Thursday, June 27, 2013


These days you can't swing a cat without hitting a self-labeled sommelier or a restaurateur touting her joint's "wine program."

Wednesday, June 26, 2013


Elie Wajeman’s “Aliyah” is one of those quiet gems in which nothing happens and everything happens. By the end, nothing has changed, yet everything has changed.

Call Me Kuchu

On a day of historic gay-rights rulings, it seems especially apt to recommend "Call Me Kuchu," Katherine Fairfax Wright's and Malika Zouhali-Worrall's eye-opening documentary about the baby steps being taken by the handful of gays and lesbians who have come out in Uganda.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Monsters University

"Monsters University" joins a long line of second films better than the firsts in their respective series: "Back to the Future Part II," "Die Hard 2: Die Harder," "Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows."

A Hijacking

In the Indian Ocean, Somali pirates overrun a cargo ship a couple of scant days from harbor .

Monday, June 24, 2013

Unfinished Song

Westsiders of a certain age (deceased) who found the sugar-pill sentimentality of Dustin Hoffman's "Quartet" too subtle and nuanced will want to chug from the large bottle of syrup labeled "Unfinished Song" that hit theaters this weekend.

Far Out Isn't Far Enough: The Tomi Ungerer Story

At one time, Tomi Ungerer was the most popular children's book author in America, until his other books - of pornographic art - got his kids' stories banned from libraries and taken out of print.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

World War Z

It’s been a while since I’ve experienced the adrenaline rush of anticipation for a movie that I had for “World War Z.”

Friday, June 21, 2013

Fame High

"Fame High," Scott Hamilton Kennedy's documentary about the L.A. County High School for the Arts (LACHSA), introduces us to four talented young people: Brittany Hayes, a blonde harpist and singer whose mother has come with her to L.A. while the rest of the family (Dad and her two sisters) remain in Baraboo, Wisconsin; Ruby McCollister, the flowing red-haired daughter of a theater producer who's been trying to sneak onto stages all her life; Zak Rios, a jazz pianist whose father channels his unfulfilled dreams of boxing glory into his son's hundreds of hours of monthly practice and the hope of one day making the cover of Jazz Times magazine; and Grace Song, a ballerina whose Korean parents own a yogurt shop and wish she would pursue a professional career outside the arts.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Hey Bartender

It's a generous two stars for the mixological documentary "Hey Bartender," which traces the history of the cocktail and its place in the American beverage industry, and introduces us to most of the key figures and dozens of the top practitioners fashioning craft cocktails today.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

20 Feet From Stardom

I discommend Morgan Neville's music documentary "20 Feet From Stardom," and nobody's more surprised about it than I.

The Wall

Julian Pölsler's adaptation of Marlen Haushofer's novel "The Wall" is a thuddingly literal fable about a woman alone in nature.

Monday, June 17, 2013

This is the End

I have no problem with in-jokes, or humor about how fabulous it is to be a Hollywood celebrity and not one of the poor saps in the paying audience.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

The Bling Ring

A number of critics have complained that Sofia Coppola’s “The Bling Ring” lacks depth and point of view. My criticism is just the opposite: I wanted even less depth and less perspective.

Man of Steel

Director Zack Snyder’s approach to the Superman saga in “Man of Steel” is probably the smartest: to pretend none of the other movies had been made.

Evocateur: The Morton Downey Jr. Movie

There are a lot of big laughs – more at him than with him – in Seth Kramer’s and Daniel A. Miller’s biodoc “Évocateur: The Morton Downey Jr. Movie.”

Friday, June 14, 2013

The History of Future Folk

Tell me a bedtime story, Wren (Onata Aprile from "What Maisie Knew") asks of her father, Bill (Nils d'Aulaire). Your favorite one? Yes, please. Okay.

Shadow Dancer

"Man on Wire" and "Project Nim" documentarian James Marsh resumes the feature director's chair for "Shadow Dancer," a quiet and understated - and modestly effective - thriller set in Belfast.

Thursday, June 13, 2013


To some extent a biographical documentary such as Tom Bean's and Luke Poling's "Plimpton!" (to which they've added the unnecessary subtitle "Starring George Plimpton as Himself") will always be a referendum on the subject.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

The Purge

Too soon. A mere fortnight after "Before Midnight," I'll have to pretend Ethan Hawke never starred in a vile piece of dreck called "The Purge."

Hannah Arendt

Margarethe von Trotta's biopic "Hannah Arendt" stars veteran German actress Barbara Sukowa as the philosopher and political scientist who in 1961 travelled to Jerusalem to cover for The New Yorker the war crimes trial of the Nazi Adolf Eichmann.

Wish You Were Here

Kieran Darcy-Smith's Aussie import "Wish You Were Here" introduces us to Dave (Joel Edgerton) and Alice (co-writer Felicity Price), a happily married Sydney couple with two kids and a third on the way.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Dirty Wars

Rick Rowley's new documentary "Dirty Wars" exposes the primacy of the secretive Joint Special Operations Command in today's war on terror.

The Internship

Google carefully saw to its portrayal in the new Vince Vaughn-Owen Wilson comedy "The Internship," but what the hell happened to quality control?

Much Ado About Nothing

Joss Whedon's "Much Ado About Nothing," filmed (between other projects) in less than two weeks at his palatial Westside estate and starring friends who've appeared in other productions of his, has the feeling - for better and worse - of a one-off throwaway.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

The East

Regular readers know how I feel about Brit Marling, the talented writer and actress who's made my honorable mention list the last two years with "Another Earth" and "Sound of My Voice."

Monday, June 3, 2013

The Kings of Summer

A miserable little movie called "The Kings of Summer" represents everything wrong with Sundance (where it was warmly received).

After Earth

"After Earth" is a grim, joyless exercise in what feels like Scientology indoctrination.

Now You See Me

The Four Horsemen are three magicians (Jesse Eisenberg, Isla Fisher, Dave Franco) and a mentalist (Woody Harrelson) of indeterminate connection who perform a series of stage spectaculars.