BOOKSMART

Molly (Beanie Feldstein) and Amy (Kaitlyn Dever) have been living under a false assumption. Wanting to get ahead, they decided to eschew social lives and spend high school with their noses in the books. And with the walls of their bedrooms plastered with positive aphorisms and feminist slogans, Molly and Amy have become the best versions of themselves — uberRory Gilmores with a fashion sense devoid of time or place. Molly, the school’s class president, got accepted into Yale and Amy is off to Africa to make tampons for the underprivileged before studying at Columbia. As you might expect, all … Continue reading BOOKSMART

THE SISTERS BROTHERS

“We’re the Sisters Brothers, and we’re good at what we do,” proclaims Charlie Sisters with a toothy grin. What’s he good at? Killing people and claiming bounties. Charlie is played by Joaquin Phoenix, an actor who is successfully following in the footsteps of Orson Welles and Marlon Brando: embrace the pounds and mumble the lines — it sounds better that way. John C. Reilly plays brother Eli, a man who pines for a schoolteacher back home and dreams of getting out. Charlie wants no part of the straight life and, honestly, neither does Eli; he’s the responsible one and feels … Continue reading THE SISTERS BROTHERS

DETROIT

Detroit — the latest film from Academy Award-winning director, Kathryn Bigelow — opens with as much promise and technical brilliance as any feature made this year. Starting with a brief animation depicting the White Flight of the 20th century, Detroit opens on the early morning of July 23, 1967, with a speakeasy raided by police. An informant is roughed up, arrests are made, a crowd gathers. The cameras, seemingly omnipotent, cut back and forth from multiple perspectives, stitching together bits of action from all over; not to give an abstract picture, but to construct a complete one. This is how … Continue reading DETROIT

20TH CENTURY WOMEN

A young man sees the world from a specific point of view. Though women may surround him — women who raise him, teach him, love him and confuse him — he will never be able to fully see the world through their eyes. He tries and comes closer than most, but, in the end, the young man will still be faced with the same question that plagued Sigmund Freud: What do women want? The year is 1979 and the young man in question is 15-year-old Jamie (Lucas Jade Zumann). His mother, Dorothea (Annette Bening), is 55 and trying to raise … Continue reading 20TH CENTURY WOMEN

JOY

David O. Russell’s latest, Joy, tells the story of Joy Mangano, an American inventor best known for her self-wringing Miracle Mop. Well, sort of. Joy is partly about how Joy Mangano became Joy Mangano, but it’s also about how family just likes to watch you fail, even if that means they have to lend failure a hand. Russell likes a squabbling family — Flirting With Disaster, The Fighter, Silver Linings Playbook — and the more squabbling the better, but with Joy, Russell takes his usual squabbling to an unbearably shrill level, sucking all the humor out of the room in … Continue reading JOY