Mélanie Laurent makes an uneven but urgent crime drama from Nic Pizzolatto’s Galveston


In the decade (nearly) since Inglourious Basterds, Quentin Tarantino has directed two films—three, if you want to count his Manson Family picture, due next summer. Mélanie Laurent, who played the vengeful Shosanna in Basterds, has since directed five features, maintaining a steady acting career all the while. It’s an…

The fountain of wit dries up in The Happy Prince, an Oscar Wilde biopic about his sad last days


As a general rule, biopics fare better when they focus on a relatively thin sliver of the subject’s life, rather than chronicling everything from cradle to grave. And there’s nothing wrong with avoiding a celebrated figure’s glory years in order to explore less familiar biographical terrain. The Happy Prince, however,…

Intolerance gets Purged in Assassination Nation, a midnight movie more righteous than exciting


In the tradition of William Castle, who enticed audiences with ostensible danger—taking out an actual life insurance policy on those who saw a particular screening of Macabre (1958); including a countdown to the scariest scene in Homicidal (1961), so that viewers had time to flee the theater—Assassination Nation kicks…

The past is the present in Robert Greene’s latest eerie nonfiction experiment, Bisbee ’17


On July 12, 1917, roughly 1,300 striking copper miners—most of them recent immigrants—in the town of Bisbee, Arizona were rounded up at gunpoint, loaded onto cattle cars, transported 200 miles to New Mexico, and ordered never to return. A century later, documentary filmmaker Robert Greene (Actress, Kate Plays Christine

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…