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Movie Reviews

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    REVIEW | Running Scared: Claire Denis's "White Material"

    At one point in Claire Denis's ravaging new film, "White Material," Isabelle Huppert's Maria, a coffee plantation owner in an African country increasingly torn apart by escalating civil war violence, is driving her grown son, Manuel, on a tractor to bring him medical attention for a minor injury to ...

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    REVIEW | Mindlessness Over Matter: Jaco van Dormael's "Mr. Nobody"

    Quick, what do string theory, the butterfly effect, 21st-century dystopia, the possibility of quasi-immortality, the unquantifiablity of time, the impermanence of memory, death, love, second sight, the heartache of divorce, missions to Mars, and Jared Leto's baby blues have in common? After seeing "...

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    REVIEW | "Superbad" Meets "Fight Club": "Revolt" Hints At Cera's Versatility

    "Youth in Revolt" stars Michael Cera as a hyper-intelligent 16-year-old virgin desperate to escape his bubble of a boring life. If that description sounds familiar, it's because the "Arrested Development" star has done this routine before. But he does it well, and this charming romantic comedy offer...

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    REVIEW | Simplistically Charming "Capitalism" Doesn't Quite Add Up

    Michael Moore's "Capitalism: A Love Story" delivers the documentarian's standard mix of historical survey and stunt activism with a simplistic charm. Focusing on mortgage foreclosure sales and other beasts of the recession, Moore aims for a universal rallying call to action. He strings police tape around Wall Street buildings and jokingly attempts to make citizen arrests of financial top dogs. These stunts are counteracted by Moore's attention to dramatic personal stories and basically compelling overviews of the current economic climate. As a result, "Capitalism" alternates between comedic playfulness and one-dimensional investigative journa...

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    REVIEW | Hamburg with Cheese: Fatih Akin's "Soul Kitchen"

    German-Turkish director Fatih Akin's penchant for plot contrivance and convolution would seem to have found the perfect fit in the high-decibel comic confection "Soul Kitchen." Appropriately broad (as opposed to his last film, "The Edge of Heaven," which could have used more subtlety in place of its narrative glibness), Akin's new one, concerning a young man's desperate attempts to keep his roadside restaurant open and thriving amidst many setbacks, is overstuffed, more than a little too pleased with itself, yet often winning. As far as European comedies go, it's fairly by the numbers, assembling a motley crew of emphatically crazy characters...

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    REVIEW | Egoyan's Accidental Black Comedy "Chloe" Succeeds as Guilty Pleasure

    Part film noir, part unintentional B-movie parody, Atom Egoyan's "Chloe" is a weirdly compelling expansion of the themes permeating the director's work. Marred by an uneven screenplay, numerous implausibility issues and oddly dry, moody performances, it nevertheless maintains a basic guilty pleasure...

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    REVIEW | Climax First, then the Build Up: Ozon Finds Satisfaction in "Refuge"

    Francois Ozon's "Le Refuge" begins where most movies climax. It opens with junkie Parisian couple Mousse (Isabelle Carre) and Louis (Melvil Poupaud) overdosing on heroin in weary ecstasy. The next morning, Louis dies; when Mousse wakes up in a coma, she's single and pregnant. Retreating to a quiet home in the countryside, she settles into a lonely existence. Louis's brother Paul (Louis-Ronan Choisy) pays her a visit, introducing a new chance for Mousse to obtain emotional catharsis with the family of her late lover. The connection that blossoms between these two characters forms the bulk of the running time, leading to a gentle portrait of em...

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    REVIEW | Business or Pleasure: Mia Hansen-Love’s "The Father of My Children" Twists the Dark

    In "The Father of My Children" French filmmaker Mia Hansen-Love makes something oddly beautiful and complex from a basic comic template. A story of a workaholic dad who has an immensely difficult time juggling business and family, the film nevertheless takes its conventions in a unexpected direction. From the start, all the cliches are in place: a disheveled man (Louis-Do de Lencquesaing) wearing a rumpled suit negotiates about seven different associates squawking into his cell phone while rushing down a Paris sidewalk, both on foot and behind the wheel of a car. His harried wife (Chiara Caselli) sits impatiently at home with the kids, who in...

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    REVIEW | Faith No More: Bruno Dumont’s “Hadewijch”

    Following in the grand tradition of austere European filmmakers, Bruno Dumont gives religious faith quite a workout in his new film, "Hadewijch." Not that this should come as a surprise to anyone who's followed Dumont's career. One of French cinema’s most illustrious provocateurs, Dumont has moved r...

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    REVIEW | Drifting Through Layoffs: Clooney Plays his Trumpcard in Reitman's "Up in the Air"

    George Clooney may not possess tremendous range, but he sure knows his sweet spot. In "Up in the Air," the highly anticipated third feature from "Juno" director Jason Reitman, Clooney plays a man who likes to control his enviornment. As the corporate downsizing expert Ryan Bingham, he portrays the s...

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