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Movie Reviews

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    SXSW '10 | The Genre Jig Beyond Mumblecore

    The elusive form of American independent cinema known as mumblecore has been killed off many times over, but its phantoms still haunt the reputation of the South by Southwest Film Festival. This year, however, seemed like a welcome exception: With no premieres from Joe Swanberg or Andrew Bujalski, a...

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    REVIEW | Fraternity Failure: Will Canon's "Brotherhood"

    A breathless thriller from its very first frame, Will Canon's "Brotherhood" careens forward with spastic momentum. Following a group of deranged frat boys in a single night of hazing gone awry, Canon eschews patient storytelling in favor of wall-to-wall sequences loaded with distress. The dialogue is cheap and incredulous, the plot twists seem too perfectly conceived, and it ends with a shrug rather than any kind of natural climax. But "Brotherhood" succeeds as sheer pulpy entertainment, ferociously indicting frat culture in much the same way that "Hostel" critiques rambunctious American tourism - simplistically, but not at the expense of a g...

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    REVIEW | Americana in Microcosm: Jeff Malmberg's “Marwencol”

    Jeff Malmberg’s “Marwencol” portrays an accidental artist for whom creativity serves as catharsis, rather than angst. Mark Hogancamp, an upstate New York resident left with brain damage after several men attacked him outside of a bar in 2000, copes by creating his own world. An amnesiac and alcoholi...

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    REVIEW | Fierce Iconoclasm: Cameron Yates's "The Canal Street Madam"

    Jeanette Maier, the firecracker featured in Cameron Yates's "The Canal Street Madam," is a natural screen presence: The once-powerful overseer of a popular New Orleans brothel, she exudes old fashioned charm while maintaining a seductive aura and a filthy mouth. But she's also defined by the courage...

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    REVIEW | Blossoming "Furniture": Lena Dunham Entertaining Self-Portrait

    On a purely creative level, a movie generally should be absorbed without foreknowledge of its back story, but Lena Dunham's "Tiny Furniture" is defined by it. Dunham's lightly entertaining self-portrait, in which the director plays a version of herself wandering around New York City in post-graduate...

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    REVIEW | Taming the Man-Child: "Barry Munday"

    The story of an aging man-child has been told and retold so many times that it has evolved into a kind of narrative ritual. Witness the phenomena of Seth Rogen and his ilk, a brand exclusively defined for their dopey charm in the face of adult responsibilities, or the series of stubborn lackadaisical men throughout Mike Judge's oeuvre: The character type often works because he remains likable in spite of his archetypical trainwreck routine. Chris D'Arienzo's "Barry Munday" runs this playful stereotype into the ground with its titular crude ladies' man (Patrick Wilson), whose rough wake-up call arrives when he loses both testicles and looks be...

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    REVIEW | Not Elementary: Genre and Realism Collide in Aaron Katz's "Cold Weather"

    Some directors experiment with various moods before discovering their sweet spots, but Aaron Katz pulls of the impressive trick of experimenting within the boundaries of his sweet spot. In his first two movies, "Dance Party, USA" and "Quiet City," Katz displayed a unique ability to mix visual lyrici...

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    REVIEW | A Familiar Can of "Kick Ass"

    The prevalence of superhero movies at the multiplexes has made them ripe for self-reflection. On the surface, Matthew Vaughn's "Kick-Ass" fulfills that opportunity. Adapted from Mark Millar and John Romita, Jr.'s 2008 comic book mini-series, which focuses on a nerdy high school student named Dave (U...

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    REVIEW | "Prophet" Portends Success: Audiard's Arty Mob Film

    EDITOR'S NOTE: This review was originally published as part of indieWIRE's coverage of the 2009 Cannes Film Festival. "A Prophet" opens in limited release this Friday through Sony Pictures Classics.

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    REVIEW | Twists and Shouts: Kimberly Reed's "Prodigal Sons"

    In the first twenty or so minutes of Kimberly Reed's marvelous documentary "Prodigal Sons," the film's director, who is also one of its main subjects, returns to her small Montana hometown to attend a high-school reunion. En route, she is reunited with her adopted older brother, Marc, with whom she casually mentions she has been estranged for over a decade. Soon, the first bombshell, uttered by Marc from the backseat of a car: his sister Kim, our narrator, used to be his brother, Paul. A third child, Todd, will waft in and out of conversation and the movie itself. Shot in perfunctory home video style with the occasional Big Sky Country visual...

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