Past Stories

Scaring Up Controversy

Ratings board is hard-pressed to explain its R rating for The Conjuring Since its inception in 1968, the movie-ratings system has often caused confusion, especially since the PG-13 rating was invented in 1984 and the NC-17 went...


Zach Snyder’s Man of Steel is lifeless and inane

Superman reboot is thin on character, heavy on destruction First impressions are everything. This is especially true when you’re the new guy at a well-respected paper. I’m keenly aware of the long line of great local film c...


The Bling Ring examines America’s currency of glam

Sofia Coppola’s latest is a sobering but ultimately thin satire of our pop-culture times Is our current celebrity-obsessed culture any different from other similarly mad periods in American history? Not as much as one would e...



Down for a good time

White House Down may be ridiculous, but it’s also incredibly fun People often accuse Hollywood of running out of ideas, whether lamenting sequels and prequels or reboots. But it’s mercifully rare that Tinseltown spits out t...


“Z” is Grade-A Fun

Brad Pitt brings leads the battle against a worldwide zombie rampage in World War Z It’s easy to dismiss zombie movies as no-brainer schlock in which mass numbers of the undead seek out human brains for sustenance, while said...


Joel Edgerton goes on a Bad Trip in Wish You Were Here

Well-told Aussie drama is complemented by solid acting There’s nothing worse than a vacation gone bad, and few vacations go quite as badly as the one in Wish You Were Here, the tense Australian drama that opened Friday, J...



Hope against Dope

The Internship offers smart laughs and inspiration; This Is The End not so much There seem to be two main schools of film comedies these days, and I’m not talking about romantic comedies and buddy-cop flicks. I mean comedies ...


Kings of the Cinema

Three Indies offer filmgoers a refreshing alternative to summer movie mayhem With theaters packed with car-crashing, planet-saving and comically crass blockbusters, fans of smaller, more thoughtful movies must feel neglected du...


Two for the Road

Fast and Furious 6 and The Hangover Part III offer viewers differing bangs for their bucks Sequels always present filmmakers with an odd dilemma: If the storylines are too close to the original films, critics and audiences will...



Darkness Lights up Summer

Star Trek: Into Darkness offers thinking points to go along with thrills Four years ago, Hollywood mastermind J. J. Abrams took the reins of the Star Trek franchise and brought it back to life as the director and producer of&he...


Not so Great

Latest take on Gatsby could make viewers wonder how it ever became a classic For generations, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel The Great Gatsby has been enthralling readers with its tale of the mega-rich in the Roaring Twenties an...


Three’s the Charm

Iron Man 3 may be the best in the series Everyone loves a comeback, and perhaps no Hollywood star has exemplified that in recent times like Robert Downey Jr. and his star turn as Iron Man. But when its first…



Putting the “Art” in “Art House”

Terrence Malick’s To the Wonder is less accessible than his last film Terrence Malick has often been considered a genius, but never a prolific filmmaker. After his 1978 film Days of Heaven, he took two decades off before retu...


Remember When . . .

Trance and Oblivion offer action-packed fun and jaw-dropping plot twists It’s rare these days to find a film that commands a viewer’s total attention. What’s even rarer is when two such films open on the same weekend, as ...


A Man for the Times

Hollywood looks at the life of Pasadena hero Jackie Robinson in 42 Many rightly credit The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., U.S. Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, activist and defiant bus rider Rosa Parks and other well-know...



Beyond Boundaries

Indie filmmakers Derek Cianfrance and Harmony Korine blast past prior limits in The Place Beyond the Pines and Spring Breakers It’s rare to see a filmmaker grow so much in a two-year stretch between the release of a film and&...


Worth the Admission

Tina Fey stretches opposite Paul Rudd in ethical dramedy After spending six years as the creator, producer, writer and star of the instant-classic sitcom 30 Rock, Tina Fey could be forgiven if she wanted to take it easy and mak...


The Magic’s Back

Carell and ace supporting cast find comedy magic in The Incredible Burt Wonderstone It’s been a terrible year for movies, with the only film I truly enjoyed, The Identity Thief, taking in $100 million at the box office. Week ...



snoOZe

Great and Powerful Oz can’t match the magic of the 1939 classic There are some films that are just too classic to be messed with by creating unnecessary sequels and prequels. The Wizard of Oz is right at the top…


Killer Entertainment

Director Bryan Singer creates a new kind of superhero with Jack the Giant Slayer Even as 2012 proved a watershed year in movie quality, with six $100-million-grossing blockbusters competing for the honor of Best Picture, it als...


Oscar Showdown

This year’s Academy Awards should provide loads of excitement with plenty of close races Each year, the Academy Awards ceremony showcases the top films in the world while offering TV viewers a must-see evening of kitschy pop...



Not So Hard

Latest Die Hard film goes limp It’s been a quarter-century since Bruce Willis helped revolutionize the modern action movie genre in the first Die Hard film. Playing a wisecracking yet relatable Everyman cop named John McClane...


Stealing the Show

Force of nature teams up with Jason Bateman to create comedy classic Identity Thief Two years ago, Melissa McCarthy hit the big screen in Bridesmaids, unleashing a performance that was so boldly original that she became an inst...


Swept Away

Family strength trumps Mother Nature’s worst in J.A. Bayona’s The Impossible Imagine you’re on vacation with your family in what seems like an utterly idyllic place. You’ve been fortunate enough to afford a trip to the ...



Love Hurts

Amour filmmaker Michael Haneke tackles the prickly issue of euthanasia From the moment we are born, we begin the process of dying. It’s a sad fact we try to tune out for the first six decades or so of our…


Will He Be Back?

Could Audiences Turn Against the Governator, Willis and Stallone after Newtown? He played a robot assassin, killed off alien predators and became the world’s first pregnant man during more than 20 years of superstardom. Off s...


Ends and Means

Zero Dark Thirty raises questions about American torture tactics in the search for Osama bin Laden There’s always a risk involved when a film attempts to depict historical events. While Lincoln has proven to be a formidable h...



Best of Times

The 10 Most Outstanding Films of 2012 The past year offered the best crop of movies I’ve seen in more than a decade. As usual, I’m offering my personal 10 favorites of the year out of the more than 150…