Johnny Depp re-emerges as one of our best actors with his exquisitely calibrated performance as James “Whitey” Bulger, the small-time Boston hood who became a big deal with the unwitting help of the FBI. As his G-man handler, Joel Edgerton seems too easily corrupted; we wish the film had spent more time with Whitey’s brother Bill, a respected and powerful president of the Massachusetts Senate, masterfully played by Benedict Cumberbatch. (FULL REVIEW)
In this retelling of the iconic 1972 square-off between American Bobby Fischer and Russian Boris Spassky, Tobey McGuire brings uncommon intensity to the role of the deeply troubled U.S. chess champion. As Spassky, Liev Schreiber isn’t asked to do much more than glare at his emotionally fragmented opponent, but his glowering is eloquent.
And the year’s most devastating screen villain is...a 29,000-foot-high hunk of rock. In this re-creation of two doomed 1996 expeditions, Mount Everest is one monstrous monolith, swatting away frail humans like so many goggled, wool-capped flies. Jake Gyllenhaal stars.
New on DVD, Blu-ray and Video on Demand
Paul Dano and John Cusack both star as Beach Boy Brian Wilson — at different stages of his troubled life — in this heartfelt and tuneful biopic. The actors have very different takes on their subject, but director Bill Pohlad masterfully meshes their performances into a gratifying whole. Paul Giamatti breathes fire as the evil shrink who nearly ruined Wilson’s life.
American Experience: Walt Disney
Using his own words and those of many who worked with him, this exceptional PBS documentary tries to encapsulate one of the most consequential creative talents of the 20th Century. Walt Disney emerges as a complex man who sorted through his own contradictions to create a unique vision, and inspired others to help him bring that vision to life.
From China comes this searing story of a man (Daoming Chen) who returns from a Cultural Revolution-era prison camp only to find that his wife (Li Gong) no longer remembers him.
Still in theaters (Click on Titles for Movie Trailers)
Jason Segel is a delightfully deep thinker in this stirring true story of the five-day interview that Infinite Jest author David Foster Wallace gave Rolling Stone writer David Lipsky (Jesse Eisenberg) in 1996. You can’t complain about the decline of American culture if you can’t spare the few bucks to see it.
Lily Tomlin stars as a grandmother trying to help her teenage granddaughter (Julia Garner) pay for an abortion. Crass, combative and vulnerable, Tomlin gives the performance of a lifetime in a film that suggests the planet might improve if all males were abducted by aliens. (FULL REVIEW)
Now 93, a retired Sherlock Holmes ( Ian McKellen) reopens the one case he could never solve, at the same time befriending the young son of his housekeeper ( Laura Linney). McKellen is fun as a man abashed by the legend that has grown up around him. (FULL REVIEW)
She’s an elitist Manhattan literary critic. He’s an Indian cab driver. Together, Patricia Clarkson and Ben Kingsley make a charmingly odd couple in a film about perfect strangers who discover they’re just what the other one needs. (FULL REVIEW)
The Man from U.N.C.L.E.
Director Guy Ritchie’s fond reimagining of the classic 1960s spy series is set smack in the Cold War. While Henry Cavill channels his inner George Hamilton as dapper Napoleon Solo, Armie Hammer plays Russian spy Illya Kuryakin just the way we envisioned Russkies back then: humorless and musclebound. (FULL REVIEW)
The Second Mother
Brazilian star Regina Casé is brilliant as a housekeeper whose modern-minded daughter comes to stay at the home where she works in São Paulo, only to scandalize Mom and her employers with her disregard for class boundaries.
She’s Funny That Way
Peter Bogdanovich returns to form in this frothy tale of a playwright ( Owen Wilson) caught in a love triangle with his wife, her old flame and a heart-of-gold hooker. Jennifer Aniston is funny as a shrink entangled in the mess. And look who else pops up: PB’s old gal pal Cybill Shepherd! (FULL REVIEW)
Sleeping with Other People
Jake (Rob Delaney lookalike Jason Sudeikis) is a hopeless womanizer; Lainey (Alison Brie from Community) is a serial adulterer. The unlikely pair become platonic friends in hopes of straightening themselves out, but mutual attraction intervenes.
Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine
This is not the much-buzzed-about new film coming October 9; instead it’s the documentary that, even after interviews with some of his closest associates (not to mention the mother of his daughter), still can’t suss out what made the man at the core of Apple tick.
Straight Outta Compton
Director F. Gary Gray ( The Italian Job) chronicles the 1980s growth of hip-hop in this splendidly gritty story of the rise of rap group NWA. The ensemble playing Ice Cube, Dr. Dre, MC Ren and company is perfect, while Paul Giamatti shines as Jerry Heller, the producer who saw artistry in the group’s anger.
Time Out of Mind
Richard Gere is easily recognizable (and that’s just the problem) in this drama about a homeless man trying to restore his relationship with his daughter (Jena Malone). With Ben Vereen, Steve Buscemi and Kyra Sedgwick.
The Transporter Refueled
Vroom! Screech!! LOOK OUT!!!
There — just saved you the price of a movie ticket.
A Walk in the Woods
Robert Redford and Nick Nolte make endearingly quirky hiking companions in this comedy based on Bill Bryson’s 1998 account of his failed quest to walk the Appalachian Trail. (The script and direction, by contrast, feel aimless.) Emma Thompson is so darling as Bryson’s wife, it’s clear he was a nut to leave her at home.
The latest faith-inspired film from the producing/directing team of Alex and Stephen Kendrick ( Fireproof, Facing the Giants) focuses on a family’s efforts to resolve their problems through prayer.
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