Rose Byrne and Ethan Hawke swap mash emails in the tepid Nick Hornby rom-com Juliet, Naked

Neither Romeo nor nudity makes an appearance in Juliet, Naked, a labored romantic comedy adapted from Nick Hornby’s 2009 novel. In fact, there isn’t even a title character—Juliet is the name of an album by fictional indie rocker Tucker Crowe (Ethan Hawke), who disappeared between sets of a gig back in the ’90s, never…

The facts aren’t gripping enough in A Prayer Before Dawn’s true story of prison-boxing glory

Most films adapted from memoirs come across as stranger than fiction. It’s not Billy Moore’s fault that his experiences—recounted in the 2014 best-seller A Prayer Before Dawn: My Nightmare In Thailand’s Prisons—call to mind a host of previous movies, albeit combining what are usually two separate genres. What begins…

Good Manners is the rare monster movie that might be better before the monster shows up

Movies about the fantastic often begin by establishing a patina of normalcy, the better to rupture it later. Like anything else, these initial, comparatively ordinary scenes can be executed skillfully or poorly; some feel like a waste of time (“Get to the good stuff!”), whereas others whet the appetite for what’s to…

Before winning the top prize at Cannes, Hirokazu Koreeda bungled the case of The Third Murder

The first and second murders in The Third Murder take place some 30 years before the movie begins, and are never shown on screen, even in flashback. No need to wait around for number three, though. Just a few seconds into the very first shot, a middle-aged man named Misumi (Kôji Yakusho), who’s walking with another…

Joaquin Phoenix limits his movement and kicks the bottle in Gus Van Sant’s uneven new biopic

Playing a quadriplegic represents a challenge for any able-bodied actor, but it must be particularly frustrating for someone like Joaquin Phoenix, who uses his body no less expressively than he does his face and voice. Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far On Foot largely confines Phoenix to a motorized wheelchair, though…

The true story of Three Identical Strangers gets crazier at every turn—and then seriously disturbing

There are three different potential audiences for the documentary Three Identical Strangers: 1) people for whom that title signifies nothing in particular; 2) people who’ll immediately recognize which ’80s human-interest news story the film must recount, but only know the basics; and 3) a handful of folks familiar…