Sam Eifling



A Look Back at 2013

A Look Back at 2013

The year-end lists in movies and music are always great ways to glance back at works that might not have much of anything to do with one another but for their year of release. But they’re also a tacit look ahead to awards season — in our case, to the Oscars. I don’t claim to […]

“Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues”

“Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues”

Since graduating from “Saturday Night Live” 11 years ago, Will Ferrell has built the sort of ubiquity that few if any other former sketch comedians have achieved, and he’s done it by aiming at a low-to-middle brow audience that, unlike Adam Sandler’s, has at least learned how to breath through its nostrils. The sudden and […]

“The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug”

“The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug”

When Peter Jackson set about adapting the J.R.R. Tolkien children’s novel “The Hobbit” as a sprawling trilogy of eight running hours, we felt we could expect certain things. One would be the best special effects money could buy; after the rake on Jackson’s “Lord of the Rings” flicks, we know the Kiwi auteur is resting […]

“Nebraska”

“Nebraska”

“Nebraska” is the lowest grossing best-picture nominee. In “Nebraska,” the brilliant small-budget dark comedy from Alexander Payne, an aging alcoholic receives a mass-mailed sweepstakes letter that he alone doesn’t realize is just a scammy way to sell magazines. Unable to drive and unable to be dissuaded, Woodrow Grant (a bedraggled Bruce Dern) sets out on […]

“The Hunger Games: Catching Fire”

“The Hunger Games: Catching Fire”

At two-and-a-half hours, “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” has ample time to wander in and out of several versions of itself. There’s the first 45 minutes or so, a deadly-dull stretch of dreary plodding that amplifies the most boring parts of the first film. Then the next 45 minutes or so, a slightly more engaging […]

“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 […]