinion. It was very good, but not stunning.

Valentine's Day

LOLZ! Got this movie download free for joining some movie download service. Even though it was free, I still feel I was ripped off. It would be a perfect Valentine's Day movie if vomiting in your mouth a little bit counted as a "kiss". Cummon, Gary Marshall. Enough with the dreck!

The Stoning of Soraya M.

Anyone interested in what goes on in religio-fascist cultures should see this horrifying and moving film about a woman tortured and ostracized for little reason other than that she's a woman. Powerful film.

The Man Who Knew Too Much

Top notch Hitchcock film. Gotta love the Cold War if Dorris Day's in it!

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

Lots of people have commented this movie is boring at the start. Those people are wrong, stupid and/or stupid-wrong. I never lost interest. Lots of action, exciting fantasy and good (if not excellent) acting. Fun and exciting story with great soundtrack. A great first installment in the series. (And BTW -- "No"; I'm not a Tolkien fan-geek and I never read the book...so bugger off haters!)

The Name of the Rose (Der Name der Rose)

One of my favorite films of all time! This little-known film features strong performances from Sean Connery, F. Murray Abraham and a strange and unsettling William Hickey. This is probably Christian Slater's first big role, in which there is some momentary full-frontal nudity. I read an article 20 years ago where Slater said he truly regretted exposing himself on film. Well, Mr. Slater -- I don't regret it!

Jane Eyre
Jane Eyre(2011)
½

This movie is why I fell in love with Michael Fassbender. Ask me to marry you, Michael. I'd say, "yes"!

Les Misérables
½

Fantastic music and awesome costumes. Visually rich. I bought the CD and have listened nonstop! The only drawback is the actors were chosen for acting skills -- clearly, not for singing skills. Crowe sounds like a hoarse horse and Hugh Jackman's...well...he sounds old. Surprisingly strong performance from Radmayne! Anne Hatahaway can do no wrong.

The Master
The Master(2012)

An excellent film. Although in the trailers, it struck me as a film based on L. Ron Hubbard, he's really just a prop for the subject of alcoholism and addiction. I didn't really get the film until the final scene with the flash back -- and then it all fell in place. I will watch it again and again ... giving special thought to the phone call in the theater, which I think is telling. I highly recommend this film.

Looper
Looper(2012)

Well-acted with good CGI. People into the genre will anticipate the end...and will be irked by the logical inconsistencies therein. Still, a fun film if you aren't too thoughful about it. Sadly, this is not one of Joseph Gordon-Levitt's best performances. But then again, even bad Gordon-Levitt is good.

Skyfall
Skyfall(2012)
½

Good movie with much more drama than usual, but not as action packed.

The Loved One
½

A very, very funny film featuring everyone famous in 1964. Irreverent and scandalous (at least for the time). The cameo by Liberace is to die for! If you're in a retro mood and ready for a brouhaha that would knock Amy Semple McPherson on her righteous back, see "The Loved One"!

The Right Stuff

The heroes walking under our noses may have been walking on the moon as well. A great history lesson for those jaded in the age of technology. (Gotta admit that "Apollo 13" is betther, though.)

All the Right Moves
½

Not quite powerful, but solid for a film made in the (generally) vapid 1980s.

Billy Elliot
Billy Elliot(2000)

Touching story about the strength and integrity of both the conventional "Everyman" and those born to be different (or exceptional). I cannot recommend this film more highly. I got all verklempt watching this. Beautiful in a simple and honest way.

Twelve Monkeys (12 Monkeys)

Strange. Disturbing. Over-the-top. Yet, strangely involving. Brad Pitt's acting is unique in this flick. Enjoy -- on an unconventional evening.

Beastly
Beastly(2011)

Another film that appears to have been snatched out of the pages of a high school girl's journal. Immature characters with vapid character development -- which is particularly problematic when teenage character development is the whole point of the film. And that Olsen girl?! Awful! Stick to lunch pail modeling, Mary Kate!

The Beast
The Beast(1988)

The film tries too hard to be poigniant and it just doesn't work. None of the actors really connected or performed well. Nevertheless, an interesting true-life story, but not really compelling...especially post-911.

Les Miserables

A bit overdone, I think. Liam Neeson was the only strong performance. Uma Thurman was just too much. Sadly, even Geoffrey Rush didn't sell. Nevertheless, it has pretty, authentic locations and costumes -- so that's worth something.

The Chorus (Les Choristes)
½

Touching and moving film about the profound impact youth and hope can have on the roadweary willing to take chances and accept the hands dealt...and vice versa. Really worth seeing for anyone who was inspired by a teacher in their youth or who thinks thay may have inspired others.

Murder by Death
½

If you know the historical touchstones from early 20th century crime fiction, this is a fantasticly funny film. Any how can you not LOVE Truman Capote?! Q: How do you stay looking so young? Answer: "A pure vegitable diet, 10 hours of sleep at night, and LOTS and LOTS of makeup."

54
54(1998)

M'eh. Watch "Boogie Nights" for a real film about drugs, partying, hedonism and loss!

Coriolanus
Coriolanus(2011)
½

Not the most impressive performances by Fiennes or Butler. Brian Cox is fantastic, however. Vanessa Redgrave seems like she's just getting old. Effective modernized setting, but as with Baroque operas, the characters' motivations are too idealized and dated to be compelling.

Titus
Titus(1999)

My favorite Shakespeare movie. Anthony Hopkins and Jessica Lange are terrific. Visually impressive.

Richard III
Richard III(1995)

Ian McKellen is Mesmerizing in this performance. The modernized setting and story-telling are a bit off-putting.

Bent
Bent(1997)
½

Strange story but powerful none the less. Ian McKellen is perfect for the role. Clive Owen gives a surprisingly strong performance, but I'm not sure he's necessarily who I would have envisioned for the role. Cinamatography is not the strongest.

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas (The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas)
½

Moving film about those in concentration camps in WWII. Good performances.

The Lives of Others

Chilling and powerful. Yes -- it's in German. Get over it.

Much Ado About Nothing
½

Really a good, heart-warming story. As usual, Keanu Reeves is awful. If you can't do an English accent, don't try! Thankfully, Keanu's role is minimal.

Henry V
Henry V(1989)

Good. But too much left out.

Equilibrium
Equilibrium(2002)

This is "Matrix" before it was fully developed...plus a drop of "Gattica". You might prefer to skip this film and watch those two films instead.

The Machinist

Bale is amazing, as always. But this is a strange film.

Batman Begins

I love action and I love Christian Bale. This film won't disappoint!

The Prestige
The Prestige(2006)
½

Enjoyable -- with a twist!

3:10 to Yuma
3:10 to Yuma(2007)
½

Very good western film. Strong performances by Bale and Crowe.

The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus
½

Strange. Made stranger by the cobbled together reworking after Ledger's death. I could have done without seeing this.

The Dark Knight

Bale is perfect as Batman. Heath Ledger's final performance was really strong. Good action film and highly recommended.

The Dinner Game (Le Dîner de cons)

Much better fil than the awful Hollywood remake. Thoroughly enjoyable French comedy.

The Fighter
The Fighter(2010)

Bale gives an excellent performance. A strong film.

Buried
Buried(2010)

Finally a movie that shows Ryan Reynolds can act. Great film making -- considering the entire film happens in a box! It's worth it just to see technique.

The Flowers of War

I thought this was a very good war-time film about an unusual/unexpected situatuion. Ni Ni's performance was solid. Bale's characted didn't have much of an opportunity to shine, however.

The Dark Knight Rises
½

Bale's the best Batman. Exciting action film. I love Anne Hathaway -- and she was much better than I expected in this role. The Bane character, on the other hand, seems flat. I would have liked the film better without Bane, and just Salina.

Splash
Splash(1984)

Decent. Both these actors got better as they years went on. Don't expect tour de force performances here.

Gung Ho
Gung Ho(1986)
½

Almost okay for the times. Way too dated now.

Backdraft
Backdraft(1991)

Good film. Good story. Almost good acting (I'm looking at you, Kurt Russell.)

Far and Away
Far and Away(1992)

Pleasant film, if you're of Irish ancestry. Nothing is really special about the film. Some of the acting is vapid, the costumes are nothing special, but I do like the sound track.

Ransom
Ransom(1996)

I don't recommend Mel Gibson films. This one's just average.

A Beautiful Mind

"A Beautiful Mind" is a beautiful film. Crowe's performance is excellent (and almost makes me forget what a schmuck he's reported to be in real life.) I highly recommend this film.

The Alamo
The Alamo(2004)
½

A good historical film, but I've seen better. Quaid has one of his best performances (in my opinion), but that's not saying much. Thornton was good. Jason Patric and Patrick Wilson were m'eh.

The Da Vinci Code

I don't think it lived up to the hype. Tom Hanks is an excellent actor, but this is not his best performance. His character just doesn't have the depth it should have. And the story isn't that easy to follow.

Changeling
Changeling(2008)
½

Enjoyable, historical drama. Not my favorite, but not bad either.

Frost/Nixon
Frost/Nixon(2008)
½

Ron Howard's strength as a director is telling true historical tales with a drama that is lost in history books. Langella's performance is solid. Sheen's performance may be the best I've seen from him to date.

Apollo 13
Apollo 13(1995)

This is the bast space-themed movie ever. I had no idea of the true-life drama that went on during the space program but director Ron Howard presents it perfectly. Strong performances by Hanks and Sinise. Ed Harris is pich perfect.

Angels & Demons

It's just fun. Mindless fun. Nothing particularly good or bad about it.

Marie Antoinette

A surprisingly strong film. Costumes and locations are simply fantastic. Strong story/script. You'll do yourself a favor if you see this film.

Amadeus
Amadeus(1984)

Who doesn't love this film? The costumes and locations alone are a feast for the eyes. (Of course, the historical accuracy is close to zero, but I still love it as a period film.)

Apocalypto
Apocalypto(2006)
½

Rent this -- don't buy it. That way you'll feel less digusted with yourself for seeing a Mel Gibson film. Otherwise, it's excellent.

Braveheart
Braveheart(1995)

I love me some good historical dramas -- although this one has a number of historical inaccuracies that I found hard to swallow. I also hate Mel Gibson...so there's that.

The Guns of Navarone

An exciting action film about WWII. David Niven is a little absurd, and the romance story was not executed as well as it could have been. Nevertheless, its a favorite war film of mine.

The Great Escape

Exciting, action-packed film. I think this is McQueen's best performance.

The Sand Pebbles

Wonderful film with a wonderful story.

Gandhi
Gandhi(1982)

Ben Kingley is excellent. (I still cannot forgive him for appearing in Uwe Boll's "Bloodrayne", which is shameful!) A powerful story and a definite must-see film.

Out of Africa

Excellent acting. This is the film I think of when I hear Klaud Maria Brandauer's name. And Maryl Streep can do no wrong. Solid performance by Redford. Beautiful film making.

Mrs. Winterbourne
½

Absolutely charming romance. Brendan Fraser, for once, does not deliver an absurd performance. An Shiley MacLaine is wonderful.

BloodRayne
BloodRayne(2006)

Terrible film. How does Ben Kingsly live with himself? Has he no shame? The script seems like it came right out of an 8th-grade student's creative writing journal. Bleh! (Still, it gets a star because it's not as bad as director Uwe Boll's insulting film, "Alone in the Dark".)

Milk
Milk(2008)

Great film with strong performances by the entire cast. An important part of American history that is under-reported to the general public. Any American interested in civil rights should see this film.

Beautiful Thing

Touching film with quite capable actors. As an American, however, I must say that it was often difficult to follow the dialogue due to the thick accents and use of unfamiliar British slang. Despite this difficulty, I would recommend this movie highly to an American looking for a well-done, meaningful LGBT film.

The King's Speech

I can't imagine how an actor could play a person with a stutter so perfectly. Colin Firth really is an exceptional actor. Fine performaces all around. Costumes and locations were perfect. If you like historical movies, you'll love this film.

Brokeback Mountain

Amazing on every level. Cinamatography is excellect. Story is powerful. Without question, the finest performance that Heath Ledger ever gave -- and probably the best performance from Gyllenhaal too. This is one of those rare films where the silence says more than the dialogue. An absolute must-see movie.

The Patriot
The Patriot(2000)
½

I'm ashamed to admit that I really, really like this film considering who the director is. So let me say that the film drags in lots of places. And the acting, while good, is not excellent. I encourage rental as opposed to purchase.

The Matrix
The Matrix(1999)

Fantastic special effects and creative story. Neo is possibly the only role that Reeves handles appropriately.

The Passion of the Christ

Unnecessary and gimicky. Is speaking throughout the movie in Latin and Aramaic somehow supposed to make the viewer feel closer to Christ? I wouldn't expect much more from a director with a bias against the people depicted in the film.

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

Heartwarming. I absolutely love all of these actors. Wilkinson is sublime as always. Maggie Smith has one of her least appealing roles in which her limited character is not afforded an opportunity to display the depth and humanity (through most of the film) for which Smith is famous.

Marvel's The Avengers
½

Pleasant experience. Coherent story (which is no guaranty in a comic book based movie!). Fabulous special effect (which IS a guarantee in a comic book based movie). Definitely worth seeing.

Fright Night
Fright Night(2011)

A solid remake. I would imagine someone other than Yelchin could have made a more appealing star, but he was adequate for the role. Farrell as the vampire nextdoor, "Jerry", was an interesting but enjoyable choice.

Contact
Contact(1997)
½

Fascinating story about first alien contact. Brilliant story telling in which complex ideas are communicated simply enough to be understood by a non-technogeek audience. (I could have done with a little less religious grandstanding though.)

The English Patient

Excellent, moving film. Fiennes can do no wrong. This is one of the few films in which I appreciated Willen Defoe's acting.

The Son of No One
½

I liked it despite Ray Liota being in it. This isn't Tatum's best performance, but it wasn't his worst either. Plus, that moustache is kinda sexy.

Heartbreak Ridge
½

Maybe because it's dated now, but I didn't think it was Eastwood's best performance.

Descent
Descent(2007)
½

Strange and unsettling -- apparently for no reason.

Citizen X
Citizen X(1995)
½

Interesting bit of history. Steven Rea does a good job. Donald Southerland could have passed on this role.

Felon
Felon(2008)

A bit sappy, but the acting was better than expected.

The Sea Wolves

Exciting adventure story..amazingly based on real events. The sound editing could have been better, though.

'Breaker' Morant

Zulu. The Man Who Would Be King. Breaker Morant. I just love jingoism!

Rope
Rope(1948)

Awesome, considering the challenges of filming such a script. Really good performances.

Christopher And His Kind
½

Production values could be better, but it is a good film. Interesting attempt to capture the zeitgeist of Nazi Germany and the place of gay men in that society.

The Iron Lady
½

Fantastic cast. Meryl Streep can do no wrong. She's unbelieveable as Margaret Thatcher.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
½

The Swedish ones are just a lot better. Yes, they have subtitles...but they're better.

Man on a Ledge
½

Not as bad as the reviews. It kept me interested.

The Hunger Games

The film is wanting if you read the book recently. But for a movie adaptation, it's close to the book. Jennifer Lawrence does a fantastic job. Woody Harelson was probably the wrong choice for Haymitch, however. And who knew Lenny Kravitz could act! Bravo, Lenny!

The Raven
The Raven(2012)
½

Oh my God! What?! I couldn't follow the story for all the plot holes. Really, not worth it. John Cusak does not seem suited for the role. On the positive side: it's a goodlooking film with nice costumes.

Battleship
Battleship(2012)

Contrived and kind of stupid at times. Still, it is a fun, mindless action film...if you don't feel the need to question why things are happening.

Prometheus
Prometheus(2012)

Creative, exciting, engaging. Fassbender is eerie and off-putting (which is appropriate for the role). Theron is great, as always, but her character is too empty to have an impact in this movie.

Snow White and the Huntsman
½

A creative adaptation making the movie darker and more adult than the fairytale. Stewart seems like she is reprising her Twilight role, and that makes the story a bit less accessible. Charlize Theron is great. Chris Hemsworth is m'eh.

John Carter
John Carter(2012)
½

It's nothing really new, but it's good for what it is.

Red Tails
Red Tails(2012)

The movie has a made-for-TV feel to it and unremarkable characters. Nevertheless, it's an interesting history lesson.

Safe House
Safe House(2012)
½

Engaging and exciting. Denzel Washington gives his typical, strong performance...although it is "typical" in that his character really isn't much different than what you've seen before in several other films. Of course, Ryan Reynolds is always a treat to look at for two hours regardless of the film.

Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol
½

Fun and action packed. Everyting a Mission Impossible film should be, although Cruise may be reaching the end of the line for credible action star status.

Snow White and the Huntsman (Extended Version)

Charlize Theron gives a strong performance. Kristen Stewart's brooding Snow White didn't seems to work and at times, I thought she was playing Bella from the Twilight series. Chris Hemsworth's character was not as deep as he should have been. Still, it was visually impressive and was a good grown-up version of the fairytale.

The Ides of March

This is my favorite political thriller of all time. Gosling and Clooney can do no wrong.

Lockout
Lockout(2012)

Really...really...not good. This is Guy Pearce's hammiest performance that I have seen. Still, it's somewhat diverting on an afternoon when you're looking to vege-out.

Wrath of the Titans
½

The original with Harry Hamlin is easier to follow and has a better story. But the special effects in the 2012 film are great.

Green Lantern

I'm not familiar with the underlying comic book character so I can't comment on the film's similarities. That said, I didn't think it was as bad as some people were saying. I enjoyed it and would watch it again. Then again, it's hard not to watch any movie with Ryan Reynolds in it....

Horrible Bosses

I don't get what all the hype was about. Amusing, but not particularly inspired.