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New movie reviews: Critics' picks

Check out the best new movies, as reviewed by Time Out's critics, then find showtimes and buy movie tickets.

New movies we love

Trainwreck

Amy Schumer is a comedy superwoman: Her stand-up is funny as hell, she’s a viral sensation, and lately she’s become every feminist’s girl crush. Now she’s the best thing to happen to Hollywood since the Tina Fey/Amy Poehler double act. Schumer’s new autobiographical comedy, Trainwreck, about a commitment-phobic NYC writer, is the funniest film of the summer—outrageous and out to make you think. The posters say “from the guy who brought you Bridesmaids” (meaning superproducer Judd Apatow), but Trainwreck is more of a straightforward rom-com, with one big difference: Schumer plays the traditional “man” role. She’s hard-partying, promiscuous Amy, a writer for a Maxim-esque rag that publishes articles like “How to talk your girlfriend into a three-way.” But when assigned to interview a sports surgeon (Bill Hader, adorable), Amy cracks and gets serious.  Trainwreck isn’t perfect. An emotionally weak ending feels like a cop-out. But you can forgive this film a lot. You forget how limited so many movies’ ideas of women are until Schumer launches into an extended tampon joke. It’s a film about everyday sexism and double standards. Schumer is calling this stuff out, but you only realize this when you stop laughing. Wince-inducing in many ways, Trainwreck has its priorities right.

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Tangerine

A reinvigorating reminder of what indie filmmaking can—and should—do, this bracingly brilliant new movie from Starlet writer-director Sean Baker (who co-wrote the script with Chris Bergoch) tells an L.A. story so florid and electric that it feels like a Pedro Almodóvar remake of Crank. Set over the course of a sunbaked Christmas Eve in Southern California, the premise explodes out of the gate: Sin-Dee Rella (Kitana Kiki Rodriguez) is a rambunctious trans prostitute who’s just been unleashed from a 28-day stint in prison. Enjoying a celebratory snack at Donut Time with her best friend and colleague Alexandra (Mya Taylor), Sin-Dee learns that her pimp boyfriend, Chester (James Ransone), has been sleeping around. Adding insult to injury, the girl he’s been sleeping with has a vagina. And so begins a roaring rampage of revenge. (Sin‑Dee’s furious first steps out of the restaurant are appropriately punctuated with blasts of gunfire on the soundtrack.) If Sin-Dee is the boiling blood of Baker’s movie, Alexandra is its beating heart. Most of the story is seen through her eyes as she follows the wake of her colead’s carnage. A proud fixture of Los Angeles’ seediest streets, Alexandra has just started taking the hormones required for her body to catch up with her sense of self, and the vagrant path she cuts across the city palpably conveys the vulnerability of being trans in a world where people cling to their genders for shelter.

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The Look of Silence

Joshua Oppenheimer's 2012 documentary The Act of Killing was a radical, disquieting thing: a bizarre forum for Indonesia's genocidal leaders (still feared nearly 50 years after their anti-Communist purge) to recreate their murders as fantasy skits. Dressing up as gangsters, these happy butchers seemed to really enjoy themselves, and if Oppenheimer never quite challenged them on their self-described heroism, his film ended up being a quiet indictment, trembling in the presence of evil men.The Look of Silence is Oppenheimer's staggering follow-up. It was made roughly in tandem with The Act of Killing (and sourced from the same research) and is the film for those who feel the director didn't go far enough. A superior work of confrontational boldness, it might be the movie Oppenheimer wanted to make in the first place. Again, we sit with the perpetrators, who speak of drinking their victims' blood or knifing hundreds of people down by a river. Shamelessly, a pair of ex-militia men make their way through the reeds and smile for photos at the site.But this time, the provocative presence of Adi, an optician whose older brother was among those killed, makes everyone squirm. 

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Dope

You’ve seen L.A.’s menacing Inglewood before—a hood of bouncing low-riders and uneasy staredowns—but not, we’re guessing, in an indie comedy that totally reinvents the teens-on-a-wacky-misadventure movie. Dope presents a trio of lovable dorks: Malcolm (Shameik Moore), Jib (The Grand Budapest Hotel’s Tony Revolori) and Diggy (Kiersey Clemons). What do they like doing? Getting good grades, listening to classic ’90s hip-hop, BMX biking and playing in their punk band, Oreo (zing). You know, Malcolm says: “white stuff.”  Writer-director Rick Famuyiwa never quite sends his nerdlings to the slaughterhouse, even as they accidentally get involved in a drug deal and the Molly underworld. Instead, he doubles down on an applying-to-Harvard satire that both upends demographic expectations while insisting (at times a bit strenuously) that we all aim a little higher. Dope has thrilling moments and flies like Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, but its caustic intelligence glints fast and furious. Follow Joshua Rothkopf on Twitter: @joshrothkopf

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Inside Out

It’s all in the mind in Pixar’s latest, a delightful, frenetic, near-experimental animated film from the makers of Up and Toy Story. Pixar fans will be in seventh heaven with the film’s bold thinking—and kids will be straining to listen to imaginary voices in their heads—after diving into the mind of Riley, an 11-year-old girl whose tiny world is turned upside down when she moves from Minnesota to San Francisco with her mom and dad. It’s a simple story, featuring a new school and nervous parents. But the real drama goes on in Riley’s head, where we meet Joy (Amy Poehler), Fear (Bill Hader), Anger (Lewis Black), Disgust (Mindy Kaling) and Sadness (Phyllis Smith), each of them sharing a physicality to match their temperament. Disgust gives great sneer, while Anger is red, squat and prone to shooting fire out of his head. We watch each of them fight for control over Riley’s life, and when Joy and Sadness go AWOL from their psychological HQ, we take a tour of some crazy mental byways, including the Abstract Thinking Department, where Joy and Sadness briefly become 2-D characters and then, momentarily, one-color squiggles. There’s too much to sponge up in one viewing. Blink and you’ll miss a character saying, “These facts and opinions look so similar,” when passing boxes marked FACTS and OPINIONS. We leave the subconscious (“where they take all the troublemakers”) too quickly, and then it’s on to the Dream Department, where we see the day’s memories being adapted into drama. At

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Love & Mercy

Beach Boy genius Brian Wilson loved being nestled in the recording studio, especially, as Love & Mercy suggests, when the other guys were off chasing Barbara Anns in every port. To watch the delicate Paul Dano (a magically right choice with a beautiful voice) steer his ace session band through what would become Pet Sounds is to have a piece of essential rock history recreated right before your eyes. Bobby pins rattle charmingly on piano wires, bicycle bells chime, and “even the happy songs sound sad” (per pissed-off bandmate Mike Love). Wilson, a pop savant, was chasing some kind of dragon, and as the movie toggles years forward to the scared, overmedicated Wilson of the 1980s (John Cusack, absorbingly strange in the tougher part), you sense that the dragon bit back. Half the film moves toward mental breakdown, the other half toward emancipation. Best seen as an L.A. psychodrama that sometimes plays like Boogie Nights or Safe, sometimes like its own beast, Love & Mercy does an exquisite job with the interior spaces: cozy vocal booths, locked-off bedrooms, air-conditioned safety zones. (Not for nothing is a two-minute Wilson masterpiece called “In My Room.”) The script is by Oren Moverman, who performed a kind of jujitsu on Bob Dylan in Todd Haynes’s I’m Not There—his Wilson story is a lot more traditional, but more moving as well. There are some too-obvious metaphors (i.e., Brian struggling in the deep end of a swimming pool), but you forgive them.  As stunning as the two l

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Me and Earl and the Dying Girl

The Citizen Kane of teen cancer tearjerkers, Alfonso Gomez-Rejon’s funny and bruising Sundance sensation is like The Fault in Our Stars remade for Criterion Collection fetishists. Ostensibly spun from the same cloth as most YA dramas, the film latches on to a generic high-school kid named Greg (Thomas Mann) who spends all of his time making parody versions of classic films (i.e. Eyes Wide Butts, The 400 Bros) with his “coworker” Earl (excellent newcomer RJ Cyler). The videos are a great expression of Greg’s cinephilia, but what’s the use in making so many movies if none of them are truly your own? Conveniently for Greg, a local girl named Rachel (Olivia Cooke) has just been diagnosed with leukemia, and there’s no greater catalyst for a pubescent male movie character to come into his own than that. Despite an occasionally stilted pace and a few cartoonish touches (Molly Shannon plays Rachel’s mom with a broad sexual frustration that clashes with the rest of the material), Earl develops a rare emotional heft, particularly when Greg is pressured to make Rachel an original film. The project forces Greg to eclipse his influences and risk doing something that puts himself on the line, and Earl follows suit. Thanks to a restless visual dexterity and a brilliantly deployed soundtrack of Brian Eno tunes (Gomez-Rejon used to work for Scorsese, and it shows), this spirited but safely familiar pastiche of John Hughes and Wes Anderson is eventually compelled to become its own thing, embr

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Slow West

For those of you who can't even remember what the last decent Western was, here's a witty, dirt-caked indie to take your mind off the question

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Far From the Madding Crowd

Burning with understated passion and a fine central performance from Carey Mulligan, Thomas Hardy’s romantic classic comes to life in an adaptation that’s far from stodgy.

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