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The best movies to see this month

Our film critics highlight the 10 best movies released in U.S. theaters for the month of April

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The biggest summer movies of 2015

This summer’s shaping up to be one of the best we’ve seen in a long time. Here are the movies to look out for

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The 50 best gangster movies of all time

Load up on ammo and wiseguy patter with our ranked list of the best gangster and crime movies in cinema

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Ten things we love about Chappie

Here’s why we’re seriously impressed by District 9 writer-director Neill Blomkamp’s third sci-fi movie

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The 100 best sex scenes of all time

Cinema's most innovative, groundbreaking sex scenes, from controversial classics to daring silent films

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New movies we love

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It Follows

Imbued with the kind of idea that can turn a horror film into a sensation, David Robert Mitchell’s thriller sets a relentless camera on characters that have no idea what’s in pursuit.

Time Out says
  • 5 out of 5 stars
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Seymour: An Introduction

A few years ago, before a pair of starring roles in two major Richard Linklater movies provided him with a jolt of career-affirming success, Ethan Hawke was having a crisis of confidence. “I’ve been struggling recently to find why it is that I do what I do,” the actor confesses to a crowd of friends at the beginning of the new film he’s directed. But Hawke isn’t there to talk about his problems—he’s there to shine a light on the reclusive 86-year-old piano teacher who solved them. Seymour Bernstein has been training concert pianists from inside his musty Upper West Side apartment for decades, and though Hawke isn’t training to play a recital at Carnegie Hall, Seymour: An Introduction makes it clear that he’s learned as much from Bernstein as any of the octogenarian’s pupils.  Hawke’s first documentary is a perfect movie for a gray Sunday afternoon, a gentle and loving tribute to a man so anachronistically convinced that talent is its own reward that the film might soon serve as our only proof that people like him ever existed. A living legend without a Wikipedia page, Bernstein values his solitude the way that others might their spouse, and Hawke’s movie is a model of how to portray a man who’s at peace with himself.  Seymour unfolds like a Jewish Jiro Dreams of Sushi—Bernstein may look like your average NYC grandpa, but he lives like a monk and talks like a guru. (Misleading title aside, the film is less of an introduction to Bernstein than a lesson in the value of his tea

Time Out says
  • 4 out of 5 stars
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Wild Tales

Comedy seldom travels well from one culture to another, but to judge from the first episode of this engaging if uneven satire highlighting humanity’s baser instincts, it’s clear that Argentine writer-director Damián Szifrón has a knack for latching on to ideas with a humorous dimension that’s pretty universal. The opening sketch, about an almost surreally improbable situation—a plane-load of strangers is assembled by an unseen individual bent on revenge—demonstrates not only Szifrón’s taste in ultrablack humor but his preferred strategy of combining outrageous excess with a perverse but unavoidable logic. Grudges, minor insults and found-out flirtations lead to mayhem and murder on a cataclysmic scale. The funniest of the six stories is a brilliantly extended riot of absurdly brutal road rage. The most politically biting is a study of concealment and corruption among the wealthy, reminiscent of Lucrecia Martel’s The Headless Woman. The great Argentine actor Ricardo Darín appears as an explosives expert plagued by a banal parking-ticket department. The first three episodes are the most amusing, but the final three also have interesting things to say about the psychological and moral health of contemporary Argentina—and, of course, the rest of the world.

Time Out says
  • 4 out of 5 stars
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Chappie

After the out-of-nowhere sucker punch of his 2009 debut District 9, Neill Blomkamp’s second film, 2013’s Elysium, felt like the work of a Hollywood-designed, blockbuster-producing robot: slick and anonymous. So it’s a huge relief to discover that, with Chappie, the South African filmmaker has re-engaged his emotion chip and ramped up the weirdness factor for a lovably scattershot cybernetic satire.

Time Out says
  • 4 out of 5 stars
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Cinderella

Disney has clearly had enough of these bold princesses getting all empowered and messing with their fairy tales. After Frozen and Into the Woods, it’s back to basics with director Kenneth Branagh’s lavish, sappily sweet version of Cinderella. That means microscopic waists, swooning bosoms and a happily-ever-after ending for the title heroine—just plain “Ella” (James, the naughty cousin from Downton Abbey). The “Cinders” part comes a bit later. The film opens shakily with scenes from Ella’s idyllic childhood dominated by the surrounding forest. “Have courage and be kind,” says Ella’s mother (Hayley Atwell) with a saintly deathbed smile, cursing Ella to a lifetime of smiling primly and talking in singsong to her CGI pet mice. Cate Blanchett is wickedly good as her evil stepmother, Lady Tremaine, dressed to kill in the style of a 1940s femme fatale with Veronica Lake curls and bloodred lipstick. So far, it’s a pretty faithful retelling of the classic, but Branagh and screenwriter Chris Weitz (About a Boy) have rustled up enough of a backstory to stop Lady T. from being a straight-up psycho-bitch villainess. Left widowed and bankrupt by her first husband, she’s now bitter about being married to a man still in love with wife No. 1. You know the rest. Helena Bonham Carter is hilarious as the Fairy Godmother, a fashionista who sounds like she’s had a few too many gin and tonics: “Would you mind if I gee it up a bit?” she slurs, looking at Cinders’s frock. And has Branagh been insp

Time Out says
  • 3 out of 5 stars
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Get Hard

Like a small child with a set of steak knives, Get Hard gleefully wields sharp ideas but doesn’t inspire confidence. It’s a please-don’t-let-me-get-raped-in-prison comedy—there’s really no other way to put it—on top of which is layered a mock coating of racist hauteur, tush-ogling sexism and plenty of sweaty gay panic. And still, miraculously, the movie doesn’t feel mean-spirited so much as profoundly awkward. Scripted by smart guys like Etan Cohen (Idiocracy, Tropic Thunder) and two behind-the-scenes writers on TV’s consistently excellent Key & Peele, the film feels both daring and foolhardy. If it succeeds at all, it’s because the kids with the knives are so gloriously good at playing dumb. James King (Will Ferrell, better as he ages) is a strutting Master of the Universe, a super wealthy stock trader about to marry his boss’s spoiled daughter (Alison Brie). When embezzlement charges rain down on him, turning him into a media symbol of unchecked privilege, he toys with Mexican flight in a fake mustache. Then he pleads with his longtime car washer, Darnell (Kevin Hart, terrific), whom he assumes has spent time behind bars (the guy is actually a married, wine-sipping striver), to make him a mad dog. If the above makes you cringe, that’s the point. We may be past a moment when race comedies like 1983’s Trading Places get an unquestioning pass. Get Hard actually feels more like Eddie Murphy’s debut, 48 Hrs., especially during a scene in which James and Darnell find themselves

Time Out says
  • 3 out of 5 stars
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Home

A smart concept is thoroughly wasted in this cute but grating DreamWorks animated comedy. It opens with an alien invasion—not one of those messy, bloodthirsty ones. Our new extraterrestrial overlords, the cheerful, squishy Boov, merely want to shift the population of Earth to a new home in Australia, renamed Happy Humans Town, so they can enjoy the rest of the planet in peace.  But it’s not long before their plans are threatened by Oh, a renegade Boov voiced tiresomely by The Big Bang Theory’s Jim Parsons. He’s helped by a plucky young earthling sidekick, Tip, brought to life by singer Rihanna, who also provides a bland, intrusive soundtrack. Spreading its net as wide as possible, Home offers pratfalls and moral lessons for little kids, slushy pop for tweens and snappy cultural references for adults. The result is inoffensive but flavorless, crammed with familiar elements from better movies (Lilo & Stitch, Toy Story, Despicable Me) but lacking any clear identity of its own.

Time Out says
  • 2 out of 5 stars
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Insurgent

What a waste of Shailene Woodley the Divergent franchise is turning out to be. As butt-kicking Tris, the Fault in Our Stars actor is the best thing about this second film of Veronica Roth’s monster-selling YA novels (basically The Hunger Games with tattoos).

Time Out says
  • 2 out of 5 stars
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The Gunman

Watch your back, Liam Neeson. Sean Penn’s trying to steal your bad-guy-capping, getting-too-old-for-this-shit thunder. To be fair, The Gunman has loftier ambitions than the average Neeson run-and-shooter: Based on a popular French crime novel, it’s the tale of taciturn ex-assassin Jim Terrier (Penn, unnervingly ripped), who has traded in his sniper rifle for a spade and turned to digging clean-water trenches in the developing world.

Time Out says
  • 2 out of 5 stars
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Danny Collins

Al Pacino’s done so much Acting over the last 25 years (hoo-ah), it’s disquieting to see him digging deep again—often with subtlety—into a rich role with hidden depths. Granted, the title character of Dan Fogelman’s press-the-reset-button drama isn’t exactly a wallflower: After a funny 1971 introduction in which we see a young, petrified folksinger getting interviewed for a rock magazine, we cut to present day, when paunchy Danny Collins (Pacino) is a Neil Diamond–like icon about to release his third greatest-hits collection and still crooning his big sing-along, “Hey, Baby Doll,” to an audience of screaming grandmas. The part is perfect for Pacino, a performer who, despite his genius, hasn’t been able to shake off a certain dead-eyed exhaustion lately (even when it’s uncalled for). Danny has a palatial home and a gold-digging girlfriend half his age, but he’s a zombie at his own surprise birthday party until his devoted longtime manager (Christopher Plummer, excellent) gives him a framed letter from John Lennon, who, unknown to Danny, tried to reach out to him in his youthful moment of fear (a real-life story for English songwriter Steve Tilston). Chastened, Danny sets out to rediscover his passion in a slightly cutesy plot scored to several late-period Lennon songs—though not, curiously, “Starting Over.” For most of its running time, Danny Collins settles into a suburban New Jersey Hilton. Nearby, there’s an estranged grown-up son to reconnect with (Bobby Cannavale, steal

Time Out says
  • 3 out of 5 stars
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What We Do in the Shadows

A dryly amusing mockumentary from the Kiwis behind the similarly deadpan Eagle vs Shark and Flight of the Conchords, What We Do in the Shadows unfolds like the darkest movie that Christopher Guest never made. Sponsored by the fictitious New Zealand Documentary Board (complete with a title card assuring us that each member of the crew wore a crucifix at all times), the film takes us inside the nearly windowless home of Wellington’s four most endearing vampires, and follows them as they try to stave off the loneliness that comes with being an undying nocturnal monster who needs to feast on human blood. Viago (Taika Waititi) is the gentlest of the pack, a friendly but heartbroken 379-year-old who always tries to show his meals a good time before he drinks them dry. Vladislav (Jemaine Clement) is a brooding dork who’s obsessed with an ancient nemesis known as “The Beast.” Deacon (Brugh) is the token ladies’ man and ex-Nazi, while Petyr (Ben Fransham) is an 8,000-year-old Nosferatu lookalike who only peeks out from his coffin when there’s a fresh chicken to disembowel. It’s all framed as the lead-up to a dance of the damned called the Unholy Masquerade, but the brunt of the overextended running time is devoted to the awkward arrival of new roommate Nick (Cori Gonzalez-Macuer), a local bro who’s turned into a vampire when Petyr can’t finish him off.  Codirected by Waititi and Clement—masters of mixing high-concept with lowbrow—What We Do in the Shadows works best when it unburden

Time Out says
  • 3 out of 5 stars
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Fifty Shades of Grey

A watered-down adaptation that’s embarrassed to be wet, Fifty Shades of Grey is a sex-positive but hopelessly soft-core erotic drama that fails to be even a fraction as titillating as the E.L. James books that inspired it. And yet, that’s exactly why it works. Fifty Shades begins with Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson, nuanced), a demure college senior, arriving for an interview in the office of Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan, stiff), Seattle’s most eligible billionaire. It isn’t long before the two are bound together like a harlequin romance novel. The virginal Anastasia, however, is in for a surprise: Christian is as kinky as he is rich. Inevitably, this telling of the tale has been neutered to the brink of recognition. Christian is an S&M fetishist, and when Anastasia is invited into her new partner’s “Red Room of Pain,” she’s confronted by a wonderland of leather, rope and repurposed circus equipment. And yet, by the time the movie ends just a few mild spankings later, Fifty Shades feels like going on a trip to Disney World and only riding the monorail.  But Sam Taylor-Johnson’s film becomes fascinating for the finesse with which she navigates the prudishness forced upon it. The director is capable of pivoting from romantic comedy to erotic drama at the whack of a flogger, her dexterity allowing the tepid sex scenes to be framed by a surprisingly sensitive story of self-discovery. Substituting heartache for handcuffs, Fifty Shades is the rare studio romance in which the c

Time Out says
  • 3 out of 5 stars
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Movie-going in Chicago

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The best movie theaters in Chicago

The top spots for classic films, indie gems and the latest blockbusters

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Film events: Chicago's best movies and fests

Check out the best movie screenings, fests, Q&As and other film events happening in Chicago

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Movie lists you love

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Best sex scenes in film

Outside of porn flicks, these are the lustiest lovemaking scenes on film

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23 things we learned about Chicago from the movies

The landscape and lifestyle of Chicago is a little suspect in the eyes of Hollywood

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Worst movie sex scenes

We count down the 20 most excruciating movie sex scenes

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The 43 best fictional Chicagoans

We consult our favorite Chicago-set fiction to find the greatest fake people to ever hail from our city

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The 100 best animated movies

World-famous animators pick the best animated movies ever

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The 50 most romantic movies of all time

Prepare to swoon at our loveliest of lists

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