‘Money Monster’ is a middling stock that never really pays off.
Middle-aged men with a particular skillset have found their patron saint in Liam Neeson. Luckily, a distinctive visual style and some added character detailing keep Run All Night running smoother than most of its sluggish brethren. There’s certainly nothing new here, but this slick little film dispenses its thrills and kills with surprising effectiveness.
The best con artists let the rube have fun while they’re being hustled. The wonderful new scam-fest, Focus, has learned this lesson well. Of course, none of the scams hold up to later scrutiny, but they’re fun as hell when you’re in the thick of it. Like a simplified Mamet thriller hopped up on Out of Sight juice, Focus breezes by on the confident charm of Will Smith and a clever script that pays off each slight-of-hand with a masterful reveal. So far, this is easily the most entertaining Hollywood film of 2015.
There are dozens of striking images in the new sci-fi thriller H., and almost all of them are creepy. Much like 2014’s evocative masterpiece, Under the Skin, writer-directors Rania Attieh and Daniel Garcia aren’t interested in telling a cohesive story so much as creating an auditory and visual experience. Frustrating and fascinating in equal measure, H. is a brilliant mindbender that cinephiles should seek out.
Blackhat is a cyber-thriller that starts out boring and ends dumb. It’s almost unimaginable that a gifted director like Michael Mann, responsible for, arguably, the best crime-thriller of the last 30 years in Heat, could helm a film so utterly bereft of tension or drama. Not even his signature hyper-stylized aesthetic can disguise what a lackluster film this is. From the unimaginative script to the indifferent editing, Blackhat needs a complete overhaul to escape the basement of Mann’s distinguished filmography.
Dan Gilroy’s latest, Nightcrawler, has a lot on its troubled mind. It intertwines our national obsessions with voyeurism and stardom into a sociopathic nightmare from which you can’t awaken. At its churning center is the mesmerizing performance of Jake Gyllenhaal, who charms you with his infectious intensity, even as he ruthlessly manipulates everyone and everything around him. As the blood flows and the crimes accumulate, Gilroy traps us behind the camera as his passive accomplices. Welcome to the world of the Nightcrawler. Showering after you leave is highly recommended.
There is a moment in the new thriller, A Walk Among the Tombstones, that you really feel things shifting into overdrive. The unstable elements in the film collide to raise expectations for the excitement to come. Unfortunately, that moment occurs about 90 minutes into the movie. The previous 90 minutes are consumed by Liam Neeson trying to solve a case we don’t care about while being distracted by a subplot we grow to despise. Predictable at every turn, this is a thrill-free zone that makes Non-Stop look like a masterpiece of suspense.
Back in February, it seemed almost unfathomable that 2014 could produce a more listless spy thriller than 3 Days to Kill. Oh, for a return to those bygone days of innocence. There’s a new kid on the block and he looks a lot like the guy who used to be James Bond. Based on a popular series of ‘80’s espionage novels, The November Man feels less like an adaptation and more like the outtakes from some mediocre made-for-television movie. It’s a Frankenstein creation of re-cycled plots and villains, pieced together with lethargic pacing and turgid action sequences. Where are the invisible cars when you need them?
John Krokidas’ film debut Kill Your Darlings follows the turbulent University years of famed American beat writers Allen Ginsberg (Daniel Radcliffe), Jack Kerouac (Jack Huston), Lucien Carr (Dane DeHann) and William Burroughs (Ben Foster). Set in the early 1940s at Columbia University and on the streets of New York City, the film centers around the murder of David Kammerer (Michael C. Hall) and the months that led up to it.
There is a certain simplicity in Alain Guiraudie’s L’inconnu du lac (Stranger by the Lake) not seen in many films these days. However, that is not to say this is a simple film; it happens to run deep with emotion, stimulation, and humor. The story is set in what appears to be the early 1990s in the south of France, where local men gather around a crystalline lake to swim, sunbathe in the nude, and cruise. Starring Pierre Deladonchamps as Franck, a sensitive and curious young man; and Christophe Paou as Michel, a seductively dangerous stranger, the film is suspenseful, sexy, and smart, not to mention beautifully shot.