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Thompson on Hollywood

Weekend Preview: Head to 'The East' and Must-See 'Hannah Arendt'; Critics Skewer Shyamalan's 'After Earth'

If you live in a "limited release" city, then you've got a fine array of moviegoing options for the weekend. Zal Batmanglij's "The East," starring co-writer Brit Marling, Ellen Page and Alexander Skarsgard, is a smart anti-establishment thriller gaining good reviews from critics. Same goes for Sundance comedy "The Kings of Summer," a small-town coming-of-age tale in the vein of "Stand by Me."
  • By Anne Thompson and Beth Hanna
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  • May 30, 2013 3:07 PM
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Review Roundup: M. Night Shyamalan Makes a "Non-Happening" with 'After Earth,' Starring a Sparkless Jaden and Will Smith

Critics aren't impressed with either M. Night Shyamalan's directorial work or the Jaden and Will Smith pairing in new apocalyptic sci-fi entry "After Earth" (June 7). The venom towards Shyamalan is strong (Sony all but cut his name from the film's marketing), with Variety calling his film a "non-happening," and the Hollywood Reporter pointing out that the director does little to help 14-year-old Jaden Smith, obviously flailing in a role meant to carry the film. Roundup below.
  • By Beth Hanna
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  • May 30, 2013 11:51 AM
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  • 1 Comment

Now and Then: Remarkable New Doc 'La Camioneta,' a Masterful Miniature (TRAILER)

Spotsylvania County, Virginia and Queztal City, Guatemala are separated by nearly 3,000 miles of road, and by what would seem, at first, an unbridgeable cultural distance. But in Mark Kendall's remarkable documentary "La Camioneta" -- a brilliant microhistory of our globalized world -- you're hard pressed to consider them anything but neighbors.
  • By Matt Brennan
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  • May 29, 2013 2:10 PM
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Book Review: 'Rainer on Film'

If “Rainer on Film” were simply a compendium of the movie reviews Peter Rainer has written over the last three decades, it would be no more or less worth reading than any film critic that you admire or dislike. There are a lot of reviews in the book, but there are also quirky overviews on the careers of important directors and stars.
  • By Aljean Harmetz
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  • May 29, 2013 12:31 PM
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Review: Documentary 'Hey Bartender' Blends One Part Character Study, Two Parts Style

BOOZE! It may not be quite as good a come-on as SEX! but there’s also a double shot of sexiness in “Hey Bartender,” which despite its shot-and-beer title is about the fine art of mixology, a.k.a. the alchemical mixing of alcoholic beverages (with names like Weep No More, the Minnehaha and the always fashionable Bronx, which is, FYI, a perfect martini with orange juice). Is liquor cinematic?
  • By John Anderson
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  • May 29, 2013 12:19 PM
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Review: Margarethe von Trotta's 'Hannah Arendt' an Alluring Portrait of Mass Guilt and One Woman Who Wouldn't Back Down

Margarethe von Trotta’s captivating “Hannah Arendt” is a slice of a biopic; it covers a ferociously controversial two years in the life of the 20th century philosopher who, during that time, would coin the term “the banality of evil.” Through Arendt’s story, the film looks at uneasy manifestations of guilt two decades after the Holocaust, but it also looks at a woman who wouldn’t be bullied away from her opinions.
  • By Beth Hanna
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  • May 28, 2013 11:20 AM
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Review: Douglas and Damon Shine in Soderbergh's Funny, Poignant Melodrama 'Behind the Candelabra'

The Cannes Film Festival accorded Steven Soderbergh's lush period melodrama "Behind the Candelabra" a prime competition slot (his fourth) for a reason. While it's not the first time an HBO movie has played in the mainbar (Stephen Hopkins' "The Life and Death of Peter Sellers" was in competition in 2004), it will be Soderbergh's last, if he sticks to his planned retirement from making films.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • May 27, 2013 4:34 PM
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  • 3 Comments

Whither Women Film Critics? Study Says 78% of Film Critics Are Male, 22% Female

Yet another fascinating if depressing report from Martha M. Lauzen looks at, among other things, the percentages of women film critics as compared to their male counterparts. The numbers don't lie: In Spring of 2013 (i.e. right now), 78% of top critics (as defined by guidelines laid out by Rotten Tomatoes, below) are male, with only 22% female. The essay goes on to look at three perceptions about gender in popular film criticism, and then the realities.
  • By Anne Thompson and Beth Hanna
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  • May 24, 2013 2:44 PM
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  • 1 Comment

Cannes Winner 'Blue Is the Warmest Color' Review Roundup: Epic, Explosively Sexy Lesbian Romance

UPDATE: "Blue Is the Warmest Color" has won the Palme d'Or. Review roundup below.
  • By Beth Hanna
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  • May 24, 2013 1:46 PM
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Cannes Review and Roundup: James Gray's 'The Immigrant' vs. 'Nebraska'

A pair of films addressing very different aspects of the American experience, and set 92 years apart, have screened in Competition over the last couple of days: Alexander Payne’s "Nebraska" and James Gray’s "The Immigrant." Sad to say, I had expectations for both but didn’t engage with either, although admittedly my perceptions may be tainted by the cumulative effects of a nine-day onslaught of early morning screenings and inevitable late nights.
  • By Matt Mueller
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  • May 24, 2013 1:14 PM
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  • 0 Comments

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