Review: In 'My Salinger Year' Margaret Qualley Encounters the Mysterious Phantom of American Literature

Entertainment / Kurt Loder /

In 1995, an aspiring poet named Joanna Rakoff (a real person, played in "My Salinger Year" by Margaret Qualley) arrived in New York with her Eng. Lit. master's degree and set about trying to become a writer. First, though, she had to become a secretary, working for the director of an old-line Manhattan literary agency, a middle-aged woman named ...Read more

Review: 'The Father' Finds Anthony Hopkins at the Latest Peak of His Power

Entertainment / Kurt Loder /

An old man named Anthony (Anthony Hopkins) has just heard an unfamiliar sound coming from somewhere in his large London apartment. In the living room, he finds a stranger (Mark Gatiss) sitting in a chair reading a paper. This man says he is the husband of Anthony's middle-aged daughter, Anne (Olivia Colman), and that this is actually his ...Read more

Review: In 'Nomadland' Frances McDormand Finds a Home in the New American Van Culture

Entertainment / Kurt Loder /

Out on the road one day, a woman named Fern (Frances McDormand) is listening to another woman -- a wandering "vandweller" like herself -- telling a story about a friend she once had. He was a man who worked for 20 years at a soul-shriveling corporate job, forgoing luxuries and squirrelling away money to eventually buy a boat so he could retire ...Read more

Review: in 'Judas and the Black Messiah': Daniel Kaluuya and LaKeith Stanfield Revisit the Horror of a Civil Rights Battlefield of the 1960s

Entertainment / Kurt Loder /

"Judas and the Black Messiah" comes at you like a shotgun blast full in the face. In his first major feature, director Shaka King supercharges the story of murdered '60s Black Panther leader Fred Hampton (Daniel Kaluuya in an electrifying performance) and his betrayer, turncoat Panther Bill O'Neal (LaKeith Stanfield, likewise superb). The movie ...Read more

Review: 'PVT CHAT' - The Return of Julia Fox

Entertainment / Kurt Loder /

Jack (Peter Vack) is a 30-something New Yorker maintaining a tenuous hold on a dumpy downtown apartment with his skill at internet blackjack. Internet sex is his real game, though. He's a regular at a cam-girl site, where he feverishly works out his sex-slave fantasies with a knockout dominatrix named Scarlet (Julia Fox). They're at a stage in ...Read more

Review: 'Saint Maud' is a Mind Game

Entertainment / Kurt Loder /

Maud is a young Welsh woman living joylessly in a dull resort town on the north coast of England. She works as a live-in nurse, tending the terminally afflicted and carrying on an endless interior conversation with God. Maud's current employer, a once-famous dancer named Amanda Kohl, is dying of cancer. Amanda, an atheist, seems bitterly ...Read more

Review: 'The Marksman' has Liam Neeson Back in Action Land

Entertainment / Kurt Loder /

In the late innings of a four-decade film career, Liam Neeson continues turning out the middle-aged action movies that have occupied so much of his time for the last dozen or so years. You've probably seen one or two of these pictures -- "Taken," "Unknown," "Non-Stop." They generally feature Neeson as an elder badass of some sort -- an ex-cop, a...Read more

Review: 'Promising Young Woman' - More Violence, Please

Entertainment / Kurt Loder /

The attraction of old-school rape-revenge films like "The Last House on the Left" and "I Spit on Your Grave" was the over-the-top revenge -- the chain-sawing, the electrocuting, the inventive penis-severing. None of these things crop up in "Promising Young Woman," a debut feature by English writer-director Emerald Fennell. This is too bad, ...Read more

Review: 'Gold' has Matthew McConaughey and Edgar Ramirez Stranded in the Jungle

Entertainment / Kurt Loder /

"Gold" is a movie that seeks to be two things at once: a bushwhacking jungle adventure and a shark-tank finance thriller. It doesn't fail exactly, or not entirely: The picture looks OK (although DP Robert Elswit has done better work) and the actors aren't phoning it in. But the movie does fail to be very interesting, and even Matthew McConaughey...Read more

Classic Review: 'The Founder' has Michael Keaton in a McDonald's Burger Biopic

Entertainment / Kurt Loder /

As Ray Kroc, the not-exactly founder of the McDonald's hamburger empire, Michael Keaton gives off some of the mad-hustler sizzle of his old "Beetlejuice" character. We first meet Kroc in 1954, delivering staunch motivational cliches directly into the camera as he prepares to begin another day as a traveling salesman slogging around the Midwest ...Read more

Classic Review: In '20th Century Women' Annette Bening and a Top Cast Are in Peak Form in One of the Year's Best Movies

Entertainment / Kurt Loder /

"20th Century Women" tells a coming-of-age story in which even the grown-ups are still coming of age. The movie is set in Santa Barbara, California, in 1979. (The punk-heavy soundtrack kicks off with Talking Heads' "Don't Worry About the Government.") We meet the main characters in brisk succession. Dorothea Fields (the great Annette Bening), ...Read more

Classic Review: 'The Disaster Artist' is James Franco and Seth Rogen's Affectionate Salute to the World's Worst Movie

Entertainment / Kurt Loder /

Watching "The Disaster Artist," James Franco's movie about the making of the wonderfully horrible cult film "The Room," is not a lot unlike watching "The Room" itself. Especially, if you're watching it with a theater full of people who've seen the 2003 picture -- perhaps many times more than once -- and can shout out whole clumps of dialogue ...Read more

Classic Review: In 'La La Land' Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone star in a Lush New Kind of Movie Musical

Entertainment / Kurt Loder /

Editor's note: The following column was published in 2016.

Damien Chazelle's "La La Land" takes the standard objection to movie musicals -- Why are all these people suddenly bursting into song? -- and confronts it head-on in its opening scene. We see one of those from-here-to-the-horizon traffic jams on an L.A. freeway, with trapped ...Read more



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