Saturday, December 27, 2014

Friday, December 26, 2014


Airless, flat and squirmy, Ava DuVernay’s “Selma” is the epitome of what I call the “broccoli movie”: you’re supposed to see it because it’s good for you.

Into the Woods

Rob Marshall, who directed the Oscar-winning adaptation of “Chicago” (2002), again gives moviegoers a Christmas gift with the disproportionately enjoyable “Into the Woods,” with book by James Lapine and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014


If you want to know what’s wrong with Hollywood, look no further than the Golden Globe nomination for young Quvenzhane Wallis for “Annie.”

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

She's Beautiful When She's Angry, Magician: The Astonishing Life and Work of Orson Welles

Magician: The Astonishing Life and Work of Orson Welles
She's Beautiful When She's Angry

Quick capsules on two of the week’s new documentaries:

Inherent Vice, Maps to the Stars, Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks

Inherent Vice
Maps to the Stars

Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks

Capsule reviews on the rest of the week's new features:

Top Five

Chris Rock's aggressively unfunny "Top Five" proves that he can make a picture as unenjoyable as Woody Allen's "Stardust Memories." Now all he needs to give us are thirty or forty classic films and he'll be right up there. 

Monday, December 8, 2014

Wild, Comet, Still Alice, Elsa & Fred, Voice of the King


Still Alice

Elsa & Fred
Voice of the King

Reese Witherspoon gives an appealingly relatable and unfussy performance - one worthy of an Oscar nom - as Cheryl Strayed in Jean-Marc Vallée's "Wild," which overcomes an occasionally on-the-nose script by Nick Hornby to provide a moving and highly sensory experience.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Penguins of Madagascar, Horrible Bosses 2

Penguins of Madagascar (my rating)

Penguins of Madagascar (Scruffies' rating)

Horrible Bosses 2

Quick capsules on Wednesday’s big Thanksgiving weekend releases:

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Happy Valley, National Gallery

Happy Valley
National Gallery

Amir Bar-Lev, who directed the good documentaries “My Kid Could Paint That” and “The Tillman Story” and produced the uniquely intimate Hurricane Katrina documentary “Trouble the Water,” misses the mark with the Penn State scandal sheet “Happy Valley.”

Monday, November 17, 2014

Point and Shoot, Rosewater

Point and Shoot

Documentarian Marshall Curry, whose "If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front," was one of four exceptional nominees in what may have been the category's strongest year (2011), loses his way with "Point and Shoot," a case of misplaced priorities in which the story of the Libyan revolution is told through the prism of American adventure-seeker and occasional freelance journalist Matthew VanDyke. It calls to mind all those pictures from the late 80's and early 90's (including some decent ones) in which the struggle against apartheid was reflected almost exclusively through white eyes.

The Homesman

"The Homesman" is as much a head-scratcher as its title, a two-hour exercise in the pointless prolongation of miserablist material.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

The Way He Looks, Plot for Peace

The Way He Looks
Plot for Peace

A sweetness of spirit distinguishes Brazil's official Oscar entry "The Way He Looks," directed by Daniel Ribeiro and starring Ghilherme Lobo as Leonardo, a blind high school student in São Paulo chafing at his parents' protectiveness and interested in studying abroad.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Pelican Dreams, Virunga, True Son, Big Hero 6

Pelican Dreams

True Son

Big Hero 6 (my rating)

Big Hero 6 (Big Scruffy's and Little Scruffy's rating)

Another terrific week of fall films continues with three moving and illuminating documentaries and an animated delight:

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Showrunners: The Art of Running a TV Show, The Overnighters

The Overnighters
Showrunners: The Art of Running a TV Show

Thumbs-down votes for two new documentaries, and a quick note on some upgraded star ratings:

Listen Up Philip, Force Majeure, Low Down, Nightcrawler, Wild Tales, Before I Go to Sleep

Listen Up Philip
Force Majeure

Low Down

Wild Tales
Before I Go to Sleep

The best week of the year at the movies offers half a dozen recommendations, most of them strong: