Movie Meter: Settle in for Eric Rohmer’s A Summer’s Tale

SEE IT NOW!

A Summer’s Tale: You lucky people get to watch a veritable masterpiece from famed French auteur Eric Rohmer, originally from 1996, but finally being released now for the first time on American screens. The film, the third installment of his “Four Seasons” quadrilogy, is both extremely light on its feet and utterly captivating. The story concerns a young man (Melvil Poupaud) on the eve of his first professional job, who takes a seaside vacation and gets caught up in a complicated romantic triangle with his off-again/on-again girlfriend (Aurélia Nolin) and a young woman (Gwenaëlle Simon) he meets on the shore. Francophile cinema freaks are literally bouncing off the walls in ecstasy for a chance to finally see this treat on the big screen. Rotten Tomatoes Score: 98%

Read more »

Movie Meter: Michael Fassbender’s Papier-Mâché Head and Lemurs Win the Weekend

SEE IT NOW!

Frank: There aren’t many actors of Michael Fassbender’s stature who would consent to star in a film in which he would have to wear a giant, papier-mâché head for its entirety, but I guess we’re just lucky to have him. Lenny Abrahamson’s wickedly funny film, about a young man who dreams of being in a band sounds every bit as fun and outrageous as the late actor/comedian Chris Sievey’s “Frank Sidebottom,” upon whose giant head-wearing alter ego this production is based. Rotten Tomatoes Score: 90%

Island of Lemurs: Madagascar: Not, in fact, another sequel from the similarly named popular animated series. Actually, this live-action documentary from director David Douglas is an IMAX treat, following a real group of endangered lemurs as they struggle to stay alive in the almost alien world of Madagascar, their adopted home. Narrated by Morgan Freeman, naturally, the film—a 39-minute, G-rated mini-doc—sounds both fascinating and necessary, and would make for a pleasant family outing, especially if your kids are nature lovers. Rotten Tomatoes Score: 77%

Read more »

Movie Meter: The Giver Disappoints, Go for Land Ho! Instead

SEE IT NOW

Land Ho!: (One of two exclamation-point films this week! Go figure!) Former brothers-in-law (Earl Lynn Nelson and Paul Eenhoorn), now well-aged, travel to Iceland together in order to call-back their wild and freewheeling youth in everything from Reykjavik nightclubs to the alien terrain of the raw Icelandic outback. This American indie film, an unmitigated hit at this year’s Sundance, promises poignant laughs in the appropriately throwback style of the classic road-trip comedies of an earlier era. Rotten Tomatoes Score: 75%

Read more »

Movie Meter: Into the Storm Won’t Blow You Away, But It’s a Damn Fun Ride

SEE IT NOW!

Into the Storm: Okay, so it’s another cataclysmic twister flick, but the CGI is impressively disconcerting, the cast is, er, amiable enough, and for those of us who like seeing a charcoal sky with thick, ominous clouds churning like whipping cream, there’s plenty of spectacle hear to admire. Don’t go expecting anything deeply moving, or essential, but for what it is, it gets the job done reasonably well. Rotten Tomatoes Score: 10%

More trailers and reviews after the jump

5 New Films You Should Stream Right Now on Netflix: Entire “Rocky” Catalog Available in August

So it has come to this, would-be blockbuster summer: You’ve spent all your big shells, the heavy casings. X-Men: Days of Future Past, Sex Tape, Godzilla, 22 Jump Street all lie spent and useless at your feet. With one last gasp (Guardians of the Galaxy, which is actually a whole bunch of fun) or two, we’ll be done with you at last and can look forward to movies actually intended for adults. But for now, here’s some good stuff you can go ahead and watch at home to tide you over.

Nymphomaniac: Volume 1: A young woman retells her story of a lifetime of intense sexual gratification to a man who rescues her from the street. Lars von Trier is the kind of director you either enjoy being challenged by or dismiss as a pretentious, sadistic boor. This film, which stars Charlotte Gainsbourg, Stacy Martin, Shia LaBeouf, and Stellan Skarsgard, features some of his signature agent provocateur material — a young woman with a serious daddy fetish having indiscriminate sex with a great deal of men in a variety of ways—but cuts it with many intellectual discourses on subjects ranging from fly-casting to obscure religious orders.

Read more »

Movie Meter: Guardians of the Galaxy Will Obliterate the Weekend Box Office—And Rightfully So

SEE IT NOW!

Guardians of the Galaxy: Consider the summer movie season saved. What sounds like an unlikely sort of superhero action flick—seriously, two of the heroes in question are a giant, walking plant, and a feisty, weapons-expert raccoon (voiced by Philly’s Bradley Cooper)—in the hands of director James Gunn becomes more fun than you might believe. It’s equal parts funny, touching, and exhilarating in a most unexpected way. Scoff if you must, but you’ll be hearing a great deal about this one in the next couple weeks. A summer blockbuster triumph. Rotten Tomatoes Score: 91%

Get On Up: The Godfather of Soul gets the full bio-pic treatment at last, but can you imagine the number of auditions they had to go through to find a suitable James Brown? In the end, director Tate Taylor went with Chadwick Boseman (fresh off his turn as Jackie Robinson in 42), who has the unenviable task of trying to bring the energy and fearsome showmanship of the hardest-working man in show business. From the sound of things, the producers have gotten a lot of things right. Expect great things from Boseman amidst an absolutely devastating soundtrack. Rotten Tomatoes Score: 80%

Code Black: You want a breathlessly interesting way to access the health care debate in this country? Ryan McGarry’s enthralling documentary about L.A. County’s fabled emergency room—one of the first in the country to utilize what would now be considered standard emergency care—follows the trials and tribulations of the dedicated doctors and interns of the hospital’s trauma bay, having to make life-saving decisions on the fly on a regular basis, even as their badly injured patients, by nature of their immediate need, bypass the existing health-care system in order to get care. Rotten Tomatoes Score: 96%

WAIT FOR DVD

Alive Inside: A documentary about the power of music to overcome mental deterioration, this Sundance audience winner from director Michael Rossato-Bennett sounds like it crams a good deal of uplift in its short-running time (the film clocks in at 75 minutes.) It follows Dan Cohen, a social worker, as he criss-crosses the country speaking the gospel of music as a healing restorer of identity, memory and self to those afflicted souls in need of some kind of cognitive therapy. Rotten Tomatoes Score: 65%

SKIP IT

Magic in the Moonlight: A colossal misfire from Woody Allen, and a crashing bore to boot. Allen has assembled yet another top-notch cast—including Colin Firth and Emma Stone—and shoots in yet another picturesque part of Western Europe (this being the South of France.) But his script is so half-finished and shoddy, the whole enterprise collapses. The story involves a magician (Firth), who loves debunking self-described soothsayers and oracles as frauds, until he meets a fetching young woman (Stone), whom, to his shock, actually seems legit. I actually feel sorry for Firth, who is given the impossible task of trying to make his boorish character seem believable; and Stone, for having to fall in love as a result. Rotten Tomatoes Score:

Movie-O-Meter: Our Take On Lucy, A Most Wanted Man, Happy Christmas, and More

SEE IT NOW!

Lucy: Luc Besson’s bugnuts quasi-action-thriller-cum-time-and-space-meditation stars Scarlett as a student living in Taipei who gets embroiled in a nasty Asian drug cartel and accidentally ingests an enormous amount of a synthetic drug that allows her to access up to 100 percent of her brain capacity. It’s not a great action flick, and it’s pretty silly as anything more serious, but somehow his energy—and Johansson’s powerful performance—make it more than the idiotic sum of its parts. Rotten Tomatoes Score: 65%

Read more »

INTERVIEW: Boyhood Director Richard Linklater

Writer/Director Richard Linklater has released a steady stream of critically adored indie films since 1988′s It’s Impossible to Learn to Plow by Reading Books, but it’s taken the Texan much longer to connect with larger audiences. He doesn’t move in grand plot schemes or subversive genre machinations, his films are content to spend their time exploring lengthy, engrossing philosophical discussions between protagonists—be they young, yet-to-be-lovers in Before Sunrise, an animated character exploring a dream world in Waking Life, or an undercover cop in the near future who tries a new drug and begins to unravel in A Scanner Darkly.

His new film, Boyhood, takes the idea of time passing (another frequent obsession in his work) and actually builds it into the fabric of the film. The result, shot over 12 years, begins with a 6-year-old protagonist and follows him through the day he leaves home for college. It is easily one of the best films of the year. He spoke with us about his body of work, his life outside filmmaking, and the female protagonist with whom he most identifies.

Read more »

Movie-O-Meter: Boyhood Shines, Sex Tape Fizzles + Our Take On Other New Releases

SEE IT NOW!

Boyhood: Easily one of the most-anticipated films of the summer by film critics and indie fans since its debut at Sundance this past January. Richard Linklater’s concept film was shot over the course of some 12 years, chronicling the childhood, adolescence, and young adulthood of one boy, Mason (Eller Coltrane), as he navigates the difficult and confusing waters of growing up with two loving-but-divorced parents (Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette). Rotten Tomatoes Score: 100%

Read more »

Rapid-Fire Questions With a Grumpy Zach Braff

wish i was here zach braff

Zach Braff in “Wish I Was Here.”

Zach Braff is best known as the affable Dr. Dorian on the long-running TV comedy Scrubs, but the actor/writer/director has also made his own films, beginning with 2004′s Garden State. Making the press rounds in support of his newest effort, the grammatically questionable Wish I Was Here, the 39-year-old South Orange native has clearly grown in the decade between film releases: The film concerns a winsome father of two whose acting career and marriage are floundering as he finds out that his father, played by Mandy Patinkin, is dying of cancer.

We caught up with him on the phone from a Chicago hotel relatively early in the morning.

Read more »

« Older Posts