Maria by Callas lets the legendary opera singer tell her own story

Anyone going into Tom Volf's documentary Maria by Callas without a strong working knowledge of renowned opera singer Maria Callas may find themselves a bit lost. Volf, a Callas expert who's compiled three books on the Greek-American singer, constructs his film almost entirely from primary sources, meaning that if there's no direct footage or text pertaining to a certain aspect of Callas' life, then it doesn't make it into the movie.

Suds & Cinema gets festive with Christmas Vacation at the Garland on Dec. 20

Fill your commemorative Walley World mug with eggnog and wrap yourself in your rattiest Cousin Eddie bathrobe: We're bringing National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation back to the Garland Theater on Dec. 20 Our Suds & Cinema screening of the 1989 holiday favorite has become an annual tradition, and it sells out pretty much every year.

You'll either love or hate the sprawling, bloody reimagining of the horror classic Suspiria

Luca Guadagnino's reimagining of Suspiria is the stylistic inverse of Dario Argento's 1977 original. Argento's film, told with the lean simplicity of a fairy tale, revelled in bold primary colors and seemed to exist outside time and space.

A period piece that's still relevant, The Front Runner reflects on the scandals of Gary Hart

Jason Reitman's latest film, The Front Runner, is a retelling of the story of how Democratic presidential candidate Gary Hart was scuppered, in the final few weeks before the election, in his 1988 bid for the White House by revelations of an extramarital affair. Thirty years on, this is extremely relevant, an enraging yet ironic reminder of how we got to the point where a reality-show host could possibly be elected president of the United States.

Animated sequel Ralph Breaks the Internet loses its way by going online

It's not exactly a good sign when this year's flagship Disney animated feature seems influenced most heavily by The Emoji Movie. Disney's Ralph Breaks the Internet, the sequel to 2012's Wreck-It Ralph, is far better than Sony's smartphone-inspired abomination, but it exhibits a similar dearth of creativity and overreliance on familiar brand names.

Green Book is a sympathetic, socially conscious drama from an unlikely director

Yes, it's a bit Driving Miss Daisy in reverse, but Green Book also has more than a hint of Planes, Trains and Automobiles to it. Which is perhaps not terribly unexpected: This is the (mostly) dramatic debut of director Peter Farrelly, one half of the notorious Farrelly Brothers, who brought us such gross-outs as Dumb and Dumber and There's Something About Mary.

Steve McQueen's heist drama Widows brings real heft to its genre story

Director Steve McQueen, whose austere and sometimes punishing dramas (Hunger, Shame, 12 Years a Slave) could not exactly be described as "crowd-pleasing," may seem like an odd choice to direct a twisty heist thriller based on a TV series.

As a new Fantastic Beasts movie hits theaters, we reflect on Harry Potter and the legacy of Azkaban

For the better part of the seven elapsed years since the release of the eighth and final installment in the film franchise centered on the Boy Who Lived, I have not been thinking about Harry Potter.

The latest feature-length adaptation of The Grinch seems designed to be as forgettable as possible

It becomes increasingly difficult with each passing autumn not to sympathize more and more with the Grinch, Dr. Seuss' green-furred grump who cannot abide Christmas.

Addiction drama Beautiful Boy tells a sadly familiar tale

Although it's based on two separate memoirs, one by writer David Sheff and one by his son Nic, there's very little in Beautiful Boy that feels personal or unique. The story of Nic's yearslong struggle with drug addiction and David's increasingly futile efforts to help his son, Beautiful Boy plays out like nearly every other story of drug addiction, with a repetitive sobriety-and-relapse structure that ceases to be illuminating after the second time, and winds up in service of a clunky public service announcement.

Bohemian Rhapsody gives Freddie Mercury the cursory biopic treatment

For a movie about musicians who are constantly insisting how daring and experimental their work is, Bohemian Rhapsody is disappointingly formulaic and conventional, depicting the life of late Queen frontman Freddie Mercury (Mr. Robot's Rami Malek) as a rise-and-fall-and-comeback narrative familiar from countless music biopics.

Writer-director Jonah Hill recaptures retro skate culture in the coming-of-age flick Mid90s

You know you're old when they start making noteworthy period pieces about your youth. Apparently, it's already time to wax nostalgic about California skateboarding culture from 20-plus years ago, and that's just what Jonah Hill does in Mid90s, his aptly named writing and directing debut.

A look back at the weird, wild Halloween franchise, 40 years after it all began

In 1978, John Carpenter’s Halloween forever altered the trajectory of modern horror, and 40 years and several sequels later, a new Halloween is storming the box office.

An assortment of misfits converge on a hotel in the uneven Bad Times at the El Royale

Drew Goddard's Bad Times at the El Royale opens with a mysterious scene depicting an unnamed man (played by Nick Offerman) methodically deconstructing one of the rooms at the titular hotel, hiding a satchel of some kind under the floorboards and then putting everything back together exactly as he found it. When the movie cuts to a decade later (in 1969) and introduces a group of eccentric guests all checking in to the nearly abandoned hotel straddling the California-Nevada border near Lake Tahoe, it sets up a chase to discover that buried treasure among various presumably unsavory characters.

The Hate U Give brings social justice to a mainstream audience

Based on a very popular 2017 young adult novel by Angie Thomas, The Hate U Give takes a bit of a simplified approach to its controversial subject matter, but that streamlined focus allows the movie to emphasize what's most important to its characters and its audience.


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Down North, Kung Fu Vinyl, Icky Business

Down North, Kung Fu Vinyl, Icky Business @ The Big Dipper

Thu., Dec. 13, 7:30-11:30 p.m.

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