"Strange Magic" Read more
Amira is a walking contradiction. She wears a hijab, but isn't shy about showing a little cleavage. She came from Iraq to America, but she hates American soldiers. She is cranky but flippant, profane but still Muslim, pretty when she smiles. Which is almost never.
It's a new year - well, practically (still January) - and a new spirit pervades the land. Nowhere is that sense of innovation and imagination, of bold ideas and daring leaps into the further reaches of artistic realms, more in evidence than in Hollywood.
"Selma" wasn't the only film about race to get short shrift from Oscar voters this past year. "Black or White" is a frank, touching and very well-acted melodrama about child custody and cultural perceptions of "blackness" and "the race card," and could have earned Octavia Spencer and Kevin Costner fresh Oscar nominations.
We Jason Statham aficionados accept grace notes in his films where we find them. And there's a gem tucked in the middle of "Wild Card," his latest.
Jennifer Lopez's new movie, "The Boy Next Door," is cheesier than a Chicago double topping deep dish pizza. From the profoundly absurd idea that anyone married to a woman who looks like Lopez would cheat on her to the teen-age Lothario who looks older than Lopez, this movie is the culmination of a cluster of idiotic ideas.
As you might have guessed from the daft and something-short-of-hilarious TV ads, "Mortdecai" is an extended inside Anglo joke that most of us aren't in on.
The documentary "Manny" chronicles Manny Pacquiao's rise from a starving kid in the Philippines to a multimillionaire and internationally famous fighter, but it touches on everything without getting too deep into anything.
"Strange Magic" is a cartoon fantasy cooked up from a half-baked idea from George Lucas.
Julianne Moore walked away with the Golden Globe for best actress in a drama - beating out the likes of Rosamund Pike in "Gone Girl," Felicity Jones in "The Theory of Everything" and Reese Witherspoon in "Wild" - for a film that has received far less exposure than those of her awards-ready counterparts.
"Still Alice" is an incredibly sad coming-of-age story. Most mainstream entries feature an adolescent making the mental leap from child to adult. This story follows the life of its protagonist from middle age to mental childhood.
Been at the movies lately? A good number of actors are livin' large and loving it. Translation: Heaviness doesn't seem to be a casting hindrance, even for romantic leading roles. Is thin no longer in? Hmm, tough to say, but here's our take: As long as these, um, plus-sized folks stay healthy, bon appetit!
Universal's "The Boy Next Door" is almost so bad it's good. Well, at least they got the "bad" part of that equation right.
In "Cake," an exercise in epic misery that has less to do with genuine suffering than with winning its star some acting cred, Jennifer Aniston plays Claire Bennett, a well-to-do Los Angeleno whose face and body are mottled with small, hard scars.
Take away the high-wattage stars, the staggering budget and the celebratory nature of the thievery, and "The Wolf of Wall Street" would look something like "Americons," an indie parable about greed, high-living and wrongdoing that led to the real estate/home mortgage meltdown.
AMERICAN SNIPER 3 stars. Bradley Cooper delivers a powerful turn as Chris Kyle, the real-life Navy SEAL credited with the most kills of any sniper in U.S. military history. Clint Eastwood directs this taut Iraq War-era drama, although the sequences with Kyle returning stateside are diminished by textbook scenarios of family dysfunction and discord. 2 hrs. 12 R (violence, profanity, adult themes) - Steven Rea
A comedy that barely flirts with funny and a grim weeper that never quite raises a tear, "Cake" has one thing going for it - Jennifer Aniston. And if she didn't get the Oscar nomination that might have seemed certain when she took on playing this physically, emotionally scarred and suicidal pill-popper, that's of little consequence. The work is good enough to stand on its own, to stand with the best acting she's done since graduating from TV sitcoms.
Three downed Navy airmen stuck on a raft in the middle of the Pacific in World War II for weeks on end. It's a familiar movie narrative, at least in part, because it happened more than once, even happened to a future president (George H.W. Bush) and happened to the hero of "Unbroken."
Kevin Macdonald has done his Roman Legion thriller ("The Eagle"), his sci-fi apocalypse ("How I Live Now") and his political journalism thriller ("State of Play"). But what the Oscar-winning documentarian ("One Day in September") really had a hankering to try was a submarine movie.