Chicago, follow the Man in Black to The Dark Tower early and for free

The film adaptation of Stephen King’s sprawling The Dark Tower series that’s been 10 years in the making is finally almost here, abbreviated 95-minute running time and all. And whether you’re a fan who’s dying to know how the movie differs from the books or are just curious about the final product of this long and…

Casino Royale thrillingly rebooted James Bond for the grim-and-gritty era

When I started this column, I decided that the modern action movie began with Bullitt in 1968. But a strong case—maybe a stronger case—could also be made that the genre starts with 1962’s Dr. No, the first James Bond movie. The Bond movies essentially turned the action movie into a formula before it was even really a…

Woody Harrelson is America’s grouchy, toilet-sitting president in the first trailer for LBJ

Woody Harrelson gives good cranky, something he’s proven in any number of film performances. Harrelson will have to put all of his grumpy muscles to the test, though, in Rob Reiner’s upcoming Lyndon B. Johnson biopic, LBJ. In a new trailer released today, Harrelson captures a number of LBJ’s grouchy mannerisms—most…

The Emoji Movie is Inside Out crossed with a Sony commercial and dunked in toxic ooze

D

Art can spring from many motivations. According to director Tony Leondis, The Emoji Movie is “personal.” Central character Gene (T.J. Miller), the inexplicably named “meh” emoji, must go on a journey of self-discovery and learn to accept himself, which chimes with Leondis’s own childhood, growing up gay in a…

Pennywise speaks in the new trailer for Stephen King’s It

Given that Tim Curry’s performance as Pennywise was clearly the best part of the 1990 TV mini-series version of Stephen King’s It, there’s been a lot of scrutiny surrounding Bill Skarsgård’s performance as immortal child-eating clown/shapeshifting manifestation of primal fear Pennywise in It’s upcoming big-screen…

Kyle Mooney’s Brigsby Bear is much too nice for its own intriguing premise

C+

James Pope, the gentle-souled dweeb Kyle Mooney plays in Brigsby Bear, is an almost literal man-child, quite literally sheltered. Thirty if he’s a day, James still lives with his eccentric hippie parents (Mark Hamill and Jane Adams), but he has a good excuse: They’re all holed up together in an underground bunker,…

A widowed Hasidic father faces a custody battle in the New York drama Menashe

B+

Before making the film Menashe, documentarian Joshua Weinstein donned a yarmulke and explored Brooklyn’s Borough Park, getting to know the stories and personalities of New York’s Hasidic Jews. That was the easy part of the process. It was trickier when Weinstein returned to the neighborhood with a camera crew to work…

Charlize Theron stabs and struts her way through the dumb, retro-cool Atomic Blonde

B-

Looking like a cross between Debbie Harry and a Nagel print, Charlize Theron struts her way through the Cold War howler Atomic Blonde dressed to the proverbial nines, in white pleather raincoats, tailored herringbone wool, and a deadly pair of red stiletto heels, often caressing a cigarette between her fingers. She…

Kathryn Bigelow takes aim at racism and police brutality in the scattershot Detroit

B-

Detroit, director Kathryn Bigelow and screenwriter Mark Boal’s dramatization of the police killing of three black teenagers at the Algiers Motel in the middle of the riots that burned through Detroit exactly 50 years ago, is a mess, but at least it has its reasons. This, after all, is a story without a protagonist or…

Marion Cotillard is a love-crazed lunatic in the far-fetched From The Land Of The Moon

D+

For their screen adaptation of Ghost World, Daniel Clowes and Terry Zwigoff invented a fake arthouse movie with a hilariously ludicrous title: The Flower That Drank The Moon. Maybe that was rattling around in the subconscious of whoever was charged with coming up with an English-language title for Mal De Pierres, a…

Sean Penn’s festival laughingstock The Last Face finally slips into theaters

D

Many actors try their hand at directing, but few can match the degree of success—on both sides of the camera—that Sean Penn has achieved. Films like The Pledge (2001) and Into The Wild (2007) demonstrate the same intelligence, sensitivity, and power that Penn invests in his Oscar-winning performances. He occasionally…