Online Film Critics Society

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This Week, Part 1 (Aug. 21-23, 2015)

Our critics have been hard at work reviewing the latest films. Here is a look at what’s coming out this weekend (in select cities, check your local listings) and what else may be in theaters right now.

Opening: August 21-23, 2015

Wide (United States)

American Ultra

Susan Granger @ www.susangranger.com

  • Excerpt: Blood-splattered and ultra-violent, it’s amazingly awful and dopey in more was than one.

Limited (United States)

6 Years

Dustin Jansick @ Way Too Indie

  • Excerpt: Distances itself from other flawed relationship narratives with excellent acting and a subversion of gender roles.

She’s Funny That Way

Carson Lund @ Slant Magazine

  • Excerpt: While it’s tempting to fixate on the facets of modern Big Apple life that are missing from this decidedly concentrated portrait, it’s more fulfilling to look at what is there: a vision of the privileged class as a comically insular world, and its recognition of the idea that the paths taken by the privileged to reach their seemingly perfectly upheld lives haven’t necessarily been any less fraught with self-denied compromise and regret than those of less fortunate city dwellers.

2015 Films In Theaters Now In Select Areas

Amnesiac

Nicholas Bell @ Ioncinema

Appropriate Behavior

Don Simpson @ Smells Like Screen Spirit

  • Excerpt: Channeling the simplicity of the post-Mumblecore set, Akhavan presents a very realistic portrayal of a young woman struggling to balance her sexuality with her ethnicity in the “anything goes” atmosphere of Brooklyn.

Autómata

Samuel Castro @ Ochoymedio.info [Spanish]

  • Excerpt: Una cinta de ciencia-ficción que consigue varios logros narrativos, a pesar de los baches de su guión y sus limitados recursos económicos.

Big Sky

Nicholas Bell @ Ioncinema

Boulevard

Sarah Gopaul @ Digital Journal

  • Excerpt: In Robin Williams’ last dramatic role, he portrays a closeted gay man who imprudently pursues a relationship with a younger prostitute in ‘Boulevard.’

Cake

Samuel Castro @ Ochoymedio.info [Spanish]

  • Excerpt: Una película que podría haber sido buena, si hubiera encontrado el tono adecuado para ser narrada.

Clouds of Sils Maria

Don Simpson @ Smells Like Screen Spirit

  • Excerpt: Clouds of Sils Maria by Olivier Assayas masterfully surveys how age can inform and transform the female perspective.

Cop Car

Kristen Lopez @ Awards Circuit

Cut Bank

José M. Robado @ CineCrítico [Spanish]

  • Excerpt: Estupendo thriller que esconde una magnifica historia de redención entre generaciones.

Extinction

José Arce @ LaButaca.net [Spanish]

  • Excerpt: El trabajo de dirección de Miguel Ángel Vivas eleva el material de esta propuesta post-apocalíptica que a la postre es una digna pero irregular serie B. Pese a todo, el mundo todavía gira.

Diego Salgado @ Guía del Ocio [Spanish]

Fantastic Four

Rick Aragon @ Rick’s Cafe Texan

  • Excerpt: Is Fantastic Four bad? Yes, absolutely. Is it worthy of all the vitriol it’s been getting? No, absolutely not.

Roderick Heath @ This Island Rod

  • Excerpt: Josh Trank’s misshapen, ungainly shambles is still the most interesting of the big superhero films released this year.

Jeremy Kibler @ The Artful Critic

  • Excerpt: Looking for a better superhero movie by director Josh Trank? Try his superior $12-million-budgeted debut, “Chronicle,” rather than this $120-million-budgeted genre footnote. That film turns the superhero origin story on its head and it’s actually fantastic.

Lovell Wesley @ Cinema Sight

  • Excerpt: One of the first superhero teams, the one that put Marvel Comics on the map, has struggled for years to come up with a film version that doesn’t leave audiences frustrated, exasperated or confused. Fantastic Four not only doesn’t help the problem, it creates even more.

Final Girl

Sarah Gopaul @ Digital Journal

  • Excerpt: ‘Final Girl’ centres on a complete reversal of circumstances when a group of serial killers set their sights on the wrong victim.

Fort Tilden

Don Simpson @ Smells Like Screen Spirit

  • Excerpt: While Allie and Harper’s personalities may be like nails on the chalkboard, it takes a hell of a lot of work to create such irritating personas — that is a high compliment to Bliss and Rogers’ writing and the performances of Clare McNulty and Bridey Elliott.

The Gift

Vadym Grygoriev @ kinoblog.com [Ukrainian]
Jason Pirodsky @ Expats.cz

  • Excerpt: It may not work as expected, but that can be a good thing. In the midst of a summer with few cinematic surprises, The Gift lives up to its title.

Kristy Puchko @ Spinoff Online

  • Excerpt: Edgerton has set up and incredibly suspenseful story that demands a gruesome conclusion. But how he chooses to get it is stupid and horribly insulting.

The Ground We Won

Alan Mattli @ Facing the Bitter Truth [German]

  • Excerpt: Christopher Pryor’s documentary about lower league rugby in rural New Zealand – shot in stunning black and white – is a fascinating fly-on-the-wall piece on masculinity, identity, and the merit of sports.

Hunterrr

Kathy Gibson @ Access Bollywood

Insidious: Chapter 3

Paulo Peralta @ CinEuphoria [Portuguese]

Jauja

Oktay Kozak @ DVD Talk

Jimmy’s Hall

Andrew Wyatt @ St. Louis Magazine

  • Excerpt: The primary allure of Jimmy’s Hall lies in its vibrant evocation of a particular time and place where traditionalism and authoritarianism were in stark, grassroots conflict with modernity in all its forms.

Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet

Charlie Juhl @ Citizen Charlie

  • Excerpt: Come for the animation; stay for the poetry

The Last Dragon

Oktay Kozak @ DVD Talk

The Longest Ride

Dragan Antulov @ Draxblog VI [Croatian]

The Man from U.N.C.L.E.

José Arce @ LaButaca.net [Spanish]

  • Excerpt: Thriller soso, comedia fofa, película de acción regulera, el atascado salto al cine de la clásica serie de televisión decepciona por no cumplir la más sencilla de sus funciones: entretener. Guy Ritchie, a la caza de nueva franquicia mientras Arturo espera su turno.

Nicholas Bell @ Ioncinema
Kevin Carr @ 7M Pictures

  • Excerpt: While “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.” is easily one of the best looking films of the year, it seems very similar to dating a supermodel: equally gorgeous and vapid.

Susan Granger @ www.susangranger.com

  • Excerpt: Based on the mid-’60s TV show, it’s fashionable but forced – and the fun has gone missing….

Vadym Grygoriev @ kinoblog.com [Ukrainian]
Mark Hobin @ Fast Film Reviews

  • Excerpt: What sets this apart from today’s bombastic assaults is that the approach is breezily elegant. This bright, sparkling concoction is a period piece mixture of swanky espionage, jazzy lounge pop instrumentals and chic fashions.

Benjamin Kramer @ The Voracious Filmgoer
Ross Miller @ Thoughts On Film

  • Excerpt: If it was set in modern times it would be too busy taking selfies and posting them on Instagram to worry about much else.

Frank Ochieng @ SF Crowsnest

  • Excerpt: The consensus is that ‘The Man From U.N.C.L.E.’ continues the wave of nifty and naughty-minded colorful espionage spectacles that seem to have invaded the summer of 2015. Ritchie’s off-beat serving of ‘The Man From U.N.C.L.E.’ is mindless fun and roguishly cheeky.

Jason Pirodsky @ Expats.cz

  • Excerpt: Here’s a movie that’s stylish and cool and sometimes innovative, a nice 60s-set reprieve from the typical 2015 action blockbuster that’s generally agreeable throughout, and it still isn’t very good.

Kristy Puchko @ Spinoff Online

  • Excerpt: Of all the spy movies hitting theaters this year, “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.” is one of them.

Marshland

Alan Mattli @ Facing the Bitter Truth [German]

  • Excerpt: Without sacrificing its considerable entertainment value, ‘La isla mínima’ explores the murky depths of post-dictatorship Spain.

The Mayor

Alan Mattli @ Facing the Bitter Truth [German]

  • Excerpt: This heavy-handed would-be satire on political corruption in Brazil must rank as one of the most unsubtle films of all time.

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl

Alan Mattli @ Facing the Bitter Truth [German]

  • Excerpt: It’s noticeably of the same breed as ‘The Perks of Being a Wallflower’, ‘The Kings of Summer’, and ’50/50′, but what makes this amalgamate so engaging, so fascinating is the fact that despite these links, it feels like a wholly autonomous work of art.

MERU

Charlie Juhl @ Citizen Charlie

  • Excerpt: As intense as any action blockbuster at times. Don’t try and understand why some men must climb impossible peaks; your pleasure is to sit back and watch them do it.

Minions

Samuel Castro @ Ochoymedio.info [Spanish]

  • Excerpt: Aunque como criaturas los minions siguen siendo encantadores, encanto es precisamente lo que le falta a su película.

The Mirror

Alan Mattli @ Facing the Bitter Truth [German]

  • Excerpt: Pretentious, indulgent, and excruciatingly boring – Rodrigo Lima’s take on the kind of cinematic impressionism perfected by Tsai Ming-liang, Carlos Reygadas, and Apichatpong Weerasethakul is the worst kind of stereotypical art cinema.

Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation

José Arce @ LaButaca.net [Spanish]

  • Excerpt: La quinta entrega de la saga funciona perfectamente como entretenimiento mainstream, anclando aún más los pilares de su esencia: espectáculo y rigor formal + espíritu añejo y fiel a sus orígenes televisivos. Ethan Hunt es lo más.

STEVE BIODROWSKI @ Hollywood Gothique

  • Excerpt: Fuses the two elements of most Tom Cruise movies: (1) Tom Cruise is awesome; (2) Tom Cruise is not appreciated enough for how awesome he is.

Jeremy Kibler @ The Artful Critic

  • Excerpt: It’s not possible but definite that audiences searching for nothing more than thrilling popcorn entertainment will get their money’s worth in two-plus hours’ time.

Mistress America

Chris Barsanti @ Film Journal

  • Excerpt: Noah Baumbach’s second generational comedy of the year after ‘While We’re Young’ aims for Greta Gerwig screwball retro fizz instead of Ben Stiller anxiousness and nearly succeeds.

MaryAnn Johanson @ FlickFilosopher.com

  • Excerpt: A mashup of Baumbach’s usual bohemian caprice, a John Hughes-ish lark, and old-fashioned screwball comedy, all rapid-fire wit and snark and aching wisdom.

No Concessions: Badasses

Robert Cashill @ Popdose

  • Excerpt: Reviews of Grandma and Being Evel.

One and Two

Nicholas Bell @ Ioncinema
Don Simpson @ Smells Like Screen Spirit

  • Excerpt: Masterfully lensed by Autumn Durald, One and Two gives the allusion of a big budget studio film — perhaps a superhero origin story for Eva and Zac? Similar to what Chronicle did for Josh Trank, One and Two seems destined to catapult Palermo into the director’s chair of a Hollywood production.

Orion

Marina Antunes @ Quiet Earth

Paper Towns

MaryAnn Johanson @ FlickFilosopher.com

  • Excerpt: Wants to debunking the myth and the mystery of the manic pixie dream girl… which it does by using a girl as an MPDG prop in the same old clichéd way.

Parallels

Daniel Lackey @ The Nightmare Gallery

Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2

Jeremy Kibler @ The Artful Critic

  • Excerpt: There’s nothing more deflating than a comedy that doesn’t make you laugh once, won’t keep you entertained, and can’t make you feel or think about anything.

People Places Things

Don Simpson @ Smells Like Screen Spirit

  • Excerpt: With People Places Things, writer-director James C. Strouse completes a trifecta of films about floundering single fathers. Grace is Gone might just be the best of the three films; but People Places Things, albeit much simpler, is a very close second, succeeding in its authentic, personal and sentimental approach to the subject.

A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence

Mathieu Li-Goyette @ Panorama-cinéma [French]

Plague

Daniel Lackey @ The Nightmare Gallery

The Postman’s White Nights

Diego Salgado @ Guía del Ocio [Spanish]

Prince

Nicholas Bell @ Ioncinema

Raiders!: The Story of the Greates Fan Film Ever Made

Mathieu Li-Goyette @ Panorama-cinéma [French]

Return to Sender

Nicholas Bell @ Ioncinema
Sarah Gopaul @ Digital Journal

  • Excerpt: Rosamund Pike plays a familiar role in ‘Return to Sender,’ which centres on a rape victim who goes to extreme lengths to regain control of her life.

Ricki and the Flash

Susan Granger @ www.susangranger.com

  • Excerpt: This acerbic comic drama wavers unevenly between domestic angst and rock concertizing; its disparate elements are not only disrupting but disconcerting, diluting its essential humanity and emotional resonance.

Jeremy Kibler @ The Artful Critic

  • Excerpt: Ricki and the Flash isn’t particularly memorable, but it is a disarming joy to watch just the same as an end-of-the-summer entertainment for grown-ups.

Rosenwald

Susan Granger @ www.susangranger.com

  • Excerpt: Enlightening documentary, detailing one man’s amazingly effective philanthropy…

Samba

Pat Mullen @ Cinemablographer

  • Excerpt: Samba offers nimble footwork as the love story grows step by step alongside a nuanced portrait of multiculturalism and migration.

Spinning Discs: A Madding Crowd

Robert Cashill @ Popdose

  • Excerpt: Far from the Madding Crowd and other Blu-ray reviews.

The Stanford Prison Experiment

Jeremy Kibler @ The Artful Critic

  • Excerpt: Not much more than a clinical but convincing and strongly acted dramatization of a shockingly true story, “The Stanford Prison Experiment” still effectively calls into question the methods of the experiment and the power of role-playing without pretending to answer every question it raises.

Straight Outta Compton

Nicholas Bell @ Ioncinema
Kevin Carr @ 7M Pictures

  • Excerpt: Overall, “Straight Outta Compton” is a well directed and powerful musical biopic with some great performances and a presentation that will make the fans go wild. It runs a bit too long, but that’s more from having to cover so much ground with the various members of the group than overstaying its welcome.

Sarah Gopaul @ Digital Journal

  • Excerpt: ‘Straight Outta Compton’ is an acceptable biopic chronicling the rise and fall of ‘80s rap group N.W.A., though it doesn’t delve too far beneath the surface.

Mark Hobin @ Fast Film Reviews

  • Excerpt: The movie gives a reason to care. The complex evolution of how influential artists popularized a burgeoning subgenre called gangsta rap, is frequently fascinating.

Tag

Nicholas Bell @ Ioncinema

Ten Thousand Saints

Nicholas Bell @ Ioncinema

Tomorrowland

Rick Aragon @ Rick’s Cafe Texan

  • Excerpt: Tomorrowland is the worst movie I’ve seen all year. Shockingly violent, pessimistic with a faux-upbeat ending, boring (again, one can’t help falling asleep), confused about what the story actually was, Tomorrowland is a horror.

Tracers

José Arce @ LaButaca.net [Spanish]

  • Excerpt: Thriller de sobremesa a mayor gloria de Taylor Lautner, que pasa de hombre lobo a hombre mono a las órdenes del español Daniel Benmayor. El trabajo del cineasta a nivel técnico es lo mejor/único destacable de una propuesta fugaz, muy fugaz.

Trainwreck

José Arce @ LaButaca.net [Spanish]

  • Excerpt: Estupenda comedia dramática de Judd Apatow, tierna e hilarante a partes iguales, presidida por una fantástica Amy Schumer arropada por un tremendo despliegue de talentos que en ocasiones resultan de lo más sorprendentes e inesperados. Muy bien.

Alan Mattli @ Facing the Bitter Truth [German]

  • Excerpt: It’s not as revoltingly bad as ‘This Is 40′, but there still isn’t much to salvage – except maybe LeBron James’ genuinely funny guest appearance – from this overlong string of uninspired sex jokes, unnecessary cameos, pointless pop-culture references, and dishonest attempts at serious drama.

Paulo Peralta @ CinEuphoria [Portuguese]

Turbo Kid

Mathieu Li-Goyette @ Panorama-cinéma [French]

Updated: August 20, 2015 — 12:51 pm

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