Dogs get their own origin story with the gorgeous, old-fashioned survival yarn Alpha

B-

For the past two months, at least half of the top 10 movies at the North American box office have been sequels or prequels. That’s not to say the boy-and-dog adventure story Alpha deserves extra credit just for not being part of a series, at least not officially. (If anything, the movie might deserve less credit for…

We The Animals offers a little Moonlight, a lot of Malick, and too much coming-of-age cliché

C+

The “we” of Jeremiah Zagar’s We The Animals refers to three young brothers living in the backwoods of upstate New York, some time during the ’90s. Based on Justin Torres’ semi-autobiographical 2011 novel of the same name, the film retains its source material’s predominantly first-person-plural perspective—at least for…

Rose Byrne and Ethan Hawke swap mash emails in the tepid Nick Hornby rom-com Juliet, Naked

C+

Neither Romeo nor nudity makes an appearance in Juliet, Naked, a labored romantic comedy adapted from Nick Hornby’s 2009 novel. In fact, there isn’t even a title character—Juliet is the name of an album by fictional indie rocker Tucker Crowe (Ethan Hawke), who disappeared between sets of a gig back in the ’90s, never…

Guy Branum thinks the new Oscars changes are dumb, too

On August 9, the Academy Of Motion Picture Arts And Sciences announced a series of changes to the annual Oscars ceremony, namely limiting the telecast to three hours and introducing a new category for “Outstanding Achievement In Popular Film.” The changes, particularly the “Best Popular Film” category, immediately…

Weekend Box Office: Never underestimate the giant shark

In an outcome that’s both surprising (considering the plop with which it landed with critics) and not surprising at all (because it’s Jason Statham and a giant fucking shark), The Meg was the No. 1 movie in America last weekend. By quite a bit, too—the film outperformed expectations with a megalodon-sized $44.5…

We asked the stars of Dog Days: If your co-star were a dog, what breed would they be?

Ken Marino’s newest movie Dog Days tells an interconnected story of the people of Los Angeles and their dogs, as they uncover life lessons and form new relationships—it’s basically Love, Actually with dogs. Ahead of the film’s premiere, we sat down with the cast—Marino, Eva Longoria, Adam Pally, Vanessa Hudgens, Nina…

Summer Of ’84 is an undercooked reminder of how good Stranger Things really is

C

If Summer Of ’84 had come out before Stranger Things became a phenomenon, would it have been better received? Maybe. At least then it would have been novel. But the fact is that we are currently late in a cycle of films and TV series—a cycle that not only includes Netflix’s hit, but also last year’s Super Dark Times…

A teenager uses art as therapy in the arresting, self-devouring Madeline’s Madeline

B

Cats and turtles figure prominently into Madeline’s Madeline. The title character, an emotionally tempestuous New York teenager looking to channel her volatile feelings into acting, likes to role-play as a feline, purring and nuzzling on anyone in her radius, and sometimes to pantomime the slow crawl of a shelled…

The cast of Dog Days plays “Would You Rather,” dog edition

Ken Marino’s newest movie Dog Days tells an interconnected story of the people of Los Angeles and their dogs, as they uncover life lessons and form new relationships—it’s basically Love, Actually with dogs. Ahead of the film’s premiere, we sat down with the cast—Marino, Eva Longoria, Adam Pally, Vanessa Hudgens, Nina…

The internet’s favorite bogeyman gets his own boring horror movie with Slender Man

C-

It sounds like an easy enough cash grab, making a PG-13 Screen Gems horror picture about the Slender Man, the contemporary folktale told beside the modern-day campfire of the internet. But Slender Man actually has rough terrain to creep through; it could easily stumble into manic anti-technology paranoia (the message…

Spike Lee’s messy, funny BlacKkKlansman clowns on the dipshit thugs of skinhead America

B+

Based, as the opening credits pronounce, on “some fo real, fo real shit,” Spike Lee’s BlacKkKlansman is a riotous mess of contradictions: a true story that seems too outrageous to actually be true, a period piece that’s also a red-alert bulletin on current affairs, a very funny comedy about the very unfunny business…

The director of The Wolfpack hangs out with the coolest girls in NYC in Skate Kitchen

B

If the kids are anything like Skate Kitchen, the real-life all-female New York City skate crew that inspired, shaped the direction of, and stars in The Wolfpack director Crystal Moselle’s narrative feature film debut of the same name, then they really are all right. Though concerned with stereotypical teenage-girl…

BlacKkKlansman is Spike Lee’s best and most entertaining film in ages

On this week’s episode of Film Club, critics A.A. Dowd and Ignatiy Vishnevetsky sit down to discuss the latest from Spike Lee, which tells the bizarre true story of Ron Stallworth, a black detective for the Colorado Springs Police Department who infiltrates the local chapter of the Ku Klux Klan by posing as a white…

Heel turns: 23 movie stars cast against type as villains

Villains can be much more fun to play than heroes. Just ask Gary Oldman or Christoph Waltz or any actor who’s built a résumé filthy with scoundrels. But perhaps the dark side exerts a particularly seductive pull on those performers who don’t specialize in heavies, those who have established a reputation for playing…

The facts aren’t gripping enough in A Prayer Before Dawn’s true story of prison-boxing glory

C+

Most films adapted from memoirs come across as stranger than fiction. It’s not Billy Moore’s fault that his experiences—recounted in the 2014 best-seller A Prayer Before Dawn: My Nightmare In Thailand’s Prisons—call to mind a host of previous movies, albeit combining what are usually two separate genres. What begins…