Chilean director Pablo Larraín’s new movie The Club makes last year’s Spotlight look like kids’ stuff. It depicts a house of former priests (and their caretaker, a former nun), who live in exile in a small house on the Chilean coast. Soon after the arrival of a new housemate, a man accusing the new arrival of molesting him years ago shows up outside, threatening the former priests’ clandestine existence. In an attempt to shut down the house, the Catholic Church sends a much younger priest, Father Garcia (Marcelo Alonso), to interview its inhabitants in an attempt to get them to confess their past sins.
Alan Turing is a prime example of the kind of historical figure people cite as proof that one's sexuality has no bearing on one's accomplishments. Turing essentially invented the computer and formalized much that comes with it, including the algorithm and the concept of artificial intelligence. According to Winston Churchill, Turing made the single biggest contribution to the Allies' victory in World War II. How could it possibly matter that he was also gay?
The girl of Ana Lily Amirpour's A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night is not like other girls. She is, for one thing, a vampire, but she's not like other vampires, either. She wears a hijab and prowls the fictional Iranian town called Bad City (actually Bakersfield, Calif.). Her inevitable feeding seems to come as much from personal needs as it does a sense of social justice: she feeds on the bad guys and spares the ones that she seems to regard as good or at least having potential. She is lonely and almost entirely silent. Her best friend is her record collection.
A few years ago, OWN's Our America with Lisa Ling profiled ex-gays and the gay-conversion industry. Ex-gays tend to arouse the ire of gays and their allies because of what their life path implies: that homosexuality is changeable if one tries hard enough. Thus by not putting effort into being straight, one is choosing to be gay.
Frederick Wiseman has been making his brand of long, implicitly narrative documentaries about institutions for almost 50 years, and I’ll be damned if his most recent, National Gallery, isn’t among his very finest. The movie, which opens today at New York’s Film Forum, examines the London art museum after which it is named from inside out—we see scenes of its patrons looking at art, its guides explaining the art, its administration discussing how to properly share the art with the public, its restorers showing how they preserve the museum’s priceless pieces. It is a calmly brilliant, regularly fascinating three-hour look at what constitutes art and how to best share it.
"I don't know what I'm saying. My face is melting off. I didn't even answer anything, I just said a bunch of words," admitted Emma Stone on Monday night, sitting on a panel with three of her Birdman co-stars after a screening of their film, as part of the 92nd St. Y's Reel Pieces with Annette Insdorf series. Those words concluded more than a minute of rambling from Stone in response to an audience member's question about the interplay of craft, social media, and fame that Alejandro González Iñárritu's new movie about acting touches on.
Willis Earl Beale wore a Zorro-esque mask, probably the one you see in the picture above, throughout my discussion with him and director Tim Sutton (Pavilion) about their movie Memphis earlier this week. "Identity," he said, when I inquired about it. "We all wear masks anyway. It's a part of my whole thing." In other words: just go with it.
The great service of Tracy Droz Tragos and Andrew Droz Palermo's film Rich Hill is that it makes accessible stories that are so often willfully ignored. The documentary winner of Sundance's Grand Jury Prize profiles three boys: Andrew, 13, Harley, 15, and Appachey, 12, who live in Rich Hill, Missouri, a town of 1,393 on the brink of economic collapse. All three deal with poverty on some level, but that's far from their only issue. With a stunning frankness (and while chain-smoking), Appachey describes his father's abandonment; Harley discusses being sexually assaulted by his mother's boyfriend. Rich Hill is modest in its slice-of-life approach to the stories of town's boys, but extraordinary in its effect.
Luc Besson's Lucy is a movie about a woman who can access 100 percent of her brain that asks you the viewer to use less of yours. The premise is based on the oft-repeated fallacy that humans only use 10 percent of their brains, and if we could only harness our full capacity, we'd be enlightened gods. Not only is this untrue (virtually 100 percent of a normally functioning brain is used for some aspect of cognitive, motor, or involuntary functioning), it is a cliché. There are dozens of examples on the "90% of your brain" TV Tropes entry of pop culture that reiterate this bogus claim. Lucy, in which large doses of a synthetic form of CPH4 cause the brain of Scarlett Johansson's titular protagonist to expand, then, is not so much sci-fi as it is fi-fi.
James DeMonaco's The Purge: Anarchy has a high concept, and it is in over its head. The film is set in 2023, picking up one year after the events of last year's highly profitable The Purge ($89 million global gross, versus a $3 million budget), which DeMonaco also wrote and directed. As that flick did, Anarchy is set during a government-sanctioned annual event in which violence is legal and emergency responses are shut down between the hours of 7 p.m. and 7 a.m.
The first time I saw Richard Linklater's Boyhood, it won me over within 30 minutes of its almost three-hour duration—around the time that Ethan Hawke shows up and gently subverts the deadbeat-dad role we've been set up to expect from him. His kids—the film's protagonist, Mason (Ellar Coltrane), and his sister Samantha (played by Lorelei Linklater, Richard's daughter)—haven't seen him in over a year, but when he comes back into their lives, it's full force. He is engaged, enthusiastic, and in love with his children. They forgive him immediately, and so did I.
Melissa McCarthy's titular Tammy character is dumb and fat. We watch her suffer various indignities related to these conditions for just about the entire running time of Tammy. The movie starts out brutally: We open on Tammy driving a car that's at least 20 years old, blasting the Outfield's "Your Love" from a boombox on the passenger seat. There is trash strewn about in the backseat. She hits a deer, which survives but leaves her car now shitty and smoking. She arrives to her job at a fast food restaurant filthy and gets fired for looking disgusting. On her way out, she pockets cheeseburgers for "overtime due." She arrives home early to find her husband Greg (Nat Faxon) cheating on her with a thinner woman (played by a mute Toni Collette). She decides to leave him, but her suitcase breaks on her way out of the house. So she carries her balled up clothes to her parents' house, where her mother (Allison Janney) mentions that this sort of crisis is something that happens a lot to Tammy. Also during this conversation, it is revealed that Tammy doesn't know the definitions of "pattern" (she thinks things in patterns only come in twos) and "galaxy" (which she thinks is a repeating series of events—a pattern).
I spent the last 20 minutes of William Eubank's intimate sci-fi thriller The Signal with my jaw hanging open. The movie's a slow burn that keeps its characters in the dark about what the hell is happening to them. Eubank's greatest feat is that he keeps the audience in the dark, too (or at least, this member of the audience). And then, when there is light, the movie explodes like a fireworks display. It's bright, exciting, and from moment to moment, unpredictable.
In 2014, a story about AIDS in San Francisco in 1985 is as relevant as ever. Though it shares subject matter, Chris Mason Johnson's Test is the virtual antithesis of Ryan Murphy and Larry Kramer's survey of the early plague years, The Normal Heart, which aired last month on HBO. Test is smaller in scale, more intimate, virtually free of melodrama, and features characters whose relationship to AIDS is not that they are dying from it, but that they are living in fear of it.
It doesn't matter what old people like me think of Josh Boone's The Fault in Our Stars. It's going to be modern classic whether we're with it or against it. It's a triumph of the human spirit and unregulated cell growth. It's for teens to believe in, and it's been a while since teens have had something to believe in. So what difference will it make if I say that The Fault in Our Stars is bland and corny?