Movie Reviews

'The Notebook' is a chilling but reductive World War II tale

Based on the international bestseller by Agota Kristof, "The Notebook" represented Hungary in the Academy Awards' foreign-language film competition but failed to garner a nomination.

Kenneth Turan : 'A Letter to Momo' delivers quirky comedy, realistic despair

"A Letter to Momo" does things its own way. A striking example of Japanese hand-drawn animation, it casually combines things you wouldn't expect in one place. Physical beauty and fearless adventure, silly comedy and sensitive emotions, filmmaker Hiroyuki Okiura brings a facility for all of them to...

Trail in 'As Above, So Below' leads to grade-Z horror clichés

The catacombs beneath Paris, which famously house the remains of 6 million dead, are probably one of the last places you'd want to feel trapped. But the low-budget horror movie "As Above, So Below" — an entertainment-free sinkhole of Dramamine-worthy nonsense — can turn any space you see...

Horror thriller 'The Damned' an exercise in dumb moves

The horror thriller "The Damned" reconfirms one cardinal rule: When the grizzled proprietor of a crumbling inn in the middle of nowhere tells you that the joint is closed, take a hike.

'Kundo: Age of the Rampant' follows band fighting for the weak

Part political treatise, part spaghetti western, with kicky audio-visual touches that evoke a Sergio Leone-Quentin Tarantino mashup, "Kundo: Age of the Rampant" is an often entertaining if overlong look at the last days of Korea's Joseon Dynasty.

A thriller tightens its grip in 'The Calling'

"The Calling" is an absorbing, solidly crafted procedural thriller with a terrific lead turn by Susan Sarandon as Hazel Micallef, a cranky, small-town police inspector who helps to unravel a series of serial killings. Although the 67-year-old actress may not initially seem the go-to choice to play a...

Supernatural connections in 'Jamie Marks Is Dead'

The early scenes of Carter Smith's atmospheric indie horror film "Jamie Marks Is Dead" do a fine job portending something wintry, disturbing and tense. When the body of routinely bullied high school outcast Jamie Marks is found near the banks of a river in upstate New York, chums Gracie (Morgan...

'May in the Summer' an engaging look at a wedding quandary

A diverting slice of romantic confusion and family pressures set in Amman, Jordan, writer-director-star Cherien Dabis' "May in the Summer" tells of a New York-based Palestinian American author (Dabis), whose trip to her childhood home to plan a wedding and visit her divorced parents exacerbates...

'The Congress' envisions a future dystopian virtual reality

In "The Congress," an ambitiously trippy and compulsively watchable dystopian saga from Israeli writer-director Ari Folman ("Waltz With Bashir") adapting a novel by Polish sci-fi author Stanislaw Lem, Robin Wright gamely and effectively plays a version of herself.

Betsy Sharkey: Late-in-life Errol Flynn leers in 'The Last of Robin Hood'

Aging star with sagging ego, pliable young beauty eager to please, obsessive stage mother willing to facilitate — the tale in "The Last of Robin Hood" is as old as Hollywood itself.

'November Man' script undercuts Pierce Brosnan's performance

It's no secret that Bond movies aren't spy movies. They're good guy/bad guy adventures as unconcerned with ambiguity as fairy tales.

'The Prince' appears more like a pauper in the thriller department

Another wish-fulfillment thriller scenario for overprotective dads, "The Prince" has taciturn auto mechanic Paul (Jason Patric) hotfooting it to New Orleans to hunt down his missing daughter (Gia Mantegna), presumed to be under the drugged sway of a dealer named the Pharmacy (Curtis "50 Cent"...

Entertaining 'Olivia Experiment' tests theories of attraction

When it comes to romantic comedies, it's not often to find one that jumps out as categorically different. But "The Olivia Experiment," astutely directed by Sonja Schenk, turns the genre on its ear just enough to feel refreshingly original.

Kenneth Turan : 'If I Stay' asks life-and-death questions, with love as a referee

"If I Stay," adapted from Gayle Forman's popular young adult novel, is a flat-out, all-in fantasy romance, an unashamed tear-jerker that is unafraid of glossy emotions. So it's no surprise that it comes to us clothed in the bleak garments of death.

Not much 'Jealousy,' or any other emotion, for that matter

With its fragmentary scenes and the sumptuous black-and-white palette created by New Wave cinematographer Willy Kurant, "Jealousy" has a dreamy quality, its Parisian characters not rooted in time. Dreams are rarely as languid, though, or as filled with self-conscious posturing, as veteran...

Betsy Sharkey: With 'The One I Love,' a relationship gets trippy

There is something slightly subversive and satisfyingly spot on when a movie about love and marriage turns on a solitary detail.

'Are You Here' is a gentle buddy movie with charm

Hopes have run understandably high for the first major feature film effort from Matthew Weiner, creator and executive producer of TV's brilliant "Mad Men." But between some negative advance reviews and a reportedly underwhelming debut at last year's Toronto International Film Festival, "Are You...

'14 Blades' cuts right into martial arts action

The Chinese import "14 Blades," shot in 2009, is a kind of Eastern western whose one-note characters and convoluted plot are nearly swallowed up whole by this martial arts film's dizzyingly wrought action scenes. Fortunately, director, co-writer and production designer Daniel Lee keeps things moving...

'When the Game Stands Tall' is disingenuous and patronizing

A true tale of high school football achievement becomes a strained, by-the-numbers grab bag of uplift in the Christian sports drama "When the Game Stands Tall."

'Jersey Shore Massacre' wallows in misogynist gore

The horror comedy "Jersey Shore Massacre" has, if this matters to you, official sanction from an alum of the MTV show alluded to in the title: Jenni "JWoww" Farley is credited as an executive producer.

'The Possession of Michael King' fails at found-footage fad

In "The Possession of Michael King," the title character (Shane Johnson) sets out to debunk dark magic for a documentary. He blames a psychic's advice for the accidental death of his wife, so he wants to get the word out that all this abracadabra is nothing but a bunch of baloney.

Rabindranath Tagore documentary doesn't do him justice

Nobel laureate, knight and all-around Renaissance man Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941) composed, wrote, painted, earned raves from William Butler Yeats, hobnobbed with Mahatma Gandhi and Albert Einstein, gave the Hibbert Lectures at University of Oxford and even founded the Visva-Bharati University....

Kenneth Turan : 'Frank' an offbeat dive through the looking glass of creativity

Odd, offbeat, somehow endearing, the bleakly comic "Frank" has its own kind of charm as well as some pointed, poignant things to say about the mysterious nature of creativity, where it comes from and where it might all go.