Jonathan Kiefer



21 Jump Street; R, 109 minutes; Carmike Cinema 6

21 Jump Street; R, 109 minutes; Carmike Cinema 6

Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill go back to school as undercover cops in Sony Pictures big screen remake of 21 Jump Street. (Sony Pictures) As Jonah Hill and Michael Cera in Superbad reminded us, Hollywood has a long, goofy tradition of hiring post-teenaged actors to portray teenaged characters. Hill and Channing Tatum together in 21 […]

John Carter; PG-13, 132 minutes; Carmike Cinema 6

John Carter; PG-13, 132 minutes; Carmike Cinema 6

Time-traveling superhero John Carter (Taylor Kitsch) trades one civil war for another in a swords-and-sandals flick based on Edgar Rice Burroughs’ pulp character. (Disney Studios)  John Carter is from Virginia but he was in Arizona when he wound up on Mars. That was in 1868, but our tale, as unfurled in a 2012 film based […]

A Separation; PG-13, 123 minutes; Vinegar Hill Theatre

A Separation; PG-13, 123 minutes; Vinegar Hill Theatre

Iran’s first Oscar-winning film, A Separation, looks at the domestic strife and break up of a middle-class Iranian family. (Sony Pictures Classics) In a spirit of emancipation from hostility between their respective governments, the Oscar for A Separation becomes a goodwill gesture from citizens of America to citizens of Iran. As such it is well deserved. […]

The Secret World of Arrietty; G, 94 minutes; Carmike Cinema 6

The Secret World of Arrietty; G, 94 minutes; Carmike Cinema 6

 The latest offering from esteemed Japanese animation house Studio Ghibli (Ponyo, Spirited Away) comes to American audiences courtesy of Disney, and that seems like a win-win arrangement. The Secret World of Arrietty is a collaboration between Disney and Japanese animation house Studio Ghibli based on the children’s book series The Borrowers. (Disney) The Secret World […]

Review: Safe House

Review: Safe House

Safe House seems like as good a name as any for a movie with the apathetic tagline “No One Is Safe,” although it doesn’t quite nail the derivative-jittery-spy-thriller vibe. If only this thing weren’t so earnest, it might have the good self-spoofing grace to say what it really is: The Bourne I Wannabe.   In Safe House, […]

Review: The Grey

Review: The Grey

Meet Joe Carnahan, survivalist. Drop this guy unprotected into the lethal tundra of a January release slot and what does he do? Turns it into $20 million, an opening weekend’s top box-office take. Could any other director seem so right for a movie about a group of bruiser oil drillers led by Liam Neeson starving, […]

Review: The Iron Lady

Review: The Iron Lady

The latest Meryl Streep showpiece of biographical impersonation is not a Marvel Comics property, mercifully, but a portrait of the former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, who took that office, as the first woman ever to do so, in 1979. Meryl Streep was nominated for a best actress Oscar for her portrayal of Margaret Thatcher […]

Review: Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

Review: Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

Adapted from the 2005 novel by Jonathan Safran Foer, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close evokes the recent literary wave of self-conscious precocity probably begun with Dave Eggers’ A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius. Such titles, stacking up adjectives and adverbs like stones in fortress walls, have a common angle on grappling with grief: the will to outthink it. […]

The Descendants

The Descendants

As director Alexander Payne’s movies have migrated westward geographically—from the Nebraska of Citizen Ruth, Election, and About Schmidt to California’s Central Coast for Sideways, to Hawaii for The Descendants—his edge has considerably softened. 

Review: My Week with Marilyn

Review: My Week with Marilyn

Where biography is concerned, movies are eminently unreliable. Portraiture is another matter—more beholden to personal expression than to fact, and maybe also more movie-conducive. My Week with Marilyn is not the place to go for a credible biography of Marilyn Monroe, but didn’t we already know that, and wouldn’t something else be nicer anyway? The […]

Review: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Review: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

The main draw of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, David Fincher Edition, is that we want to see what this director will do with it, although we can sort of guess that the crucial thing he’ll do is make a ton of money. Brutal and mesmerizing, David Finsher’s adaptation of The Girl with the […]

Review: Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows

Review: Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows

Have you heard about those MIT researchers who invented a camera that records a trillion frames per second, literally reducing the speed of light to mind-boggling slow motion? More importantly, has Guy Ritchie heard?  Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law reprise the roles of Holmes and Watson in Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, director […]

Hugo; PG, 126 minutes; Regal Seminole Square 4

Hugo; PG, 126 minutes; Regal Seminole Square 4

Desperate neither to declare the wonderments of digital 3D nor to debunk them, Martin Scorsese’s Hugo does have some preaching to do, on the director’s pet subject of film preservation. Magnanimously, Scorsese won’t say outright that today’s algorithm-rendered pseudo-epics have nothing on the blood, sweat and practical effects of the very old school. It’s all of a […]

Melancholia; R, 136 minutes; Vinegar Hill Theatre

Melancholia; R, 136 minutes; Vinegar Hill Theatre

It will require a certain disposition to see it as such, but in a way, writer-director Lars von Trier’s gloriously glum, robustly romantic new film Melancholia is the perfect post-Thanksgiving movie. It’s the anti-Muppets. Kirsten Dunst received the Cannes Film Festival’s Best Actress award for her performance in Melancholia, director Lars von Trier’s latest beautiful […]

J. Edgar; R, 137 minutes; Regal Downtown Mall 6

J. Edgar; R, 137 minutes; Regal Downtown Mall 6

“I remember you from my seminar at UVA. You grilled me pretty hard, as I recall, on the bureau’s civil rights record in the Hoover years. I gave you an A.”   Leonardo DiCaprio plays the revered and reviled J. Edgar Hoover in Clint Eastwood’s latest biopic on the man who ran the FBI for […]

The Rum Diary; R, 120 minutes; Carmike Cinema 6

The Rum Diary; R, 120 minutes; Carmike Cinema 6

In The Rum Diary, a suavely scruffy American novelist (Johnny Depp) takes a reporting gig at a shabby newspaper in Puerto Rico, where he contends with various kooky colleagues (Michael Rispoli, Richard Jenkins, Giovanni Ribisi), a smug and greedy land developer (Aaron Eckhart), a luscious love interest (Amber Heard), and several angry locals. Also, he […]

The Thing: R, 103 minutes; Regal Downtown Mall 6

The Thing: R, 103 minutes; Regal Downtown Mall 6

“Strange visitor with assimilation challenge shakes up status quo.” We could be talking about Footloose. But instead it’s The Thing, another recently refreshed early ’80s movie memory. It’s a timelessly simple story: Researchers in Antarctica discover a hostile shapeshifting extraterrestrial in their midst—and hoo boy, can this thing dance! No? O.K. For now, being able […]

Right turn

Right turn

Drive is a movie about sexy people and cars. Or maybe not cars, per se, but the experience of being in them, with sexy people. As such, it is ridiculous, but not in the way you’d expect: It’s neither all that fast nor especially furious. Oh sure, there is some grisly gun violence, and a […]

50/50; R, 99 minutes; Carmike Cinema 6

50/50; R, 99 minutes; Carmike Cinema 6

For a striving young screenwriter, which is the worse break: being Paul Reiser’s cousin, or randomly getting cancer? Will Reiser is two for two, and some people will be wondering whether he really deserves to have a movie made about his life. 50/50 is a funny movie, and an honest one.

Play ball

Play ball

What’s very clever about Moneyball is that it’s so inside baseball, it’s inside out. The truth is that this is more of a business movie than a sports movie.

Buddy cops

Buddy cops

First, a warning: Don’t try this at home. However much it may seem like a piece of cake to build a whole movie around a lazy, lonely, corrupt, faux-racist, foul-mouthed provincial Irish cop, in fact it is a delicate art. Consider The Guard, wherein writer-director John Michael McDonagh, whose brother Martin wrote and directed In […]

Play catch

Play catch

Contagion is named for the film’s most developed character. That might seem unfair to the human actors, who play their parts—Marion Cotillard an epidemiologist, Matt Damon a paragon of endurance, Laurence Fishburne a CDC boss, Jude Law a blogger-alarmist, Gwyneth Paltrow a first casualty and Kate Winslet a damage controller—but that’s the nature of the […]