Billy Crudup

In space, simply scary beats too much talking

The crew of the Covenant, in better times.

Alien: Covenant, the eighth of the Alien series of films, feels like an old friend from whom you’ve long since grown apart, but with whom you’ll still grab a beer and listen to the same stories and jokes. The film checks all the series boxes, and delivers all the same jolts, but ultimately cannot break out of its own constraints.  

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Spinning Platters film critics present their top 10 films of 2016

Spinning Platters film critics Carrie Kahn and Chad Liffmann each share their ten favorite films of 2016. Here is Carrie’s list, presented, unlike last year’s alphabetized list, in descending rank order. And you can check out Chad’s list here to see which one of us you agree with more!

10.) Nocturnal Animals

Tony (Jake Gyllenhaal, middle) arrives at a possible crime scene with lawman Bobby Andes (Michael Shannon, r.).

Sometimes the story-within-the-story convention can be confusing or feel gimmicky, but in this visually stunning picture from fashion designer turned filmmaker Tom Ford, the technique works to terrific effect. Amy Adams, as a woman haunted by a decision she made years ago, reads a manuscript sent to her by her ex-husband Edward (Jake Gyllenhaal), and that story comes alive on screen in the form of family man Tony (Gyllenhaal again) and his confrontation with some dangerous, deranged miscreants. Ford’s keen aesthetic vision and sharp performances by Adams, Gyllenhaal, and Michael Shannon as a tenacious lawman combine to make this brutally poetic but utterly captivating film one of the year’s most definitively unusual. (You can also read my full-length review here.)

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Film Review: Spotlight

by Carrie Kahn on November 13, 2015

Power of the press is real hero of McCarthy’s inspiring, well-executed picture

The Boston Globe Spotlight team (from left: Rachel McAdams, Michael Keaton, and Mark Ruffalo) uncover a major story.

Writer/director Tom McCarthy is perhaps best known for his character-driven films like The Station Agent, The Visitor, and Up. With his new film Spotlight, though, McCarthy stresses the story itself, yet his film proves just as successful – if not actually more so – than his earlier pictures that favored rich character development. Indeed, not since 1976’s All the President’s Men has a film so deftly and engagingly captured the heart-pounding excitement of intrepid reporters uncovering a major story of enormous national significance.

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