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'The Iron Ministry' documentary captures cheek-to-jowl train travel throughout China

A documentary about train travel in China, "The Iron Ministry," unspools as an impressionistic collage of sounds and images, plunging you into the middle of these (often overcrowded) railroad cars. There is a distinctly social component to train life in China, one that is so unlike our habits in ... Read more

Screwball comedy making its way into modern movies

We have a couple of screws loose this month at the movies. First there's the wide release of the new Noah Baumbach/Greta Gerwig collaboration, "Mistress America," an intriguing modern variation on screwball high comedy of an earlier time. It's not high-velocity slapstick screwball; rather, it owe... Read more

In wake of violence at movie theaters, are metal detectors next?

At National Cinema Security offices in New York, the calls typically begin in the days after a theater shooting. Read more

Owen Wilson in action movie 'No Escape': 'I'm not all of a sudden changing into The Rock'

Owen Wilson, action hero? Read more

Movie review: 'Sinister 2' is a horror film that's a mystery to itself

Horror sequel "Sinister 2" is a very strange movie. Of course, it's a horror film, so strange, ghostly, and sinister events are expected. Yet this is a horror film that doesn't quite know what it is. You can't tell if the filmmakers (director Ciaran Foy and screenwriters Scott Derrickson and C. R... Read more

Movie review: 'Hitman: Agent 47' is dead on arrival

If you see one movie about governmentally modified assassins this weekend, don't make it "Hitman: Agent 47." "American Ultra" is the far superior take on the unknowing super spy, because it takes itself far less seriously, and can actually poke fun at the genre. "Hitman: Agent 47" was just never ... Read more

'Rosenwald' documentary tells story of a remarkable man

A straight-ahead documentary tribute, "Rosenwald" - about Julius Rosenwald, the hugely generous philanthropist and president of Sears - screened last month at the annual meeting of the NAACP in Philadelphia. Why would the life of a son of Jewish immigrants from Germany be of special interest to A... Read more

Movie review: Great performances boost 'American Ultra'

A soup spoon turns lethal in the unlikely hands of sweet and spacy stoner Mike (Jesse Eisenberg) in the violently paranoid action comedy "American Ultra." Mike's a lot like the spoon - harmless unless deployed in the right way - because he used to be a particularly effective "asset" at the CIA, a... Read more

Movie review: 'Diary of a Teenage Girl' is an honest examination of tricky voyage into womanhood

"I had sex today," 15-year-old Minnie Goetze declares, elated, astonished, in the early going of "The Diary of a Teenage Girl." Wide-eyed and raging with hormones and insecurity, Minnie - beautifully and bravely played by Bel Powley - talks into a cassette recorder in the privacy of her bedroom, ... Read more

Movie review: 'Digging for Fire' delves into mystery and marriage

The best thing to happen to filmmaker Joe Swanberg? His choice of cinematographer. Ben Richardson, who worked with the director on the recent Chicago projects "Drinking Buddies" and "Happy Christmas," teams up with Swanberg again for "Digging for Fire," which was shot on warm, pleasing 35 millime... Read more

Movie review: Dread hangs over excellent 'Marshland'

An aura of dread and ominous evil hangs over every frame of "Marshland" ("La isla minima"), a police procedural from Spain about two big-city detectives sent to Spain's southern wetlands to investigate a ghastly double murder. On their way home from a fair, two teenage sisters were seen hitching ... Read more

Movie review: 'Hitman: Agent 47' gives its best shot

At least 30 people get killed - by gunfire, car bombs, kerplunking tumbles from balconies and stairs - before the title "Hitman: Agent 47" even announces itself on screen. Read more

Movie review: 'Final Girl' sacrifices story for style

The "final girl" is a well-worn archetype originating in '70s and '80s slasher horror films, a character with whom filmmakers have been overly preoccupied since the days of "Scream." The prototype is Jamie Lee Curtis in "Halloween," the virginal innocent who, after much distress, torture, and pur... Read more

Movie review: Greta Gerwig powers fresh, fun 'Mistress America'

"Yours truly!" This is the catchphrase of the effervescent Brooke Cardinas (Greta Gerwig), freelance interior decorator, aspiring restaurateur, sometime singer, part-time tutor, and SoulCycle instructor whirling her way through New York City in "Mistress America." And when Brooke says it, she mea... Read more

Movie review: 'She's Funny That Way' reminds you of way funnier movies

"She's Funny That Way" is one of those movies that you want to like rather more than you actually do. Directed and co-written by Hollywood veteran Peter Bogdanovich ("The Last Picture Show," "Paper Moon"), it tries hard to be a bouncy, timeless screwball Manhattan rom-com, like the best of Woody ... Read more

Movie review: 'Mistress America' is an engaging New York story

It's a 90-year-old song lyric, but Lorenz Hart's description of Manhattan (from the song "Manhattan") as a "wondrous toy" holds newfound allure for the bright young things - 21st century moderns - populating Noah Baumbach's latest chamber-screwball outing, "Mistress America." Read more

Movie review: 'Diary of a Teenage Girl' is as rewarding as it is squirm-inducing

Even for freewheeling 1970s San Francisco, Minnie Goetze isn't your typical 15-year-old. An aspiring cartoonist, Minnie (the magnetic Bel Powley in what is rightly being lauded as the breakout performance of the year) roams the city with minimal supervision from her party-girl mother (Kristen Wii... Read more

Capsule reviews of feature films

AMY. 4 stars. An extraordinary documentary about Amy Winehouse, the British singer who died in 2011, at age 27, a victim of too much drink, too many drugs and too much fame. Soul-stirring, heartbreaking, the film uses a trove of archival film, much of it shot on smart phones by friends, lovers, b... Read more

'American Ultra's' unlikely stars: 'We threw ourselves into it'

"American Ultra" is one of the funniest, most action-packed movies of the summer, and much of its humor comes from the unlikely casting of Jesse Eisenberg as a stoner who morphs into a government agent killing machine. Read more

Movie review: 'Meru' is a documentary that soars

When three men, including filmmaker Jimmy Chin, set out to scale the Shark's Fin on Mount Meru in subzero temperatures 21,000 feet above the Ganges River, they knew they were in for the toughest climb that the Himalayas can dish out. Read more

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