Not exactly smooth sailing for ‘The Finest Hours’ (Our grade: C+)


Cary Darling – Fort Worth Star-Telegram

“The Finest Hours,” based on the true story of the valiant 1952 Coast Guard rescue of a sinking oil tanker off the coast of Massachusetts, splits in two much like the wounded vessel at its heart.

There’s the film that’s set on the sea, and much of that is pretty terrific, even if it brings to mind “A Perfect Storm.” And then there’s film set on land, and that one runs aground.

» Read full review at » Find showtimes for “The Finest Hours”

‘Red vs. Blue’ + ‘Power Rangers’ = ‘Lazer Team’ (Our grade: C)


Some are born to (or trained from birth for) greatness; some have greatness thrust upon them (or accidentally shoot it out of the sky with fireworks).

“Lazer Team,” the first live-action flick by the Austin-based online content creators Rooster Teeth (of “Red vs. Blue” fame), concerns the latter — four doofs who have to save the world after they happen to get their hands on a weapon that was meant for someone else. (For those who are unfamiliar with Rooster Teeth, know that they raised $2.4 million via an Indiegogo campaign for “Lazer Team.”)

» Read full review at » Find showtimes for “Lazer Team”

Po is back as the bumbling, heroic panda (Our grade: B)


Sandie Angulo Chen – Washington Post

Move over, Poe Dameron. Po the panda is back in town. And this Dragon Warrior is every bit as brave as the galaxy’s favorite Resistance pilot.

DreamWorks Animation’s “Kung Fu Panda 2” (2011) ended with a revelation: The biological father of Po (voice of Jack Black) is alive and living in a faraway panda Shangri-La. That set things up for a reunion between Po — who had been living with his adoptive father, a goose — and his birth family.

» Read full review at » Find showtimes for “Kung Fu Panda 3”

Charlotte Rampling is quietly devastating in ‘45 Years’ (Our grade: A)


Ann Hornaday – The Washington Post

It’s this time of year when grown-ups come out — not to play, exactly, but to provide audiences with an honest, sometimes merciless glimpse of aging, from the un-taut beauty of spreading bodies and the miracle of enduring devotion to severe illness and loss. In recent years, such films as “Amour,” “Another Year” and “Le Week-End” have all plumbed the psychic and physical realities of people older than 65.

With “45 Years,” Charlotte Rampling has received a deserved nomination for best actress.

» Read full review at » Find showtimes for “45 Years”

Linklater doc getting good reviews at Sundance


The early reviews for “Richard Linklater: Dream Is Destiny” are coming in … and they’re good.

The movie, directed by Louis Black of the Austin Chronicle and Karen Bernstein, had its premiere on Tuesday at the Sundance Film Festival, and the venue couldn’t have been more appropriate. Sundance was the setting for the premiere of Linklater’s classic “Slacker” in 1991.

The Hollywood Reporter called it “one of the most enriching and enjoyable docs about a filmmaker in recent memory,” saying that it “reveals the peculiar pairing of modesty with artistic ambition that has allowed the director to thrive in an industry that doesn’t cotton to his sort of artist.”

The Guardian of Great Britain points out that with “the success of ‘Boyhood,’ it’s easy to forget that before that marathon 12-year project hit screens at Sundance in 2014, Linklater was out of vogue. Those wilderness years are one of the most fascinating elements” of the film.

Austinites will get to see the movie when it screens at the upcoming South by Southwest Film Festival and Conference in March. It’ll also play on PBS.

Short with Austin-based producer wins Sundance Jury Award

A still from “The Procedure”

“The Procedure,” a short film written and directed by  Calvin Lee Reeder, won the Sudance Short Film Jury Award for U.S. Fictionb.

It was produced by Bears Fonte, former programming director for the Austin Film Festival and current director of programming (and founder) of Other Worlds Austin.

The festival screened 72 short films. The short film jurors were Amazon Studios development executive Gina Kwon, “Key and Peele” comedian Keegan-Michael Key and newly-minted MTV film critic Amy Nicholson.

The complete list of winners follows:

2016 Sundance Film Festival Short Film Jury Awards:

Short Film Grand Jury Prize: “Thunder Road” / U.S.A. (Written and directed by Jim Cummings )

Short Film Jury Award: U.S. Fiction: “The Procedure” / U.S.A. (Written and directed by Calvin Lee Reeder)

Short Film Jury Award: International Fiction: “Maman(s)” / France (Written and directed by Maïmouna Doucouré )

Short Film Jury Award: Non-fiction: “Bacon & God’s Wrath” / Canada (Directed by Sol Friedman)

Short Film Jury Award: Animation: “Edmond”/ United Kingdom (Written and directed by Nina Gantz)

Short Film Special Jury Award for Outstanding Performance: Grace Glowicki for “Her Friend Adam.”

Short Film Special Jury Award for Best Direction: “Peacock” / Czech Republic (Directed by Ondřej Hudeček, Written by Jan Smutny and Ondřej Hudeček)


“Richard Linklater: Dream is Destiny” headed to PBS

Richard Linklater and Louis Black
Richard Linklater and Louis Black

“American Masters,” the PBS documentary series about the lives of creatives in various fields, has nabbed the broadcast rights to Louis Black and Karen Bernstein’’s “Richard Linklater: Dream is Destiny,” which screened Tuesday afternoon at the Sundance Film Festival, Variety reported. Theatrical and video-on-demand rights are still available.

Also of note in the story: WNET is launching a theatrical label American Masters Pictures, which will try to get into theaters documentaries that are co-produced by “American Masters.” The goal is to provide a conduit for “Masters”-produced docs to have some sort of theatrical run.

A few awesome weekend screenings

In case you, the discerning moviegoer, still have not seen it, Tommy Wiseau’s “The Room” from 2003, often billed as one of the very worst movies ever made, is screening at 10 p.m. Sunday at Alamo South Lamar.

MV5BMTYzMTkyNjE4OF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMzU3MTQwNzE@._V1_SY317_CR4,0,214,317_AL_The Drafthouse is also wrapping up a Guy Maddin kick. Look for screenings of his “Me Trilogy” of short films and his totally bonkers “The Forbidden Room” from Sunday to Wednesday.

Master Pancake is taking a swing at “Fifty Shades of Grey” Jan. 29 and 30 at the Alamo Ritz. I am not saying those things write themselves, but the sheer volume of material from this (inadvertently) amazingly funny movie must have been a bit overwhelming.

Over at the Austin Film Society, the Wim Wenders “road movie” fest continues with screenings of Wenders’ “King of the Road” 8 p.m. Friday and 4 pm. Sunday at the Marchesa Hall and Theatre (6226 Middle Fiskville Road). They are also continuing their mash note to Blake Edwards and Julie Andrews with “The Man Who Loved Women” at 7:30 p.m. Thursday.

Also on Thursday, at 6:50 p.m. at Alamo Slaughter, check out a double feature of Toshiya Fujita’s classic (and “Kill Bill”-inspiring) “Lady Snowblood” and “Lady Snowblood: Love Song of Vengeance,” about an assassin (Meiko Kaji) who, “hell-bent on revenge for the murders of her family, hacks and slashes her way to gory satisfaction in turn-of-the-twentieth-century Japan,” as the website puts it.

As we head into Sundance, Filmmaker looks at “How Seven Films from Sundance 2015 Performed”

Here is a terrific piece from Filmmaker Magazine called “Hits & Misses: How Seven Films from Sundance 2015 Performed.”

Diary-Of-a-Teenage-GirlThere’s some great stuff in there, things I knew (how much money “Dope” made), and things I did not (“The Diary of a Teenage Girl,” for my money last year’s best movie, cost a little over $1 million.)

DOPE_OFFICIAL_POSTERAnd frankly, even though it is a breakout hit, I still think the $17 million “Dope” made was on the small side. That movie deserved to be seen by every living hip-hop fan.

‘Ip Man 3’ a fitting end to martial arts saga (Our grade: B)

Donnie Yen in "Ip Man 3." (Well Go USA)
Donnie Yen in “Ip Man 3.” (Well Go USA)

Walter Addiego – San Francisco Chronicle

It’s the Donnie Yen touch that makes “Ip Man 3” worth watching. Perhaps today’s premier martial arts star, the affable Yen portrays the title character — a renowned 20th century Chinese grandmaster of fighting arts — as a supreme combatant who always exhibits a sense of calm and integrity.

The film concludes a trilogy that began in 2008 and was devoted to the man who brought the Wing Chun fighting style to Hong Kong and is also remembered as the teacher of Bruce Lee, who is portrayed briefly in the movie.

» Read full review at » Find showtimes for “Ip Man 3”