Kristofer Jenson

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

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 […]

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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 […]

Matthew McConaughey leads a small group of Civil War rebels to challenge the Confederacy in Free State of Jones. Photo: STX Productions

Film review: Free State of Jones suffers from ambition

Free State of Jones has heart, it certainly has brains, yet any semblance of a body for either to do its job properly is nowhere to be found. Supposedly the story of Newton Knight, the controversial leader of a rebellion against the Confederacy in Jones County, Mississippi, Jones is little more than a sequence of […]

Colin Farrell stars in The Lobster, an odd, societal critique that operates way outside the box. Photo: A24

Film review: The Lobster is a unique, bizarre surprise

It’s little surprise that The Lobster, the English-language directorial debut of award-winning Greek filmmaker Yorgos Lanthimos (Dogtooth), has left quite the impression on audiences and critics alike. In its limited release it has garnered rave reviews and generated word-of-mouth notoriety that reaches far beyond its modest marketing campaign. What is surprising is just how comfortable […]

X-Men: Apocalypse, starring Jennifer Lawrence, finds Fox studios losing territory in the superhero franchise market. Photo: 20th Century Fox

Film review: X-Men: Apocalypse has too many heroes, loses cred

When Marvel first sold the film rights to its biggest properties —Spider-Man, X-Men, Fantastic Four—it was not yet aware of the gold mine that awaited it with The Avengers series. And at first, Sony and Fox were doing interesting things with their acquisitions; the first two Spider-Man movies by Sam Raimi are industry-defining milestones for […]

Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe are The Nice Guys in Shane Black’s latest detective duo film. Photo: Warner Bros.

Film review: The Nice Guys

For the first time in his impressive career, the Shane Black formula never clicks. The Nice Guys, a somewhat enjoyable mystery-comedy, feels more like a filmmaker doing an impression of the writer-director than the work of the man himself. First, an assessment of what makes Black’s work stand out. More than any other modern filmmaker, […]

Captain America (Chris Evans) and Ironman (Robert Downey Jr.) tussle over superhero rights in Civil War, the latest franchise installment. Photo: Walt Disney Company

Captain America: Civil War plays off Marvel subplot

The world is a different place than it was eight years ago, when Iron Man launched the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s unprecedented ascendance to critical and commercial acclaim. Superhero movies, once seen as a pariah on the medium, have become the main cash cow for major studios. And we’re way past the point of making movies […]

Emerging filmmaker Jeremy Saulnier shoots Green Room, starring Alia Shawkat and Anton Yelchin, full of cleverly constructed, violent thrills. Photo: West End Films

Film review: Green Room scores with a convergence of values

It’s not just cultures that clash in Jeremy Saulnier’s Green Room, when a series of unfortunate events finds left-wing punk band The Ain’t Rights playing at a remote club for neo-Nazi skinheads. After bassist Amber (Alia Shawkat) accidentally witnesses the scene of a murder in the club’s green room—the place acts go before and after […]

The ’80s youth culture feature Everybody Wants Some!! is earning comparisons to director Richard Linklater’s cult classic, Dazed and Confused. Photo: Paramount Pictures

Film review: Everybody Wants Some!! appeals to base instincts

If there’s one thing Richard Linklater knows, it’s spiritual sequels. His last film, the award-winning Boyhood, evoked much of the same feelings as his before series (Before Sunrise, Before Sunset, Before Midnight) in its exploration of the inherent drama of something as simple as the passage of time. His rotoscoped mind trip Waking Life was […]

Disney’s update of The Jungle Book, starring Neel Sethi as Mowgli, retains all the wild fun of the 1967 animated original. Photo: Disney Enterprises

Film review: The Jungle Book gets a magical restyling

No matter how cynical you may be about the Disney brand, no matter how aware you are of the manipulation of your sentimentality, five minutes in, The Jungle Book will make you forget or not care as you find yourself becoming a believer. The recent spate—and forthcoming slate—of Disney live-action remakes of its own catalogue […]

Ben Affleck dons the Batman mask to challenge Henry Cavill’s Superman in a battle to set up the sequel. Photo: Warner Bros.

Film review: Batman v Superman is all about the future

We’ve reached, it seems, a place in our relationship with comic book movies that the particulars of an individual plot matter less than the promise of future installments. The parts of Zack Snyder’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice that work are those that are almost completely devoid of meaning to the movie around them, […]