Top 10 films of 2015: Like finding a needle in a haystack

Dec 23, 2015

Top 10 films of 2015: Like finding a needle in a haystack

Finding alternatives in 2015 to big-budget blockbusters and beard-stroking festival films wasn’t easyIt has been a lean year. All too often, it felt like you had seen the movies of 2015 before — each new release seemed to be the shadow of a shadow ...

'Heaven Knows What' paints a grim picture of drug addiction

Dec 16, 2015

'Heaven Knows What' paints a grim picture of drug addiction

“You just gotta see that junk is just another nine-to-five gig in the end,” wrote Jim Carroll in “The Basketball Diaries” way back in 1978. Perhaps no film about heroin has captured that grinding routine of score-shoot-nod-hustle-score as well as “Heaven Knows What” — ...

'Straight Outta Compton' is a sanitized biopic of N.W.A's story

Dec 9, 2015

'Straight Outta Compton' is a sanitized biopic of N.W.A's story

In the summer of 1989, wherever you went — every house party, every car stereo, every street corner boom-box — you’d hear the same two tracks shredding the speakers: Public Enemy’s “Fight the Power” and N.W.A’s “F—- tha Police.” It was the summer where ...

'Restrepo' and 'Korengal' capture emotions of war

Nov 25, 2015

'Restrepo' and 'Korengal' capture emotions of war

Filmmakers Tim Hetherington and Sebastian Junger were embedded with U.S. soldiers from the 173rd Airborne Brigade in a firebase in Afghanistan’s remote Korengal Valley throughout 2007 and 2008. Their resulting documentary, “Restrepo,” was released in 2010; only now is it screening in Japan, and ...

'Moonwalkers': one very small step for comedy in film

Nov 18, 2015

'Moonwalkers': one very small step for comedy in film

One of the king-daddy conspiracy theories of all time — right up there with the “grassy knoll” and Area 51 — is the notion that the Apollo 11 moon landing of 1969 did not actually happen and that it was created on a movie ...

The nostalgic legacy of Cannon Films

Nov 18, 2015

The nostalgic legacy of Cannon Films

Cannon Films was an era-defining studio in the 1980s run by Israeli cousins Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus, who were like a monstrous cross-breed of Roger Corman and the Weinstein brothers. After succeeding in Israel in the ’60s, the pair moved to LA, with ...

Jill Soloway's bittersweet 'Afternoon Delight'

Nov 4, 2015

Jill Soloway's bittersweet 'Afternoon Delight'

‘Afternoon Delight” is one of those ex post facto releases in Japan that arrives riding the wake of another hit. It won a best director award at the Sundance Film Festival in 2013, but is only now getting released because writer-director Jill Soloway and ...

'Clouds of Sils Maria' tests the limits of female intimacy

Oct 28, 2015

'Clouds of Sils Maria' tests the limits of female intimacy

OK, pop quiz. Guess who recently said the following: “The reasons why people make films here in France are very different from the reasons why people make movies in America, and I prefer it here a little bit.” Woody Allen? Richard Linklater? Kristin Scott ...