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The Interrupters

Steve James' doc tackles Chicago's gang problem

0 Comments · Thursday, November 3, 2011
Filmmaker Steve James is apparently incapable of making an uninteresting documentary, even when his subject matter might presumably be thoroughly played out. James, who has already garnered enough film-festival awards to merit multiple mantelpieces, tackles Chicago's soaring crime rate, and in particular the work of CeaseFire, a community-based interventional program founded by epidemiologist Gary Slutkin.   

Tower Heist

Ben Stiller, Eddie Murphy and Co. deliver entertaining comedy

0 Comments · Thursday, November 3, 2011
Fast paced and fluffy, Tower Heist is a spectacle-laden comedy with widespread appeal. Even Alan Alda's Bernie Madoff-styled antagonist gets a soft treatment so as not to offend the "1 percent" of potential audience members his evil character represents.  

Take Shelter

Indie drama finds comfort and care in Jessica Chastain

0 Comments · Wednesday, November 2, 2011
It is time to take Jessica Chastain seriously. Forget the offensive she has launched on theaters in 2011 — The Tree of Life, The Help, The Debt, Take Shelter, Coriolanus, Wilde Salome and Texas Killing Fields, the final three titles of which have been relegated to impending status for regional viewers, although I was able to catch Coriolanus and Take Shelter during the Toronto International Film Festival.  

In Time

Action hijinks trump human drama in beat-the-clock thriller

0 Comments · Sunday, October 30, 2011
Writer-director Andrew Niccol (GattacaLord of War) knows his way around a tricky premise but with In Time ends up wasting his precious commodity on the action hijinks, which are not as inspired as we might expect and cannot beat the clock with the inherently rich human drama.  

The Rum Diary

Adaptation of Hunter S. Thompson book is appropriately wacked

0 Comments · Thursday, October 27, 2011
Loosely based on Hunter S. Thompson’s early years as a journalist circa 1960, The Rum Diary casts Johnny Depp once again as Thompson’s surrogate, this time a young writer named Paul Kemp. Flailing in his attempts at completing a novel, Kemp accepts a job at an English-language newspaper in San Juan, Puerto Rico, where the atmosphere is considerably less than quietly professional.  

Anonymous

Filmmaker Roland Emmerich tackles Shakespeare with mixed results

0 Comments · Thursday, October 27, 2011
Having spent most of his career destroying the world in grand computer-generated fashion, German writer-producer-director Roland Emmerich (Independence Day, The Day After Tomorrow, 2012) apparently is ready to transition into a new filmmaking phase, as Emmerich sets his sights on ripping apart the notion that William Shakespeare was the actual author of the titles ascribed to his name.   

Puss in Boots

'Shrek' spinoff a well-crafted comical fantasy

1 Comment · Thursday, October 27, 2011
Spun off from the finally-adjourned Shrek franchise, Puss in Boots is a well-crafted DreamWorks animated movie that succeeds in spite of the aid of its extraneous 3-D treatment. Screenwriter Tom Wheeler deftly blends together nursery rhyme elements toward a comical fantasy that includes an enjoyable dose of cute animal realism.   

Sympathy for the Devil

Satan on screen for Halloween

2 Comments · Wednesday, October 26, 2011
The Devil. Beelzebub. Mephistopheles. Baphomet. Scratch. Old Nick. Lucifer. SATAN. The supernatural being who tempts man’s soul to sin and ruin from his fiery underworld throne goes by many names (and if Jagger and Richards are to be believed, he wants us to guess them, too). He’s a creature — mythical or otherwise, depending upon where you fall ideologically — of many different faces, as well.   

The Three Musketeers

Latest adventure adaptation lacks subtlety, logic

1 Comment · Monday, October 24, 2011
Paul W.S. Anderson’s new retelling of Alexandre Dumas’ classic tale features his usual action-oriented antics — explosions galore and hi-tech freeze-frame combat sequences — as well as his muse, Milla Jovovich.
  

The Mighty Macs

True story not dynamic or unique enough for big screen

0 Comments · Monday, October 24, 2011
Nothing about this true story really feels organic and competently structured, but as it passes from moment to moment, the movie begins to score a few sentimental baskets and maybe it even starts to believe in itself enough to win a few hearts.  

Paranormal Activity 3

Series continues with another satisfying fright fest

0 Comments · Monday, October 24, 2011
The creator behind this horror phenomenon (Oren Peli) has been able to successfully pass it on to others, first to director Tod Williams, and now to Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman (of Catfish fame) with little or no negative return on the creative investment.   

The Way

Emilio Estevez makes a road movie for our existentially confused times

0 Comments · Thursday, October 20, 2011
  Is it possible to make a movie about religious faith — why it works for some people, why it doesn’t for others — that explicates the matter in ways that anyone can appreciate, even if they  

Johnny English Reborn

Rowan Atkinson delivers another mildly amusing Bond spoof

0 Comments · Thursday, October 20, 2011
  While it doesn't live up to the quirky physical comedy the incomparable Rowan Atkinson is capable of, this follow-up to his 2003 spy spoof functions well enough as a PG-rated comedy for kids.  

The Thing

Yes, another lackluster horror retread

0 Comments · Wednesday, October 19, 2011
Mary Elizabeth Winstead headlines capably enough as a researcher with enough smarts and common sense to recognize the true potential of an unknown and constantly evolving thing discovered by a team of scientists in Antarctica in this John Carpenter rerun from Matthijs van Heijningen Jr.  

The Long Road to Fatherhood

Estevez and Sheen walk us back into the embrace of our families

0 Comments · Wednesday, October 19, 2011
“We don’t get over our fathers.” This comment, from Martin Sheen, came during a recent interview with the star of The Way, a new film written and directed by Sheen’s son Emilio Estevez, who was also presented and seated next to me. The father-son team was back home — Sheen is a Dayton native — as part of a bus tour promoting the film, and both men were more than willing to chat with me about El Camino de Santiago.