• Movie Review: 'The Runaways'

    Movie Review: 'The Runaways'

    Like many a musical odyssey (Help!, Velvet Goldmine, SpiceWorld), this story of the Runaways' volatile tenure zips through a scene or two of a band on the move. Near the beginning, a snarling guitarist named Joan Larkin races down an anonymous street, jetting toward her new name. Later, the group flees a door-smashing horde of female fans in Tokyo, a moment of visceral hysteria -- and one mirroring the recklessness and raw energy of the band members themselves.

  • Movie Review: 'Shutter Island'

    Movie Review: 'Shutter Island'

    Four years after The Departed, Martin Scorsese returns to Massachusetts -- and to his favorite leading man. Here, it's 1954, and the director ferries DiCaprio through Boston Harbor to a prison reminiscent of Alcatraz, but with crazier patients and nastier weather. He also burdens him with material so over the top that it makes the rat scampering at the end of his Oscar-winning 2006 film look positively restrained.

  • 'It Might Get Loud' (Sony Pictures Classics)

    David Guggenheim's delightfully unsnobby symposium of a documentary convenes three masters who share one love: electric guitar. Page is a walking monument to Led Zeppelin's heavy virtuosity. While the classic rocker is a rock classicist devoted to technique, White bangs on as a dirty minimalist who imagines roots rock as a primal struggle. Using low-end equipment for the sake of the challenge, he battles against the limits of a borrowed plastic ax. "Technology is a big destroyer of emotion and truth," White says, espousing a philosophy that is countered by the third member of the panel.Hey, U2's soaring superjets don't engineer themselves, and the Edge, narrowing his eyes at his laptop and micro-adjusting control knobs, comes across as a passionate technologist. In keeping with the sonic sleekness of his own arena rock, he scorns the hairy pomp of his forerunners.

  • Movie Review: Milk

    Movie Review: Milk

    Gus Van Sant's portrait of San Francisco politician Harvey Milk clunks along as the squarest movie he's ever made, a result of the director investing more emotion in the martyred idol than in the bleeding man. Dictating his biography at his kitchen table -- didactically connecting the dots -- Penn's hero flashes back to his origins as an activist in the '70s, when gays were getting murdered in the streets of the Castro and demagogues were defaming them nationwide.

  • Boarding Gate

    Combining elements of a D-grade erotic thriller and a deconstructed international thriller, Boarding Gate proves duly snazzy and sleazy -- kinda skanky in a highfalutin' way. Argento's Sandra, formerly a hooker, gets back in touch with Madsen's Miles, her onetime lover and pimp, in the hopes he'll stake her the money to open a nightclub. That doesn't pan out, with sadomasochistic flirting leading to murder, but Sandra is also sleeping with her boss and running heroin through his import-export company, so she's already got her hands full. As Sandra jets from Paris to Hong Kong, it becomes increasingly unclear what the story is about. The movie, however, is all about Asia: Asia panting, Asia howling, Asia's pale and snarling face against cold grays and cruel blacks. As a tribute to her vampishness, this at least beats Vin Diesel's xXx.

  • Paranoid Park

    The action -- if action isn't too strong in the context of Gus Van Sant's latest downbeat meditation -- partly unfolds at a skate park in Portland, Oregon. In the dreamiest scenes, skaters simply ollie and slide in slow motion, exotic fish in a concrete aquarium. Meanwhile, the film's night-terror side develops slowly, as if Alex, the adolescent nonhero at the center, is too shy or scared to stammer out the truth. He killed a guy, accidentally, swinging at a rail-yard security guard with his board and knocking him in front of a train. Glum yet gorgeous, Paranoid Park ties together Alex's bleak confusion with his more mundane existential teen traumas: his distance from a girlfriend he doesn't like and from parents whom the camera never quite gets a good look at.

  • Snow Angels

    David Gordon Green, a director who made his name creating detailed portraits of the small-town South (like George Washington and All the Real Girls), heads up to Pennsylvania and makes it look like the most middle-American place in middle America. People say grace in the food court, college professors have their midlife crises right on schedule, and the television is always on. Glenn (Rockwell), a born-again Christian, wants to move back in with his ex-wife (Beckinsale) and their daughter. Floundering in the attempt, he becomes a once-again drunk, to horrific effect. That tragedy is juxtaposed, clumsily, with stories from the so-called life of a high school student, as if the plot had sprained something in the course of its transition from Stewart O'Nan's novel to the screen.

  • The Bank Job

    The makers of this extra-­crunchy popcorn movie -- an Inside Man-ish heist flick, but also a spy tale, and ultimately a tribute to an exuberant game of chicken -- claim it's based on a true story. If they're serious, then it's also a masterpiece of investigative journalism, one that shows British intelligence agents concocting a scheme too baroque to believe.

  • The Killing of John Lennon

    This portrait of psychosis slouches into release a couple months before the other Mark David Chapman movie, Chapter 27, which stars Jared Leto as the shooter and Lindsay Lohan perhaps just for the hell of it. What Killing lacks in celebrity sparkle, it compensates for in raw ambition and rude chills. To watch Ball's Chapman, acting as if he'd only heard rumors of normal human behavior, lurch from his home in Hawaii to Lennon's doorstep at the Dakota is to follow a bizarre pilgrim's progress through pop myth and clammy madness. While a production this unpolished, with its arty excesses and embarrassing anachronisms, doesn't really want to court comparisons with Scorsese, it gets a lot of juice from referencing Taxi Driver -- another meditative horror film about a lone gunman and his solitary soul.

  • How to Rob a Bank

    Loopy but glossy, this heist movie plays like a camp classic searching for its cult. Jason (Stahl), who has wandered in from some Reality Bites remake, goes to the bank to take out his last 20 bucks or maybe just to whine about his ATM fees. His visit coincides with that of a group planning a much larger withdrawal, and he ends up locked in the vault with the gang's pert accomplice (Christensen), juggling calls from hostage negotiators and criminal masterminds. Variously reminiscent of a Harold Pinter play, a Tarantino wannabe, and a deranged cell-phone commercial, the legitimately suspenseful How to Rob a Bank has the courage to embrace the ridiculous, or so you must believe when watching Gavin Rossdale -- yes, Gwen Stefani's Gavin Rossdale -- lug out his lines as the gang leader.

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