Ethan Hawke introduces an unsung country renegade in the intimate biopic Blaze

B+

Of the many challenges writer-director Ethan Hawke dealt himself in dramatizing the life of unsung country musician Blaze Foley, the biggest of them is simply justifying the exercise. Foley wasn’t a household name, at least for anyone who didn’t grow up behind a Texarkana dive bar, and his discography is limited to a…

Ethan Hawke launches record label with hilariously cool name

Ethan Hawke may have come across as a bit snobbish when he suggested that superhero movies can’t be “great,” but—with total, uncharacteristic sincerity—we have now determined that he really does have the right to make sweeping judgements like that. This is because he and his friends Louis Black and Charlie Sexton have…

Rose Byrne and Ethan Hawke swap mash emails in the tepid Nick Hornby rom-com Juliet, Naked

C+

Neither Romeo nor nudity makes an appearance in Juliet, Naked, a labored romantic comedy adapted from Nick Hornby’s 2009 novel. In fact, there isn’t even a title character—Juliet is the name of an album by fictional indie rocker Tucker Crowe (Ethan Hawke), who disappeared between sets of a gig back in the ’90s, never…

Ethan Hawke reveals the best Shakespeare advice he ever got on The Late Show 

With Ethan Hawke on hand to promote his role in Paul Schrader’s well-reviewed new movie First Reformed, Late Show host Stephen Colbert and the actor spent much of their time talking Shakespeare instead. Well, first, Hawke geeked out over how Colbert’s Ed Sullivan Theater once hosted Elvis Presley, only to find out…

Paul Schrader's transcendent, outrageous First Reformed gives Ethan Hawke one of his best roles

B+

The title of First Reformed, Paul Schrader’s best film in a very long time, refers to an old abolitionist church in upstate New York, a metaphor for Christianity’s neglected values. The First Reformed has no congregation to speak of, only visitors and tourists, and its care has fallen into the hands of a lost soul,…

Gary Oldman plays Churchill, and a revitalized Paul Schrader gives Ethan Hawke one of his best roles

“Did Jesus worry about being liked?” The unexpected surprise of this year’s TIFF turned out to be Paul Schrader’s First Reformed (Grade: B+), a grotesque dual homage to Diary Of A Country Priest and Winter Light in which the alcoholic rector of a nearly empty church in upstate New York is asked to hide a suicide bomb…

Luc Besson’s space romp Valerian And The City Of A Thousand Planets is fun if you can stand the dumb

B-

Whatever one may think of Luc Besson’s futuristic space opera Valerian And The City Of A Thousand Planets, the idea of spending a cool $225 million so that Rihanna can mount a stripper pole and recite some lines from the poet Paul Verlaine’s “A Poor Young Shepherd” to an audience of one (in full high-tech space suit,…

In A Valley Of Violence finds Ti West stumbling outside of horror

C+

Denton, a dusty, one-saloon town that once served a silver mine, long since forgotten by both God and commerce. There’s a general store, an empty hotel (“the whores left with the silver”), and not much else to do, other than drink at that one saloon. This is the personal fiefdom of Clyde Martin (John Travolta,…

Richard Linklater looks back on his life so far in Dream Is Destiny

B

Even devoted fans of filmmaker Richard Linklater might question the need for Louis Black and Karen Bernstein’s bio-doc Richard Linklater: Dream Is Destiny. Only in his mid-50s—and arguably at the peak of his career after the major awards and box office success of 2014’s Boyhood—the writer-director has so much work…

Denzel Washington and Chris Pratt rustle up a posse in the new Magnificent Seven trailer

Somewhere between The Ridiculous 6 and The Hateful Eight lies The Magnificent Seven, Antoine Fuqua’s upcoming homage to Westerns. The teaser trailer set up the initial premise, which is drawn from the 1960 film of the same name, which was drawn from 1954’s Japanese film Seven Samurai. So it’s a tale as old as time—or,…

See some stellar movies (and Craig Robinson!) at this weekend’s Chicago Film Critics Festival

The weekend is upon us, and for many of us here at The A.V. Club—writers and readers alike—that means trekking out to the nearest theater to catch a movie (or seven). Sure, you could see that unplayable iPhone game or that unnecessary (but apparently solid) comedy sequel or Civil War for a third time. But if you…

Maggie’s Plan is the off-brand version of a delightful Greta Gerwig comedy

C+

Maggie (Greta Gerwig) has a plan all right, and it just might be crazy enough to work. Two years after wooing a married man out of his marriage, she’s found trouble in paradise and a whole mess of second thoughts. If only there was some way she could… give him back, effectively rebuilding the home she’s wrecked.…