Fresh Air: Movie Reviews
The Strange World — And Life — Of 'Mr. Turner'12/20/14
The biopic of landscape painter J. M. W. Turner depicts a man whose mind is barely engaged by anything other than his work. He's a mystery, and his art is magically indefinite — just like the movie.
Depicting An Unstable Era, 'Inherent Vice' Never Jells, But It's...
The film, based on Thomas Pynchon's novel, is set in 1970 in a beach town south of Los Angeles. With wonderful actors, it's like a gorgeous stoner art object: groovy, campy, dreamlike and funny.
Prayers And Holy Water Can't Exorcise The Terrifying 'Babadook'
In the Australian chiller, a bogeyman announces himself in a rhyming, pop-up book on a 7-year-old's shelf. But the real horror is that the boy's mom, a grieving widow, is battling psychic demons.
Benedict Cumberbatch Lifts Above Biopic Formula In 'Imitation Game'
Cumberbatch stars as British mathematician and World War II code breaker Alan Turing in a film directed by Morten Tyldum and co-staring Keira Knightley as Turing's comrade in arms.
'Foxcatcher': A Bloated True-Crime Story Based On Wealthy Heir John du...
The film is based on du Pont's fraught relationship with two Olympic wrestlers. Wealth isn't enough — his identity hinges on winning. It's a fascinating case study, but as drama, it's one sick joke.
'Interstellar': A Good Old-Fashioned Chunk Of Sci-Fi Silliness
Christopher Nolan's film stars Matthew McConaughey as an astronaut who takes his ship through a wormhole to another galaxy to find a home for earth's inhabitants. It's cool, awe-inspiring and goofy.
'Citizenfour': A Paranoid Conspiracy Documentary About Edward Snowden
Laura Poitras' new film isn't artfully shaped like her other documentaries. But she captures scenes as history is being made — and it will make you look both ways when you're on the street.
'Birdman' Follows A Film Actor Frantic To Prove Himself Onstage
The choreography by Alejandro Iñárritu, who directed 21 Grams and Babel, will wow you. But the story about a washed-up actor about to bring off his Broadway debut is an "empty masterwork."
In 'Whiplash,' A Young Drummer Plays Till He Bleeds
Director Damien Chazelle's second film centers on the agony of a drummer in a high-powered music school. The movie ties you into knots: The fear of failure is omnipresent. So is the jazz vibe.
'Gone Girl': A Gripping Film That's More Fun Than The Book
Based on a screenplay by author Gillian Flynn, the movie is sensationally effective. It's made like a classic noir — evenly paced, with an elegance that in context is deeply perverse.
British Coalminers Strike With A Gay Coalition In 'Pride,' A...
The film is based on a true story about the '80s strike Margaret Thatcher vowed to break. It's full of the Britain's best actors, and nearly every line makes you cackle or puts a lump in your throat.
A Detective's 'Walk Among The Tombstones' Is Gripping But Unsatisfying
In the '70s, novelist Lawrence Block created New York private investigator Matthew Scudder who chases extreme bad guys. Liam Neeson now plays the character the new grisly film directed by Scott Frank.
In 'The Drop,' Mob Bosses Bully Sad Characters At A Bar In Brooklyn
The film based on Dennis Lehane's short story Animal Rescue is supposed be a thriller, but the narrative doesn't have much urgency. The reason it's worth seeing? James Gandolfini is at his peak.
In A Brilliantly Disorienting Film, A Teenager Is 'Starred Up' To An...
The British drama depicts remarkable characters, including an angry teenager who meets two father figures behind bars. It's a prison film that's shattering beyond physical violence.
In The Irish Film 'Cavalry,' A Priest's Crisis Of Faith Is Weirdly Jokey
John Michael McDonagh's new movie stars Brendan Gleeson as a priest who must eventually face off against a killer. It's excruciatingly obvious and inept, but Gleeson brings it alive.
Sailing Through Space With 'Guardians Of The Galaxy'? Hilarious
The newest Marvel comic adaptation features five motley warriors, including a raccoon and a tree, against an armada of space villains. The big-budget effects-laden movie is light and funny.
Philip Seymour Hoffman Leaves Indelible Bond In 'Most Wanted Man'
The late actor hit his peak in the adaptation of John le Carre's 2008 novel. The movie isn't a clean piece of storytelling, but Hoffman connects with viewers on a level most actors never approach.
In A Remarkable Feat, 'Boyhood' Makes Time Visible
Boyhood is about a boy in Texas whose parents have separated. Filmed over 12 years, audiences watch him grow up — and his worldview evolve. The cumulative power of the movie is tremendous.
In Charming Film 'Begin Again,' Music Can Save A Life
Keira Knightley plays a heartbroken singer-songwriter who teams up with a drunken producer in Begin Again. Irish director John Carney, who had a surprise hit with the musical Once, hit his mark again.
'Jersey Boys' And 'Venus In Fur' Are Just As Intense On Screen
Two veteran directors adapted the Broadway shows to film. And while many such translations are too stage-bound, critic David Edelstein says Clint Eastwood and Roman Polanski got the balance right.
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