• The Guilty

    The Guilty

    ★★★

    This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

    A solid thriller carried by Jake Gyllenhaal and a collection of disembodied voices, Antoine Fuqua's "The Guilty" finds its protagonist working to save a woman in distress as his own life and career are in the process of falling to pieces. The woman may offer Gyllenhaal's demoted police officer some kind of salvation; but, as Fuqua's drama ticks down, things are learned about the woman and the busted-down cop, and those things are not as they seem. A single-room drama,…

  • The King of Staten Island

    The King of Staten Island

    ★★★½

    A solid look at a life loosely lived, Judd Apatow's "The King of Staten Island" finds Pete Davidson's layabout twenty-something, Scott , in need of maturity. Weed, ill-thought tattoo artistry, and a general lack of direction mark the comedy's protagonist who spends the story having pieces of his life put in place for him by the characters that fill his days. The story wanders point to point but is filled with recognizable heart and players, and Apatow works on a kind-of unpolished canvas to let that story unfold. Appealing and fittingly told, the film does its job with a genuine soul.

  • Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings

    Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings

    ★★★½

    Starring an electric Simu Liu, Destin Daniel Cretton's "Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings" introduces a new player to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. That player is the titular Shang Chi, a character whose skills and ancestry bind him to an adventure where souls, lives, and legacy is at stake. Powered by its charismatic and down-to-Earth, leading man, Cretton's film tells a story that, despite its sumptuous canvas, feels small but handles the requisite action, personality-driven charm, and swashbuckling sense of self with skill. The audience-pleasing piece of work is a delightfully rendered and enjoyably uptempo entry into the Marvel canon.

  • Hounds of Love

    Hounds of Love

    ★★

    A raw and stomach-churning watch of a film, "Hounds of Love" finds a young abducted and tortured while the drama's audience searches for meaning in the piece. There might be something important lurking in the belly of the work; but it is so drenched in torturous story beats as the torture of its characters plays out that, at some point, the off-putting nature of the entire affair overtakes the search for depth. The film is impactful, and the grainy reality of its look and feel deserve respect. IN the final analysis, however, the ick wins out.

  • Boundaries

    Boundaries

    ★★½

    A neatly cast but impact-free look at strained family ties, "Boundaries" is a light-toned drama that meanders, sometimes pleasingly, through the interactions of mildly quirky characters. Revolving around Vera Farmiga's Laura, the story finds the single mother on a road trip with her son and father as all involved explore the screenwritten factors that make them unique. The film rolls at a smooth pace from story beat to story beat, and the cast inhabits their characters with ease. There may not be much to the piece as a whole, but it is watchable work.

  • Kate

    Kate

    ★★★½

    Starring Mary Elizabeth Winstead as a hitwoman with a conscience, Cedric Nicolas-Troyan's "Kate" is a neon-lit, teeth-rattling action winner. The story, unfolding in all of the expected directions, sees Winstead's protagonist in grave and time-sensitive peril, embarking on a path to learn the reason behind her state. Action beats are ripe; and character threads add life to each punch, slash, and pulled-trigger. With a magnetic Winstead at the fore, the work lands with an impactful and satisfying genre grace.

  • Portrait of a Lady on Fire

    Portrait of a Lady on Fire

    ★★★★

    Delving into the connection between two people, Céline Sciamma's "Portrait of a Lady on Fire" puts a match to an understated tinderbox of passions. The story, revolving around a painter and her subject, moves deliberately, observing characters and glances and draws in its audience with narrative verses both recognizable and forbidden. Sciamma's cast carries the necessary emotions of the film with dynamic ease; and the cinematic canvas upon wish she tells her story is artfully adorned and rendered with rich and raw color that reflects the output of of the drama's lead player. It is lovely, sometimes striking work.

  • Blindspotting

    Blindspotting

    ★★★★

    A ferocious and completely magnetic look at race, community, and eking out an existence, "Blindspotting" blends satire, style, and the real currents of life for something honest and impactful. Directed by Carlos López Estrada and starring a dynamic and charismatic Daveed Diggs, the drama finds Diggs' parolee returning to his Oakland, California roots and holding it together while he navigates probation. With flair and rhythm, pathos and life, the film reveals the fears and truths of its characters and holds…

  • Once Upon a Time in America

    Once Upon a Time in America

    ★★★½

    Though it is a towering achievement both in terms of length and narrative sprawl, Sergio Leone's "Once Upon a Time in America" finds itself missing that internal cinematic life necessary to make it stand shoulder-to-shoulder with its crime story contemporaries. Moving back and forth on its timeline, the film tells the story of Robert de Niro's Noodles Aaronson whose rise through the ranks of the underworld begins at a young age. The story loses its bite as its characters age,…

  • The Grizzlies

    The Grizzlies

    ★★★★

    Inspiring, big-hearted, and genuine, Miranda de Pencier's "The Grizzlies" is a soulful sports drama that mixes well-worn story beats with a look at a near-withering community. Taking place at the edge of the Arctic, the film sees a group of Inuit teens and a dedicated teacher reaching farther than the grasp that is their lives thanks to lacrosse. The story is unflinching and rewarding, and de Pencier layers pathos, culture, and history against an icily beautiful backdrop of landscape and people. Real and raw, the film scores as an appealing piece of work.

  • Toni Erdmann

    Toni Erdmann

    ★★★½

    Germany's "Toni Erdmann," a droll yet prickly observation of the relationship between a buffoon of a father and his work-driven daughter, engages with its knowing look at the ties that both bind and repel. Simultaneously funny and pointed, the story finds Peter Simonischeks' Winfried showing up unannounced and attempting connection as Sandra Hüller's Ines works her soul off in Romania. Director, Maren Ade, focuses on character and the bristly dance of adult daughter and aging dad, revealing two people who bind to their world in manners both similar and not. Solid work from all involved, the film appeals with its inner and outre humanity.

  • Ingrid Goes West

    Ingrid Goes West

    ★★½

    Saying a little something before it winds up saying mostly nothing, "Ingrid Goes West" takes its aim at social media and, if there is such a thing, the culture of the influencer. That aim crumbles as the comedy's story, following a young woman's unhinged quest to befriend a public figure, takes over, allowing smart commentary to be washed out by the tale of an ill-fated friendship. There is color and character to the production, and the cast is neatly appointed; but a lack of meaningful pulse does in the entire affair. It all rates as mediocre stuff with a core that could have been something more.