Sex, poetry and murder fuel kinetic but overwrought 'Kill Your Darlings'
Rookie director John Krokidas knows how to get a party started. The opening moments of his feature debut, Kill Your Darlings, are a kaleidoscope of bloodstained death, a volatile confrontation through prison bars between two attractive, very young men in extreme close-up, and a barrage of spoken poetry. Viewers who may have been expecting a well-behaved, intellectual period drama about the birth of the Beat movement in the mid-1940s have no idea what's going on, but we're suddenly primed to find out.
McConaughey's crusading AIDS patient powers 'Dallas Buyers Club'
It's hard to imagine a less likely crusader in the fight against AIDS than Ron Woodroof. A coke-snorting, womanizing, blue-collar Texan, Woodroof was diagnosed as HIV-positive in the mid-1980s and given 30 days to live—a death sentence he defied for years to become a pioneer in making "unapproved" drugs from out of the country available to his local AIDS community. It's a true story that unspools as a tale of bizarre alliances and unexpected heroism in the pugnacious, yet affecting drama, Dallas Buyers Club.
Despite mangled mythology, 'Thor: The Dark World' delivers the fun
With next year's Oscar race heating up on local screens, sometimes a critic just has to step away from the serious contenders and go have fun. Which for me this week meant slipping off to see Thor: The Dark World, a movie in little danger of snagging Academy gold, but which, after a rocky start, ratchets up the fun factor big time.
Nightmare of slavery depicted in fierce, mesmerizing '12 Years A Slave'
If your idea of slavery in the American South is Mammy in Gone With the Wind fiercely protecting her white "fambly" from the evil Yankees, it's time for a reality check. The blistering 12 Years A Slave, directed by London-born filmmaker Steve McQueen, offers up a fearless, unexpurgated portrait of what slavery was really like in the only way that could make sense to modern viewers—by plunging a free man into the depths and degradation of the institution from which he is made to realize time and again there is no possible escape.
Redford powers through solo screen voyage in 'All Is Lost'
Actors don't get much more iconic than Robert Redford. A Hollywood superstar since the 1970s, he founded the Sundance Film Festival, Institute, and cable TV channel in support of emerging filmmakers, and has been a tireless activist for the environment. His one-man seagoing thriller, All Is Lost, is a gift to fans who want to see Redford in action. But it also feels like a gift from a grateful industry to Redford, a harrowing physical workout of a film that shows off what his 77-year-old body is capable of, while proving that Redford can still command the screen for 100 minutes all by himself.