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davidehrlich has written 217 reviews for films rated ★★½ .

  • Greed

    Greed

    ★★½

    “Greed” is good enough — if only just. A serrated but superficial portrait of how capitalism distances the rich from its consequences, Michael Winterbottom’s damning sendup is often right on the money, but its broadside attacks on the ultra-rich are too obvious to draw any blood or raise our hackles. What more could you really expect from a bitter comedy about a Branson-esque billionaire named Rich McGreedy? Okay, technically the business tycoon that Steve Coogan plays is called Sir Richard…

  • Military Wives

    Military Wives

    ★★½

    A nice enough time that never really aspires to be anything more, “Military Wives” isn’t just the kind of movie that ends with Sister Sledge’s “We Are Family,” it’s the kind of movie that ends with the entire cast singing along. Steered right down the middle by “Full Monty” director Peter Cattaneo (who could make this sort of feel-good fluff with his knickers around his ankles, and shoots it with such basic instincts that you’d almost believe he actually did),…

  • The Friend

    The Friend

    ★★½

    Gabriela Cowperthwaite’s “The Friend,” an honest but insistently scattershot true-life tearjerker adapted from the Esquire article of the same name, starts with its most cogent and powerful scene. Dane — a kind, soft, Totoro of a man played by the always sincere Jason Segel — sits on the porch of a midwestern home and plays a game with two young girls. Inside the house, their parents use the calculated moment of calm to strategize. Matthew Teague (Casey Affleck) sits alone…

  • Mosul

    Mosul

    ★★½

    It’s often said that specificity is the key to making something feel universal. It’s much less often said that universality is the key to making something feel specific. Matthew Michael Carnahan’s intense, relentless, and undeniably visceral “Mosul” — which takes both of these approaches at the same time as if trying to flank the truth from each side — provides all the evidence you’d ever need as to why that might be the case.

    A true enough story inspired by…

  • Guest of Honour

    Guest of Honour

    ★★½

    A riveting but utterly ridiculous melodrama about the burden of guilt and the value of bunny shit, Atom Egoyan’s “Guest of Honour” layers one absurd turn on top of another with the confidence of a veteran architect, and yet — even at its most perversely entertaining — this very unpredictable movie only feels as if it’s working in spite of itself.

    Egoyan, a Canadian filmmaker who found success at a young age with hits like “Speaking Parts” and “The Sweet…

  • The King

    The King

    ★★½

    A large-budget, medieval war movie that’s loosely based on Shakespeare’s “Henriad” and the historical events that inspired those plays, David Michôd’s “The King” is so eager to be a mud-and-guts epic about inherited violence and the corruption of power that it loses sight of the rich coming-of-age story at its core. It’s hard for a good man to be king, and it’s even harder for a king to be a good man — that idea only feels relevant to the…

  • Wasp Network

    Wasp Network

    ★★½

    Even Wayne Gretzky missed the net a couple of times over the course of his career. An overstuffed espionage thriller that bites off more than it can chew and never manages to find its footing, Olivier Assayas’ “Wasp Network” is an exceedingly rare gaffe from one of the greatest filmmakers of the last 30 years. Even so, his restless genius can still be felt percolating below the surface and struggling to come up for air. While this scattered, staccato dramatization…

  • Joker

    Joker

    ★★½

    Todd Phillips’ “Joker” is unquestionably the boldest reinvention of “superhero” cinema since “The Dark Knight”; a true original that’s sure to be remembered as one of the most transgressive studio blockbusters of the 21st Century. It’s also a toxic rallying cry for self-pitying incels, and a hyper-familiar origin story so indebted to “Taxi Driver” and “The King of Comedy” that Martin Scorsese probably deserves an executive producer credit. It’s possessed by the kind of provocative spirit that’s seldom found in…

  • A Girl Missing

    A Girl Missing

    ★★½

    A middle-aged woman living in suburban Japan and eager to make new friends, Risa (Tsutsui Mariko), has one of those faces that makes people feel like they’ve met her before; like they’ve already learned everything there is to know about this perfect stranger before they’ve even said “hello.” It’s enough to unnerve Risa’s handsome new hairstylist (Ikematsu Sosuke), who swears that he recognizes her even as he works on changing the way she looks. Fukada Kōji’s fractured and distant new…

  • Where'd You Go, Bernadette

    Where'd You Go, Bernadette

    ★★½

    “Where’d You Go, Bernadette” makes perfect sense as a Richard Linklater movie. In fact, this half-baked and eccentric tale of a modern woman getting her groove back — adapted from Maria Semple’s decidedly uncinematic novel of the same name — might only make sense as a Richard Linklater movie.

    From the maverick likes of “Slacker” and “Boyhood” to the more studio-polished fare of “School of Rock” and “Me and Orson Welles,” Austin’s most inquisitive auteur has always been drawn to…

  • The Peanut Butter Falcon

    The Peanut Butter Falcon

    ★★½

    On paper, “The Peanut Butter Falcon” sounds like a cursed film; like a straight-faced parody of the quirkiest and most nauseatingly schematic American indies. The title alone takes you back to the awful darkness of “Napoleon Dynamite,” and the premise — a winsome young wrestling fan with Down syndrome escapes from his care facility with the help of a depressed crab fisherman played by Shia LaBeouf — could’ve been cobbled together by a computer program that’s been fed 20 years’…

  • Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark

    Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark

    ★★½

    The late American writer and folklorist Alvin Schwartz tapped into the minds of young readers and traumatized generations of eager children by telling otherwise PG-13 horror tales with a transgressive, R-rated glee that made kids feel like they had read something they weren’t supposed to. There’s hardly a millennial in the United States who wasn’t happily scarred by the three volumes of Schwartz’s “Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark” series, and couldn’t describe Stephen Gammell’s rotting illustrations to their…