Kristofer Jenson

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

Greta stars Isabelle Huppert as a lonely stranger who draws Chloë Grace Moretz into a seemingly harmless friendship. Photo courtesy Focus Features

Crazy good: Isabelle Huppert steals the show in Greta

It’s a thin line between glorious camp and total trainwreck, and Neil Jordan’s Greta may be the new gold standard for the former. A storyline that wouldn’t be out of place in a Lifetime original is elevated by the clear delight of Jordan, his crew, and the top-shelf cast bringing their collective pedigree together to […]

See the Oscar-nominated short films at Violet Crown Cinema on the Downtown Mall.

Quick takes: A roundup of Oscar-nominated short films

Short film blocks are often the highlight of any film festival, but when the Academy Awards come around, audiences are less familiar with them than with other categories. Here’s a rundown of this year’s nominees. Animated Short It would be easy to crown Pixar’s delightful Bao the early favorite on pedigree and name recognition alone, […]

The Lego universe characters battle against Duplo invaders who have turned Bricksburg into a wasteland named Apocalypseburg in The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part. Warner Bros.

Almost awesome: The Lego Movie 2 stacks up well to its predecessor

There’s been a quiet revolution happening in family entertainment for the last few years, where movies with broad popular appeal strive to be more than a way to distract your kid for 90 minutes. Whether children internalize it or not, animated films have been dissecting such weighty themes as willful ignorance and authority worship (Littlefoot), […]

In Destroyer, Nicole Kidman stars as a burned-out detective who’s spurred into action by the revival of a cold case.
ANNAPURNA Pictures

Action flameout: Nicole Kidman’s gritty performance can’t save Destroyer

Director Karyn Kusama is one of the most interesting directors working today who is not a household name. Her most well-known movies—the groundbreaking Girlfight, the misunderstood Jennifer’s Body and the underseen The Invitation—are very-different-but-terrific showcases for her as a technician. With an ability to extract exciting performances from established movie stars, and a mastery of […]

Shoplifters is a masterful portrayal of a struggling Japanese household that unites through circumstances rather than blood. Image courtesy Magnolia Pictures

Found family: Shoplifters turns tradition upside down

In Shoplifters, director Hirokazu Kore-eda explores the beauty and morality that forms within societal fractures. The characters live as any family ought: They are supportive, caring, loving, and do what they must to help each other survive. They uphold the epitome of family values, except they are criminals and none of them are related. Every […]

Kevin Hart and Bryan Cranston star in The Upside, a confusing comedy that doesn’t hold up to the original French version. Photo courtesy STXFILMS

Failed translation: The Upside is slow to show its charm

If you’ve ever listened to somebody tell a joke when they’ve clearly lost track of the punchline, you know the experience of watching The Upside. Full of good intentions and boundless charisma between the performers, every moment of real tension in the film is diffused before getting to the good stuff in this remake based […]

Starring Joaquin Phoenix (above), "You Were Never Really Here" follows the story of a hitman with demons of his own.

Lasting impressions: Three movies you may have missed last year

As the year winds down and awards season approaches, movies that most audiences have never heard of begin to dominate the film news cycle. Limited releases, festival favorites, and critical darlings become the movies to watch according to tastemakers and award-giving organizations, but it can be a bit frustrating to hear so much about films […]

Jason Momoa stars as Aquaman in a DC Extended Universe adventure that never quite breaks the surface. Image courtesy of Warner Bros.

Treading water: Aquaman is as silly as it needs to be

After four disasters and one triumph, the DC Extended Universe offers the middling, non-event Aquaman, directed by James Wan (Saw, The Conjuring, Fast 7). This one is intended for folks seeking a visual experience who don’t care much about remembering what actually happens or why. It’s the sort of movie we might hate had it […]

Alfonso Cuarón’s Roma (above) is an autobiographical epic that has critics swooning. The black-and-white film centers around a middle-class family and the lives of their live-in domestic help in 1970s Mexico City. Image: NETFLIX

Netflix feature films set to impact awards season

After competing with HBO in the original series game, Netflix is now gunning for Hollywood recognition with a slew of prestige film acquisitions helmed by some of the most respected names in show business. Here are a few streaming contenders for Oscar glory. Roma R, 135 minutes (On Netflix December 14) Perhaps the biggest score […]

Widows, starring Viola Davis, turns the traditional heist movie into a smart take on women’s power.
20th Century Fox

Widows wanders but redeems itself in the end

The classic heist movie gets a stylish, topical treatment with Widows, cowritten by Gillian Flynn (Gone Girl) and Steve McQueen (Shame, 12 Years a Slave), who also directed. It could be seen as a gender-swapped caper flick, but with McQueen’s philosophical eye and Flynn’s take on societal expectations, Widows turns into an examination of gendered […]

Bohemian Rhapsody, starring Rami Malek, captures the rise of Queen frontman Freddie Mercury, from his ambitious beginnings as a performer
to the band’s legendary performance at Live Aid in 1985. Photo courtesy 20th Century Fox

Killer Queen: Rami Malek rocks Freddie Mercury biopic

It’s unfortunate that movies about exceptional people usually end up being so conventional. Queen was a band that defied expectations and broke down barriers, redefining what a rock band could be, and Freddie Mercury is not only one of history’s greatest frontmen but an icon for the alienated, particularly for LGBTQ fans. Bohemian Rhapsody, meanwhile, […]

Forty years later, Jamie Lee Curtis still thrills as Laurie Strode in the new Halloween.
Universal Pictures

Fresh blood: An all-new Halloween sheds the plague of sequels

We’ve had Halloween sequels for decades. What’s different this time? The same thing that’s different in found footage, possession movies, even the Amityville franchise: fresh blood, literally and figuratively. For many of the slasher sequels and remakes of the ’80s and ’90s, it was difficult to tell what the filmmaker disliked more, the audience or […]

In First Man, Ryan Gosling turns fear and trial and error into heroism in his portrayal of Neil Armstrong.
UNIVERSAL PICTURES

Mission control: First Man’s storyline falls out of step

As Janet Armstrong, Claire Foy exclaims, “You’re just boys playing with balsa wood models!” to the NASA scientists preventing her from listening to the direct feed of husband Neil’s (Ryan Gosling) test flight. It’s a terrific dressing down of administrators more concerned with public relations than personnel, and a fitting description of space travel as […]

Lady Gaga makes an impressive debut as a leading lady, and Bradley Cooper steps up as director in the (third) remake of A Star is Born. WARNER BROS.

Burning brightly: A Star is Born sizzles with emotion

A Star is Born is a movie about finally getting the chance to shine brightly, an appropriate theme for its two stars, Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper. Already celebrities in their own right, the pair seize the opportunity to explore new dimensions of their art and connect with audiences in fresh ways, Cooper as a first-time […]

The animated Smallfoot’s feel-good story is told by a star-studded cast including Zendaya, James Corden, Common, and LeBron James. Image: Warner Bros.

Stepping stone: Smallfoot offers kids a pathway to big ideas

If you’re going to shamelessly mine classic films for plots, there are worse choices than Planet of the Apes. And if the goal is to keep a child occupied for two hours, you can do worse than Smallfoot. It’s the ultimate synthesis of what makes kids’ movies good without resorting to the lowest common denominator: […]

Jack Black starts in The House With A Clock In Its Wall. Image: Universal Pictures.

Making magic: Jack Black and Cate Blanchett cast a spell

Halloween season is off to a solid start with the pleasant surprise of the kid-friendly horror/fantasy/comedy The House with a Clock in Its Walls. Everything about this movie should be working against it. The marketing makes it seem like another expository, self-contained “adventure” that uses the fact that it’s for children to cover up inconsistencies […]

Wrestling with demons becomes boring as The Nun, starring Taissa Farmiga, devolves into a series of predictable jump scares. Photo courtesy New Line Cinema

Holy hell: The Nun sinks quickly into nonsense

Before we get to just how bad The Nun is, it’s worth taking a moment to appreciate the fact that it’s taken the so-called Conjuring Universe this long to deliver a full-on dud. The tone was effectively set by director James Wan in The Conjuring back in 2013, and even when its successors haven’t matched […]