Kristofer Jenson

Contributing writer to C-Ville Weekly. Associate Film Editor of DigBoston. Host of Spoilerpiece Theatre.

James Franco directs and stars in The Disaster Artist, a true story about a quirky fame-seeker who has made an unusual mark on Hollywood. Photo courtesy of A24

Movie review: The Disaster Artist is a zany success

Not many people are able to fail their way to success, to turn what ought to have been their most humiliating defeat into fame and profit. Then again, Tommy Wiseau is not most people. A perplexing mix of sincerity and complete mystery, Wiseau gained notoriety as the writer, director, producer and star of what is […]

In Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, Frances McDormand plays a grief-stricken mother who will not be ignored. Expect the awards to pile up. Courtesy Fox Searchlight

Movie review: Frances McDormand is riveting in Three Billboards

Martin McDonagh’s Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri isn’t the only story about the blurred lines between doing the right thing and making a bad situation worse, but it’s the only one that matters. McDonagh has made a career of pitch-black satires that find the humor and humanity in characters who are experiencing genuine torment—the regret […]

Saoirse Ronan delivers another captivating performance as the star of Lady Bird, an early favorite for awards season, written and directed by Greta Gerwig. Courtesy of A24

Movie review: Lady Bird soars with its teenage perspective

Having written and co-directed films in the past, Greta Gerwig makes her debut as sole writer-director with Lady Bird, easily one of the year’s best films. Funny, insightful and deeply personal, yet wholly relatable for anyone who’s ever lived through the difficulty of attempting to define oneself early in life, Lady Bird is the first […]

Kenneth Branagh directs and stars in Murder on the Orient Express, in which he delivers a captivating performance as the formidable Inspector Hercule Poirot. Photo by 20th Century Fox

Movie review: Murder on the Orient Express arrives in style

While attempting a brief vacation from being the world’s greatest detective, Inspector Hercule Poirot has been reading the hell out of Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities. With every page, he cackles in delight, a reaction likely based as much on the opportunity to let someone else tell the stories as on the book […]

Viewing the collected works of Spike Lee reveals three decades of a fiercely talented technician using all means available to speak the truth in its purest form to anyone who will listen, and shout it at those who won’t.  (Credit Image: © Buckner/Rex Shutterstock via ZUMA Press)

American truths: Looking back to move forward with Spike Lee

As events that transpired in Charlottesville inform the national conversation on the politics of race and resistance, the Virginia Film Festival has placed the subject at the center of this year’s programming. And the Race in America series features some of the best filmmaking on the subject. Attending this year’s festival will be veteran filmmaker […]

Despite talent and credibility, nothing goes well in Suburbicon, a Coen brothers screenplay, directed by George Clooney, starring Matt Damon. Courtesy Paramount Pictures

Movie review: Suburbicon doesn’t make up for lost time

Smart and talented people who are aware of the fact that they are smart and talented sometimes have difficulty separating good ideas from the really, really bad ones. In 1812, Napoleon Bonaparte, one of history’s greatest military minds, assembled the largest army to date to invade Russia, partially to ensure strategic dominance of Europe but […]

Only The Brave tells the personal story of Arizona’s Granite Mountain Hotshots, who battled a deadly wildfire in 2013. Columbia Pictures

Movie review: The plotline grows hazy in Only the Brave

In 2013, one of the deadliest wildfires in recent history claimed 25 lives, 19 of whom were members of an elite squad of firefighters known as the Granite Mountain Hotshots. All but one lost their lives while struggling to contain the blaze, which appeared routine until wind and other factors allowed it to spread beyond […]

Marshall stars Chadwick Boseman, who delivers a breakout performance as Thurgood Marshall in the early days of his career. Courtesy Open Road Films

Movie review: Marshall succeeds on multiple levels

A civil rights superhero movie? Why not? For a country so enamored with our national mythology, we are remarkably inconsistent when it comes to cinematic depictions of our historical figures. After all, many of our founding fathers owned slaves, and many more recent icons emerged at a time when personal shortcomings could not be as easily […]

Judi Dench and Ali Fazal make an unlikely pair in Victoria & Abdul, a true story that suffers as a comedy. Courtesy Focus Features

Movie review: Victoria & Abdul chooses gags over substance

The story of Queen Victoria and Abdul Karim—“the Munshi”—is one worth telling. Karim, a humble clerk in Agra, was invited to participate in a ceremony for the queen, which resulted in the initiation of a peculiar friendship that defied convention and stirred controversy among the Royal Court. All of the ingredients are there: class antagonism, […]

Emma Stone and Steve Carell take sides in Battle of the Sexes, a comedic accounting of the famous tennis match between Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs. Courtesy Fox Searchlight

Movie review: Battle of the Sexes serves up an ace

Directing team Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris continue their streak of slyly subversive, yet totally engaging, films with Battle of the Sexes, an insightful, exciting and unexpectedly hilarious recounting of the famous 1973 tennis match between Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs. Like all Dayton-Faris outings, it breathes new life into familiar tropes while cleverly […]

In Stronger, Jake Gyllenhaal portrays the real-life reluctant hero Jeff Bauman, who lost his legs in the Boston marathon bombing. Photo courtesy New Line Cinema

Movie review: Stronger explores the realities of healing

It’s unfortunate that Stronger is being seen by some as “the other Boston Marathon bombing movie” after the release of Patriots Day earlier this year. The comparison shouldn’t even be made, but just in case there are people who might not see Stronger due to the association, let’s debunk and move on. The two could […]

A lack of suspense kills all hope of intrigue in American Assassin starring Dylan O’Brien. Courtesy New Line Cinema

Movie review: American Assassin can’t lose but does anyway

Could there possibly be anything more boring than a supposed spy thriller where the main character wins all the time and is immediately right with every hunch? That’s the experience of watching American Assassin’s Mitch Rapp (Dylan O’Brien), a character who is devoid of real personality so he can more fully embody the many contradictory […]

Coulrophobes beware! The movie version of Stephen King’s supernatural clown thriller "IT" is stylish, well-acted and super scary. Courtesy New Line Cinema

Movie review: Stephen King’s IT balloons with big-screen scares

The film adaptation of Stephen King’s novel IT, long considered unfilmable, has finally reached the big screen, bringing new life and a modern sensibility to a story that is simultaneously nostalgic and damning of selective memory. The decades are swapped—our heroes are growing up in the late 1980s instead of King’s 1950s—but the coulrophobia has […]

Lost in Paris is a French romantic comedy that may miss the mark with American audiences. Courtesy of Oscilloscope

Movie review: Lost in Paris is a slow-moving charmer

Madcap francophone antics and lanky physical comedy are served aplenty in Lost in Paris, the new film from co-writers, co-directors, co-stars and spouses Dominique Abel and Fiona Gordon. Even without knowing that bit of information about the film’s co-creators, it is clear that the pair constructed the cinematography, set pieces, physical humor and punchlines around […]

In An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power Al Gore continues to educate deniers and advocate for climate change initiatives. PARAMOUNT PICTURES

Dire consequences: Al Gore’s agenda is discouraged by current climate

The impact of An Inconvenient Truth, the award-winning film released in 2006, was almost unprecedented for a documentary. There had already been a conversation around climate change, but many advocates and people generally in favor of promoting the notion that it was human-supported often lacked cohesion. One could always cite scientific consensus, but before director […]

The crime drama Wind River, starring Jeremy Renner, boldly portrays hardships faced by residents of Native American reservations. Acacia Filmed Entertainment.

“Wind River” is uncompromisingly tough

Not a single aspect of Wind River is easy to endure, but every shot, frame, line of dialogue, standoff and underlying theme is indispensable. The film turns every convention on its head in a plot involving a murder on a Native American reservation—the investigation is not depicted as a mystery, but implores both its characters […]

Annabelle: Creation is a prequel to a spin-off series, and it might be the most fun you have at the movies this summer. Courtesy Warner Brothers

Annabelle: Creation is a great escape

Who would have known a prequel series to a reboot of a movie based on a book based on a hoax would boast some of the most delightful big-budget horror filmmaking in recent memory? The Annabelle series is one that should not work; kids, spooky dolls and overexplained mythologies are typically the undoing of any […]

Directed by Kathryn Bigelow, Detroit depicts the 1967 Algiers Motel incident that led to a three-day racially charged riot in the Motor City. Photo courtesy of Annapurna Pictures.

Unflinching eye: “Detroit” smolders with tension and brutality

The push for greater representation in cinema, both in front of and behind the camera, is sometimes derided as an academic one that places statistics ahead of quality, of checked boxes over realism. What these critics miss is that representation means greater diversity of perspectives. People of different races, nationalities, genders, religions and sexual orientations […]

I spy: “Atomic Blonde” has obvious twists

Whether it gets the acknowledgment it deserves, we are currently in what might be called a golden age of action filmmaking. Aside from the superhero flicks that seem to be holding the industry afloat, the last few years have seen sea changes in the genre’s presence in the culture. There are the high-profile blockbusters like […]

Bong Joon-ho explores the confluence of corporate farming, moral conflict and true friendship in Okja. Photo courtesy of Netflix

Movie review: Okja

Bong Joon-ho is back once again with Okja, a parable that goes to stylistic extremes to make an existential argument, broadcasting the film’s central metaphor from the very first scene while being far more emotionally and politically trenchant than anticipated. Snowpiercer could have been a straightforward action/sci-fi yarn, but in his hands, it becomes a […]

Discarded from society, The Bad Batch claw their way through a dystopian love story set in Texas. Photo courtesy of Neon.

“The Bad Batch” creates a kind of magic

The release of films in select theaters and on demand simultaneously may be good news for cinephiles in overlooked parts of the country, but the experience of watching a movie as intensely visual and stylistically unrelenting as The Bad Batch can’t help but be diminished as a result. Nothing is different about the composition—every shot […]

Spider-Man: Homecoming delights faithful fans and brings new ones along in Marvel Cinematic Universe’s instant classic update. Photo courtesy Columbia Pictures

Spider-Man: Homecoming weaves a brand new thrill

At first, the biggest surprise move made by Marvel was placing fan favorite (yet far-fetched) Thor on equal footing with the iconic Iron Man and Captain America in its Cinematic Universe. Now we accept the character’s presence as a given. Then the studio defied expectations by establishing phase two of its master plan with new-to-film […]

Baby Driver stars Ansel Elgort as a getaway driver whose heart is not in the robbery game. Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

Baby Driver is a sweet, action-packed ride

Edgar Wright is best known as the master of comedic tributes to genre films that never stoop to parody due to his genuine affection for the source material. He is not the only director to self-consciously employ techniques and tropes from older films, but he is the best at balancing his modernist sensibilities with a […]

Transformers: The Last Night is so disjointed and confusing that it causes inauthentic responses based on audience conditioning, more like Furby reactions than real engagement.
PARAMOUNT PICTURES

New ‘Transformers’ flies apart on reckless plot

Homo sapiens as a species have survived this long partially due to mechanisms in our brain that evoke an instinctive response to stimuli when there is not enough time for a full intellectual analysis. For example, we notice and react to sounds or rustling bushes with curiosity and heightened senses before figuring out whether we […]

Zoë Kravitz, Jillian Bell, Scarlett Johansson, Ilana Glazer and Kate McKinnon star in Rough Night, which is neither a re-hashing of Bridesmaids nor the bawdy crowd pleaser it aspires to be. Courtesy Sony Pictures

Rough Night loses direction on gender gags

The story of Rough Night centers around a disastrous bachelorette weekend organized by an old friend who doesn’t know the difference between entertaining someone and monopolizing her time—which is a distinction the movie itself also has difficulty making. Featuring a terrific cast with great chemistry, a mix of A-listers and promising up-and-comers, and written and […]