James White (2015)

Along with another one of last year’s directorial debuts – John Magary’s The Mend – Josh Mond’s James White signals a new direction for New York indie cinema. Inspired by the improvisational energy of early Cassavettes and Jarmusch’s calculated coolness, James White offers an unconventional coming-of-age narrative that incorporates tragedy without allowing it to sublimate…

Cartel Land (2015)

Cartel Land was one of 2015’s most successful documentaries, earning a cavalcade of critical praise and even an Oscar nomination. It’s not hard to see why; Matthew Heineman’s film combines a contentious contemporary issue – Mexico’s fraught, cartel-dominated ‘drug war’ and tensions along the U.S.A./Mexico border – with kinetic, ‘can-you-fucking-believe-they-got-that-shot’ cinematography. It’s the kind of…

Trumbo (2015)

For a film about a screenwriter’s perseverance for creative expression, Trumbo is rarely as inspired or diligent. Based on the life of Dalton Trumbo (Bryan Cranston), director Jay Roach’s biopic settles for a cordial yet straight-laced snapshot of 1950s Hollywood, unable to elevate political and libertarian motifs off the page. After being unjustly imprisoned for his…

Brooklyn (2015)

Brooklyn is a chick-flick with credentials. That is to say: a well-acted, beautifully staged period melodrama. The film chronicles the challenges faced by a young woman, Eilis Lacey (Saoirse Ronan), as she journeys from Ireland to the States in search of opportunity. Unquestionably small in scope, Brooklyn shines as it draws from the poignant well of…