Contra Costa Times
Grease: Live! (2016)
An ambitious, exuberant and eye-boggling adaptation of Grease.
Posted Feb 1, 2016
The Dark Knight (2008)
It's too long and Nolan tosses in too many twists near the end. But it delivers ongoing adrenalin rushes, mental popcorn to chew over and a rich atmosphere to get lost in. And it's impressive enough to rank as summer's strongest blockbuster.
Posted Aug 20, 2014
Phil Spector (2013)
Pacino and Mirren make for a dynamic pair.
Posted May 22, 2013
Behind the Candelabra (2013)
Odds are you won't be able to take your eyes off director Steven Soderbergh's luridly entertaining peek into the relationship between legendary pianist Liberace and his much younger lover, Scott Thorson.
Posted May 16, 2013
Game Change (2012)
That it works is testament to an astounding, Emmy-worthy performance by Moore, who plays Palin with nuance, and without a trace of parody.
Posted Aug 6, 2012
The Hunger Games (2012)
The futuristic film is just as gripping and moving as the best-seller on which it's based.
Posted Mar 20, 2012
21 Jump Street (2012)
It's a rowdy, massively entertaining ride done with wild wit and creative abandon. Now, bring on the sequel!
Posted Mar 15, 2012
Friends With Kids (2012)
Westfeldt is so radiant, decent and likable that you, too, will fall in love with her.
Posted Mar 7, 2012
Project X (2012)
Project X is the geeky teenage guy's ultimate fantasy gone insane.
Posted Mar 2, 2012
The Woman in Black (2012)
Director Watkins and company are masters at getting under our skin and straight into our nightmares.
Posted Feb 1, 2012
Red Tails (2012)
If you like history served up as engaging entertainment, where the fact is mixed with the fiction and the spectacle with the emotion, strap yourself in, because "Red Tails" is one fun ride.
Posted Jan 19, 2012
Fincher has a proven track record sifting through the dark corridors of human nature. Tattoo is welcome addition to that canon, a ripping yarn that never lags during its 2 hours and 40 minutes.
Posted Dec 20, 2011
Seducing Charlie Barker (2011)
The film demands patience from children and adults alike -- in fact, it's simply too slow for young viewers -- but like great literature, if you immerse yourself in it, the rewards are plentiful.
Posted Dec 1, 2011
My Week with Marilyn (2011)
Just try to peel your eyes away from the blonde bombshell as she wistfully brings Marilyn's help-me vulnerability and sexy allure to life.
Posted Nov 22, 2011
Of the four Twilight movies, Breaking Dawn -- Part I has the most going on and the most going for it.
Posted Nov 17, 2011
Puss in Boots (2011)
I, for one, hope this darn cat and his friends return for another adventure.
Posted Oct 28, 2011
Margin Call (2011)
Margin Call might not always be perfect, but it does a nearly perfect job of painting a Shakespearean portrait of both a financial and human crisis. Let's hope we can learn from it.
Posted Oct 20, 2011
Just like the many bits of advice that are so convincingly strewn throughout 50/50, it emphatically validates one of the most enduring ones: Laughter is indeed the best medicine, especially when the stakes are so high.
Posted Sep 29, 2011
Moneyball astutely depicts money as the hot-button dividing line in our culture and reflects the value that true success comes not from wealth, but from having the vision to try something new, and the confidence to pursue it.
Posted Sep 22, 2011
Steven Soderbergh's grim and gripping medical thriller has arrived and it's guaranteed to turn you into a hypochondriac.
Posted Sep 8, 2011
Don't Be Afraid Of The Dark (2011)
Just when you thought the housing market couldn't get more frightening, along comes Guillermo del Toro to shiver more timbers.
Posted Aug 25, 2011
Like Caesar, this entertaining picture rises to the occasion and resoundingly exceeds expectations.
Posted Aug 4, 2011
Crazy, Stupid, Love. (2011)
The result is a charming romantic comedy that not only restores one's faith in the power of the genre, but may prove one of the summer's best films.
Posted Jul 28, 2011
Horrible Bosses (2011)
The raunchy comedy about a trio of fed-up employees who exact revenge on their freak-show employers wickedly doles out the just deserts, and that's what it makes it so much fun.
Posted Jul 8, 2011
Larry Crowne (2011)
In the end, Larry Crowne is watchable and undemanding, but it doesn't leave a lasting impression.
Posted Jun 30, 2011
The Hangover Part II (2011)
We've been on this bender before, and no matter how raunchy and un-PC The Hangover Part II is, there's no disguising that this is just warmed-up leftovers that will leave a nasty taste in your mouth.
Posted May 25, 2011
No matter how much Cruz and Depp squabble during the quest to find the Fountain of Youth, no real sparks fly.
Posted May 19, 2011
The Beaver (2011)
Gibson's best performance in years saves the picture from its inconsistency. Few other actors could ride out the bumps in plot while delivering a believable performance.
Posted May 5, 2011
All in all, Thor is good, quick-witted superhero fun -- written, directed and acted by pros.
Posted May 5, 2011
Water for Elephants (2011)
Elephants might not perform any new genre tricks, but that's OK. After all, a good story is a good story -- be it on the page or up on the screen.
Posted Apr 21, 2011
Scream 4 (2011)
The big question is, has the Scream franchise lost its relevance, especially to a new generation? The answer is: No, but with qualifications.
Posted Apr 13, 2011
Your Highness (2011)
There's a delightful sense of bawdiness in Chaucer and other medieval literature, but vulgarity seems the main intent of Your Highness, and the movie chokes on its own dreary discourtesies.
Posted Apr 7, 2011
The Adjustment Bureau (2011)
Even though [Damon and Blunt] look awfully cute scurrying around the streets of New York City, there's no escaping from the fact that this Bureau winds up merely spinning its wheels.
Posted Mar 3, 2011
I Am Number Four (2011)
On a boring rainy day, you can count on Number Four for some good, dumb fun.
Posted Feb 18, 2011
Another Year (2010)
Year's success rests heavily on its cast's and director's shoulders. And the performers, most stage veterans and Leigh alums, don't disappoint.
Posted Jan 14, 2011
True Grit (2010)
These highfalutin boys sure know how to wrastle up one spitfire of a Western.
Posted Dec 21, 2010
I Love You Phillip Morris (2010)
Carrey relies little on his physical theatrics to bring Russell alive, for which we are grateful. That toned-down approach results in one of the comedian's most complex performances yet, even if the shadows from previous roles creep in.
Posted Dec 3, 2010
Love and Other Drugs (2010)
Ultimately it's the chemistry -- that old-fashioned key ingredient in any successful love story -- that fires up Love & Other Drugs and reduces minor quibbles to ash.
Posted Nov 23, 2010
The Next Three Days (2010)
Faults and all, The Next Three Days is a pleasant surprise this fall -- a thriller that moves us while steering clear of the action cliches.
Posted Nov 19, 2010
127 Hours (2010)
If Oscar overlooks Franco, it would be a travesty. It would also be a shame to avoid seeing 127 Hours simply because the subject matter makes you wince.
Posted Nov 12, 2010
For Colored Girls (2010)
No question, Perry's Girls is compelling and powerful. But it's also a missed opportunity, one that fails to fully capitalize on mostly terrific performances and the story's timeless message.
Posted Nov 4, 2010
The movie tells an unbelievable story, one that will outrage and -- yes -- inspire you.
Posted Oct 22, 2010
The ensemble is terrific. These are pros at work here, and they not only show up the new action-star punks but prove they're far from expendable.
Posted Oct 14, 2010
This is a rousingly entertaining and robustly acted movie with electrifying horse-racing sequences filmed from the jockey's perspective. Now, how cool is that?
Posted Oct 8, 2010
If [Stone] had cut the bull and focused on the bullishness, he might have had a sequel worthy of its original.
Posted Sep 24, 2010
An intriguing and suspenseful documentary.
Posted Sep 15, 2010
Easy A (2010)
Wielding an improbable vocabulary that would elicit a head scratch from Merriam-Webster and possessing a beautiful and expressive face, the 21-year-old redhead [Stone] makes you fall for her hard.
Posted Sep 15, 2010
The Tillman Story (2010)
Bar-Lev summons us to remain defiant when our government demands complacency, and never to falter in our purpose even if the outcome eventually leaves so much still unresolved.
Posted Sep 2, 2010
Cairo Time (2010)