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‘Novitiate’ depicts women grappling with their faith in a time of transition

(11/03/17 8:46am)

The Vatican II era of the Roman Catholic Church in the 1960s was a watershed moment for the faith. It marked the transition from the archaic -- but time-honored -- traditions of the church to more accepting, liberal policies under Pope John XIII. In “Novitiate,” writer and director Margaret Betts explores how these changes impact a group of young women who decide to devote their lives to God, as well as a veteran of the faith who feels as though the church is leaving her behind.


'Wonderstruck' is just not wondrous enough

(11/02/17 8:45pm)

Directed by Todd Haynes and based on the book by Brian Selznick, “Wonderstruck” tells the stories of two deaf children as they go on separate adventures in different time periods to search for something missing in their familial lives. Unfortunately, both tales aren’t all that compelling to begin with and the film has a tendency to meander, unable to balance the full complexities of both characters.  


Rory Kennedy and the zone of discomfort

(10/27/17 11:38pm)

After filmmaker Rory Kennedy screened her new documentary, “Take Every Wave” about the life of big wave surfer Laird Hamilton, in New York recently, a man approached her and said he’d finally go into the ocean, even though he was terrified of the water and had never been in it before. “So, for him, that’s his wave,” Kennedy said.


‘The Paris Opera’ hits all the right notes

(10/27/17 11:34pm)

Imagine a major terrorist attack happening on the day of your final dress rehearsal, for the first production of the season at one of your theaters, the Bastille Opera. Do you go on with the show? How do you address the situation? How can you push aside your grief and tell a story? Stéphane Lissner, the director of L’Opera National de Paris, decided that the final dress for the ballet “La Báyadere” would go on despite the Charlie Hebdo terrorist attacks that occurred that morning, and addressed the audience with class at the curtain call, asking for a moment of silence.


The scars that can’t be seen, shown on the big screen

(10/27/17 4:56pm)

Explosions. Blood. Pain. For many of those serving in the military, war leaves scars that aren’t visible to the naked eye. Director Jason Hall’s “Thank You for Your Service” documents these scars through the emotional story of three soldiers after their service in Iraq. Miles Teller portrays Adam Schumann, one of the soldiers who struggles to reconnect with his family alongside his fight with post-traumatic stress disorder. The film gives audiences a glimpse into the daily lives of military veterans, starting the conversation that the war doesn't end when they come come.



‘Suburbicon’ is as much a mess as it is a good time

(10/27/17 4:02am)

American cinema has a long tradition of taking the quiet suburban utopia and portraying it as a living hell for its inhabitants. It can be seen across all genres, from the drama “American Beauty,” where a father is tormented by his failing marriage and his lust for his teenage daughter's best friend, to the horror film “A Nightmare on Elm Street,” where the seemingly mundane lives of a group of friends are turned into a literal -- you guessed it -- nightmare.



'Dina' tests the audience with a sweet, unconventional love story

(10/23/17 1:43am)

Antonio Santini and Dan Sickles have created a sweet and interesting look into the relationship of Dina and Scott, a couple who are both afflicted with Asperger’s syndrome. The camera disappears behind the couple’s daily interactions with each other and the world around them as the documentary follows their relationship from the day that they move in together to their marriage and ends with them returning from their honeymoon. The camera is almost too good, constantly being one step ahead of the couple to the point that the filmmakers may have pushed the couple to act a certain way or move to a specific location. But, tears, laughter and the interesting story take hold of the audience as more of the story unfolds and a dark history is revealed to contrast the kindness and romance of the couple.


Tyler Perry’s 'Boo 2!' will have you on the floor laughing

(10/21/17 8:17pm)

Tyler Perry first introduced Madea in 1999 during the Atlanta screening of “I Can Do Bad All by Myself.” It wasn’t his initial decision to play the character but after an actress fell through, he had to step in because the show must go on. Tyler Perry’s Boo 2! A Madea Halloween is the 14th studio movie where Perry worked as a director, producer, writer and actor. The original film, “Boo! A Madea Halloween,” recieved mixed reviews from critics and has a 21% on Rotten Tomatoes.  The comedy-horror sequel is on track to be a major hit for Halloween season with over 100 minutes of comedic genius coming from three characters all played by Perry himself.


Sleeper Oscar pick ‘Only the Brave’ salutes firefighters and their everyday heroism

(10/21/17 8:11pm)

“Only the Brave” could not have been released at a more timely moment. As wildfires destroy communities across northern California every day, it is important to remember the burden that those who fight these fires carry, and the sacrifices they are willing to make. “Only the Brave” is a beautifully shot love letter to those who risk their lives to ensure the safety of their communities. Its characters are as riveting as its plot, only reinforcing the film’s dramatic conclusion and making its viewers feel the heat as these men fight these fires.





'Blade Runner 2049' nearly matches the original film

(10/09/17 3:33pm)

Denis Villeneuve is no rookie when it comes to making movies. With a track record that includes “Enemy,” “Prisoners,” “Sicario” and “Arrival,” I wasn’t worried that he would drop the ball on the sequel to one of my all-time favorite films: “Blade Runner.” In fact, I was ecstatic that Villeneuve had been given creative control over the film instead of Ridley Scott, the director of the original “Blade Runner,” as Scott’s modern films have left audiences disappointed time and time again. Specifically, Scott’s discussion of Blade Runner in an interview where he incoherently expressed his love for "Beevis and Butthead” only served to reinforce my support for Villeneuve being in the director’s chair.


‘Mark Felt: The Man Who Brought Down the White House’ is timely but flawed

(10/09/17 4:50am)

“Mark Felt: The Man Who Brought Down the White House” seems to prove that for Hollywood, timing can be everything. Interjecting itself neatly into the contemporary debate over the morality of leaks, this account of Mark Felt’s ─ popularly known as “Deep Throat” ─ famous leaks attempts to establish a historical precedent for the noble leaker. Unfortunately, if it weren’t for the critical importance of its subject matter, the film would not be nearly as satisfying.


'The King’s Choice' is a humanizing yet flawed glimpse into World War II

(10/06/17 7:10pm)

The Second World War was a watershed moment for the world, and since the war’s conclusion in 1945, it has been adapted to the screen from many perspectives: from the bravado and valiance of American soldiers shown in historical fiction like “Fury” and “Inglourious Basterds”, to the sobering tragedy and triumphant heroism in films based off of true events like “Schindler’s List” and “Flags of our Fathers”. “The King’s Choice” finds its place among the latter, although its plot seems too outrageous to be true.


'The Florida Project' is a clear window into another lifestyle

(10/06/17 1:22pm)

Sean Baker continues his trend of directing dramatic, directionless films that serve as a window to an American lifestyle or culture that mainstream media rarely cover. In his previous movie, “Tangerine,” he focuses on two black, transgender prostitutes working in a very dangerous neighborhood. That high intensity film is offset completely by his latest film, “The Florida Project.” Prepare to laugh and cry at the innocence of these children as you walk around with them in their rundown Florida neighborhood.


'American Made' lives up to its title, but lacks in precision

(10/03/17 5:50pm)

Tom Cruise, no matter what his personal life holds, is a bonafide, big box office movie star. Even his latest film, The Mummy, which was a critically dismissed domestic flop but boomed in China, managed to gross over $400 million. While “American Made” may be the same case, Cruise displays his ability to haul in any viewer’s attention.