The nostalgia for “Hocus Pocus” has always been a bit of a mystery to me.
There is nothing new about kids loving mediocre films and carrying that soft spot into adulthood, but I was in the right demographic when “Hocus Pocus” came out in the summer of 1993 (age 9, approaching third grade) and remember it being just OK.
I have mostly frowny faces for “Smile,” a bluntly unsettling and blandly grim new horror flick that wrings as much mileage as it can out of a twisted grin.
“Bros,” the latest romantic comedy to hit theaters, is absolutely revolutionary. And totally conventional. It's a film where both extremes can be true at the same time.
The revolutionary part comes from it being the first gay rom-com produced and distributed by a major American studio.
Sidney Poitier was not expected to live. He was born two months premature to uneducated tomato farmers in the Caribbean. His father planned to use a shoe box as a makeshift coffin.
Poitier's rise from that humble origin to become an Oscar-winning box office draw and civil rights figure who remade Hollywood seems almost scripted, almost too good to be true, but such was Poitier, a life well-lived.
Passion projects can go all sorts of wrong ways, but Lena Dunham has made something of a triumph in “ Catherine Called Birdy,” a medieval coming-of-age story that’s part “Bridget Jones’s Diary," part Mel Brooks and all joy.
Somewhere around when TikTok videos were analyzing, with the intensity of the Zapruder film, whether spit flew at the Venice Film Festival premiere of Olivia Wilde's “Don't Worry Darling,” it became clear that the melodrama of the movie's promotional tour had easily eclipsed the movie, itself.
Viola Davis should have been leading armies this whole time.
In “ The Woman King,” the always regal Oscar-winner is a mass of muscle, battle wounds and world weariness as General Nanisca, the head of the Agojie, an all-female unit of warriors who protected the West African Kingdom of Dahomey in the 19th century.
What a dream it must be to be Marilyn Monroe, a starstruck assistant tells her. “Everyone would give their right arm to be you!”
And we cringe, as we'll do many times during Andrew Dominik’s brutal, bruising and often beautiful “Blonde,” starring a heartbreaking Ana de Armas.
Brett Morgen's David Bowie documentary “Moonage Daydream ” plunges into the mind of the rock star — it puts a ray gun to Bowie's head — and comes away with something that, at its best, is a gift of sound and vision.
A murder occurs right as “See How They Run” begins and for a very good reason: It's a whodunit film about a real murder backstage at a whodunit play where all the murders are fake.
After a string of live-action remakes, from "Beauty and the Beast" to “The Lion King," the Walt Disney Co. has finally gotten around to “ Pinocchio.” Along the way, there have been some nice performances, enormous heaps of CGI and, lest anyone forget, one very blue Will Smith.
“Barbarian” starts at night with a heavy downpour and a thunderclap. So far, so good, for what seems to be a classic horror movie. Hold onto your ponchos.
Regina Hall and Sterling K. Brown give fully committed performances in “Honk for Jesus. Save Your Soul,” so why does the film lack faith in itself?
There is a montage in “ Me Time,” the new Kevin Hart and Mark Wahlberg Netflix comedy, where Hart’s character Sonny gets a day to himself for the first time in a long time.
"Breaking,” Abi Damaris Corbin’s lean and heartfelt first feature, is a lackluster bank-robbery thriller with noble intentions enlivened by an impassioned performance by John Boyega and an elegiac final appearance by the late Michael K.
There is not a cynical molecule in the makeup of George Miller’s “ Three Thousand Years of Longing, ” a patient and occasionally dazzling fantasy about love, myth, hope, companionship and perhaps, most of all, about storytelling. Idris Elba and Tilda Swinton, wrapped in plush white bathrobes, will reiterate the storytelling point over and over again during a vulnerable, sprawling conversation in a stately Istanbul hotel suite that’s nice enough to make one consider a career in academia.
Sharks, grizzlies, giant snakes and rampaging apes have traditionally been the go-to choices for animal-kingdom antagonists in survival thrillers. Lions not so much. Maybe the king of the jungle has always been too regal, too majestic — too heroic — to be lowered to the status of mere summer-movie marauder.
What gets you, deep in the gut, are the smiles. The broad, awkward, sometimes silly smiles of people on an unremarkable day in an unremarkable town in 1938 Poland, fascinated by this new thing called a movie camera and oblivious to the fact that one day, this amateur travel movie will become a devastating historical artifact.
This year marks the centennial anniversary of F. W. Murnau's “Nosferatu,” a long time for us humans but only a blip for vampires.
The movie “Mack & Rita” — which adds grandma chic to two things no one needs on screen like lazy filmmaking and a tired old concept — can be distilled into one word: cringe.
Virtually no one associated with this film should be congratulated in any way, having ruptured any bridges between Hollywood and senior citizens or for the shocking misuse of Diane Keaton's considerable skills.
A boisterous extended clan gathers for a family holiday, launching the requisite arguments, hurt feelings, grudges, inside jokes, laughter, love, reconciliation and lots of eating, plus maybe a car chase.
“ Bodies Bodies Bodies ” might just be the first great Gen Z thriller. In director Halina Reijn’s film is a razor-sharp satire of a very specific kind of modern privilege set inside an escalating murder mystery in a remote mansion as a hurricane rages outside.
Twenty-seven years ago, Ron Howard's “Apollo 13” saluted men with the right stuff — quiet courage and grace under pressure. This summer, he's returned to that magic number for a similar rescue tale but traded the vastness of space for a film deep underground.
Aboard the speeding locomotive of “Bullet Train” ride at least five assassins, one venomous reptile (a snake on the train), countless glib Guy Ritchie-esque slo-mo action sequences, and one bucket-hat wearing Brad Pitt.
Maybe it's a counter-reaction to our increasingly digital reality, but lately horror films have increasingly turned to primal pasts to resurrect the rituals and fears of folktale.
It's a strikingly global trend, spanning puritan New England ("The Witch"), rural Iceland (“Lamb”), North Dublin ("You Are Not My Mother") and pagan cults of Sweden ("Midsommar").
DC films have a reputation for being a little too self-serious. They’ve made significant strides to chip away at that dark and dour image in recent years, but it lingers even with things like “The LEGO Batman Movie.” Sometimes it’s even easy to forget that when it comes down to it, superheroes are for kids.
The first shots of “A Love Song” are a signal for the rest of the film — stubborn flowers and shrubs pushing through dry, stony earth in southwest Colorado.
A great debut in Hollywood can be a blessing and a curse. Once you knock it out of the park like Jordan Peele did with “Get Out,” which captured the zeitgeist so perfectly within the framework of a greatly entertaining thriller, home runs become the standard, not the exception.
Sometimes a title just doesn’t help a movie.
Not that directors Anthony and Joe Russo had much choice in titling “The Gray Man,” their new Netflix spy thriller starring Ryan Gosling — they’re adapting the novel of the same name, about a shadowy CIA assassin on the run.
Paul Gallico's 1958 novel “Mrs. ‘Arris Goes to Paris,” about a British cleaning lady with high couture dreams, wouldn’t seem to have even a stitch of contemporary relevance. Yet Anthony Fabian's charming adaptation, snuggly tailored to star Lesley Manville, proves the durability of a good fairy tale and a smashing dress.
A stupendously popular source novel. A theme song by Taylor Swift. Reese Witherspoon as producer. And even a tantalizing, life-imitates-art news headline surfacing recently.
Clearly, few movies open with as much going for them as “Where the Crawdads Sing,” directed by Olivia Newman from Delia Owens’ story of an abandoned girl who grows up alone in the North Carolina marshes and finds herself accused of murder.
Writer and director Mel Brooks’ 1974 Western spoof “Blazing Saddles” tackled racism so head-on that Brooks recently mused he wouldn’t be able to make the film today. Maybe, just maybe, he has done just that with “Paws of Fury: The Legend of Hank,” but at a terrible cost.
The new adaptation of “ Persuasion, ” coming to Netflix Friday, does not seem to have been made for Jane Austen fans.
Her book about the unmarried Anne Elliot, who at 27 is on the edge of spinsterhood and regretting having been persuaded to give up her true love years earlier because of his lowly status, was the author's last before her death.
For a young imagination, there is something uniquely captivating about a stowaway story on the high seas. The stakes are great, but the adventure is so far removed from any reality most kids know that it becomes a purely transportive experience.
Rarely have the conditions for love been less hospitable than in Sara Dosa’s documentary “Fire of Love." Yet here, amid shifting tectonics and quaking craters, French volcanologists Katia and Maurice Krafft forge a strangely rock-steady romance.
The last full Thor movie was the overstuffed 2017 “Thor: Ragnarok,” with the God of Thunder dealing with dueling brother and sister issues, the imminent destruction of his planet, a boozy sidekick, a huge dog, pal Hulk having a panic attack and the death of his father.
“It is a truth universally acknowledged,” goes one of the more famous opening lines in English literature, “that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.”
That’s Jane Austen, beginning her 1813 “Pride and Prejudice.” Austen herself has nothing to do with “Mr.
For a not small segment of the audience for “Minions: Rise of Gru,” only one thing really needs to be said. The Minions are in it. That's enough.
Leonard Cohen was deep in his career when he finally finished “Hallelujah.” Well, the first version of “Hallelujah” — there would be many, many versions when all was said and done. He’d toiled on the lyrics for seven years.
Phones in serial killer movies are usually used by the deranged hunters to taunt the police or carefully tell victims how they’ll die. But in “The Black Phone” it’s the other way around, fitting for a horror-thriller that flips many of the genre’s formula.
The brief life of Elvis Presley is not something that fits neatly into a conventional biopic formula, though many have tried. It was, perhaps, always going to take a director as wild and visionary as Baz Luhrmann to do something that evokes the essence of the King’s 42 years.
It's boom times for googly eyes.
Within months of “Everything Everywhere All at Once," the metaphysical sci-fi comedy whose panoply of metaverses memorably included one that made magic out of a pair of stones and some plastic eyeballs, arrives “Marcel the Shell With Shoes On.”
Female desire is not a topic that gets a lot of space in mainstream Hollywood movies. And the desire of women north of 45? Well, that’s been almost exclusively the province of Nancy Meyers, Meryl Streep and Diane Keaton.
The glow sticks. The neon lanyards. DJs playing wildly inappropriate songs. The mocktails, the tipsy grown-ups, the awkward adolescent kisses in photo booths.
Finally, a feature film set on the suburban bar mitzvah party circuit.
“In 1995, Andy got a toy from his favorite movie. This is that movie.”
So begins “Lightyear,” a new Pixar release that takes a meta approach to the animation studio's flagship franchise.
George Saunders’ short story “Escape from Spiderhead” is not, you might say, an obviously cinematic piece. It’s the kind of subtly unsettling work — stark, moody and dialogue heavy — that could easily be a play or a haunting experimental film.
The enduring, collective love for “Jurassic Park” is immensely hard to explain. Steven Spielberg’s 1993 film implanted itself into our cultural consciousness as a kind of platonic ideal of a blockbuster.
By now you’d think you know what you’re getting with an Adam Sandler sports movie. “Happy Gilmore” and “The Waterboy” have conditioned us to expect silly voices and left hooks from irritated game show hosts.
Few documentaries looking at the past offer as real a vision of the future as “The Janes.”
Directors Tia Lessin and Emma Pildes have taken a look at a dozen or so women who came together in Chicago to secure abortions at a time when the procedure was illegal in most of the country.
Films like “It Follows” and “The Guest” have already made Maika Monroe something of a modern scream-queen with a feminist bent. But the psychological acuity and compelling vulnerability Monroe brings to Chloe Okuno’s lean, stylish thriller “Watcher" suggests that her maturing movie-star presence goes well beyond any particular genre.