Free State of Jones (2016)

Free State of Jones (2016)

Free State of Jones features a handful of moderately powerful moments that don’t add up to a powerful overall experience. Writer/director Gary Ross’s screenplay bites off more than it can chew, resulting in a frustrating narrative structure that softens the most potent material and injects confusion at inopportune times. Newton Knight’s … Continue reading

Joy (2015)

Joy (2015)

Joy presents Jennifer Lawrence with her meatiest role since Ree in 2010’s Winter’s Bone, which fast-tracked her rise to one of Hollywood’s most sought-after actresses. With some of the lighter roles she’s taken on in recent years it’s easy to forget how effortlessly she can carry a film. Her presence alone … Continue reading

Spotlight (2015)

Spotlight (2015)

Spotlight is one of the great investigative journalism films; compelling, flawlessly acted, and successful in its invitation to join in the hunt for the truth. It’s enough to make you think twice about the easy, convenient dismissal of the importance of newspapers in our digital times. Even with an ending … Continue reading

Drunk Stoned Brilliant Dead: The Story of the National Lampoon (2015)

Drunk Stoned Brilliant Dead: The Story of the National Lampoon (2015)

Drunk Stoned Brilliant Dead: The Story of the National Lampoon is a fast-paced, often hilarious look at the magazine the defined lewd, counter-culture humor. Most contemporary audiences likely know the name and its association with such timeless cinematic comedies as Animal House, Caddyshack, and Vacation. But in its heyday the … Continue reading

Selma (2014)

Selma (2014)

Selma is one of the great emotional experiences of recent years; a fiercely powerful look at one of the Civil Rights Movement’s most triumphant victories. Perhaps even more interestingly, it peels back the layers of an icon and portrays Martin Luther King Jr. in a very human and, at times, fragile … Continue reading

Pompeii (2014)

Pompeii (2014)

Pompeii may have razor-thin characters and the least-convincing romance of the past few years, but one thing it is not is boring. As sort of a cross between Dante’s Peak, Gladiator, and Titanic, it blows up people and ancient architecture as efficiently as any disaster movie could. There are plenty of … Continue reading

Saving Mr. Banks (2013)

Saving Mr. Banks (2013)

Spoiler alert: Mary Poppins gets made. But it’s the long and frustrating journey to reach the final product that is the subject of Saving Mr. Banks, a refreshingly insightful look into the mind of the troubled author who wrote the book. This could have easily been two hours of Disney … Continue reading

Dallas Buyers Club (2013)

Dallas Buyers Club (2013)

Dallas Buyers Club represents that breed of Oscar contender where the performances are far better than the movie. Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto turn in career-defining work, but the film as a whole is pretty standard underdog fare and surprisingly cold and distant emotionally. You can’t help but feel like you … Continue reading

12 Years a Slave (2013)

12 Years a Slave (2013)

You pretty much know what you’re getting into with any movie dealing realistically with slavery. You’re going to be mad, you’re going to be sad, and you’re going to be ashamed that this was ever considered okay in our humanity’s history. 12 Years a Slave doesn’t contain any groundbreaking revelations … Continue reading