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      Movie Reviews

      • The Accountant poster image

        The Accountant

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        Reassuring the audience that, yes, there will be blood in a movie about a strip-mall accountant, "The Accountant" opens with a flashback of a multiple-murder scene involving mobsters, federal agents and an obscure sense of narrative purpose. Then, another flashback, this one to 1989: We're at a neuroscience center for children who live somewhere along the wide spectrum of autism. The boy who will become the math savant played by Ben Affleck is solving a picture puzzle, rocking back ... (read more)

      • Deepwater Horizon poster image

        Deepwater Horizon

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        Certain ingredients help a disaster movie qualify as "fun." These include, but are not limited to, asteroids; Carla Gugino, Dwayne Johnson and Alexandra Daddario outrunning an earthquake-created tsunami; global warming, or icing, on a Roland Emmerich "Day After Tomorrow" scale; and, from the genre's '70s heyday, the "all-star cast" inclusion of Red Buttons, Helen Reddy or a theme song sung by the fabulous Maureen McGovern. "Deepwater Horizon" contains n... (read more)

      • Masterminds poster image


        Katie Walsh, Chicago Tribune

        There's a certain subset of the population that may find Zach Galifianakis in a ridiculous hairdo the height of comedy. If you are in that segment, welcome, join us. You'll find much merriment in the lightweight and very silly comedy "Masterminds," which is astonishingly based on the true story of one of the largest cash robberies in the United States. Also, Galifianakis sports a variety of insane wigs and 'dos, from a long blonde number, to a kinky black perm, to his own Prince Val... (read more)

      • Storks poster image


        Katie Walsh, Chicago Tribune

        Tronc Newspapers Critic Welcome to the very strange, and strangely moving, world of "Storks." Writer-director Nicholas Stoller, known for his more adult comedies, such as "Forgetting Sarah Marshall" and "Neighbors," delves into the family-friendly animated genre in a little movie about where babies come from. Or where they used to come from. In this world, the old wives tale of storks delivering bouncing bundles of joy is real history, though the birds have been ... (read more)

      • Snowden poster image


        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        Tronc Newspapers Critic When it comes to poking the bear, and to depicting American history as the cyclical wising-up of its idealists, Oliver Stone remains the man with the plan, and the bullet points. "Snowden" is co-writer and director Stone's latest. It's fairly absorbing though, increasingly, a bit of an eye-roller, and it's designed, photographed and edited to make you itchy with paranoia. Its goal is simple: It agitates for a society and a government a little less hellbent on... (read more)

      • Sully poster image


        Katie Walsh, Chicago Tribune

        The sight of a passenger plane along the skyline of New York is an image that has been seared in the global collective consciousness. It's a memory that "Sully," Clint Eastwood's new film, acknowledges, but also attempts to redefine. What if a plane skimming skyscrapers could conjure an image not just of unimaginable terror, but one of incredible heroism and skill? That's what "Sully" might accomplish, in committing to film the heartwarming story of "The Miracle on th... (read more)

      • The Light Between Oceans poster image

        The Light Between Oceans

        Katie Walsh, Chicago Tribune

        With "Blue Valentine" and "The Place Beyond the Pines," filmmaker Derek Cianfrance has proved that he has a knack for both intimate romantic fables and sweeping family epics that span decades. In his adaptation of M.L. Stedman's 2012 debut novel "The Light Between Oceans," Cianfrance makes a film that is both epic and intimate, a love story intertwined with tragedy. In stars Alicia Vikander and Michael Fassbender, he finds performers who manage to deftly inhabit ... (read more)

      • Hands of Stone poster image

        Hands of Stone

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        With "Hands of Stone," Robert De Niro officially enters his Burgess Meredith-in-"Rocky" phase, bringing the ringside grizzle and rumpled gravitas by the pound. In writer-director Jonathan Jakubowicz's peppy, none-too-probing biopic of Panamanian champion Roberto Duran, played by Edgar Ramirez, the "Raging Bull" Oscar winner (and let's not forget "Grudge Match") takes the role of legendary trainer Ray Arcel. He's the man behind the man. And good or bad, ... (read more)

      • Kubo and the Two Strings poster image

        Kubo and the Two Strings

        Colin Covert, Chicago Tribune

        Within this heyday of computer-animated movies, the greatest special effect is creating emotionally resonant characters. The adventure fantasy "Kubo and the Two Strings" is seamless stop-motion storytelling, from Laika, the independent animation studio that gave us the darkly entertaining "Coraline," "ParaNorman" and "The Boxtrolls." Yet wizardly art direction isn't the film's most striking quality. It's the endearing, playful, touching, cantankerous an... (read more)

      • War Dogs poster image

        War Dogs

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        So this is weird: Vocally, Jonah Hill and Miles Teller sound eerily alike, even though they're completely different physical types. If "War Dogs" were more interesting, funnier, wilder, something, anything, this wouldn't warrant a mention. But director and co-writer Todd Phillips' flat, enervated movie, based on a 2011 Rolling Stone story about a couple of Miami pals who stumbled into the wonderful world of international arms-dealing, gives you all too much time to focus on things l... (read more)

      • Sausage Party poster image

        Sausage Party

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        Insanely raunchy, and occasionally very funny, "Sausage Party" won't be for everyone. But you could say that about any film featuring a vaginal douche as a villain; a talking used condom, with a tale of woe to tell; a tremendous amount of rough language and rough sex, and rough existential reckonings; and a climactic orgy, the foodstuffs of a store called Shopwell's out of their packaging at last. So it won't be mistaken for "Pete's Dragon" or "The Secret Life of Pets... (read more)

      • Suicide Squad poster image

        Suicide Squad

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        Three "if"s, a "when" and a "but" regarding the new DC Comics movie "Suicide Squad" starring Will Smith, Margot Robbie, Jared Leto and Viola Davis: IF you were to make a better film than the one writer-director David Ayer has made, you'd still hire Smith. He takes top billing as Deadshot, the world's most lethal hit man who is going through some custody issues with his adorable daughter. Older now, his screen presence informed by a relaxed authority, th... (read more)

      • Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie poster image

        Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        After the off-putting "Entourage" movie and that second, egregious "Sex and the City" film, I'm stunned to report that the latest small-screen transfer to hit theaters, "Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie," occasionally justifies its merrily low comic existence. It helps, of course, when you have Joanna Lumley, that epic dame, and her uniquely piquant pronunciation of the word "fabulous," spoken without moving her lips, as if savoring a liqueur-flavored mar... (read more)

      • Bad Moms poster image

        Bad Moms

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        As surely as most mothers can't win, "Bad Moms" can't lose. Certainly it can't lose with moms who've endured, through gritted teeth, one too many R-rated guy comedies where the women on screen are either sidelined or humiliated or leaning down a lot, for the gratification of the male gaze. This movie represents a vacation from mean-spirited sexism like "The Hangover." Or does it? Maybe it does, maybe it doesn't. The "Hangover" writing team of Jon Lucas and Scott ... (read more)

      • Jason Bourne poster image

        Jason Bourne

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        Jason Bourne is back, after nine long years in cold franchise storage. That time gap explains why the new film "Jason Bourne" puts quotes around its conflicted super-assassin's full fake name. We know it, according to the ads. We know his name. But just in case. The ideal audience for this movie: amnesiac graduates of the deadly U.S. intelligence experiment known as Operation Treadstone, the dark secret at the center of the series based extraordinarily loosely on the Bourne novels b... (read more)

      • Ice Age: Collision Course poster image

        Ice Age: Collision Course

        Katie Walsh, Chicago Tribune

        Fourteen years after the first "Ice Age" animated film was a hit, the fifth installment in the franchise, "Ice Age: Collision Course," rolls into theaters. Is it inevitable? Yes, 2012's "Ice Age: Continental Drift," was the highest grossing animated film that year. Is it necessary? Absolutely not. "Collision Course" is simply a perfunctory, watered-down entry in the series that feels like it should have been released on home video. In this world of anci... (read more)

      • Lights Out poster image

        Lights Out

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        Two good ideas is all a low-budget horror movie needs, really, to not stink. The 80-minute feature directorial debut "Lights Out" has two good ideas. One involves an imaginary best friend, or rather, frenemy, with a twist: It's not the child with the friend, it's the child's disturbed mother. The other hook involves the dark, and what lurks there, thereby proving an idea needn't be original to be effective. Swedish director David F. Sandberg's feature debut comes from his own short ... (read more)

      • Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates poster image

        Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates

        Stephanie Merry, Chicago Tribune

        The Washington Post Mike and Dave Stangle put the "bro" in brothers. Twenty-something liquor salesmen, they're the life of the party -- but also the death of it -- having turned a perfectly lovely Fourth of July fireworks spectacle into a conflagration while endangering innocent bystanders with over-the-top trampoline acrobatics. They just don't know when to say when. The movie they're in is similarly afflicted. Starring Adam Devine and Zac Efron as the titular duo, "Mike and D... (read more)

      • The Secret Life of Pets poster image

        The Secret Life of Pets

        Katie Walsh, Chicago Tribune

        A movie about what pets do during the day is a winning premise. Of course we want to know what those adorable creatures with whom we share our lives are up to, and so "The Secret Life of Pets" is here to explore those possibilities. Turns out their days are much more dramatic and crazier than ours, with all sorts of underworld pet societies and warring animal factions. There's apparently a lot to keep secret in the lives of these pets. "The Secret Life of Pets" comes from ... (read more)

      • Our Kind of Traitor poster image

        Our Kind of Traitor

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        Many aspects of "Our Kind of Traitor" mark it, indelibly, as John le Carre material: moody, ruminative, one foot in the movies, one foot in the real world. Early on there's an abrupt love scene between Ewan McGregor and Naomie Harris that, by narrative design, ends before it gets going. Harris plays Gail, a London barrister married to McGregor's character, Perry, a literature and poetry instructor. The marriage is on rocky ground; we hear of the husband's affair with a student. Perr... (read more)

      • Swiss Army Man poster image

        Swiss Army Man

        Robert Abele, Chicago Tribune

        Los Angeles Times Labeled "the farting corpse movie" at Sundance, the forcefully quirky "Swiss Army Man" certainly expels a lot in trying to convince you its bruised-emo wilderness yarn is whimsically imaginative. Its dynamic duo -- Paul Dano's stranded neurotic and Daniel Radcliffe's gaseous cadaver -- may be one of modern cinema's more willfully odd pairings. But there's more than a whiff of overwrought dude pity to this spottily amusing absurdist adventure from feature ... (read more)

      • The Purge: Election Year poster image

        The Purge: Election Year

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        The third "Purge" movie, which may be the harshest political commentary this year in any medium, is weirdly pretty good and carries the subtitle "Election Year." The America we see in writer-director James DeMonaco's sequel might've been dreamed up over a conference call among Donald Trump (a clear model for the movie's prime minister), the National Rifle Association (referenced by name, though not in a way the NRA would prefer, despite the film's high levels of assault we... (read more)

      • Free State of Jones poster image

        Free State of Jones

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        In so many Civil War-era photographs, a bone-weariness of spirit, coupled with a kind of faraway intensity, lurks in the soldiers' eyes. Plenty of actors can fake that sort of thing, but Matthew McConaughey really does have it. He looks right and convincing in a period drama such as "Free State of Jones," the historical biography, equal parts intrigue and frustration, written and directed by Gary Ross. McConaughey plays Newton Knight, like Oskar Schindler an anomaly in a horrific ti... (read more)

      • Independence Day: Resurgence poster image

        Independence Day: Resurgence

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        From the metallic shell of the 1996 smash "Independence Day," director Roland Emmerich has pulled a seriously lousy sequel, dripping with alien goo and incoherence. I take no pleasure in reporting this news, folks. I've been a lonely, half-mad defender of some of Emmerich's cheesiest cheese, including "10,000 B.C." But "Independence Day: Resurgence" is the Emmerich movie his fiercest detractors always said he could manage, if he put his mindlessness to it. Will S... (read more)

      • The Neon Demon poster image

        The Neon Demon

        Michael O'Sullivan, Chicago Tribune

        The headlines generated by last month's premiere of "The Neon Demon" at Cannes -- virtually all of which singled out the film's violence, cannibalism and lesbian necrophilia -- were not sufficient to crush all hope that filmmaker Nicolas Winding Refn had returned to the mastery he displayed in his breakout film, "Drive." The noirish and violent 2011 drama won Refn the best director prize at that year's Cannes Film Festival and got the movie nominated for a Palme d'Or. Perh... (read more)

      • Central Intelligence poster image

        Central Intelligence

        Colin Covert, Chicago Tribune

        The arithmetic of comedy is not that difficult. If you produce logically linked laughs every five minutes in a feature film you have created a classic. Deliver random chuckles every 10 minutes and your movie is pretty good. Provide the best fun in a pile of outtakes shown in the end credits and you have a zero-momentum mess like "Central Intelligence." It's the kind of movie that sends you from the theater smiling because you're glad it's over. No need to bother with the paltry excu... (read more)

      • Finding Dory poster image

        Finding Dory

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        Childhood and, in fact, the very act of being human involves a certain level of loneliness. The great news is, you can make money off it. For close to 80 years, if you go by Disney's "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" making history in 1937, all sorts and achievement levels of feature animation have preyed upon the fears, insecurities and isolating circumstances of growing up. The best Pixar features, like those pre- and post-digital from Pixar's parent company, Disney, have exploite... (read more)

      • Genius poster image


        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        "Genius" is one of those movies where, 20 minutes in, you realize: So. It's one of those movies. Neat and tidy and well-mannered and dull, and not even Colin Firth and Jude Law and Laura Linney and Nicole Kidman and some very sharp fedoras can enliven it. The film marks the screen debut for acclaimed stage director and Donmar Warehouse alum Michael Grandage, working from John Logan's script adapted from the 1978 biography "Max Perkins: Editor of Genius." For a few fraught ... (read more)

      • Maggie's Plan poster image

        Maggie's Plan

        Katie Walsh, Chicago Tribune

        Rebecca Miller, the writer and director of "Maggie's Plan" seems to have a sixth sense for knowing just what her audience might like. If you're interested in a dramedy starring Greta Gerwig about a young, single woman looking to become a mother, chances are the cameo from riot grrl Kathleen Hanna will delight you (Hanna's husband, Beastie Boy Adam Horovitz, is the music supervisor). Miller's film isn't trying to be all things to all people, it's just trying to be the right thing for... (read more)

      • Now You See Me 2 poster image

        Now You See Me 2

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        "Now You See Me 2" is more fun than "Now You See Me," which says something, I guess. It fits snugly in the long list of easygoing nothings, the narrative equivalent of a Fruit Roll-Up, designed to be forgotten in as many minutes as they took to watch. The cast remains the chief reason it squeaks by, but it's also a matter of the change in directors. Jon M. Chu did two of the "Step Up" movies, which I enjoyed for reasons unknown. In the context of this grandiose-d... (read more)

      • The Conjuring 2 poster image

        The Conjuring 2

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        Nothing else in "The Conjuring 2" is as terrifying as the 1977-era floral wallpaper lining the hallways of its dimly lit and plainly haunted North London flat, not to mention the fearsome edge on Patrick Wilson's sideburns. But despite being saddled with 20 minutes it doesn't need, the movie is a consistently nerve-wracking sequel to the even better 2013 haunted-house thriller directed by James Wan ("Saw," "Insidious," the forthcoming "Aquaman"). He is ... (read more)

      • The Music of Strangers poster image

        The Music of Strangers

        Kenneth Turan, Chicago Tribune

        With a documentary called "The Music of Strangers: Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble," there's no doubting that wonderful sounds will be in store. But that's not all that's on offer. For, as directed by Morgan Neville, "Strangers" turns out to be as concerned with emotion as with performance, spending much of its time investigating how so much joyous music was able to come out of exploration, disturbance, even pain. At the center of everything is 60-year-old cellist Ma, ... (read more)

      • Me Before You poster image

        Me Before You

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        In many cases there's no sound defense for works of fiction that make millions weep. If there were, "The Bridges of Madison County" and "Miss Saigon" would be, in some way, defensible. This brings us to "Me Before You," written by ex-journalist Jojo Moyes. Moyes came to her 2012 romance between a wealthy, dashing quadriplegic and his maniacally upbeat caregiver with a confident, reasonably witty prose style. In England especially the book turned into a monster of... (read more)

      • Alice Through the Looking Glass poster image

        Alice Through the Looking Glass

        Katie Walsh, Chicago Tribune

        When Tim Burton's 2010 live-action version of "Alice in Wonderland" raked in a billion dollars there was no question that Disney would pounce on the opportunity for a sequel. Helpfully, Lewis Carroll did write a second book about Alice and her adventures in Wonderland, "Through the Looking-Glass," but it proves to be only a suggestion for the film, which arrives this weekend, to a very diminished return. It feels reverse-engineered to fit a release date, with a story that,... (read more)

      • Love & Friendship poster image

        Love & Friendship

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        Whit Stillman's "Love & Friendship" is compact, modestly budgeted, sublimely acted and almost completely terrific. It'll likely disorient the average Jane Austen fanatic, which is nice, too. The writer-director of "Metropolitan," "Barcelona," "The Last Days of Disco" and "Damsels in Distress" has adapted Jane Austen's early novella "Lady Susan," retitling it after an even more obscure story from Austen's teenage years. The results re... (read more)

      • Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising poster image

        Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising

        Katie Walsh, Chicago Tribune

        Two years ago, "Neighbors" writers Andrew Jay Cohen and Brendan O'Brien, along with director Nicholas Stoller, reinvented the classic college party movie by pitting the frat guys against the young parents next door. It was a raunchy but sweet rumination on getting older and growing out of party mode, a refreshing take on the college movie formula. With "Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising," they've flipped the script, creating a feminist party classic that's completely current an... (read more)

      • The Angry Birds Movie poster image

        The Angry Birds Movie

        Katie Walsh, Chicago Tribune

        If you've ever played the mobile video game Angry Birds, you might have found yourself wondering -- why am I sling-shotting cartoon birds at grinning green pigs? Why are these birds so angry? What have the pigs done to deserve this destruction? "Angry Birds," the movie, is here to fill in that backstory, to answer the questions that may or may not have been asked, and provide motivation for the avian rage. The film, directed by Clay Kittis and Fergal Reilly, from a screenplay by &qu... (read more)

      • Dheepan poster image


        Justin Chang, Chicago Tribune

        The films of the French director Jacques Audiard roil with tension of every kind: political, ethnic, dramatic, aesthetic. He is a master of screen violence, someone who knows how to orchestrate action and mayhem for maximum stylistic flair and visceral impact. He is also a sharp and sensitive observer of race- and class-based malaise in his home country, as in "A Prophet," his galvanizing 2010 thriller about a French Arab outcast who morphs into a crime lord behind bars. At times, h... (read more)

      • The Huntsman: Winter's War poster image

        The Huntsman: Winter's War

        Katie Walsh, Chicago Tribune

        How do you solve a problem like Kristen (Stewart)? If you're the filmmakers of "The Huntsman: Winter's War," you write Snow White entirely out of the sequel to "Snow White and the Huntsman." The film's clearly a valuable property, so it's no wonder that Universal would return to that well with a sequel, this time directed by Cedric Nicolas-Troyan, the visual effects supervisor on the first film. But the script acrobatics result in a bizarre prequel/sequel mash up where Sno... (read more)

      • I Saw the Light poster image

        I Saw the Light

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        If a prosaic movie can be redeemed, partially, by an excellent performance, then "I Saw the Light" and Tom Hiddleston's Hank Williams serve as point A and point B, respectively. The good and the phony in the new Williams biopic sit side by side in the opening minutes. After the first of several faux black-and-white interview sequences featuring Bradley Whitford as Williams' producer, Fred Rose, aka "Mr. Exposition," we get to the star. On a soundstage of the mind, swathed ... (read more)

      • Where to Invade Next poster image

        Where to Invade Next

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        Michael Moore's wry first-person documentary "Where to Invade Next," his first since 2009 and "Capitalism: A Love Story," isn't what it sounds like. The title suggests a cry, or a typically ironic Moore screed, against the history and dangers of recent U.S. foreign policy. But Moore's latest goes a different direction. It follows one goofball firebrand's "invasion" of a few choice countries abroad where the spending priorities and social safety nets are more to h... (read more)

      • Kung Fu Panda 3 poster image

        Kung Fu Panda 3

        Katie Walsh, Chicago Tribune

        A third installment in a franchise isn't always great. But sometimes, it can be a comforting guarantee of a good time at the movies, as is the case with "Kung Fu Panda 3." The first two installments have been met with rapturous reception and box office success, and this one will no doubt follow in their footsteps -- with good reason. The engaging and heartfelt story, coupled with eye-popping animation, makes "Kung Fu Panda 3" a total knockout. In a prologue, we're introduc... (read more)

      • Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip poster image

        Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip

        Katie Walsh, Chicago Tribune

        The persistence of "Alvin and the Chipmunks" as a cultural text is rather baffling. The mischievous singing rodents were created in 1958 for a novelty record, which makes them 57 years old. You're probably familiar with that record, as it usually gets some air time this season, and features that inimitably high-pitched ear worm chorus, "Please, Christmas, don't be late." It's amazing to think that that song has been tormenting parents for nearly six decades now. These are ... (read more)

      • Star Wars: The Force Awakens poster image

        Star Wars: The Force Awakens

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        So: Where were we? Let's skip past the prequel trilogy "The Phantom Menace," "Attack of the Clones" and "Revenge of the Sith," apparently written and directed by droids. In chronological story terms we last saw Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, princess-turned-queen Leia, Chewbacca, R2-D2 and C-3PO whooping it up at the Ewok luau back in 1983, in "Return of the Jedi," celebrating the massive global popularity and merchandising sales of George Lucas' bright idea... (read more)

      • Chi-Raq poster image


        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        Dec. 4, Spike Lee's "Chi-Raq" is destined to make almost everybody angry -- not for what it says about Chicago's homicide statistics, especially among young African-Americans, but for how it says it. Director and co-writer Lee took on an existing script by Kevin Willmott ("C.S.A.: The Confederate States of America"), and together they relocated this brash update on the ancient Greek play "Lysistrata" to modern-day Chicago. Its prologue is all business, indicating... (read more)

      • My All American poster image

        My All American

        Colin Covert, Chicago Tribune

        There are three specific events at which a manly man is allowed to cry: the death of his mother, the birth of his daughter and a sports movie. That's where we get go-for-the-jugular real life tear-jerkers like "Brian's Song," "Friday Night Lights" and "My All American." Angelo Pizzo, screenwriter of "Rudy" and "Hoosiers," provided both script and direction for this biography of University of Texas Austin's beloved player Freddie Steinmark. Men... (read more)

      • Goosebumps poster image


        Katie Walsh, Chicago Tribune

        Silly, spooky monster mash-up "Goosebumps" doesn't have to be as good as it is. Slyly smarter and more entertaining than it appears, adults might have just as much fun as the kids who will undoubtedly gobble up this Halloween treat. A sort of PG version of "Cabin in the Woods," this adaptation of R.L. Stine's series of young adult horror novels is bolstered by a stellar comedic cast, headed up by the inimitable Jack Black in the role of the author. With so many "Goose... (read more)

      • He Named Me Malala poster image

        He Named Me Malala

        Katie Walsh, Chicago Tribune

        Chances are, you're already familiar with Malala Yousafszai, the young activist and Nobel laureate who survived being shot in the head by the Taliban in Pakistan. But with Davis Guggenheim's new documentary, "He Named Me Malala," based on her memoir, "I Am Malala," you'll get to know the remarkable girl in a much more intimate and illuminating light. While the film itself is plagued with structural storytelling issues that are at best emotionally numbing, at worst confound... (read more)

      • The Martian poster image

        The Martian

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        A highly enjoyable, zestily acted team-building exercise, with Matt Damon playing the team of one, director Ridley Scott's "The Martian" throws a series of life-or-death scenarios at its resourceful botanist-astronaut, stranded on Mars but making the most of it. It's one of the most comforting science fiction films in years. "I'm not gonna die here," Damon's character, Mark Watney, declares early on to the camera. Left for dead by his crew amid a monstrous windstorm, in wh... (read more)

      • Mad Max: Fury Road poster image

        Mad Max: Fury Road

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        You remember "Happy Feet." This is George Miller's "Happy Wheels." The creator of the original "Mad Max" trilogy has whipped up a gargantuan grunge symphony of vehicular mayhem that makes "Furious 7" look like "Curious George." The full title of Miller's remake of "Mad Max" is "Mad Max: Fury Road." It stars Tom Hardy, who says very little, in the old Mel Gibson role of the post-apocalyptic road warrior. Here the character's... (read more)

      • The Salt of the Earth poster image

        The Salt of the Earth

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        Watching "The Salt of the Earth," the compelling new documentary about photographer Sebastiao Salgado, it becomes clear early on just how odd it is to experience Salgado's work on someone else's timetable. With an exhibition or a book of photographs, you set your own clock, spending as much time or as little inside a particular image as you like. With film, that's not the case. Co-directors Wim Wenders (a huge Salgado fan) and Juliano Ribeiro Salgado (the photographer's son) linger ... (read more)

      • Mr. Turner poster image

        Mr. Turner

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        Some films assert their rightness and sureness in the opening shot. Mike Leigh's excellent "Mr. Turner" is one of them, though Leigh and his inspired cinematographer, Dick Pope, are less concerned with conspicuous camera movement than with a charged sort of stillness. It's a beautiful film, and not merely that. When it's over you feel as if you have been somewhere, to another century, peering at the world through a different set of eyes. Now for that first shot. In 1820s Holland, a ... (read more)

      • Exodus: Gods and Kings poster image

        Exodus: Gods and Kings

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        What do the entrails say about "Exodus: Gods and Kings," director Ridley Scott's ambitious retelling of the Moses story, the exodus from Egypt, the burning bush, the frogs, the boils, the hail, the commandments, the Red Sea crossing and the rest of it? Not bad, they say. Not great; not bad. Those anticipating a camp hoot will be disappointed. For all his reliance on digital effects, director Scott's sensibilities lean old-school, and he has sense enough to keep everybody on screen i... (read more)

      • Interstellar poster image


        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        A knockout one minute, a punch-drunk crazy film the next, "Interstellar" is a highly stimulating mess. Emotionally it's also a mess, and that's what makes it worth its 165 minutes -- minutes made possible by co-writer and director Christopher Nolan's prior global success with his brooding, increasingly nasty "Batman" films, and with the commercially viable head-trip that was "Inception." You can call "Interstellar" corny or reiterative or just plain dau... (read more)

      • Citizenfour poster image


        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        By Tribune Newspapers Critics, Tribune Content Agency Film Clips A cool, steady stream of anxiety, Laura Poitras' documentary "Citizenfour" draws from the visual language and buggy paranoia of the best-known 1970s political thrillers: "The Conversation," "The Parallax View," "Three Days of the Condor," "All the President's Men." Each of the cities filmed in "Citizenfour" gets its own quiet yet sinister establishing shot, so that Rio ... (read more)

      • Fury poster image


        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        "Fury" is a mixture of sharp realism and squishy cliches that combat movies don't really need anymore. It stars Brad Pitt as a 2nd Armored Division sergeant known as Wardaddy, commander of a battle-scarred Sherman tank whose nickname, painted on its gun barrel, gives writer-director David Ayer's film its title. Coming off his LAPD drive-around chronicle "End of Watch," Ayer once again gravitates toward hard men in deadly, roving circumstances. "Fury" compresses a... (read more)

      • The Girl on the Train poster image

        The Girl on the Train

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        Let's be Blunt. Emily Blunt is an excellent and wily actress. In "The Girl on the Train" she's persuasive enough, both in angsty, raging extremis and in wary voyeur mode, to play a sort of shell game with her own messed-up movie. Look over here! I've figured out how to make this plot device behave like a real person! The words you'd use to describe director Tate Taylor's film version of the best-selling Paula Hawkins novel are the same words one of the patronizing male characters mi... (read more)

      • Only Lovers Left Alive poster image

        Only Lovers Left Alive

        Sheri Linden, Chicago Tribune

        With the YA swoon of "Twilight" safely in the rearview mirror, movie vampires get their mojo back in the sensuous dreamscape of "Only Lovers Left Alive," one of the strongest films yet from Jim Jarmusch. A filmmaker with a deep affection for outsiders, Jarmusch sets his ode to the urbane undead -- and margin-dwelling artists -- in two ultra-poetic cities: Detroit, a vision of trampled grandeur on the cusp of rebirth, and worldly Tangier, its alleyways alive with the murmur... (read more)

      • The LEGO Movie poster image

        The LEGO Movie

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        Finally! A comedy that works. An animated film with a look -- a kinetic aesthetic honoring its product line's bright, bricklike origins -- that isn't like every other clinically rounded and bland digital 3-D effort. A movie that works for the Lego-indebted parent as well as the Lego-crazed offspring. A movie that, in its brilliantly crammed first half especially, will work even if you don't give a rip about Legos. "The Lego Movie" proves that you can soar directly into and then stra... (read more)

      • Walking With Dinosaurs poster image

        Walking With Dinosaurs

        Roger Moore, Chicago Tribune

        The BBC series "Walking With Dinosaurs" gets a kid-friendly big-screen treatment, complete with cutesy story and dino-poop jokes, in "Walking With Dinosaurs 3D." Aimed squarely at that dino-crazy demographic (7-12), it pumps a few IQ points into a kid film genre sorely in need of them. "Walking" takes care to ID each new dinosaur species introduced, including factoids about what they ate and any special skills they might have had. It's downright educational. Just... (read more)

      • Gravity poster image


        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        ``Gravity defies itself. Sandra Bullock and George Clooney play astronauts - a newbie scientist and a veteran cowboy - who dodge space debris and the usual narrative expectations while coping with a highly compressed series of crises 372 miles above the Earth's surface. It's a nerve-wracking visual experience of unusual and paradoxical delicacy. And if your stomach can take it, it's truly something to see. Director and co-writer Alfonso Cuaron, who wrote the script with his son, Jonas, has de... (read more)

      • Star Trek Into Darkness poster image

        Star Trek Into Darkness

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        It's lame and sort of geeky to compare franchise apples to oranges. Oh, well. "Star Trek Into Darkness" does everything "Iron Man 3" tries to do, in the realm of global terrorism imagery reprocessed for popcorn kicks, but with a little more style, a dash more brio and invention. Yes, the film culminates in a vicious fistfight that goes on slightly longer than forever. Yes, it's brazenly dependent on our collective (and justified) fond memories of the best of the first-roun... (read more)

      • Jack Reacher poster image

        Jack Reacher

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        Considered outside the context of the bloody December so far, "Jack Reacher" does its work sleekly and well. Writer-director Christopher McQuarrie filmed the adaptation of the Lee Child book "One Shot" (one of many Reacher adventures) in Pittsburgh, with cinematographer Caleb Deschanel lending the project a handsome, burnished sheen. To be sure, devotees of the Reacher novels have complained plenty about the casting of Tom Cruise as the ex-military policeman, trained snipe... (read more)

      • Lincoln poster image


        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        "Lincoln" is a grave and surprisingly subtle magic trick, conjuring the past and an almost ridiculously impressive figure in ways that transcend art direction and the right stovepipe hat. Director Steven Spielberg's latest combines the most commonly shared notions we have of our 16th U.S. president -- the folksy deliberation, the spindly gait, the all-seeing eye on the prize of history remade -- with the behavior, idiosyncrasies and contradictions of an actual human being. It blends... (read more)

      • ParaNorman poster image


        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        Here's the historical designation of the new animated film ``ParaNorman: It's the third feature made in the painstaking stop-motion process - consciously unrealistic, herky-jerky and rough-hewn, in the George Pal ``Puppetoons or Tim Burton ``Corpse Bride vein - as well as in stereoscopic 3-D. The first two to do so were the very fine ``Coraline and the noisy, bustling ``The Pirates! Band of Misfits. The other distinction worth noting: In this summer of 2012, ``ParaNorman is one of the good mo... (read more)

      • The Dark Knight Rises: The IMAX Experience poster image

        The Dark Knight Rises: The IMAX Experience

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        Eight years after the camp frippery of "Batman & Robin" (1997), in which Arnold Schwarzenegger's Mr. Freeze and Uma Thurman's Poison Ivy played dress-up while George Clooney let his nipply bat-suit do most of the acting, director and co-writer Christopher Nolan brought to the screen the origin story of Bruce Wayne and his tortured, emotionally isolated crime-fighting alter ego. Stately and just serious enough, "Batman Begins" was trumped by Nolan's own 2008 sequel, "T... (read more)

      • Brave poster image


        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        The heather on the hill and other scenic Scottish glories never looked lovelier than in the animated realm of "Brave," the gorgeous if awkwardly plotted new film from Pixar Animation Studios and the ruling clan of Disney. Several firsts here for Pixar. Its 13th feature is the studio's first period assignment, set in pre-medieval times, a fairy tale grounded in the textures and enticements of a real place. It's also the first princess-themed project from Pixar, and the writers wisely... (read more)

      • The Pirates! Band of Misfits poster image

        The Pirates! Band of Misfits

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        Maniacally inventive and tightly packed, if not overpacked, "The Pirates! Band of Misfits" comes from the Aardman animation folks behind "Wallace & Gromit," "Chicken Run" and, more recently, "Arthur Christmas." Their latest may be easier to admire than to love; it's more tone-funny and incidental-muttered-aside funny than, for example, your average DreamWorks smash, where every other comic beat ends with a cartoon animal getting bashed in the nethers an... (read more)

      • The Cabin in the Woods poster image

        The Cabin in the Woods

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        A peppy horror mash-up with existential airs, "The Cabin in the Woods" goes completely nuts in its final half-hour and is all the better for it. Writers lie about this sort of thing constantly, but according to screenwriters Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard, who cut their eyeteeth on "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" among other credits, the script came together in three days, in the spirit of "Let's try that, too." Goddard, making his feature directorial debut, plays aroun... (read more)

      • Coriolanus poster image


        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        By Tribune Newspapers Critics, Tribune Media Services Film Clips With great power comes great responsibility, but powerful men often make for lousy, irresponsible politicians. (Insert personal observations on certain presidential candidates here.) With "Coriolanus," one of William Shakespeare's toughest, most provocative studies in statesmanship, the dramatist created a tragedy (premiering in 1608) built upon the life of a fifth century B.C. warrior who, whether by excess of pride o... (read more)

      • Hugo poster image


        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        Rich and stimulating even when it wanders, director Martin Scorsese's first 3-D effort, "Hugo," takes place mostly within the confines of a railway station modeled on Montparnasse. The story, developed by screenwriter John Logan from Brian Selznick's graphic novel "The Invention of Hugo Cabret," ranges beyond the station. But every locale in Scorsese's vision of 1931 Paris looks and feels like another planet. The filmmaker embraces storybook artifice as wholeheartedly as h... (read more)

      • The Artist poster image

        The Artist

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        Please be silent behind the screen. Backstage at the 1927 Hollywood premiere of his latest screen triumph, film star George Valentin -- played with irresistible zest by Jean Dujardin -- waits for the crowd's response. Standing in front of the sign shushing the backstagers, he hears the applause. We only see it, "The Artist" being a silent film (or nearly) whose story begins in the late-silent era. When Valentin takes his bow with his co-stars, female and canine, it's clear this man'... (read more)

      • The Skin I Live In poster image

        The Skin I Live In

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        Part of the payoff of the new Pedro Almodovar movie, "The Skin I Live In," comes in seeing Antonio Banderas reunite, after two decades, with the director whose flamboyant black comedies launched Banderas into stardom. The last film they made together was "Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!" In "The Skin I Live In," despite its psychosexual figure eights and risky medical procedures, Banderas keeps a tight seal on his usual ebullience, anchoring with a meticulously straight ... (read more)

      • The Thing poster image

        The Thing

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        The slippery, effective new version of "The Thing" serves as a prequel to the 1982 John Carpenter film, explaining what went down, down in Antarctica, after the intergalactic thing thawed and began eviscerating humans plus a husky or two. Those disinclined toward Carpenter's version, as I am, may be surprised at how the new release nearly matches the gore levels the fright reached in an earlier, nondigital era of practical special effects. Yet this latest "Thing" doesn't f... (read more)

      • The Tourist poster image

        The Tourist

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        ``The Tourist is a facsimile of a masquerade of a gloss on ``Charade, and on all the lesser cinematic charades that followed in the wake of director Stanley Donen's 1963 picture. While it's fairly easy to take in its retro way - it certainly takes it easy on the audience - it's a peculiar sort of ... leisure thriller, I suppose is the phrase. When the Johnny Depp character scurries against a green screen in his jammies along tiled Venice rooftops, fleeing Russian mobsters, the question arises... (read more)

      • Scott Pilgrim vs. the World poster image

        Scott Pilgrim vs. the World

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        It's easy to make a movie in a style approximating that of a comic book or graphic novel. "Sin City" did it. "Road to Perdition" did it. "Watchmen" and "Kick-Ass" did it. As did "Ghost World." Except for that last one, the others fell short as movies because they mistook visual replication for authenticity. They were storyboards based on storyboards, not films. "Scott Pilgrim vs. the World" is different, and not just because it's fun... (read more)

      • Toy Story 3: The IMAX Experience poster image

        Toy Story 3: The IMAX Experience

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        If "Toy Story 3" had sprung, Slinky Dog-like, from any creative think tank besides Pixar Animation Studios, it might be considered a classic. As is, it's a good sequel to the 1999 "Toy Story 2" and the 1995 original. After a rather shrill and conventional first half, more in the DreamWorks style, it recaptures the old comic spark with a splendid ode to "The Great Escape" as cowboy Woody, spaceman Buzz Lightyear, cowgirl Jessie, Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head and the re... (read more)

      • Antichrist poster image


        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        Lars von Trier's "Antichrist" has among its cast of characters a deer, seen briefly picking at its own dangling innards, foreshadowing some rough human behavior to come. Also there is a fox who speaks at one point. "Chaos reigns," it says to the character played by Willem Dafoe. I'm inclined to agree with a colleague who told me he could swing with "Antichrist" when it was simply unstable but couldn't go with it when it turned insane. It's a useful distinction. ... (read more)

      • Julie & Julia poster image

        Julie & Julia

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        "Julie & Julia," which could also be called "Butter & Butterer," may not be great cinema, but people going to a movie like this for great cinema are sniffing around the wrong kitchen. You go to a movie like this for the sauces and stews, and for the considerable pleasure of seeing (and listening to) Meryl Streep's drolly exuberant performance as Julia Child, the towering culinary icon with the distinctively plummy vocal intonations evoking a flute, an oboe and Ed Wynn afte... (read more)

      • Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince: The IMAX 2D Experience poster image

        Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince: The IMAX 2D Experience

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        A small vial of "liquid luck" (lovely concept, one of many in J.K. Rowling's universe) plays a supporting role in "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince," No. 6 in the franchise. (The two-film edition of " Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" will be released in 2010 and 2011, respectively.) But luck, really, has little to do with the way these films turn out. After getting my head caught in the blender that is "Transformers 2," I found it especially ... (read more)

      • In the Loop poster image

        In the Loop

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        The British prime minister's director of diplomacy is on the phone, arranging a function. "You needn't worry about the Canadians," he says. "They're just happy to be there. [pause] Yes, well, they always look surprised when they're invited." A hundred throwaway lines like this pop up in the black-hearted political comedy "In the Loop," an expansion of the BBC-TV series "The Thick of It." I had no familiarity with the show. The film requires none. While ... (read more)

      • Drag Me to Hell poster image

        Drag Me to Hell

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        Director Sam Raimi gets back to his disreputable roots with "Drag Me to Hell," a title never to be confused with "Spider-Man 4" (which Raimi is preparing; let's hope it's closer in quality to "Spider-Man 2" than "Spider-Man 3"). This hellaciously effective B-movie comes with a handy moral tucked inside its scares, laughs and Raimi's specialty, the scare/laugh hybrid. Moral: Be nice to people. More specifically: Do not foreclose on the old Gypsy woman, o... (read more)

      • Sin nombre poster image

        Sin nombre

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        Crushingly realistic one minute and melodramatically hokey the next - the strategy worked for "Slumdog Millionaire," why not for "Sin Nombre"? This debut feature comes from writer-director Cary Joji Fukunaga, an Oakland native who developed his project at the Sundance Institute. The film went on to considerable acclaim at this year's Sundance Film Festival, as did last year's "Frozen River." I wonder if there's something in the Sundance development process that ... (read more)

      • Under the Sea poster image

        Under the Sea

        Michael Esposito, Chicago Tribune

        Jim Carrey narrates "Under the Sea 3D," a new installment in the underwater 3-D filmmaking that IMAX pretty much owns these days. Nothing compares to the images in these films, and director Howard Hall, whose previous offerings include the IMAX hits "Deep Sea 3D" and "Into the Deep 3D," knows his way around the underwater camera - all 1,300 pounds of it - and personally tallied 358 hours of the dive team's 2,073 hours under the sea (accomplished in 1,668 total di... (read more)

      • Coraline poster image


        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        "Coraline" may not be for all tastes and it's certainly not for all kids, given its macabre premise. But writer-director Henry Selick's animated feature advances the stop-motion animation genre through that most heartening of attributes: quality. It pulls audiences into a meticulously detailed universe, familiar in many respects, whacked and menacing in many others. Unlike other recent films shot in 3-D ("Bolt" comes to mind), this one takes rich advantage of the process, ... (read more)

      • Bolt in Disney Digital 3D poster image

        Bolt in Disney Digital 3D

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        Like so many Disney animated features across decades of nightmare-addled preteen moviegoing, "Bolt" is consumed with abandonment issues. I felt abandoned just watching it. It's a seriously withholding action comedy, stingy on the wit, charm, jokes, narrative satisfactions and animals with personalities sharp enough for the big screen, either in 2-D or 3-D. I saw it in 3-D, which helped, especially with an early, massively destructive chase through the streets and freeways of Los Ang... (read more)

      • Let the Right One In poster image

        Let the Right One In

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        I'm so sick of Swedish vampire movies, aren't you? Honestly, I've had it with those bloodsucking Svenskar. If you can stomach just one more, however, "Let the Right One In" is the Swedish vampire movie to see. The film is terrific. The upcoming screen version of "Twilight" (opening Nov. 21) may be the set of fangs everyone's waiting for, at least among certain demographics, but I can't imagine anyone older than 15, who cherishes vampire lore or not, failing to fall for thi... (read more)

      • Synecdoche, New York poster image

        Synecdoche, New York

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        Most movies fling an audience from A to B to C so that the typical customer response to the average studio product - "Well, it was OK" - is elicited and there's a few more ducats in the coffers at the end of the day and no hard feelings. Being taken for a ride in comfortably predictable fashion: That's the idea. Now and then, though, you encounter a film roomy enough to walk around in, like an art installation. It might get you vexed, or lost. But you might work your way out of the ... (read more)

      • Fly Me to the Moon poster image

        Fly Me to the Moon

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        At what point might animators be arrested for doing work so ugly it causes aesthetic blindness in millions of younglings? It's not a question that comes up every week. But this is the week for it. The two cruddiest animated films of the year, "Star Wars: The Clone Wars" and "Fly Me to the Moon," have precious little to take your mind or your eyes off the visual crimes against humanity. I suppose I'm overstating it. But woe be to us and our eyes if we get worse animation of... (read more)

      • Frozen River poster image

        Frozen River

        Tasha Robinson, Chicago Tribune

        At this point, "escalating-bad-decision story" is practically its own cinematic genre, stretching from the noir films of the 1940s through to modern movies such as "Very Bad Things" or "Before the Devil Knows You're Dead." In escalating-bad-decision films, a character usually tries to cover up an accident or a poor initial choice, like a drug addiction or an affair, and things spiral rapidly out of control, leading to worse choices, increasingly rickety house-of-... (read more)

      • Mamma Mia! poster image

        Mamma Mia!

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        It's funny what you buy completely onstage and resist completely, or nearly, on-screen. Case in point: "Mamma Mia!" -the ABBA-fueled stage phenomenon that has now become "Mamma Mia! The Movie." Of course I never miss a Meryl Streep musical. On-screen she sang in "Silkwood," "Ironweed," "Postcards From the Edge" and plenty in "A Prairie Home Companion." Onstage Streep put her pipes to work on Brecht and Weill's "Happy End";... (read more)

      • Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull poster image

        Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        Really, it would have been fantastic if the new Indiana Jones movie had turned out gangbusters. Failing that, a good, solid sequel would have been nice - proof that a handsomely graying collection of world-class cinematic entertainers, both behind and in front of a defiantly non-digital camera, were right to haul out the fedora and the bullwhip for one more adventure. But the movie with the title that does not know when to quit, "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull," ... (read more)

      • The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian poster image

        The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        A potential seven-film dynasty, the "Chronicles of Narnia" franchise so far has preoccupied itself with delivering C.S. Lewis on a blockbuster of a platter. No time for cinematic fluidity or magic: This is business. I realize the first film ("The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe") made almost $745 million worldwide. Well, some things make tremendous profits simply by showing up and getting the trains to run on time. The second Narnia book to reach the screen, "Prince ... (read more)

      • The Tourist poster image

        The Tourist

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        It takes more than a middle-period-Hitler haircut and a pair of late-'90s specs to render Ewan McGregor unto dweebdom. The actor may have undertaken one too many nude scenes in his career to convincingly inhabit the soul of a mouse, even a mouse morphing into a rutting, wolfish Lothario. In the very silly thriller "Deception," McGregor plays a socially maladroit auditor who has a chance meeting (or is it?) with a flashy corporate lawyer (or is he?) played by Hugh Jackman. In the bli... (read more)

      • Wild Ocean poster image

        Wild Ocean

        Michael Esposito, Chicago Tribune

        When "Wild Ocean" leaves the surface of the Earth for aerial shots of South Africa's Wild Coast and the nearby waters, IMAX is in its element. Sharp plunging cliffs or tumbled rock shorelines with waves breaking over them are incredible. Looking down on huge shoals of sardines migrating along the coast with telltale shadows of sharks, dolphins or other predators menacing their flanks gives the impression of the vast areas that have seen little encroachment by man. The giant screen's... (read more)

      • Teeth poster image


        Tasha Robinson, Chicago Tribune

        Every frame of Mitchell Lichtenstein's horror debut "Teeth" is crammed with symbolism. A pair of cooling towers looming over a town spit out columns of steam, in sync with the protagonist's state of mind. Characters' sexual choices are used as simultaneous shorthand for their personalities, histories and emotional hang-ups. Even juxtaposed ads in the background - a female form with the word "PERFECT" printed across giant breasts, above a marquee advertising banana splits -... (read more)

      • Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street poster image

        Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        It's not the volume of the blood that distinguishes "Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street" from every other film this year. The shocker is the context. Movie audiences aren't used to seeing throats slit while the leading character sings a song - Stephen Sondheim's stealthy, quietly obsessive counter-melody to "Johanna" - and then, in methodical succession, dumps the corpses down a makeshift slide into a cellar where the bodies collected are ground, slowly, into m... (read more)

      • Enchanted poster image


        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        "Enchanted" is a contraption redeemed by a delightful leading performance. The world may not have needed another attempt to cash in on all things princess-y, but Amy Adams, per the old "Mary Tyler Moore Show" theme song, takes a (potentially) nothing day and suddenly makes it all seem worthwhile. Like Marlo Thomas in "That Girl," she's diamonds, daisies, snowflakes, chestnuts, rainbows and springtime. Yes, (BEGIN ITALICS) and (END ITALICS) springtime. "Encha... (read more)

      • No Country for Old Men poster image

        No Country for Old Men

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        As pure craftsmanship, "No Country for Old Men" is as good as we've ever gotten from Joel and Ethan Coen. Only "Fargo" is more satisfying (it's also a comedy, which this one isn't), certainly among the brothers' pictures driven by the evil that men do and all that can go wrong under the precepts of Murphy's law. It took me two viewings of the film, set in the early 1980s along the West Texas/Mexico border, to appreciate it fully for what it is, a viciously effective exerc... (read more)

      • The Mist poster image

        The Mist

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        Good and creepy, "The Mist" comes from a Stephen King novella and is more the shape, size and quality of the recent "1408," likewise taken from a King story, than anything in the persistently fashionable charnel house inhabited by the "Saw" and "Hostel" franchises. People get torn apart and beset by monsters in "The Mist" but not enough, I'm guessing, for the "Saw" folk, who prefer grinding realism to the supernatural. On the other h... (read more)

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