“The Magicians” Review: Dark and Dazzling

What if Harry Potter were a twenty-something tongue-tied twerp still nursing a childhood obsession with the Narnia books when suddenly thrust into the magical world via grad school? That’s the packed premise of Syfy’s “The Magicians,” an engrossing and inventive television adaptation of the popular Lev Grossman novels. Despite its familiar cultural markers, don’t let…

“Hail, Caesar!” Review: Saltless Satire

Hail, Caesar! has all the joy of drinking diluted apple cider vinegar: there’s an undercurrent of mild bitterness, but none of the punch. The latest feature Joel and Ethan Coen, this uneven Hollywood satire feels less like one of their smart, signature capers than it does a vapid Wes Anderson dollhouse set piece. Framed as…

“Vinyl” Review: Sex, Thugs & Rock-n-Roll

“I’ve got a golden ear, a silver tongue, and a pair of brass balls.” This glib pronouncement is how we meet Richie Finestra (Bobby Canavale), the troubled record exec protagonist of HBO’s new drama Vinyl. But don’t let his initial tough-guy slickness fool you: Richie is on the edge of the precipice. His self-made label…

“The Hateful Eight” Review: All Words and Pointless Action

Over his twenty-plus year career, Quentin Tarantino has established himself as the director to seek if you enjoy watching the brutalization of women. In The Hateful Eight, no fewer than a dozen times does the audience witness its female lead punched, pistol-whipped, beaten, and blood-spattered, mostly for comedic effect. The saving grace of these moments…