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  Ben Affleck wrote, directed and stars in this retelling of Dennis Lehane’s 1920s-set novel about the son of an honest Boston-Irish cop who works his way up in organized crime. In his outings as writer-director, Ben Affleck has shown an aptitude for tense, gritty material, arguably even more so in the vividly inhabited working-class Boston crime milieu of Gone Baby Gone and The Town than in his Oscar winner, Argo. So part of the disappointment of his engrossing but unexceptional fourth feature, Live by Night, is the departure...

Timed to Memorial Day in 2001, Michael Bay unleashed a historical epic aimed to conquer the box office. Pearl Harbor, starring Ben Affleck, Josh Hartnett and Kate Beckinsale, debuted to negative reviews but topped the holiday weekend chart, eventually raking in nearly $450 million worldwide. The Hollywood Reporter’s original review is below:  Theater owners, start your popcorn machines. Despite a filmmaking sensibility that will deeply divide audiences — and inflame more than a few critics — Disney’s Pearl...

This beautifully shot survey of international chefs is one of Netflix’s best shows. When it comes to the never-ending churn of programming popping up each week, Netflix has immediate plays and long-term plays. When Adam Sandler releases a new movie on Netflix, it’s an immediate play. Sandler has been on the late-night circuit all week, and your Netflix home page almost certainly is begging you to watch The Do-Over and to do it now, before anybody tells you how awful it is, not that you’re likely to care. Netflix’s...

11:55 AM PDT 5/27/2016 by Keith Uhlich Netflix releases its latest Adam Sandler comedy. A nation mourns. By now, it’s clear that every Adam Sandler movie is dada of the high-concept, low-hanging-fruit variety, in which the Happy Madison stock company uses filmmaking (loosely termed) as an excuse to take an extended tropical vacation. Speaking of low-hanging fruit: Luis Guzman’s sweaty testicles — but we’ll get to those in a moment. First, know that a major plot point in Sandler’s latest “comedy,”...

8:54 AM PDT 5/27/2016 by Frank Scheck Taryn Manning plays a single mother suffering from bipolar disorder in Valerie Weiss’ sophomore feature. The emotional cost of serving as caregiver to someone suffering from mental illness is movingly dramatized in cliché-free fashion in Valerie Weiss’ (Losing Control) sophomore feature. Featuring standout performances by Taryn Manning as a woman with bipolar disorder and Madison Davenport as her teenage daughter grappling with whether or not to take flight, A Light Beneath Their...

Rory Kinnear stars in this new adaptation of Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill’s lusty lowlife musical at the National Theatre, the first London revival in over 20 years. A heady cocktail of Dickensian London squalor and jazz-age Berlin decadence, Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill’s 1928 musical drama The Threepenny Opera has proved endlessly adaptable in its nine-decade life. “Contains filthy language and immoral behavior,” runs the cautionary tagline on this swashbuckling new revival from the National Theatre’s...

Season one was an endurance test, but at least it had a reason for being. This one doesn’t, unless predictable fallout is your thing. Bloodline has always been an odd show trying to make it in a world with too many choices. The drama, heading into its second season on Friday, is from Netflix, but the series is anything but binge-worthy, its first season dragging out often interminable hours that left little desire to hit the play button on the next one. But the series also wasn’t structured like a traditional drama — created...

An exciting young cast elevates this emotional, powerful remake of the 1977 landmark miniseries. When Roots premiered on ABC in 1977, the adaptation of Alex Haley’s novel was a defiant shout into a representational void. The wide-reaching story of the African-American experience, told through one family’s trials encompassing abduction from West Africa in the 18th century, the brutality of slavery and war, and eventual freedom, defied all expectations to become a ratings sensation and an unprecedented Emmy...

Richard Madden and Lily James are reunited on stage by their ‘Cinderella’ director Kenneth Branagh for this London production. So often the first Shakespeare play students are exposed to in high school is Romeo and Juliet. Its impetuous teen protagonists, fighting, flirting and fast-paced time frame make it a great beginners’ slope for Bard newbies. Commercially, it’s the perfect play for the Kenneth Branagh Theatre Company to be mounting right now during the troop’s yearlong West End residency...

Cirque du Soleil’s first-ever show created especially for Broadway has been grossing north of $1 million a week in previews. The folks at Cirque du Soleil would be the first to tell you that New York is a tough town to crack. The venerable nouveau circus company has enjoyed great success in the Big Apple with their touring productions over the last decades, but a permanent residency has so far eluded them. Such previous attempts as Banana Shpeel in 2010 and Zarkana in 2011 and 2012 were either outright disasters or commercial disappointments....

Stew and Heidi Rodewald, creators of the Tony Award-winning ‘Passing Strange,’ collaborate on their latest musical project at the Public Theater. Watching the latest theatrical collaboration between musicians Stew and Heidi Rodewald, it’s hard to believe that the former won the Tony Award for best book of a musical for Passing Strange. That gift...

The second feature from Singaporean director Boo Junfeng (‘Sandcastle’) stars Malaysian veteran actor Wan Hanafi Su and impressive newcomer Fir Rahman. A correctional officer’s relationship with the chief executioner of the prison where he works is fraught with tension and potential pitfalls in Apprentice, the second feature from Singaporean filmmaker Boo Junfeng. Like the 32-year-old’s well-received first feature, the 2010 Cannes Critics’ Week contender Sandcastle, and earlier shorts such as Tanjong Rhu,...

Chris Pine and Ben Foster play brothers on a bank-robbery spree, with Jeff Bridges as the Texas Ranger on their tails in David Mackenzie’s thriller. Brit director David Mackenzie follows his searing 2013 prison drama, Starred Up, with a deep dive into archetypal Americana in Hell or High Water, a modern Western thriller that combines many of the same strengths...

Jeff Nichols’ drama stars Joel Edgerton and Ruth Negga in the true story of an interracial couple who set in motion a major court case in 1950s Virginia. Making a nice two-cushion shot where most filmmakers would slam hard straight for the pocket, writer-director Jeff Nichols takes an appealingly low-key approach to an important American civil rights story in...

6:00 PM PDT 5/15/2016 by Frank Scheck ‘Hamilton’ director Thomas Kail stages this new drama from Pulitzer winner Quiara Alegria Hudes, tracking the patrons of a Philadelphia bar over nearly two decades. Watching Daphne’s Dive, the new play by Pulitzer Prize-winner Quiara Alegria Hudes (Water by the Spoonful), led me to this conclusion: I’m just not spending enough time in bars. The one depicted here is the sort of hangout where you go not so much to drink but rather to engage with your extended family...

The latest from Jim Jarmusch stars Adam Driver as a New Jersey bus driver with a serious poetry habit. Neither good nor bad, exactly — but with more reaction-shot cutaways to a pet dog than would have been countenanced even on a 1950s sitcom — Jim Jarmusch’s Paterson is a singular ode to the ordered life, domestic harmony and poetry as something worth living for. Unassuming, idiosyncratic and set in the run-down eponymous New Jersey city that has produced more than its share of noted personalities, this is a mild-mannered,...

11:05 AM PDT 5/15/2016 by Deborah Young An ideal Japanese family is shattered when a stranger comes to live with them. Koji Fukada is one of Japan’s most innovative filmmakers, and after his depressing post-nuclear holocaust film Sayonara, which featured a character played by an android, he bounces back in top form with the resonant, enigmatic, Harmonium (Fuchi ni Tatsu). Practically a thematic reworking of his award-winning 2010 black comedy Hospitalite, it once again considers the unforeseen consequences that befall an...

Bill Paxton plays a crooked lawman out to retrieve his loot and his runaway daughter in this thriller about fugitive lovers from director Nathan Morlando. Casting Bill Paxton in a yarn about a bag of dirty money in the hands of criminal novices and a hunt that builds to a grim backwoods showdown inevitably summons comparison with Sam Raimi’s crackling 1998 neo-noir,...

9:29 AM PDT 5/15/2016 by Jordan Mintzer Writer-director Eran Kolirin (‘The Band’s Visit’) screened his third feature in Cannes. As titles go, Beyond the Mountains and Hills (Me’ever Laharim Vehagvaot) is a rather poetic one, and it takes on several meanings in Israeli writer-director Eran Kolirin’s latest film, which premiered in...

8:11 AM PDT 5/15/2016 by Jordan Mintzer Damien Manivel (‘A Young Poet’) presents his second feature in the Cannes ACID sidebar. All it takes is a girl, a guy and a touch of phantasmagoria to make for an intriguing contemporary romance in The Park (Le Parc), French filmmaker Damien Manivel’s second feature after his well-received Locarno debut,...

Spanish festival favorite Isaki Lacuesta’s codirected take on the effects of a possible son’s return took six awards at Spain’s recent Malaga festival. ‘What’s my name?’ asks the teen protagonist right before the title of the chilly, earthy The Next Skin flashes up onscreen: that’s the question which for the rest of the film has the other characters and the audience guessing, too. But real focus of this intriguing take on the effects of a possible case of mistaken identity is not just on who he...

This German-language version of the story of Anne Frank is directed by Hans Steinbichler and stars young actress Lea van Acken, alongside Martina Gedeck and Ulrich Noethen as her parents. “Paper is more patient than people,” wrote Anne Frank in one of her first diary entries, and this is exactly what has tripped up so many adaptations of the young writer’s work, which by necessity need to cut and condense material since people don’t want to sit through a seven-hour movie or play based on her diaries. German director...

6:27 AM PDT 5/9/2016 by Frank Scheck Bodies begin piling up in this supernatural thriller set in a haunted theater in 1930s Shanghai. One would think that if you were a movie director shooting your new film in a supposedly haunted theater and your leading man spontaneously burst into flames, a change of location might be in order. But then there wouldn’t be much to Raymond Yip’s deliriously nutty and lavish ghost tale, Phantom of the Theatre, which boasts plenty of lush visuals to compensate for its progressively ridiculous...

6:17 AM PDT 5/9/2016 by Frank Scheck Four gay men look for love during a wintry Philadelphia evening in Joseph Graham’s drama. Sex doesn’t seem to offer much emotional fulfillment for the characters in Joseph Graham’s (Strapped) drama set during a chilly Philadelphia evening. Depicting the often erotically charged interactions among four gay men and assorted friends and lovers, Beautiful Something has a bleakness that belies its title. The term is used by an older man, Bob (John Lescault), a wealthy Los Angeles talent...

The beaky buddies from the best-selling video game vault themselves onto the big screen with this adaptation, featuring the voices of Jason Sudeikis, Josh Gad and Maya Rudolph. If you imagine the arena of theatrical film releasing as a huge games arcade, then computer game-to-film adaptation Ratchet and Clank, released in the U.S. by Focus Features, is the weedy kid whose feeble high score is about to be annihilated by a cocky rival: The Angry Birds Movie. This animated feature, directed by Fergal Reilly and Clay Katis, is based on...

Steven Seagal stars, but just barely, in his latest action vehicle. It’s hard to imagine that there are still enough Steven Seagal fans out there to make his movies profitable, but then again, action movie fans aren’t very picky about their late night VOD fare while binging on booze and pizza. The latest effort from the bloated, aging star is Michael Winnick’s thriller as bland as its title. Be warned, though, that like so many recent Bruce Willis vehicles, the presumed leading man of Code of Honor is more of a supporting...

Susan Sarandon, Sharon Stone, Christina Ricci and Mira Sovino are among the stars of this drama featuring interconnected stories. The mothers and daughters in Mothers and Daughters are frequently at odds, and it’s no wonder. Communicating almost entirely through video chats, e-mail and text messages, they never get to actually see each other in person. Watching the characters interact in Paul Duddridge’s film is like experiencing their interpersonal travails via Facebook. The sort of movie in which a pregnant single woman is...

This original French crime drama from Netflix (starring Gerard Depardieu) feels very American in a pretty bad way. There are a million reasons to go to France. But there’s only one reason to watch a TV series created there: If it’s really good. Marseille, the Gerard Depardieu-led Netflix series that dropped all eight episodes on Thursday, is not very good. In many spots, it’s terrible. You’d think the French accents would class-up the offerings the way that a thoroughly British one has raised the stature of innumerable...

Sam Dillon and Thomas Mann co-star in a third adaptation from James Franco’s short-story collection. Following Palo Alto (2013) and Yosemite (2015), Memoria concludes the trilogy of films adapted from James Franco’s Palo Alto short stories. Returning as executive producer for the final installment, Franco has again selected novice feature directors for the project, which was originally announced at the launch of a successful 2013 Indiegogo fundraising campaign. Although the film should attract attention from fans of Franco’s...

2:15 PM PDT 5/4/2016 by John DeFore At The New York Times, the obituary beat is no career dead-end. Last year, Tribeca brought us Very Semi-Serious, an inside look at a staple of NYC’s media world (the cartoons of The New Yorker) that has currency around the world. Vanessa Gould offers something quite similar, albeit less quirky, in Obit, taking us into the cubicles producing obituaries for The New York Times — not nearly the humor-free zone newcomers may expect. Engaging and lively, the doc will play well at fests and...

Carles Torras’ third feature, an English-language piece about a struggling actor/psychopath in New York, took best film, actor and script honors at Spain’s Malaga festival. Folks who are nostalgic for the days of Henry, when portraits of serial killers were suitably seedy and unpleasant rather than high-gloss and Seven-inspired, will be happy to see that Callback fulfills their requirements to the last sordid letter. Carles Torras’ third feature, and his first in English, is inevitably uncomfortable viewing but also is...

Taught to use 4K digital cameras, International Space Station astronauts provided much of the footage for the latest Imax science feature. A Beautiful Planet uses its uncommon the vantage point — the modules of the International Space Station — to posit a concept of Earth as a kind of spacecraft for its inhabitants, self-sustaining but vulnerable. The creative partnership between Imax vet Toni Myers and NASA, with a good portion of the spectacular large-format imagery captured by astronauts, is sheer visual poetry as well...

This new contemporary musical stars Ben Platt of ‘Pitch Perfect’ fame as a depressed high-schooler caught up in a lie that acquires a life of its own in the social media bubble. Not since Spring Awakening has a new musical spoken more directly than Dear Evan Hansen to the melancholy adolescent outsider buried inside us. According to one observer here, high school can be a lonely time of life for everyone except cheerleaders and football stars, and if there’s a hint of maudlin teen pandering to the show’s sentiments,...

Gillian Anderson stars as Blanche DuBois, fleeing from time and tawdry reality as she careens into insanity in Tennessee Williams’ classic, with Ben Foster as her adversary. The first thing that sets apart Gillian Anderson’s riveting Blanche DuBois from many interpretations of the role is how crisp and put-together she looks upon arrival in New Orleans,...

12:02 PM PDT 4/29/2016 by John DeFore Personal narratives predominate in a look at America’s most divisive issue. Tracy Droz Tragos works to get beyond us-versus-them simplicity in Abortion: Stories Women Tell, focusing on personal narrative over politics in a humanistic look at an issue that promises to remain divisive for the foreseeable future. Continuing legal battles over access to abortion make the picture’s geographical focus timely: Here in Missouri, just one clinic is left that performs abortions, and legislators...

10:35 AM PDT 4/29/2016 by John DeFore The “greatest restaurant in the world” is behind a globetrotting investigation into making food from insects. Making the case that a plate full of maggots or thumb-sized grubs might someday be mouthwatering instead of revolting, Andreas Johnsen’s Bugs begins with a widely accepted prediction — that, given a mushrooming global population and limited resources, humanity will soon need to get much more of its protein from insects — and follows those who hope to keep...

4:01 PM PDT 4/29/2016 by Clarence Tsui Prior to his new film’s world premiere at Cannes, South Korean auteur Park Chan-wook and his team recall their experience making ‘Oldboy,’ a Grand Prize winner on the Croisette in 2003. Originally commissioned as a supplement for an upcoming Blu-ray release of the seminal South Korean festival hit Oldboy, Han Sun-hee’s documentary proves to be much more than the usual banal mix of archive footage and talking heads. Clocking in at nearly two hours, Old Days is an expansive...

(L-R) Brian Stokes Mitchell, Billy Porter, Joshua Henry and Brandon Victor Dixon in ‘Shuffle Along’ Writer-director George C. Wolfe and choreographer Savion Glover reteam on another unique journey into black history, featuring a radiant Audra McDonald. It’s almost impossible to stay still in your seat when the internally motorized ensemble of Shuffle...

9:35 AM PDT 4/29/2016 by John DeFore Actor Sophia Takal directs a psychological thriller about two aspiring actresses. In her second feature as director, prolific indie actress Sophia Takal uses a world she presumably knows well — of aspiring female thesps who must always rank their own talent and desirability against others in their age group while the promising-newcomer expiration date approaches — as the starting point for a thriller whose stylistic flourishes betray ambitions beyond milking genre auds for an easy...

12:01 PM PDT 4/28/2016 by Justin Lowe Writer-director Anucharan Murugaiyan’s debut is an urban thriller with more on its mind than just cops and crooks. With a title that translates as “virus,” Tamil-language Kirumi takes the acerbic view that official corruption is endemic to law enforcement agencies, a perspective that’s not limited to Indian regional cinema. Although Anucharan Murugaiyan’s film doesn’t offer an especially innovative interpretation of the familiar crime genre, it’s absorbing...

Garry Marshall’s latest holiday-pegged ensemble comedy stars Jennifer Aniston, Julia Roberts, Kate Hudson and Jason Sudeikis. Even if you haven’t seen Garry Marshall’s last two holiday-pegged efforts — Valentine’s Day and New Year’s Eve, with their generous smattering of stars, sub-sitcom one-liners and shameless heartstring yanking — it won’t take long to figure out what kind of movie Mother’s Day is. The signs are there in the first few minutes: perky pop song over the opening credits,...

Macall B. Polay/HBO Even without George R.R. Martin’s books, David Benioff and D.B. Weiss deliver a strong table-setting premiere to season six of the HBO hit. In retrospect, the fifth season of Game of Thrones was neither as so-so and disappointing as I often felt it was when episodes were in progress, nor as spectacular as the show’s semi-random across-the-board Emmy coronation indicated. The lengthy “Previously on …” reel preceding Sunday’s sixth-season premiere was a reminder of the mixture of great...

Tony winner Jessie Mueller plays an unhappily married diner server pouring love into her pies in this musical based on the 2007 indie hit, featuring a score by Sara Bareilles. Jessie Mueller won a lead actress Tony Award two years ago playing the title role in Beautiful: The Carole King Musical. So it’s fitting that her return to Broadway, with perhaps an even...

4:37 PM PDT 4/24/2016 by John DeFore Two young porn stars attract the interest of rivals James Franco and Christian Slater. Yet another opportunity for festivalgoers to learn how fascinated James Franco is with pornography (and with teasing fans about his sexuality), Justin Kelly’s King Cobra casts the actor as a pimp and producer who yearns to make a hot young performer, played by Garrett Clayton, part of his stable. Less a story about seduction of the innocent than of an amoral kid who isn’t smart enough to succeed without...

Olivia Thirlby and Ben Feldman should have thought this whole marriage thing through first. Honeymoons don’t get much bleaker than Between Us, Rafael Palacio Illingworth’s look at the first day of a marriage that, perhaps, shouldn’t exist. As the man and woman in question, Ben Feldman and Olivia Thirlby embody all the doubts and lifestyle-aspirational conflict that might derail an otherwise happy coupling, egging each other on to separate acts of betrayal. Familiar faces should help sell this upsetting drama, which mightn’t...

Eddie Murphy plays a man hired to cook for a dying woman and her young daughter in Bruce Beresford’s drama. It’s been four years since Eddie Murphy’s last movie (the execrable A Thousand Words) and a decade since his last worthwhile performance (his Oscar-nominated role in Dreamgirls). But those who’ve dismissed him for his slapdash paycheck comedies will be eating their words after seeing his sensitive dramatic work in Bruce Beresford’s new indie drama receiving its world premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival....

7:00 PM PDT 4/22/2016 by Keith Uhlich Netflix’s ill-conceived satire marks a career low for writer-director-star Ricky Gervais. It’s never fun watching a comedian’s shrewdness ossify into shtick. Yet whatever incisiveness Ricky Gervais once had (and he had plenty, if The Office and Extras are any indication) is barely evident in the new Netflix-released satire Special Correspondents (premiering first at the Tribeca Film Festival). To say this lampoon of the current political and media landscape doesn’t...

2:07 PM PDT 4/22/2016 by John DeFore Dominic Rains plays an Afghan journalist trying to make sense of a small California town. A fish-out-of-water mystery in a place where the sinister and the merely odd can be hard to tell apart, Ian Olds’s The Fixer follows an Afghan refugee whose need to engage with his new California home might get him killed. A fiction inspired by a doc about a similar character Olds brought to Tribeca in 2009, this picture will naturally draw more attention thanks to a cast including James Franco and Melissa...

11:11 AM PDT 4/22/2016 by John DeFore Emile Hirsch and Zoe Kravitz get acquainted while seeking refuge in a small town. Eden is only temporary in Vincent N Roxxy, Gary Michael Schultz’s tale of lovers who find each other while escaping to a small Louisiana town from dangers in nearby Baton Rouge. Emile Hirsch and Zoe Kravitz, as strangers thrown together by a violent incident, enjoy an easy chemistry here, encouraging viewers to forget the menace that starts the story and, with startling violence, will end it. A much calmer,...

9:00 PM PDT 4/21/2016 by Sheri Linden Matthew Morrison and Sarah Chalke play siblings in a comic drama set in Los Angeles and Minnesota’s Northwoods. For his first feature, writer-director David Anderson concocts a spot-on send-up of Bachelorette-style television. Unfortunately, he hitches it to an underwhelming drama of siblings dealing with a parent’s death, and neither half of After the Reality enhances the other with the slightest resonance. Though Matthew Morrison and Sarah Chalke create a believable chemistry as brother...