1. The best online movies to watch this weekend

    Starred UpFrank, and At The Devil’s Door


  2. Through sheer volume and reach, TIFF has become an ongoing reminder of the talent Hollywood is failing to capture — changing the question from ‘Where are the women?’ to ‘Why aren’t you hiring any of these women?’

    Why the Toronto International Film Festival is the best platform for female filmmakers

    This year’s festival offered 58 chances to see the latest in femme-centric filmmaking


  3. As the school season begins, we’ll be counting down a variety of back-to-school movies. This week: the delightfully ghoulish family film ParaNorman.

    When I was a kid, I always felt like most of the movies aimed at my age group were a little too tame. Sure, I adored Disney’s annual animated musicals — but where were the kid-friendly chills I could get out of older movies, like The Wizard of Oz or Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory?

    I would have been very happy if I’d had ParaNorman.

    ParaNorman's basic concept recalls The Sixth Sense, with one clever twist: the ghosts that Norman can see are a lot more harmless and likable than the regular people he encounters every day. But ParaNorman doesn’t stop at ghosts: as his sleepy Massachusetts town is invaded by zombies and witches, Norman steps up to protect the people who have always looked down on him.

    ParaNorman offers a cheeky, family-friendly riff on the horror genre, with loving winks to genre classics like Halloween and Friday the 13. The voice cast is packed with talented actors, including John Goodman, Anna Kendrick, and the late Elaine Stritch. And the entire film is rendered in stunning stop-motion animation.

    ParaNorman's gorgeous, painstakingly rendered animation is an accomplishment in itself, and the distinctive art design would probably be enough to recommend the film on its own. But the effect of the aesthetics is boosted by a sweet, soulful story that will make any kid who's felt like an outcast feel a little less alone.

    Your weekly streaming recommendation: ParaNorman


  4. Clouds of Sils Maria is, simply, a film about women working, thinking, and engaging — a simple concept, but one that finally gives Binoche and her costars the ‘deep and complex’ female roles they deserve.

    Clouds of Sils Maria is a beautiful look into fame and womanhood

    Oliver Assayas answered Juliette Binoche’s call for a “deep and complex female role” with this rumination on celebrity



  6. Fall movie guide: All the films you should see in September

    A roundup of everything new and noteworthy hitting theaters this month


  7. At its best, streaming video offers the potential for discovery — the chance to track down and reappraise a hidden gem which you’d never have seen otherwise. For the month of August, I’ll be counting down movies that were panned by critics when they were originally released, and arguing that they’re actually worth a second look.

    Hannah Fidell’s unsettling psychodramaA Teacher follows Diana — a young high school English teacher in suburban Texas — as she engages in a passionate and destructive affair with one of her students. It’s a premise designed to make viewers squeamish, but A Teacher is less concerned with the ethics of the affair than with its psychological impact on its fragile protagonist. 

    Lindsay Burdge turns in a fascinatingly icy performance as Diana — a woman who barely manages to cover up her deep, fundamental instability as she goes about her day-to-day life. Her affair with Eric, a charismatic student, is part of a larger obsession with remaining in a state of arrested development.  Diana is well aware of the danger he presents to her life and career, but she can’t resist indulging in the only part of her life that brings her any joy — even as the relationship begins to spin towards mutual destruction.

    At just 75 minutes, A Teacher is a spare, tightly focused character study. We never learn how Diana and Eric began their affair, and the movie wisely spends very little time on anyone apart from the two leads. (If anything, writer/director Hannah Fidell could have cut even more; the sole scene that explores Diana’s troubled relationship with her family is a misstep, over-explaining something that would be better left implied.) But in general, the film’s ambiguities are moody and effective. Fidell shoots in a series of murky, claustrophobic close-ups that emphasize how insular and dangerous Diana’s world has become. 

    A Teacher earned just 32 percent positive reviews at aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, with critics dismissing it as “lifeless” and “ultimately hollow.” I understand why some would be frustrated that the film avoids digging into the depths and motivations of its characters, but I’d argue that’s one of A Teacher's secret strengths. Much of the film's nervy energy comes from being forced to guess at the true feelings of both Diana and Eric — and what those feelings might eventually lead them to do.

    Your weekly streaming recommendation: A Teacher


  8. Belle strives to understand what it would be like for this woman, torn between love and idealism. But despite the density of the subject matter, this is not a grim drama.

    Belle is one of the most groundbreaking, joyous movies of the summer

    The indie hit, which arrived on DVD this week, broke the status quo by bringing a little-known true story into the light



  10. At its best, streaming video offers the potential for discovery — the chance to track down and reappraise a hidden gem which you’d never have seen otherwise. For the month of August, I’ll be counting down movies that were panned by critics when they were originally released, and arguing that they’re actually worth a second look.

    Only God Forgives has been polarizing from the very beginning, when its 2013 premiere at Cannes earned both a chorus of boos and a standing ovation. With just 40 percent positive reviews on Rotten Tomatoes, a plurality of critics dinged Danish director Nicolas Winding Refn “failing to add enough narrative smarts or relatable characters to ground its beautifully filmed depravity.” 

    When the film hit theaters in the United States, my own take was more or less in line with that consensus. My original review called Only God Forgives ”stupid, needlessly gory, and generally unpleasant,” while acknowledging that I was very happy I had seen it — once.

    I would stand behind all of the negative charges I leveled against the film — but more than a year after its release, I’ve gained a new appreciation for Only God Forgives' mesmerizing style and rhythm. Coming on the heels of Drive — his biggest hit, both critically and commercially, by an enormous margin — Nicolas Winding Refn fearlessly exploited his expanded cachet to deliver a blood-drenched, almost perversely uncommercial movie that pulses with its own dark vision.

    Drive star Ryan Gosling re-teamed with Refn to star as Only God Forgives' Julian, in a role that requires him to speak just 17 lines over the course of the film. Julian — an expat drug dealer living in Bangkok — winds up at the center of a nightmarish revenge spiral that begins when his brother Billy rapes and murders a 16-year-old girl. In retaliation, a stoic, brutally effective police lieutenant (Visthaya Pansringarm) allows the girl's father to seek revenge, and Billy winds up dead. In retaliation for that crime, Gosling’s grieving mother — a crass, sadistic egomaniac played beautifully by Kristin Scott Thomas — demands that Gosling seek revenge on everyone she deems complicit in Billy’s murder.

    Despite its bloody, twisty-sound narrative, Only God Forgives is less of an action movie than an arthouse movie. The film takes place in a lurid, neon-drenched vision of Bangkok, and its brutal and unsparing acts of violence are punctuated by long, languorous walks down hallways or karaoke performances.

    Only God Forgives will not be for everybody. At first, I didn’t think it was for me. But daring films can take some time to settle on the palate, and Only God Forgives' strengths have gradually eclipsed its flaws in my mind. Maybe it'll be to your taste too.

    Your weekly streaming recommendation: Only God Forgives


  11. The best online movies to watch this weekend

    The Zero TheoremDinosaur 13, and The Dog


  12. So Hollywood is dead because you’re just too cheap to pay for it? Hardly. If the popularity of Netflix is anything to judge by, users are happy to pay for content they deem to be fairly priced and worthwhile. … In regards to Hollywood’s current summer slate, customers voted with their wallets.

    Internet piracy isn’t killing Hollywood

    Hollywood is killing Hollywood


  13. Can sci-fi save the romantic comedy?

    Pretty Woman's famous love story shows that the genre was never really grounded in reality anyway