The Dies That Bind

The Skeleton Twins

“Hilarious!” say the trailers! “Really funny!” says the poster. “You are all sick people!” says me.

Yes, in parts, The Skeleton Twins is amusing. This is because stars Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig are incapable of being unfunny, especially when left alone together. But this is a movie that begins and ends with suicide attempts, contains an ongoing implosion of a marriage and explores whether one...

entered on 09/19/14 at 11:23 AM | read more »



Get Fassbent

Frank

So the whole time, Michael Fassbender wears this giant, papier-mache-style head and mumble-sings gibberish lyrics about things like snags in the carpet while other people play instruments they created out of things like toothbrushes. Welcome to Frank, a movie that is somehow nowhere near as pandemonium-inducingly insane as it sounds. In fact, it’s surprisingly sincere and legitimately sweet for a...

entered on 09/12/14 at 08:28 PM | read more »



Fall? Oh, me!

I’ve reviewed movies professionally for more than a dozen years. The few weeks immediately surrounding the end of summer has always served as Hollywood’s trash heap. Only, unlike the talking one from “Fraggle Rock,” this trash heap doesn’t offer advice so much as waste hours of people’s lives so that mid-range stars can draw a paycheck.

This post-summer blah is the worst ever. How bad is it? The...

entered on 09/05/14 at 06:12 PM | read more »



Bro-man Holiday

The Trip to Italy

First things first: The Trip to Italy, the sequel to 2010’s surprise hit The Trip, may be the whitest movie ever made. Featuring immeasurable first-world ennui, the characters talk about Percy Shelley and Lord Byron like current pop icons and play deep album cuts from Alanis Morrisette’s “Jagged Little Pill” while driving a convertible minicar. The film was one PGA endorsement deal away from the...

entered on 08/29/14 at 06:16 PM | read more »



Bleak and White

Sin City: A Dame to Kill For

Celebrated narcissist and Freddy Krueger look-a-like Frank Miller gives the women he writes a plethora of career choices. They can be prostitutes, strippers, bondage-wearing murderers or corpses. Some get to be all of those! Sin City: A Dame to Kill For is part entertaining cartoon noir, part violently fetishized relationship revenge fantasy. The first part is recommendable; the second part is...

entered on 08/22/14 at 12:43 PM | read more »



Take It Back

The Giver

Fail gloriously, if you must fail. Go down swinging for the fences, punchdrunk and confident you’re making something truly awesome that people will love, even if it winds up a steaming pile of poodoo we mock. I respect the noble fool, the proud creator of disaster who clearly put everything into a creative vision beloved by only himself. I have no respect for the people who made The Giver, a...

entered on 08/15/14 at 12:52 PM | read more »



Cinéma Very Tame

Boyhood

A few quick confessions: Because we now have cameras, modern photorealistic paintings have always been, at best, modestly captivating to me. Similarly, most films considered “fictional cinéma vérité” have struck me as dull navel-gazing. Where’s the great art in replicating something a compelling documentary can, by its very nature, do better? Maybe it’s my latent rage that documentaries never get...

entered on 08/10/14 at 05:55 PM | read more »


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The Babadook

A terrifying tale of an ooky pop-up book and motherly love.

GRADE
A


The Tale of Princess Kaguya

A water-colored take on a Japanese folktale that is prettier than it is interesting.

GRADE
B-


The Theory of Everything

"Out of this world" performances buoy a sub-par script.

GRADE
B+


Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1

Half of what promises to be an epic conclusion to a fabulous series.

GRADE
B+


Birdman

A delirously fun satirical send up of artistic pretension. 

GRADE
B+


The Overnighters

"The Grapes of Wrath" in documentary form set in North Dakota.

GRADE
A-


Interstellar

If this was humanity's last hope, give up.

GRADE
D


Nightcrawler

A condemnation of crime pornography with a chilling central character.

GRADE
A


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