Jackie

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Release Date: December 2, 2016
Runtime: 100 minutes
Rating: R
Studio: Fox Searchlight
Director: Pablo Larraín
Cast: Natalie Portman; Peter Sarsgaard; Greta Gerwig; Billy Crudup; John Hurt; John Carroll Lynch; Max Casella

Natalie Portman disappears into Camelot with her astonishing portrayal of Jacqueline Kennedy in “Jackie.” Portman, director Pablo Larraín and screenwriter Noah Oppenheim provide an unusual glimpse into what life must have been like for Jackie in the week following the assassination of her husband, President John Fitzgerald Kennedy, as she juggled two small grieving children, her own melancholy and the mourning of a nation. Continue reading

The 4th Man

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Release Date: March 24, 1983
Runtime: 102 minutes
Rating: Unrated (closer to R)
Studio: International Spectrafilm / Anchor Bay Entertainment
Director: Paul Verhoeven
Cast: Jeroen Krabbé; Renée Soutendijk; Thom Hoffman; Dolf de Vries; Geert de Jong

It’s only fitting that a movie review site called The 4th Reel review a movie called “The 4th Man,” so here goes!

A virtual blueprint for his later, more mainstream potboiler “Basic Instinct,” “The 4th Man” exhibits all of the elements of director Paul Verhoeven’s mode of outrageous storytelling that has made him one of the most audacious film directors working today.

This one is stamped Verhoeven all-around: the icy blonde, the tortured author, the lethal dagger, the bisexuality, the fast cars….there are so many parallels to “Basic Instinct” (one of my all-time favorite movies, by the way) that they’re difficult to count. It’s almost as though he saw in “BI” an opportunity to make an even more outlandish version of “The 4th Man.” I loved it…loved every twisted, depraved minute of it. Continue reading

American Pastoral

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Release Date: October 28, 2016
Runtime: 126 minutes
Rating: R
Studio: Lionsgate
Director: Ewan McGregor
Cast: Ewan McGregor; Jennifer Connelly; Dakota Fanning; David Straithairn; Peter Riegert; Molly Parker; Uzo Aduba; Rupert Evans

An “A” for effort for Ewan McGregor in his directorial debut. Boasting an impressive cast including McGregor, Jennifer Connelly, Dakota Fanning, David Straithairn and Peter Riegert, “American Pastoral” wants to be a heartbreaking story of a family torn apart by the social and political upheaval of the ‘60s. After a strong start, however, the film settles into clichéd melodrama that grows sillier the longer it goes on. Continue reading

Elle

Screened at the New York Film Festival – October 15, 2016

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Release Date: November 11, 2016 (US)
Runtime: 130 minutes
Rating: R
Studio: Sony Pictures Classics
Director: Paul Verhoeven
Cast: Isabelle Huppert; Laurent Lafitte; Anne Consigny; Charles Berling; Virginie Efira; Judith Magre; Christian Berkel; Jonas Bloquet

Paul Verhoeven’s first feature in 10 years is a complex work. The director of “Basic Instinct” and “Showgirls” is in fine form stylistically, yet provides much more depth of meaning into this piece than we’ve seen in his previous films as he examines the aftermath of a brutal assault. “Elle” is definitely not for everyone (like most of Verhoeven’s films) and will likely not sit well with those moviegoers who lean more towards the politically correct. However, for those of us who have admired the director’s work in the past and understand his general approach to cinema, there is much to recommend here. Continue reading

Sully

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Release Date: September 9, 2016
Runtime: 96 minutes
Rating: PG-13
Studio: Warner Bros.
Director: Clint Eastwood
Cast: Tom Hanks; Aaron Eckhart; Laura Linney; Mike O’Malley; Anna Gunn; Jamey Sheridan

Hero worship doesn’t get much more blatant, or for that matter, more entertaining than “Sully,” Clint Eastwood’s dramatization of the Miracle on the Hudson from a few years back. Tom Hanks easily inhabits Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger’s wings in an effectively understated (and remarkably physically realized) performance that ranks among one of the actor’s best. Continue reading

Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie

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Release Date: July 22, 2016
Runtime: 90 minutes
Rating: R
Studio: Fox Searchlight
Director: Mandie Fletcher
Cast: Jennifer Saunders; Joanna Lumley; Jane Horrocks; Julia Sawalha; June Whitfield; Chris Colfer; Celia Imrie; Kathy Burke

This movie is a love letter to the fans, plain and simple. While it is possible to enjoy the madness as an “Ab Fab” virgin, the experience will be greatly heightened if you have followed the misadventures of Patsy and Eddie for at least some of their (non-consecutive) seven-year run on television. Continue reading

King Cobra

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Release Date: Screened April 18, 2016 – Tribeca Film Festival
Runtime: 91 minutes
Rating: Not Yet Rated (but let’s be real..it’ll be R)
Studio: Yale Productions/SSS Entertainment/Digital Ignition Entertainment/RabbitBandini Productions
Director: Justin Kelly
Cast: James Franco; Garrett Clayton; Christian Slater; Molly Ringwald; Keegan Allen; Alicia Silverstone

A movie as salacious and lurid as the story it’s telling, “King Cobra” has its flaws, but is generally an effective, lean, and very mean piece of “ripped-from-the-headlines” cinema. Boasting a cast including James Franco, Molly Ringwald, Alicia Silverstone, Keegan Allen, a hasn’t-been-this-good-in-years Christian Slater, and former teenybopper Garrett Clayton, ejecting himself from tweendom straight into the tighty-whities of grown-up films, “King Cobra” offers a stylish though straightforward, yet not uncompelling, dramatization of this tawdry tale of murder and sex. Continue reading

Marjoe

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Release Date: July 24, 1972
Runtime: 88 minutes
Rating: PG
Studio: Cinema 5 Distributing
Director: Howard Smith; Sarah Kernochan
Cast: Marjoe Gortner

It might be tempting to call Marjoe Gortner a con man. He was a noted evangelist in the days before Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker, “saving” people in exchange for them forking over money to his ministry, money that sometimes people couldn’t really afford to give. He moved from town to town like a one-man travelling sideshow, preaching the gospel of Jesus to those willing and needing to believe it. He was a consummate showman. The interesting thing is, even he would agree with that. Continue reading

Steve Jobs

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Release Date: October 23, 2015
Runtime: 122 minutes
Rating: R
Studio: Universal Pictures
Director: Danny Boyle
Cast: Michael Fassbender; Kate Winslet; Jeff Daniels; Seth Rogen; Michael Stuhlbarg; Katherine Waterston

I came away from this movie with a great big ‘eh.’ It’s typical Aaron Sorkin. By this, I mean lots of people shouting pithy one-liners at each other in rapid cadence. I can’t exactly put my finger on it but the movie just wasn’t very interesting. Steve Jobs, computer visionary, quasi-deadbeat dad, general asshole, was undoubtedly a fascinating man, but you don’t really get a sense of just how fascinating from the film. This is one of those movies where everyone is trying so hard to act importantly because they know they are in a big important event movie. Stop. Just stop. Continue reading

Black Mass

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Release Date: September 18, 2015
Runtime: 122 minutes
Rating: R
Studio: Warner Bros.
Director: Scott Cooper
Cast: Johnny Depp; Joel Edgerton; Benedict Cumberbatch; Dakota Johnson; Julianne Nicholson; Kevin Bacon; Peter Sarsgaard; Rory Cochrane; David Harbour; Adam Scott; Corey Stoll; Jesse Plemons

Johnny Depp is a shoo-in for an Oscar nomination in what is arguably the best performance of his career as James “Whitey” Bulger, a small-time Boston hood who grew to become one of the FBI’s most wanted. Scott Cooper’s riveting “Black Mass,” based on the book of the same name by Boston Globe journalists Dick Lehr and Gerard O’Neill, is a brutal and uncompromising piece, right in line with the life of its subject. Continue reading