Sam Eifling



“The Book Thief”

“The Book Thief”

“The Book Thief,” the training wheels of Holocaust movies, is as pleasant an indictment of Nazi Germany as you are likely to find in cinemas this holiday season. It does many of the things that bad movies do — such as implausibly letting a little boy cheerfully swim to the bottom of a freezing-cold river […]

“Thor: The Dark World”

“Thor: The Dark World”

Why do we have a Thor? In the Marvel pantheon — now Disney’s plaything, natch — we find no more dullsville lunk among the top-tier characters. He’s back in a second disposable movie, “Thor: The Dark World,” in which Chris Hemsworth’s shaggy locks almost distract you from his faux Victorian delivery and the fact that, […]

“All Is Lost”

“All Is Lost”

See “All Is Lost” thirsty. Or peckish. The film is such a sensory ride — predicated on simple bodily states of feeling cold, or soggy, or fatigued, or sun-battered, or going mad with fear — that a bit of forced empathy can only sharpen the experience. This is the rare disaster movie told about one […]

12 Years a Slave

12 Years a Slave

The harrowing, haunting “12 Years a Slave” follows the memoir of Solomon Northup, a free black man who was living in upstate New York in 1841 when kidnappers drugged him and sold him into slavery. Shanghaied and unable to prove his identity, Northup was shipped to Louisiana, held in bondage and forced into labor. He […]

“Captain Phillips”

True to life, boredom and all The lore around certain U.S. military maneuvers becomes an infomercial not just for the Navy or the Air Force but for Brand America itself. The undisputed champ of this category, during the past generation, was Seal Team Six tracking, ambushing and killing Osama Bin Laden in 2011. Aptly, that […]

“Gravity”

No small wonder of almost cinematic perfection “Gravity,” the worst NASA recruiting video ever conceived, transports the old-fashioned shipwreck tale to low orbit around Earth. Sandra Bullock and George Clooney are astronauts and float about as they run a bit of Hubble telescope tech support. Then, disaster strikes, and all they want is to get […]