• The Columnist

    The Columnist

    ★★½

    Review by Kate Erbland

    A month before Emerald Fennell’s eventual Best Picture nominee “Promising Young Woman” debuted at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival, a tonal twin bowed in its native Netherlands, as Ivo van Aart’s brittle and occasionally brutal “The Columnist” first arrived in its homeland in December of 2019. Two years (and one Oscar for Fennell) later, van Aart’s festival favorite is finally available for wider consumption, and while it will likely inspire all sorts of comparisons, its ambitious blend of horror and comedy, set inside hyper-contemporary concerns, makes it a stellar companion for Fennell’s film.

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  • The Unthinkable

    The Unthinkable

    ★★★

    Review by Eric Kohn

    In her 1965 essay “The Imagination of Disaster,” Susan Sontag wrote that the allure of “exotic dangerous situations” came down to the way they “normalize what is psychologically unbearable.” It would have been intriguing to get Sontag’s take on “The Unthinkable,” a riveting disaster movie that’s actually heartbreaking, and doesn’t so much delight in world-ending events as it recognizes that surviving them never ensures a happy ending. Getting through the ordeal is only half the battle.

  • Best Summer Ever

    Best Summer Ever

    ★★★½

    Review by Kristen Lopez

    Though “Crip Camp” didn’t end up going home with the Oscar on Sunday evening, it’s done plenty toward making people aware of the need for disabled narratives that are positive and happy. For us to see true inclusion, it’s not enough to simply tell disabled stories, but to make disability part of every story. A prime example of that is the new teen musical, “Best Summer Ever.”

    The most ambitious feature undertaken by Zeno Mountain Farm,…

  • The Outside Story

    The Outside Story

    ★★½

    Review by Kate Erbland

    Charles doesn’t see much reason to leave his sunny second-floor Brooklyn apartment. Everything can be delivered, he can do his video editing at the desk that’s right next to his kitchen, and after his recent break-up, he’s got little interest in human interaction. What could possibly entice him to leave? In “The Outside Story,” Casimir Nozkowski’s ambling, rambling feature directorial debut, the answer is “bad luck” and “narrative necessity.”

    In his first lead role, Brian Tyree…

  • Four Good Days

    Four Good Days

    ★★

    Review by Ryan Lattanzio

    “Four Good Days” is a hideously overwrought slice of the life of an addict, and her codependent mother, from the opening frames of Mila Kunis gleaning her toothless, rotten gums after showing up unannounced and shaking on Glenn Close’s doorstep, to a climactic meltdown involving Kunis screaming “I need your pee!” to a paralyzed, enabling Close. The fact that this emerged from a harrowing, true-life Washington Post article by co-screenwriter Eli Saslow can’t disguise the over-the-top elements of the movie (from Close’s bizarre wig to Kunis’ twitchy performance) that feel ripped from fiction and ooze obvious staginess, the feint of actorly transformation.

  • The Mitchells vs. The Machines

    The Mitchells vs. The Machines

    ★★★½

    Review by David Ehrlich

    Director Mike Rianda’s “The Mitchells vs. the Machines” pumps with the same kind of heart and mile-a-minute creative energy that allowed producers Phil Lord and Chris Miller to squeeze tears out of LEGOs and make Batman seem funnier than the Joker has ever been. The most unexpected thing about Rianda’s debut feature — besides, perhaps, a quick but unambiguous reference to Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s “Ali: Fear Eats the Soul” — is that it’s also kind of…

  • Boys from County Hell

    Boys from County Hell

    ★★★

    Review by Kate Erbland

    First, some history: “Dracula” author Bram Stoker, the ostensible inventor of our modern idea of the vampire, was Irish. Now, some retconning: in the world of Chris Baugh’s plucky horror comedy “Boys from County Hell,” Stoker’s villain was inspired by the evil exploits of Abhartach, a resident in the tiny Irish village of Six Mile Hill who delighted in drinking the blood of his neighbors. A local offed Abhartach and he was buried beneath a tall…

  • Ride or Die

    Ride or Die

    ★★★½

    Review by David Ehrlich

    Hiroki Ryuichi’s “Ride or Die” begins with a premise that sounds like the stuff of hard-boiled neo-noir: Abused by men her entire life, a straight Japanese housewife coerces the long-estranged lesbian friend who’s been in love with her since high school to kill her violent husband. And yet from the start it feels like we’re missing a few key details in the fine print of what’s going on here — there’s something almost right fluttering beneath all this wrong.

  • Monday

    Monday

    ★★½

    Review by Kate Erbland

    During the summer 2018 production of Argyris Papadimitropoulos’ steamy romance “Monday,” no one could have guessed that the party-hearty film would eventually stand out as a curio of a bygone era. Shot on location in Greece and aided immeasurably by a game cast of random extras, many of them giddily bumping up against each other with wild abandon, movies like “Monday” will (presumably, hopefully) be made again. But for now, Papadimitropoulos’ free-wheeling feature arrives as something of a period piece, one that will likely charm and rankle in equal measure.

  • Vanquish

    Vanquish

    Review by Eric Kohn

    It’s been ages since Morgan Freeman gave a performance that wasn’t more appealing than his own persona. His new thriller, “Vanquish,” gets at the essence of the challenge: Left to his own devices in a cheesy, half-baked thriller that finds him playing a disabled cop with a criminal past, he surrenders the knowing grin and cocked eyebrow routine that has solidified into a punchline, and this pulpy B-movie could use exactly that.

  • Awaken

    Awaken

    ★½

    Review by Eric Kohn

    Nearly 40 years ago, Godfrey Reggio’s “Koyaanisqatsi” set a pulsating montage of modern and natural splendor to an ecstatic Phillip Glass score and was off to the races, with a singular formula of manufactured awe that has lasted generations. Likewise, when Terrence Malick returned from decades of dormancy to heighten conventional narratives with whispery voiceovers and cosmic detours, the ambition was undeniable. Yet “Awaken,” which was executive produced by both men and directed by their protege Tom Lowe, proves that even the most striking collage of worldly images and soaring music can feel derivative without the spark of an idea behind it.

  • Thunder Force

    Thunder Force

    ★★

    Review by Kate Erbland

    “Thunder Force” is nearly half over before the action-comedy lands on a real joke: the introduction of co-star Jason Bateman as a half-superhero mutant with crab arms instead of human appendages. Jokes aside, Bateman’s “The Crab” also makes for a good foil to the eponymous Thunder Force, a pair of unexpected crime fighters who have emerged to battle the supervillain crime wave that has consumed the world since their childhood. They need all the help (or hurt) they can get.