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The Overnighters Is a Film About a North Dakota Town Where the Rent is Higher Than in L.A.

Quick, name the most expensive housing market in America. If you said New York, Los Angeles or San Francisco, you couldn't be further from the truth — literally. Each is more than 1,500 miles away from Williston, North Dakota, a monochrome town you can drive end to end in 15...…
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Film, Film Reviews

Nightcrawler's Jake Gyllenhaal Aces His Role as a Media Monster

Jake Gyllenhaal, not a particularly bulky guy to begin with, dropped 20 pounds or so to play a Los Angeles misfit who finds his calling as a freelance crime videographer in Dan Gilroy's nervy thriller Nightcrawler. Even when Robert De Niro does it, weight change isn't acting — it's the...…
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Film, Film Reviews

In Horns, Daniel Radcliffe Might Be Satan

Alexandre Aja's Horns is the rare YA-ish romance that doesn't make like a guidance counselor and force the characters to shake hands and forgive. It's a biblically tinged, eye-for-an-eye vengeance thriller about an emo boyfriend named Ig (Daniel Radcliffe) whose childhood sweetheart Merrin (Juno Temple) has been murdered underneath the...…
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Film, Film Reviews

Interstellar May Be Grand, But It Doesn't Connect

There’s so much space in Christopher Nolan’s nearly three-hour intergalactic extravaganza Interstellar that there’s almost no room for people. This is a gigantosaurus movie entertainment, set partly in outer space and partly in a futuristic dustbowl America where humans are in danger of dying out, and Nolan -- who co-wrote...…
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Jake Gyllenhaal Says His Movie Nightcrawler Is "So Fucked Up"

Jake Gyllenhaal is used to exhaustion. During his research for the LAPD drama End of Watch, he spent five months patrolling the streets with real-life police officers, on shifts that ended at 7 a.m. It was good preparation for his new movie, Nightcrawler, a blistering portrait of a morally corrupt...…
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Film, Film Reviews

Citizenfour Is a Fascinating, Flawed Edward Snowden Documentary

Director Laura Poitras' Citizenfour boasts an hour or so of tense, intimate, world-shaking footage you might not quite believe you're watching. Poitras shows us history as it happens, scenes of such intimate momentousness that the movie's a must-see even if, in its totality, it's underwhelming as argument or cinema. Here...…
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A Sid and Nancy Punk Reunion

Johnny Rotten once was asked what the Sex Pistols biopic Sid and Nancy got right about the doomed couple's real life bad romance. "Maybe the name Sid," he sneered. The film is no less beloved for being questionably true — and let's be honest, Rotten spent much of 1978 drunk...…
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Film, Film Reviews

In Laggies, Keira Knightley Asks Chloë Grace Moretz: Will You Be My Friend?

It's an unwritten rule that we're supposed to feel most in step with people our own age, as if sharing the same cultural and historical references somehow enables our ability to look into one another's hearts. So why do we sometimes tumble into deeper friendships with people who are 10...…
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Citizenfour's Laura Poitras Explains Why Edward Snowden Did It

With the first two documentaries in her post–9/11 trilogy — My Country, My Country, a portrait of Iraq under U.S. occupation, and The Oath, which focused on two Guantánamo Bay prisoners — Laura Poitras seemed to be making a bid for the title of film's most vigilant observer of American...…
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How John Wick Restored My Faith in Violent Movies

This essay contains a spoiler or two for John Wick. There's too much violence in movies today -- too much of the wrong kind, though if you asked me what the "right" kind is, I would only be able to tell you that I know it when I see it...…
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Frances McDormand is an Unpredictable Curmudgeon in HBO's Magnificent Olive Kitteridge

When we first meet the title character in Olive Kitteridge, she considers the revolver in her hands and looks up at the cloudless sky above the woods one last time. The 25-year journey (and the accumulation of mistakes and bad luck therein) that leads the elderly Olive to that moment...…
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Film, Film Reviews

As Lit's Biggest Prick, Jason Schwartzman Wears Us Down

You can’t live in New York for more than 10 days without meeting some truly dreadful people: couples who fret about having to choose between buying a summer home and having a second child, even as you’re struggling to pay your monthly rent; large groups of people getting together for...…
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Film, Film Reviews

In Birdman, Michael Keaton Spoofs His Superhero Past

Before there was a Birdman, there was a Batman — several, in fact, though the best was played by Michael Keaton in the two Tim Burton films. Since then, Christian Bale's somber strutting and muttering, as seen in Christopher Nolan's Batman movies, has — go figure — become the gold...…
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Campus Comedy Dear White People Braves Tough Questions of Race

Among its many attributes, Justin Simien's exuberant debut feature, Dear White People, proves that we're not yet living in a "post-racial America": Forget for a moment that there are so many vexing problems entwining race, class and economics that we haven't been able to put a Band-Aid on, let alone...…
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Brad Pitt Leads Fury, Your All-Too-Typical "War Is Hell" Movie

A gloom that only the audience can see hangs over writer-director David Ayer's brutal war drama, Fury. It's April 1945, and we know that in weeks the Nazis will surrender. The war is already over — Hitler just hasn't admitted it. American sergeant Don "Wardaddy" Collier (Brad Pitt) suspects as...…
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Young Ones Redeems the Sci-Fi Western

Jake Paltrow's Young Ones is a dustbowl Western with a sci-fi twist. It looks and sounds like the past: The plains are barren, the people wear cheap cotton and the score, by Nathan Johnson — all vibrating, beautiful melancholy — could be layered over any John Ford flick. But when...…
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Kill the Messenger Tells the Tragic, Real-Life Story of California Reporter Gary Webb

It was a mystery that reporter Gary Webb would have jumped on: a man who'd made powerful enemies allegedly committing suicide with two gunshots to the head. The tragedy is that Webb himself was the deceased. Michael Cuesta's earnest, ire-inducing Kill the Messenger is a David-and-Goliath story where truth is...…
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St. Vincent Looks Deep Inside the Archetypal Bill Murray Asshole

The big news: In its first half, before it bottoms out with the rankest feel-goodery, Theodore Melfi's too-familiar, ain't-he-irascible comedy-drama St. Vincent features scene after scene of Bill Murray actually trying to make you laugh. How long has it been? He plays Vincent, a drunk-driving Brooklynite whose look suggests science...…
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Whiplash Brings Back Your Worst Memories of Music Teachers

Jazz isn't dead. Miraculously, there's always a small but steady stream of young people who continue to fall in love with this most dazzling and elusive American genre, spending hours, days and months running ribbons of scales and memorizing Charlie Parker solos in the hopes that some of the alto...…
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David Fincher's Gone Girl Is Smartly Crafted But a Bit Too Slick

Everything about Gone Girl, David Fincher's adaptation of Gillian Flynn's enormously popular 2012 thriller about a deteriorating marriage and a wife gone missing, is precise and thoughtful — it's as well planned as the perfect murder, with its share of vicious, shivery delights. But at the end of the perfect...…
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