RogerEbert.com — The Idol

Palestinian director Hany Abu-Assad tells the true story of Mohammed Assaf, the singer from Gaza who became an international symbol of hope when he won the second season of the “Arab Idol” TV singing competition. But the musical elements aren’t even the most compelling parts — in fact, they’re surprisingly clunky. My mixed RogerEbert.com review. […]

RogerEbert.com — Kill Your Friends

“Kill Your Friends,” a dark satire of the late-’90s music industry, is amusingly slick and biting for a while. Nicholas Hoult stars as a successful and handsome but secretly homicidal A&R executive at a London record label. But comparisons to “American Psycho” are inevitable, and “Kill Your Friends” doesn’t measure up favorably. The soundtrack is […]

We Are Your Friends

Warner Bros. Pictures Rated R for language throughout, drug use, sexual content and some nudity. Running time: 96 minutes. Three stars out of four. Similar to “Paper Towns,” “We Are Your Friends” is a movie that I liked but I would have loved if I were 20 years younger. It’s about making mistakes in your […]

Straight Outta Compton

Universal Pictures Rated R for language throughout, strong sexuality/nudity, violence and drug use. Running time: 147 minutes. Three and a half stars out of four. For a movie about a groundbreaking, risk-taking group like N.W.A., “Straight Outta Compton” is surprisingly conventional in its adherence to music biopic tropes. The rise-fall-rise-again structure, the groupies and the […]

Amy

A24 Films Rated R for language and drug material. Running time: 128 minutes. Three and a half stars out of four. There’s a scene toward the end of “Amy,” the documentary about the dizzyingly quick rise and fall of Amy Winehouse, that provides a glimmer of hope, even though we’re constantly aware that her demise […]

RogerEbert.com — The Wrecking Crew

This affectionate and respectful documentary shines a spotlight on a group of studio musicians who performed on many of the biggest and most enduring hits of the 1960s and early ’70s. There’s a ton of great music in here, but the movie as a whole can get a little scattered and repetitive. My RogerEbert.com review. […]

Under the Skin, In the Flesh

One of the most powerful aspects of Jonathan Glazer’s gorgeous and daring “Under the Skin” is its score from British singer-songwriter and producer Mica Levi: a haunting mix of strings, percussion and flute that’s sometimes unsettling, sometimes dreamlike and always original. It keeps you on edge from the very beginning, and it beautifully accompanies the […]

What the Flick?! — Beyond the Lights

Gugu Mbatha-Raw gives a powerhouse performance as a Rihanna-esque R&B singer on the brink of superstardom, and she has insane chemistry with Nate Parker as the member of her security detail with whom she falls in love. Writer-director Gina Prince-Bythewood’s film has its melodramatic moments, but Parker and Mbatha-Raw bring such honesty to their interactions […]

Whiplash

Sony Pictures Classics Rated R for strong language including some sexual references. Running time: 106 minutes. Three stars out of four. “Whiplash” puts us in the deliciously uncomfortable position of rooting for the shared success of two characters who are unlikable individually and toxic together. It’s one of the most disturbing entertaining movies I’ve seen […]

RogerEbert.com — Jimi: All Is By My Side

The makers of the new musical drama about Jimi Hendrix, “Jimi: All Is By My side” took a potential obstacle — the Hendrix estate’s refusal to grant access to any of his music — and turned it into an opportunity. Writer-director John Ridley’s film focuses on the year before Hendrix exploded into superstardom, when he […]