Official newspaper of the University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of the University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of the University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

All content by Alex Williams

“Goodnight Mommy” defies expectations at Fantastic Fest

October 1, 2014

The Secret Screening at Fantastic Fest is always one of the most hotly anticipated events of the festival. Past years have brought guests such as Sandra Bullock and the Wachowski siblings to the Alamo...

Tusk” starts Fantastic Fest off with a bang

September 21, 2014

The opening night of Fantastic Fest is always a memorable event, and this year proved to be no exception. Tim League, Alamo Drafthouse Cinema CEO, kicked off the evening with pyrotechnics and an extended...

“V/H/S Viral” is sickeningly disappointing

September 21, 2014

With its first two entries, “V/H/S” established itself as one of the most promising horror franchises around, featuring a variety of talented directors and an intriguing, carefully revealed...

Lucy

‘Lucy’ is a ridiculous but entertaining summer release

August 4, 2014

To call “Lucy” science fiction is a bit of a stretch, since the film’s basic premise — a woman is given a special drug that allows her to access 100 percent of her brain, rather...

GuardiansOfTheGalaxy

“Guardians of the Galaxy” brings much-needed fun to a weak movie summer

August 4, 2014

It hasn’t been a great summer for big movies, with plenty of mediocre-to-terrible fare clogging the multiplex. Though “Planet of the Apes” and “Edge of Tomorrow” provided...

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Zach Braff on Kickstarter, writing what you know, and advice for aspiring filmmakers

July 21, 2014

With his 2004 feature debut, “Garden State,” Zach Braff established himself as an intriguing voice in indie cinema — sensitive, quirky and with a great ear for music. Ten years later,...

apes

‘Dawn of the Planet of the Apes’ is the summer’s best – and most tragic – blockbuster

July 14, 2014

As with any prequel, audiences head into “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” already knowing how it ends. Obviously, the super-intelligent apes led by Caesar (Andy Serkis) prevail, so the film...

BeginAgain

Despite its charm, ‘Begin Again’ is ultimately forgettable

July 7, 2014

Writer/director John Carney’s latest film, “Once,” felt like a miracle — an intimate little film thats shaggy story and grainy visuals were held together by the sheer power of its...

The essential Fourth of July movie list

June 30, 2014

As the Fourth of July approaches this weekend, it’s important to remember a few things: We live in Texas, and it is really, really hot outside. It’s also illegal to shoot off fireworks in Austin,...

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More than a survival story, ‘Snowpiercer’ is one of the year’s best movies so far

June 29, 2014

All good science fiction really needs is a great hook, and “Snowpiercer’s” setting is just that: in a post-apocalyptic icescape, a train holding the last scraps of humanity circles the...

hellion

“Hellion” is a well-acted, painful exploration of grief

June 26, 2014

With buzz for the film steadily building out of its Sundance and SXSW screenings, “Hellion” is one of the most heavily hyped indie releases of the summer. Not only is it Aaron Paul’s...

AP_Obit Eli Wallach_admi

Acting legend and UT alum Eli Wallach has passed away

June 26, 2014

Celebrated film actor and Longhorn Eli Wallach died Tuesday night at the age of 98. Wallach graduated from the University of Texas in 1936 with a degree in history, but he was acting even then: He reportedly...

ONLINE_JerseyBoys

Behind the Muzak: “Jersey Boys” is a disappointing, muted musical

June 23, 2014

There’s no question that Clint Eastwood is one of the great American filmmakers, if only for the unsparing self-reflection of “Unforgiven,” which single-handedly psychoanalyzed an entire...

Weekly Austin screenings: June 23-29

June 22, 2014

The summer movie season is fun, but everyone gets tired of explosions and superstars sooner or later. When that happens, there are plenty of great retro screenings in Austin. Many are part of ongoing local...

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Film critic remembers four excellent years

May 2, 2014

I remember the exact moment I realized how great it was to work for The Daily Texan. I had been in college for roughly a month and had been assigned to cover Fantastic Fest. For its closing night party,...

SpidermanReview

“Amazing Spider-Man 2” is 142 minutes of painfully cynical franchise-building

May 2, 2014

Two years after “The Avengers” made over $600 million dollars, audiences are starting to feel the repercussions. As every studio in Hollywood scrambles to replicate Marvel’s success,...

Transcendence

“Transcendence” is grounded by lackluster story and wasted cast

April 18, 2014

At first glance, “Transcendence” seems like an obvious choice for Wally Pfister, making his directorial debut after a long stint as Christopher Nolan’s cinematographer. Much like Nolan’s...

‘Nymphomaniac: Volume II’ fails to live up to first volume

April 6, 2014

Sequels always have a high bar to clear: living up to the promise of their predecessors as they make the continued story of their characters feel natural. While “Nymphomaniac” was designed...

‘Sabotage’ is a gritty return to form for Schwarzenegger

March 28, 2014

Arnold Schwarzenegger’s return to acting hasn’t been particularly successful, and last year both of his attempts to recapture his former glory — “The Last Stand” and “Escape...

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The best films at this year’s SXSW

March 17, 2014

South By Southwest Film is the connective tissue of SXSW. While the Interactive portion takes up the first half of the nine-day festival, and Music renders Sixth Street a bastion of pot smoke and Doritos...

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Movie Review: ‘The Raid 2’ is one of the best action movies ever made

March 14, 2014

“The Raid” was both a stone-cold classic and an ode to narrative simplicity, executing its tried-and-true concept with bone-crunching efficiency. The sequel isn’t content to rehash the...

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SXSW film preview: off the beaten path

March 9, 2014

While the headliners are the most anticipated films at SXSW, many of the festival's best surprises are under the radar. Some have already played the Sundance Film Festival, and others are having their...

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UT professor’s film, ‘Hellion,’ will play at SXSW

March 7, 2014

The raging guitar of a heavy metal song blasts as fire crackles in a burning pickup truck. A gaggle of teens smash the windows, gleefully basking in the warming glow of their destruction. As the truck’s...

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Clooney’s newest directorial attempt falls short, continues mediocre streak

February 7, 2014

There’s a long list of actors who have tried their hands at directing, but only a few truly achieve success. For every Ron Howard or Ben Affleck, there are 10 Danny DeVitos — the actor-turned-director...

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Movie Review: Subtle scares don’t entirely redeem familiar “Devil’s Due”

January 23, 2014

In any film genre, familiarity is something of a given. In action flicks, the bad guy dies in explosive fashion. Romantic comedies always end with a passionate confession, usually in public and always...

Film Review Jack Ryan_admi

‘Jack Ryan’ sets a low bar for 2014 action films

January 17, 2014

Action films are a lot like pizza: cheesy, nutrition-free, covered in red sauce and delicious nonetheless. The greats, such as “Die Hard” and “Terminator 2,” are gourmet pies, made...

Her

The Daily Texan’s top 15 movie picks of 2013

January 14, 2014

2013 was a year brimming with fantastic films that both entertained and resonated with audiences — so much so that the films of this year couldn’t be limited to a traditional top 10 list; a...

The best moments in culture from 2013

December 5, 2013

From Beyonce’s Super Bowl extravaganza in January to last week’s debut of the “Bound 2” video, The Daily Texan Life & Arts staff fondly recounts some of the best pop culture...

Film Review The Hunge_admi (1)

“Catching Fire” is a faithful adaptation, but incomplete film

November 22, 2013

As soon as “The Hunger Games” books attained massive popularity, it was inevitable that they would be adapted into an equally popular film series, and the first film certainly made a big impression...

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“Eastbound & Down” was more than Danny McBride’s best role yet

November 20, 2013

When “Eastbound & Down” aired its first episode in 2009, it seemed to be nothing more than a welcome vehicle for Danny McBride’s corrosive brand of humor. “Eastbound & Down”...

Chuck

Recent additions to Netflix offer procrastination options

November 15, 2013

There’s no better procrastination tool than Netflix. But with only 24 hours in a day, it is easy to become overwhelmed by the multitude of titles available to stream on the service. There are plenty...

AP_Thor

“Thor: The Dark World” has weak story between effective moments

November 8, 2013

Marvel films are driven by big moments. They are the scenes that sell in the trailers, like every Avenger preparing to save New York from an alien invasion, or a thousand Iron Man suits showing up to defend...

12YearsaSlave

“12 Years A Slave” devastates with unflinching portrayal of American history

November 1, 2013

“12 Years a Slave” is not the sweeping historical epic the trailers are selling, and it certainly isn’t the world-changing, Oscar-destined cinematic revolution the early reviewers declared...

“Slither”: A gleefully gross horror comedy

October 31, 2013

For movie buffs, the month of October means one thing: 31 days of horror movies. With tons of horror flicks to choose from, The Daily Texan is going to be providing a daily horror recommendation. Whether...

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Cormac McCarthy’s script bogs down “The Counselor”

October 25, 2013

Two of the most faithful book-to-film adaptations in recent memory are “The Road” and “No Country for Old Men,” both based on works by Cormac McCarthy, whose writing style is so...

Cormac McCarthy’s script bogs down “The Counselor”

October 25, 2013

Two of the most faithful book-to-film adaptations in recent memory are “The Road” and “No Country for Old Men,” both based on works by Cormac McCarthy, whose writing style is so...

“The Conjuring” effortlessly summons scares with great characters

October 22, 2013

For movie buffs, the month of October means one thing: 31 days of horror movies. With tons of horror flicks to choose from, The Daily Texan is going to be providing a daily horror recommendation. Whether...

FifthEstate

“The Fifth Estate” isn’t terrible, but it is misguided

October 18, 2013

In fall 2010, as many of the events that comprise “The Fifth Estate” were occurring, Aaron Sorkin and David Fincher were receiving high praise for “The Social Network,” their adaptation...

“Paranormal Activity” makes you imagine what’s lurking in the shadows

October 15, 2013

For movie buffs, the month of October means one thing: 31 days of horror movies. With tons of horror flicks to choose from, The Daily Texan is going to provide a daily horror recommendation. Whether you...

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Interview with “We Are What We Are” director Jim Mickle

October 14, 2013

Few remakes can actually boast that they improve on their predecessors, especially remakes that come out just a few years after the film they’re based on. “We Are What We Are,” inspired...

MacheteKills

“Machete Kills” is an inconsistent but entertaining member of Rodriguez’s “Machete” franchise

October 11, 2013

“Machete Kills” may be the only film in history to open with a trailer for its sequel, the potentially upcoming “Machete Kills Again … In Space.” What seems like a one-off...

UT alumnus Robert Rodriguez produces sequel to ‘Machete’

October 10, 2013

From his very first film, UT alumnus Robert Rodriguez has had an eye for franchises. “El Mariachi,” his 1992 debut, spawned two sequels, and 2001’s “Spy Kids” allowed the...

Gravity

Stunning visuals and advanced technology make “Gravity” a must-see

October 4, 2013

Seven years after Alfonso Cuaron released “Children of Men” — arguably the best film of the last decade — comes his long-awaited follow-up, “Gravity.” The film doesn’t...

Kicking off The Daily Texan’s month of horror films with “Poltergeist”

October 2, 2013

For movie buffs, the month of October means one thing: 31 days of horror movies. With tons of horror flicks to choose from, The Daily Texan is going to be providing a daily horror recommendation. Whether...

Film Joseph Gordon-Le_admi (1)

Joseph Gordon-Levitt talks about his directorial debut “Don Jon”

September 29, 2013

“Don Jon” is a surprisingly frank directorial debut for Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who wrote, directed, and stars in the sex comedy, released this weekend. Gordon-Levitt plays Jon, a “Jersey...

FFRecap

Fantastic Fest brings strange films and Keanu Reeves to Austin

September 23, 2013

A normal weekend at the Alamo Drafthouse might include a movie quote-along, but Fantastic Fest brought horror, sci-fi and fantasy films from all over the world to North Austin. The Daily Texan saw 17 films...

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Fantastic Fest promises violent films and celebrity sightings

September 19, 2013

Every September, Fantastic Fest brings some of the most offbeat, violent and generally oddball films of the year to the screens of the Alamo Drafthouse. The genre-centric film festival is displaced this...

BrieLarsonInterview

Brie Larson talks about filming “Short Term 12”

September 16, 2013

At this year’s South By Southwest film festival, “Short Term 12” premiered to massive acclaim, going on to win the festival’s Audience and Grand Jury awards. The film is a quietly...

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“Insidious: Chapter 2” not worth seeing in theaters

September 13, 2013

James Wan and Leigh Whannell have made some memorable, terrifying films together, from their debut with 2004’s “Saw” to the first “Insidious” back in 2011. As good as they...

APRiddickReview

“Riddick” more fun than other installments with help of Vin Diesel

September 6, 2013

“Riddick” is one of Hollywood’s most unlikely franchises, spawning from the character’s origin in the 2000 movie “Pitch Black,” where Vin Diesel’s notorious murderer...

“I Declare War” entertains with captivating child characters

August 30, 2013

The usual fare that plays at Fantastic Fest is hilariously brutal, pushing audience members to the limits of what they can reasonably handle, which makes it all the more interesting that the relatively...

TV shows to look forward to this fall

August 28, 2013

In September, TV shows compensate for the slim pickings in theaters, with every network launching roughly a dozen new programs and some of the most essential dramas airing on cable. We have assembled a...

Movies to look forward to in Fall 2013

August 28, 2013

The fall movie season is one of the most reliably inconsistent as audiences have to contend with the wasteland of September before ramping up into the awards-season onslaught of November and December....

spectacularnowpressart

Teller, Woodley live up to high expectations in Ponsoldt’s film

August 26, 2013

Miles Teller and Shailene Woodley easily rank among the most promising young actors working today. Woodley earned an Oscar nomination for her work in “The Descendants,” while Teller has used...

Director adopts author’s story with personal touch

August 26, 2013

The best coming-of-age films have a distinctly personal stamp, and “The Spectacular Now” shines for the authenticity director James Ponsoldt employs. The unlikely love story between charismatic,...

YoureNext_8

Horror film’s stars attend Austin screening, answer questions

August 26, 2013

The long-delayed “You’re Next” is a perfect capper to a summer filled with chilling horror flicks. The home invasion thriller has more than a few tricks up its sleeve. This smart, twisty...

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Horror film “V/H/S/2” surpasses predecessor with surprising brilliance

August 1, 2013

Of all the films one would expect to launch a franchise, “V/H/S” is both one of the most unlikely and the most surprisingly sequel-friendly. “V/H/S/2” ups the ante in every way,...

Film Review Only God _admi

Stylistically notable “Only God Forgives” lacks character arcs

July 20, 2013

In his last few films – 2009’s merciless “Valhalla Rising” and 2011’s excellent “Drive” — Nicolas Winding Refn has demonstrated a strong interest in...

Film Review Pacific R_admi

Sci-fi “Pacific Rim” shows deep human context

July 18, 2013

Judging from his previous films, Guillermo del Toro’s creative engine seems to run on boundless enthusiasm for the fantastical. “Pacific Rim,” the new film from the Spanish director,...

Film Review Despicabl_admi (1)

“Despicable Me 2” lacks creative plot

July 9, 2013

The first “Despicable Me” flick was a pleasant enough diversion, but the only thing that necessitated a sequel was the towering box office gross. “Despicable Me 2” is more of the...

A Hijacking

“A Hijacking” maintains restraint, compels

July 2, 2013

Lots of films are enhanced and emotionally boosted by a musical score, but few have the ability to do the same using silence. “A Hijacking,” the impressive second feature from Danish director...

the-bling-ring-THE-BLING-RING_rgb

“The Bling Ring” focuses on flashiness

June 25, 2013

The culture of celebrity worship has been parodied, lampooned, and satirized in endless films, but, despite its real-life inspiration, Sofia Coppola’s “The Bling Ring" is discouragingly...

Film Brad Pitt_admi

World War Zzzz

June 25, 2013

Of all the films coming out this summer, “World War Z” has the most potential to be a disaster. After all, its production has been a loudly publicized series of reshoots, conflicts and...

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Bromantic comedy “This Is the End” does not disappoint

June 17, 2013

With their previous works, “Superbad” and “Pineapple Express,” Seth Rogen and writing partner Evan Goldberg perfected the formula of the bromantic comedy. The pair’s directorial...

stories-we-tell-woroner

Documentary “Stories We Tell” delves into director’s parentage

June 11, 2013

Documentaries often focus on social issues in dire need of change or stunning depictions of nature, but it takes true fortitude for a filmmaker to make a documentary about themself. Sarah Polley's...

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“The Purge” suffers from shallow, simple characters

June 10, 2013

Many great horror films deftly sneak a message about the human condition in amongst the blood and guts, like intellectual vegetables to compliment the red meat of jump scares and arterial spray. Unfortunately,...

IRONMAN3

Third Iron Man film overstuffs excellent script with excessive villains

May 3, 2013

The law of diminishing returns is the bane of Hollywood executives’ existence and often pushes them to stuff sequels to the point of bursting simply because audiences expect the spectacle to get...

EAST

Actress-writer Brit Marling talks about traveling, writing for herself, and “The East”

May 3, 2013

Writer-actress Brit Marling first came to South By Southwest two years ago with low-key sci-fi films “Another Earth” and “Sound of My Voice.” “The East,” her newest...

Matthew McConaughey and Jeff Nichols talk about “Mud”

April 26, 2013

The fact that “Mud” came together as well as it did is something of a miracle. Director Jeff Nichols put the project into high gear just as his choice for the titular role, Matthew McConaughey,...

MUD

“Mud” is an exceptional coming-of-age story

April 26, 2013

To a degree, cinema has become standardized to a set of audience expectations, with many movies defined as superficial variations on something you’ve seen before, which means that films with the...

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Lazy Saturday Netflix suggestions

April 19, 2013

It’s half past four on a smoky Saturday afternoon. You could get off your couch, but why muster all that energy when you’ve got Cheetos, enough cash to tip the pizza guy and a Netflix account?...

Oblivion

“Oblivion” is little more than a mixtape for sci-fi fans

April 19, 2013

Joseph Kosinski’s debut feature, “Tron: Legacy,” was a visual marvel with a script that failed to connect on any sort of logical or emotional level, rendering the film an empty exercise...

Trance

‘Trance’ is all flash and no substance

April 12, 2013

“Trance,” the new film from “127 Hours” director Danny Boyle, exudes pure, unflappable confidence in every single frame. The neo-noir bristles with the purpose of a practiced storyteller...

PlaceBeyondthePines

“The Place Beyond the Pines” is an overreaching, thematically confused follow-up to “Blue Valentine”

April 12, 2013

Three years after the devastating “Blue Valentine” garnered an Oscar nomination for Michelle Williams’ performance, director Derek Cianfrance returns with the overly ambitious “The...

EvilDead

“Evil Dead”‘s showers of blood will satisfy the most weathered horror fans.

April 5, 2013

Remakes are tricky to get right, not just because they’re setting themselves up for comparison to another, usually better, film, but because they have to figure out how to put their own twist on...

wrong2__full

“Wrong” gets a lot right

March 29, 2013

When a film opens with a shot of a group of firefighters watching one of their own poop in the middle of a street while a car burns to a crisp in the background, you know that it’s going to operate...

GameofThrones

Season Three of “Game of Thrones” maintains large cast, large body count

March 29, 2013

As our government continues to fight a War on Drugs, HBO has quietly figured out the science of the televised equivalent of crack cocaine, and it’s called it “Game of Thrones.” Anyone...

stokersPressArt

“Stoker” is an impressive, gorgeous American debut for director Chan-wook Park

March 22, 2013

Korean director Chan-wook Park has built an overseas following by delivering violent, sensual revenge films with impressive style. Park doesn’t step too far outside of his comfort zone in his English-language...

“The ABCs of Death” entertains despite inconsistencies

March 22, 2013

Horror anthologies are notoriously spotty, and “The ABCs of Death,” a brainchild of Alamo Drafthouse CEO Tim League and producer Ant Timpson, proves that it’s impossible to round up 26...

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“Spring Breakers” shows the dark side of your favorite holiday

March 21, 2013

Harmony Korine’s “Spring Breakers” doesn’t seem to have much on its mind as the credits unfurl over a barrage of beer bongs, bare breasts and bad behavior, and on the surface, “Spring...

Movies_the spectacularnow

‘Spectacular Now’ tops SXSW film lineup

March 18, 2013

This year’s South By Southwest boasted such an impressive line-up that Texan film critic Alex Williams saw 30 movies during the nine days of the festival and still managed to miss plenty of notable...

“Grow Up Tony Phillips” relays the struggles of high school

March 15, 2013

Coming-of-age tales usually involve soaring emotional turns and poignant life lessons, but Emily Hagins’ “Grow Up, Tony Phillips” is a charming story about realistic, low-key...

(20-21)BeforeMidnight2

Films to anticipate at SXSW

March 14, 2013

“Evil Dead” (91 minutes) – Friday, March 8, 9:45 p.m., Paramount Theatre, 713 Congress Ave. South By Southwest’s opening night has always been genre-heavy, and this year they’re...

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SXSW Sunday and Monday in Film

March 12, 2013

HOLY GHOST PEOPLE There’s not a lot in “Holy Ghost People” that you haven’t seen before, and the story of Charlotte (Emma Greenwell) and the profoundly broken war vet (Brendan...

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SXSW Saturday in Film

March 10, 2013

Alex Williams, in a feat of movie-going stamina, saw six movies on Saturday at the South By Southwest Film Festival. Here are his six short recaps:  A Teacher The story of a teacher (Lindsay...

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SXSW: Friday, Film

March 9, 2013

These are the reviews from the first day of Daily Texan film coverage at South By Southwest. Evil Dead The programmers at SXSW were nice enough to program my most anticipated film of the festival...

Oz

“Oz the Great and Powerful” is a pleasure to watch

March 8, 2013

Disney’s motivation to return to the world of “Oz” for another film was likely driven not by any creative urge, but by the boatloads of money that Tim Burton’s reimagining of “Alice...

21&OVER

21 & Over is standard drunken comedy.

March 1, 2013

Jon Lucas and Scott Moore, the writing and directing team behind “21 & Over,” have staked their claim in Hollywood making a very specific type of film — the booze-fueled buddy flick....

Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson is at his best in ‘Snitch’

February 22, 2013

Action films are rarely about more than big explosions and slow-motion shoot-outs. So it’s surprising when they even attempt to have a social conscience, something made all the more unexpected by...

OscarPool

How to Win An Oscar Pool

February 22, 2013

With the Oscars coming up this weekend, the only thing more important than seeing all the nominated films is proving to your friends that you know more than they do. Oscar pools are usually half-informed...

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Newest installment in series shows us how not to Die Hard

February 15, 2013

It’s 11:30 a.m. on Sixth Street the day after Fat Tuesday. The street is quiet and empty, and what possible reason could I have to be here? The answer is found in the Alamo Ritz, the Drafthouse’s...

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Celebrating Valentine’s is possible without going out

February 14, 2013

You don’t need to go out on Valentine’s Day. Everywhere has a three-hour wait, and you probably want to stay at home on your couch with a movie no matter what your Facebook relationship status...

‘Side Effects’ thrills despite flaws

February 8, 2013

In the last 18 months, Steven Soderbergh has cranked out films with stunning efficiency, bouncing around genres with “Contagion,” “Haywire,” “Magic Mike,” and finally,...

PA_Film Review Identity _admi

‘Identity Thief’ steals from better movies

February 8, 2013

“Identity Thief” is exactly what you expect when you sit down to watch a road movie from the director of the mediocre “Horrible Bosses” starring Jason Bateman — yet another...

Film Review Warm Bodi_admi

Romero and Juliet: Zombie romance bursts with creativity

February 1, 2013

Zombies are perhaps the best of the great monsters of horror cinema. There is just something about a shambling mass of brain-starved monsters that lends itself to great entertainment value in all form...

Americans_PressArt

New FX series “The Americans” hits every beat it goes for effortlessly

January 30, 2013

Every time FX debuts a new series, it is worth taking notice. It’s rare for one of these series to be anything but male-driven and action-packed, but “The Americans” is a departure for...

Amour

“Amour” devastates, impresses with its story of aging and mortality

January 25, 2013

It’s no secret that the voting members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences skew toward the elderly, which makes it something of a surprise that they nominated “Amour,”...

Guillermo del Toro’s “Mama” delivers with round characters

January 18, 2013

When a horror film comes out in January, its quality is often a lot scarier than its content. With moviegoers distracted by the flood of Oscar nominees, January releases often come and go with little said...

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