Kristofer Jenson

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

Natalie Portman carries the role of widow and former first lady in Jackie. Courtesy of 20th Century Fox

Movie review: Jackie explores a new point of view

The myth of the Kennedys and Camelot is so interwoven in the fabric of American history and identity that we often forget how intentionally it was constructed to be just that. The style, the dinners, the decorations, everything was carefully planned to project a particular image that would inspire Americans and survive long after the […]

Casey Affleck and Lucas Hedges star in Kenneth Lonergan’s powerful, Oscar-ready drama, Manchester by the Sea. Courtesy of Roadside Attractions

Manchester by the Sea sails on love and loss

Tragedy and comedy are, in fact, bedfellows when both are taken very seriously, and rarely is this relationship captured as well as it is in Manchester by the Sea. Writer-director Kenneth Lonergan’s meditation on love, loss and moving on strikes this balance with ease, and it’s a masterpiece in its own right for its emotional […]

Rolf Lassgård stars in the Swedish film A Man Called Ove, which is a thoughtful look at loss and rediscovery through a humorous lens. Music Box Films

The rare quality of A Man Called Ove

Leave it to the Swedes to make a comedy-drama about an elderly widower’s unsuccessful attempts at suicide into the feel-good movie of 2016. A Man Called Ove strikes a rare balance between sardonicism and optimism, between hope and hilarious misanthropy, and succeeds thanks to excellent performances and a thoughtful story that would have drowned in […]

Warren Beatty puts the charm and challenge of the old Hollywood studio system on screen in Rules Don’t Apply. Courtesy of 20th century Fox

Warren Beatty takes on the legend of Howard Hughes

The great Warren Beatty returns after a 15-year hiatus with Rules Don’t Apply, a Howard Hughes-centered passion project that has existed in the Hollywood icon’s mind since the early 1970s. Beatty rarely commits to a project halfway, and his fascination with the subject, setting and era of the film is evident in both his performance […]

J.K. Rowling’s Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (starring Eddie Redmayne) takes wizardry to a new time and place. Courtesy Warner Bros.

Movie review: Fantastic Beasts weaves many stories into one

The best and worst attributes of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them are one and the same: its ambition. The concept is a fun one—exploring J.K. Rowling’s world of wizardry and witchcraft at a different time and a location outside of Hogwarts with brand new characters—that opens up the door to endless possibilities. Magic […]

Moonlight, with Alex Hibbert and Mahershala Ali, is a three-part story that follows the life of a Miami child through adolescence and into adulthood. Courtesy A24

Moonlight traces a powerful journey

Socially important and stylistically flawless, Barry Jenkins’ Moonlight is a beautiful film inside and out. Far more than a worthwhile message about LGBT visibility wrapped in a pretty package, Moonlight is a fully realized three-dimensional look at the evolution of a person from child to adult —changes that seem gradual are often direct threads visible […]

Based on a true story of faith, Hacksaw Ridge centers around conscientious objector Desmond T. Doss (Andrew Garfield) and his World War II heroics. Courtesy Summit Entertainment

Mel Gibson uses Hacksaw Ridge to revive faith

Love him or hate him, personally or as a filmmaker, Mel Gibson has never made a movie halfway. Whether it’s reviving dead languages, plunging the camera into the heart of a bloody battle or crafting messianic imagery both metaphorical and literal, you can always trust that the image you’re seeing on the screen is precisely […]

Liv Ullman appears at the Culbreth Theatre on Thursday for a discussion hosted by Michael Barker of Sony Pictures Classics. She will introduce a screening of Liv & Ingmar on Friday at Vinegar Hill Theatre.
Image courtesy of VFF

Liv Ullman discusses artistic relationship with Ingmar Bergman

Fifty years after their first collaboration and twelve since their last, the personal and professional relationship between Liv Ullmann and Ingmar Bergman stands as perhaps the most towering and productive in all of film history. Ullmann is often described as Bergman’s “muse,” a term that somewhat applies given her appearance in twelve of his films, […]

"The Love Witch" Courtesy of Oscilloscope Laboratories

Six films that break through at the Virginia Film Festival

Always Shine Writer-director Sophia Takal’s psychological thriller Always Shine is a thoughtful exploration of the performative nature of all social interactions, whether between actor and director, business and customer, individual and society and even between supposed best friends. Beth (Caitlin FitzGerald) and Anna (Mackenzie Davis) are both actresses living in Los Angeles who have had […]

Tom Cruise returns in Jack Reacher: Never Go Back, a lackluster sequel that fails to jumpstart the action flick franchise. Photo couresty of Paramount

Jack Reacher sequel hits the wall

No one expected a sequel to 2012’s Jack Reacher, a somewhat successful yet not terribly memorable franchise starter for Tom Cruise. Even more surprised by the announcement of a sequel, evidently, were the filmmakers and cast, leaving Jack Reacher: Never Go Back as one of the most rushed, slapdash, confusing and arguably unfinished movies with […]

Ben Affleck stars as Christian Wolff, a seemingly meek CPA with a mysterious past. Courtesy of Warner Bros.

The Accountant banks on simpler times

Who knew a straightforward, predictable, high-concept action mystery starring Batman on his off-season would be just the palate cleanser we needed this year? Gavin O’Connor’s The Accountant harkens back to a simpler time in the film industry, before every member of every superhero team needed his own spin-off series, when the central idea behind an […]

Deepwater Horizon stars Mark Wahlberg as engineer Mike Williams in a depiction of the greatest natural disaster in U.S. history. Photo courtesy of Lionsgate

Deepwater Horizon is a gripping take on true disaster

The ensuing oil spill following the explosion and sinking of semi-submersible Mobile Offshore Drilling Unit Deepwater Horizon in 2011 devastated states along the Gulf Coast for years to come. It was the worst natural disaster—and largest corporate settlement—in United States history. But before the constant media coverage, before the horrendously painful hearings in which BP […]

Madina Nalwanga plays chess champion Phiona Mutesi in Queen of Katwe, an uplifting true story that breaks with Disney convention. Imagae courtesy of Disney

Disney’s Queen of Katwe changes the game

On the surface, Disney’s Queen of Katwe is a feel-good, fact-based movie whose familiarity is part of its charm. Based on the life of Ugandan chess prodigy Phiona Mutesi, the film, directed by Mira Nair (Monsoon Wedding, Mississippi Masala), confidently navigates the Disney underdog formula, yet finds personal and occasionally political depth in its subject’s […]


Blair Witch loses its cool in modern remake

Found footage movies, though often disparaged as too heavily reliant on gimmicks, jump scares and bad writing, have arguably grown up in the last few years. Creep, currently viewable on Netflix, was a production involving only two people on the screen, yet was far more terrifying than most big-budget horror films of the last decade. […]

Sully stars Tom Hanks as hero pilot Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger who famously flew his addled plane into the Hudson River and saved all passengers aboard. Courtesy of Warner Bros.

Sully awakens an understanding of human potential

On January 15, 2009, experienced pilot and aviation safety expert Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger saved the lives of all 155 people aboard US Airways Flight 1549, including his own, with only 208 seconds to turn what could have been a major disaster into the miracle the world saw. A collision with geese had disabled both engines, […]

The Innocents considers what matters most to a group of nuns left traumatized by rape in the wake of World War II. Photo courtesy of Music Box Films

The Innocents challenges the structure of faith

Director Anne Fontaine’s The Innocents takes place in Warsaw in December 1945, when much of the world was ecstatic at the conclusion of World War II, yet those most affected were too deeply traumatized to feel anything close to relief. And for many in the occupied territory of Poland, the horrors continued long after hostilities […]

Don’t Breathe unravels after a group of friends, including Dylan Minnette, botch a robbery of a blind man and wind up being terrorized. Courtesy of Sony Pictures

Don’t Breathe is overcome with bad choices

No film is completely perfect, but it takes a special kind of wrongheadedness to make a decision that completely divorces an audience from enjoyment by being both morally repugnant and betraying its own narrative. This is the experience of watching Don’t Breathe, technical wunderkind Fede Alvarez’s follow-up to his promising remake of Evil Dead, which […]

Laika Entertainment’s Kubo and the Two Strings tells a familiar, heroic story through innovative stop-motion animation. Courtesy of Laika Entertainment

Kubo and the Two Strings unfolds beautifully

There is a common refrain in some cinephile circles that the main problem with 2016’s reliance on muddy, lifeless reboots and sequels is a lack of original ideas in Hollywood. While there may be some truth to that, it does not explain the failure of the individual films themselves. Suicide Squad didn’t have to be […]

A re-imagining of Disney's cherished family film, PETE'S DRAGON is the story of Pete and his best friend Elliot, who just happens to be a dragon.

Pete’s Dragon is much-needed summer movie magic

From amid the anger over uninspired sequels and reboots this summer emerges Pete’s Dragon, a delightful family movie that’s firm on its own foundation and follows its own creative vision while using its source material as a platform to reach new heights. Ostensibly remaking Disney’s 1977 live-action-with-animation fantasy that is goofy and endearing, but—let’s be […]

Margot Robbie and Jared Leto are part of the all-star group of villains that battles a witch and saves the planet in Suicide Squad. Photo: Warner Bros.

Film review: Suicide Squad’s cast of characters fail to impress

David Ayer’s Suicide Squad is DC’s first attempt at unshackling its Extended Universe from Zack Snyder’s hollow style and unrelenting gloom, with an eye to demonstrating that building a franchise around the Justice League is a worthwhile endeavor on its own and it’s not just piggybacking on Marvel’s formula for The Avengers. On both counts, […]

Jason Bourne provides little onscreen evidence to justify the return of leading man Matt Damon (above) and director Paul Greengrass. (UNIVERSAL PICTURES)

Film Review: Jason Bourne

A key element of the Bourne franchise’s endurance is the thrill of watching amnesiac super-spy Jason Bourne run headfirst into his past with nothing more than his skills and a belief there is an answer somewhere in the darkness. The Bourne Ultimatum—the third film in what we can now safely say should have remained a trilogy—ended […]

Critically acclaimed French crime drama Dheepan opens in the U.S. after being awarded the Palme d’Or in 2015. Photo: IFC

Film review: Dheepan earns accolades through complex storytelling

Jacques Audiard’s Dheepan comes stateside after claiming the 2015 Palme d’Or, a prize well-earned for this masterful, seemingly effortless balancing act of ripped-from-the-headlines narrative with slow-burn psychodrama. Though stylistically similar to politically minded social realists, Audiard never betrays individuality in the name of scoring ideological points. The film neither ignores nor tempers the politics inherent […]

The cinematically inventive Greek comedy Chevalier plays with the outrageous side of male insecurity. Photo: Strand Releasing

Film review: Chevalier turns quiet judgment into a game of wits

Greek comedy Chevalier, from Athina Rachel Tsangari, has the potential to be the quietest artistic revolution in recent cinematic history. Dry as a bone yet laugh-out-loud hilarious, steady in pace yet always keeping the threat of a bloody, outrageous conclusion within reach, Tsangari masterfully elevates a story that would feel right at home in a […]

In Weiner, Josh Kriegman and Elyse Steinberg follow former congressman Anthony Weiner’s quest to overcome a sex scandal, when a second one breaks out. Photo: IFC

Film review: Weiner documents political unraveling in real time

Fly-on-the-wall political documentary Weiner begins with a loaded, world-weary sigh from its subject, former congressman Anthony Weiner. “Shit. This is the worst, doing a documentary on my scandal.” Directors Josh Kriegman and Elyse Steinberg then launch into a montage of extremes: the many puns and potshots that ensued, as well as scenes from the House […]

uby Barnhill and Mark Rylance join forces with Steven Spielberg and Disney to make The BFG a gorgeous, fantastic journey. Photo courtesy of Disney.

Film review: Spielberg lends his midas touch to The BFG

Though his name is practically synonymous with groundbreaking artistic vision, Steven Spielberg’s second wind may just be his greatest, most unprecedented achievement yet. After Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull—the perfunctory sequel in which it was clear that all returning parties were running on autopilot with little personal investment in the result—Spielberg […]