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With ‘The One I Love,’ a relationship gets trippy

With ‘The One I Love,’ a relationship gets trippy

“The One I Love” is a pleasure, with a surprise tucked inside.

September 03, 2014 8:48 am Photos

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‘Labor Day’ can’t get past the past

‘Labor Day’ can’t get past the past

Sometimes the past trips you up. It certainly does Frank, the escaped con played by Josh Brolin in Jason Reitman’s new drama, “Labor Day.”

January 30, 2014 12:00 amLoading…
'Frozen' an icy blast of fun from the first snowflake Caliente

'Frozen' an icy blast of fun from the first snowflake Caliente

Walt Disney Pictures has its animation mojo back. Finally.

November 27, 2013 5:30 pm Photos

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111413-cal-x dallas review

111413-cal-x dallas review

LOS ANGELES — Few actors can play a grifter and a good ol’ boy with the laid-back precision of Matthew McConaughey. Between the sidewinder glances, the sardonic grin and that slippery Texas drawl, he uses irony, edge and considerable charm to move us into taking his most questionable charact…

November 14, 2013 12:00 am Photos

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'So Excited' that it's about to lose control

I can't remember when, if ever, Pedro Almodovar has had as much flamboyant fun as he does in the high-flying comedy "I'm So Excited!"

August 01, 2013 12:00 amLoading…

'Crystal Fairy' is short, slight, an amusing summer high

"Crystal Fairy & the Magical Cactus" is an amusing booze-and-drug-fueled road trip, its travelers on a quest to experience the Holy Grail of highs.

July 28, 2013 12:00 amLoading…

Film can't crack ice on killer's psyche

Michael Shannon has basically rewritten the book on how to portray dark, volatile men in film with his unerring way of channeling rage and repression. It was never more chilling, or more fully realized, than his turn as a family man both paralyzed and driven by his apocalyptic fears in 2011'…

July 04, 2013 12:00 amLoading…

'The East' is a provocative morality tale

"The East" is a provocative industrial espionage thriller that pits counterculture revolutionaries intent on exposing corporate villainy against the undercover intelligence specialists paid exceedingly well to keep their compromised clientele clean. By spicing up a complex morality tale mark…

June 20, 2013 12:00 amLoading…
Provocative 'Simon Killer' taps darkness

Provocative 'Simon Killer' taps darkness

"Simon Killer" is an amoral tale, and a cautionary one, that reminded me my mama was right when she said "Never talk to strangers" and "Looks can be deceiving."

May 09, 2013 12:00 amLoading…

'Koch' shows ex-mayor's great love was New York

What an entertaining rapscallion Ed Koch was during his run as mayor of New York in the late '70s and '80s. Popular, polarizing, loved, hated, even 20-plus years after he left office, he never failed to attract a crowd as he walked the streets of the city. Which he did virtually every day un…

March 14, 2013 12:00 amLoading…
'Happy People' explores Taiga culture frozen in time

'Happy People' explores Taiga culture frozen in time

Serendipity is what gives us "Happy People: A Year in the Taiga," an intimate portrait of the vanishing breed of hunters and fishers still making a life in the isolated heart of Siberia, where a mild winter day is 30 below and the only way in or out is by helicopter or boat.

March 07, 2013 12:00 amLoading…
'Tabu' loses its power to the past

'Tabu' loses its power to the past

"Tabu," the third film from rising Portuguese director Miguel Gomes, feels like a relic of the past and not merely because of its aesthetic nod to silent film great F.W. Murnau's final project.

February 14, 2013 12:00 amLoading…

Now is the winter of our discontent, films show

Watching the Golden Globe nominations in the darkness of Thursday morning, what struck me was the darkness of the year. It has been a season of discontent in film, not for the faint of heart. We've been asked to witness - and weather - a preponderance of thunderous artistic visions blowing t…

December 16, 2012 12:00 amLoading…
'Loneliest Planet' reveals duo's existential journey

'Loneliest Planet' reveals duo's existential journey

In "The Loneliest Planet," the faces and bodies of the adventurous couple at the center of the film's journey do most of the talking, and pretty eloquently I might add. So driven is filmmaker Julia Loktev to immerse us in the couple's existential experience that dialogue is nearly nonexisten…

November 22, 2012 12:00 am Photos

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'Detropia' delves into a city struggling not to fade away

'Detropia' delves into a city struggling not to fade away

"Detropia" comes at you with the economically ravaged Motor City of Detroit clinging to its perch like a canary in a coal mine, gasping for breath.

October 25, 2012 12:00 amLoading…
Smart actors boost 'Wallflower'

Smart actors boost 'Wallflower'

Sometimes an inexperienced filmmaker can use a helping hand from his cast. That's exactly what Stephen Chbosky got from Logan Lerman, Ezra Miller and Emma Watson in the adaptation of his popular young adult novel "The Perks of Being a Wallflower."

October 11, 2012 12:00 amLoading…
Giving it the old college try

Giving it the old college try

LOS ANGELES - "Liberal Arts" is a light and lively comedy of manners about college, literature and a midlife crisis that hits earlier than expected.

October 11, 2012 12:00 amLoading…
Smart actors boost 'Wallflower'

Smart actors boost 'Wallflower'

Sometimes an inexperienced filmmaker can use a helping hand from his cast. That's exactly what Stephen Chbosky got from Logan Lerman, Ezra Miller and Emma Watson in the adaptation of his popular young adult novel "The Perks of Being a Wallflower."

October 05, 2012 12:00 am Photos

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Neil Young's mystical music redeems flawed documentary

Neil Young's mystical music redeems flawed documentary

LOS ANGELES - There are moments in Jonathan Demme's new documentary, "Neil Young Journeys," when the saying "too close for comfort" comes to mind. The camera drops to focus on the lower half of Young's face midsong, staying close enough and long enough that it's possible to identify color pa…

August 16, 2012 12:00 amLoading…

Young's powerful music redeems flawed film

LOS ANGELES - There are moments in Jonathan Demme's new documentary, "Neil Young Journeys," when the saying "too close for comfort" comes to mind. The camera drops to focus on the lower half of Young's face mid-song, staying close enough and long enough that it's possible to identify color p…

August 09, 2012 12:00 amLoading…
In 'Ruby Sparks,' a character really does jump off the page

In 'Ruby Sparks,' a character really does jump off the page

Imagine a 21st century romantic comedy that flirts with the classic Pygmalion myth - a Greek sculptor's beautiful statue comes to life - and throws in some Dr. Frankenstein "what have I created?" issues. Then you'll have a sense of "Ruby Sparks," an engagingly off-kilter love story of a writ…

August 09, 2012 12:00 amLoading…
'Beasts of the Southern Wild' extraordinary

'Beasts of the Southern Wild' extraordinary

LOS ANGELES - The Bathtub is a place of myths and wonders, a broken-down teardrop of Louisiana marsh and mud in "Beasts of the Southern Wild" and the setting for an extraordinary new drama whose fierceness, like its 6-year-old heroine Hushpuppy, grabs on and won't let go.

July 26, 2012 12:00 am Photos

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Longing for the rigors of 'Paris' in 'Rome'

Longing for the rigors of 'Paris' in 'Rome'

Woody Allen's "To Rome With Love" is an affectionate but meandering comedy that contemplates romance, fame, legacy and longing. It comes with much of the lightness and love for one of Europe's great cities that made last year's "Midnight in Paris" so charming but little of the intellectual a…

July 05, 2012 12:00 am Photos

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Smart dialogue, actress almost enough for 'Lola'

Smart dialogue, actress almost enough for 'Lola'

"Lola Versus" is a comic case study of a yearlong emotional meltdown for an about-to-turn-30 angsty, artsy New Yorker. While that might not sound entertaining, it is made so by star Greta Gerwig, who inhabits Lola with an endearing ease.

June 28, 2012 12:00 amLoading…
Belgians produce a delight with 'The Kid With a Bike'

Belgians produce a delight with 'The Kid With a Bike'

The Belgian filmmaking brothers Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne never chart an easy path for their characters, and they certainly haven't for 11-year-old Cyril in "The Kid With a Bike." Even the title works to set the mood - the phrase is clipped, the words sound hard, suggesting the boy in que…

April 19, 2012 12:00 amLoading…
Raw 'Knuckle' lays bare a fight tradition

Raw 'Knuckle' lays bare a fight tradition

Everything about "Knuckle" is raw - the bloody, bare-fisted boxing it portrays, the handheld footage it employs and the unrestrained passion of director Ian Palmer in his first feature-length documentary.

April 12, 2012 12:00 amLoading…
'Declaration of War' triumphs where illness-centered films fail

'Declaration of War' triumphs where illness-centered films fail

War, by its very nature, doesn't give you weekends or nights off. There may be time between assaults, but the momentary cease-fires are unpredictable at best. So it is in "Declaration of War," a vibrant and heartfelt French film that captures the mood and the memories of young parents who fo…

March 22, 2012 12:00 amLoading…
Gritty 'Kill List' twisted, violent and provocative

Gritty 'Kill List' twisted, violent and provocative

If you're a hit man by trade, then you've already made a deal with the devil, even if those you eliminate fall into the category of human waste of the drug-dealing, kidnapping, warmongering sort. So really, it should come as no surprise that Jay and Gal, the murdering blokes in the twisted h…

March 15, 2012 12:00 amLoading…
'Being Flynn' is full of good intentions but tries too hard

'Being Flynn' is full of good intentions but tries too hard

LOS ANGELES - It's not easy "Being Flynn." Not for Jonathan Flynn, the absentee alcoholic father played by Robert De Niro, nor the restless twentysomething son Nick, played by Paul Dano, the estranged pair at the heart of this darkly tangled family drama where resolution is hard to come by a…

March 15, 2012 12:00 amLoading…

Dark comedy has 'Fargo'-esque outlook

"Thin Ice," starring Greg Kinnear, Billy Crudup and Alan Arkin, is a gritty little comedy of the blackest sort about a whacked-out scam that goes down during a frigid Wisconsin winter, where the wind off the lake is cold and the cons are colder still. If you can get past the rough patches - …

March 01, 2012 12:00 amLoading…
Thriller captures underclass reality

Thriller captures underclass reality

LOS ANGELES - What happens when being in the right place at the right time is also the wrong place at the wrong time? When what saves you could ultimately destroy you? That's the terrifying minefield that the terrific "Miss Bala" navigates in a modern-day Mexico where beauty pageants, politi…

March 01, 2012 12:00 amLoading…

'Abyss' overly understated, lacks emotion

LOS ANGELES - Werner Herzog's understated new documentary, "Into the Abyss: A Tale of Death, a Tale of Life," is at its core the filmmaker's personal argument against capital punishment. The director, who came of age in post-World War II Germany with its concentration camp legacy, makes it c…

November 24, 2011 12:00 amLoading…
Paltrow takes on country

Paltrow takes on country

There is a down-home comfort saturating "Country Strong," in that "somebody done somebody wrong song" way, that almost carries you through when its music-drenched melodrama gets predictable. Which is pretty much as soon as the fragile, still-in-rehab country superstar played by Gwyneth Paltr…

January 06, 2011 12:00 am Photos

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Exuberant Aussie musical film woven around racial repression

You might find it impossible not to hum along with the cheeky refrain "There's nothing I would rather be, than to be an A-bo-ri -gi-ne, and watch you take my precious land a-waaaaay" in Rachel Perkins' adaptation of the Aussie musical-theater hit "Bran Nue Dae."

October 21, 2010 12:00 amLoading…
Chinese filmmaker channels Coens in 'Noodle Shop' tale

Chinese filmmaker channels Coens in 'Noodle Shop' tale

"A Woman, a Gun and a Noodle Shop" is Chinese auteur Zhang Yimou's whimsical and witty homage to "Blood Simple," the Coen brothers' 1985 feature debut, itself a satire as much as murderous thriller. This version ratchets up the farce, tones down the blood, piles up the bodies and conjures up…

September 30, 2010 12:00 amLoading…
'Piece of Work' a gritty look at Rivers' in-your-face fame

'Piece of Work' a gritty look at Rivers' in-your-face fame

Fear, as defined in the bawdy and surprisingly trenchant new documentary, "Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work," is a blank calendar. There is a riff to do on the terror she finds in all those little empty squares. But by then you know it's no laughing matter. Work is life; not working might as wel…

July 15, 2010 12:00 amLoading…
Cold case anchors finely tuned 'Secret'

Cold case anchors finely tuned 'Secret'

There's something about a haunting mystery being solved by a haunted mind that's particularly seductive. That's just one of the many pleasures of "The Secret in Their Eyes," whose string of knots challenges and charms in a way that make its win of the foreign-language Oscar this year perfect…

June 10, 2010 12:00 amLoading…
Simplified 'Dragon Tattoo' is most satisfying cinema

Simplified 'Dragon Tattoo' is most satisfying cinema

Everyone has secrets in the "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo," a mind-bending and mesmerizing thriller that takes its time unlocking one mystery only to uncover another, all to chilling and immensely satisfying effect.

April 08, 2010 12:00 amLoading…
Three guitar heroes' love affair with instrument

Three guitar heroes' love affair with instrument

When it's nearing midnight and some amazing maniac is shredding through a guitar solo onstage, eyes closed, sweat flying, vibrations rumbling through the house like a northbound freight train, it's easy to forget just how much art and craft and science would be involved in creating that sound.

September 24, 2009 12:00 amLoading…

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