War Dogs does a good job of keep it on the leash

3.5 Stars (3.5 / 5)

How many more biographical crime comedy-dramas do we need to see about sun-tanned bros and their embodiment of the worst excesses of free-market capitalism?

Based on Rolling Stone reporter Guy Lawson’s “Arms and the Dudes”, War Dogs relates the “based on a true story” account of how two twenty-something small-time arms dealers ended up the recipient of a $300 million military contract to essentially outfit the Afghan army to fend for themselves; the shortcuts they took and the laws they broke to try fulfill the order, including more than 100 million rounds of AK ammo.…

American Sniper has great performances but lacks vision

3.5 Stars (3.5 / 5)

 

For an Academy Award Best Picture nominee, American Sniper is not without its problems.

Its 84-year-old director Clint Eastwood is known for being a slightly hawkish libertarian with a penchant for shouting at empty chairs (“penchant” might be overstating, but, as they say, “You f**k one sheep…”).…

Joy is a well-acted festive drag

2.5 Stars (2.5 / 5)

 

It’s that time of the year again. Time for clamorous hangovers, spurious resolutions, and David O. Russell’s semi-annual dysfunctional family drama.

2014 gave us family and criminality (American Hustle), 2012 gave us family and mental illness (Silver Linings Playbook), and in 2010 he paired up family and boxing (The Fighter).…

Guardians of the Galaxy could be a brave new world for Marvel

3.5 Stars (3.5 / 5)

 

Having come to define the superhero genre, after nine films and six years, Marvel has finally dared to go a little weird.

While there’s a definite built-in audience for the likes of Iron Man and Captain America, the Guardians of the Galaxy are relative unknowns.…

American Hustle might be my favorite film of 2013

4.5 Stars (4.5 / 5)

 

AKA The David O. Russell Reunion; Batman, Lois Lane, Rocket Raccoon, & Mystique: The Movie; or, Golden Globes For Everyone!

I don’t make a habit of using this space to gush over how much I love one film or another.

The Hangover Part 3: Merry ride or bad trip?

3 Stars (3 / 5)

I’d like to kick this review off with a question: can anyone name a movie trilogy in which the third installment was not the weakest?

The Matrix Revolutions. The Dark Knight Rises. The Godfather Part 3. Even Return of the Jedi has garnered the most criticism of the original Star Wars trilogy (the Ewoks can probably be considered the start of George Lucas’ descent into Jar Jar Binks inanity).…

The Place Beyond the Pines is a mythic triptych about family that loses itself in the woods

3.5 Stars (3.5 / 5)

 

A crime drama directed by an obscure American arthouse director, Derek Cianfrance, and starring two hip young Oscar-nominated actors? Sounds like my cup of tea.

On one hand, you’ve got Ryan Gosling as tatted-up carnival motorcyclist Luke Glanton; a bleach-blonde, barely repressed psychopath who develops a penchant for bank robbery in order to provide for his baby mama, an underused Eva Mendes.…