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Machine Gun Preacher

True story hampered by muted performance from Gerard Butler

0 Comments · Thursday, October 6, 2011
The story of Sam Childers is one of a bad man reformed, but it doesn’t exactly adhere to the typical arc. Apparently, Childers was a small-time biker-criminal, a snatch-and-grab guy who was in the game for the cash and the highs (both adrenaline and drug varieties), and he wasn’t afraid of things getting messy.   

Real Steel

Family-friendly robot-boxing story needs more grit

0 Comments · Thursday, October 6, 2011
Charlie Kenton (Hugh Jackman) is a former journeyman boxer who attempts to regain his self-respect and that of the son (Dakota Goyo) he abandoned years ago through the sport of robot boxing (think Rock-Em, Sock-Em Robots for the virtual age). The cute, Rocky-meets-The Transformers vibe inadequately hides the fact that the story is loosely based on a piece from author Richard Matheson.  

Restless

Gus Van Sant delivers odd, arch teen romance

0 Comments · Thursday, October 6, 2011
At his best, Gus Van Sant strikes the core of human emotion, especially the disaffected (Drugstore Cowboy, My Own Private Idaho) that most indie purveyors wouldn’t know anything about if it weren’t for his work. Yet Restless isn’t one of those films.   

Queen City Convert

'Ides of March' actor Max Minghella talks Cincinnati, Clooney and Gosling

0 Comments · Wednesday, October 5, 2011
Max Minghella is no stranger to film sets. As the son of the late filmmaker Anthony Minghella, the now-26-year-old Max would watch as his dad worked with a bevy of capable actors and crew on such films as The English Patient, The Talented Mr. Ripley and Cold Mountain — experiences that still inform his own approach as an actor today.   

The Ides of March

George Clooney's political thriller doesn't quite transcend genre

0 Comments · Wednesday, October 5, 2011
Stephen Myers (Ryan Gosling) — the precociously successful political media consultant at the center of The Ides of March — knows how to handle his business. Sure, he might believe that the man he’s working for, Pennsylvania Gov. Mike Morris (George Clooney), is the best candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination and the man who can do the most to make America better. But he’s also just fine with feeding a specious allegation about their opponent to the media, just so it will require time spent to fight it off.” If you’re looking for a starry-eyed idealist in The Ides of March, whose utopian dreams might be crushed by harsh reality, you best look elsewhere.  

Dream House

Daniel Craig and Jim Sheridan deliver Hitchcockian thrills

0 Comments · Friday, September 30, 2011
Daniel Craig, having shared time on screen with Harrison Ford this summer, now seems ready to follow even more closely in the rugged action star’s footsteps by imitating his mid-to-late-career shift into a surprising genre: family thriller/horror.   

What's Your Number?

0 Comments · Friday, September 30, 2011
Mark Mylod’s new romantic comedy is little more than a filmed advertisement for glossy women’s trend magazines. Remixing the publishing-driven, marriage-minded focus of 27 Dresses with casual femme raunch of Bridesmaids, What’s Your Number? ends up setting up another, more intriguing question for opening weekend box-office audiences: How many rote, mildly offensive romantic comedies have we been subjected to during our lifetimes?  

50/50

True-life dramedy contains real vulnerability

0 Comments · Thursday, September 29, 2011
Writer-director Will Reiser explores his own battle with cancer and the impact it had on his life. Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays Adam, Reiser’s film alter-ego, and Seth Rogen schlumps along for the ride as Adam’s best friend who struggles to bolster his friend’s spirits and come to terms with the situation for himself.   

Abduction

Taylor Lautner does Matt Damon lite in lackluster thriller

0 Comments · Wednesday, September 28, 2011
Taylor Lautner is in the hunt to prove that he can open or carry a new release on his own, and Abduction, an action-thriller directed by John Singleton, finds him in Jason Statham/Matt Damon lite land as a teenager with no idea who he really is and who is on the run from U.S. and foreign assassins and spies.   

Killer Elite

Cast can't save this piece of mundane overkill

0 Comments · Wednesday, September 28, 2011
First-time feature writer-director Gary McKendry wastes his cast's talents and action skills with a narrative that is supposed to be based on a true story but, in the end, the historical facts are little more than a MacGuffin leading this hit squad around on one deadeningly anonymous and pointless kill after another.   

Building a Cinematic Community

Cincinnati Film Festival continues to evolve and grow

1 Comment · Tuesday, September 27, 2011
The rapidly growing international film festival circuit has become a vital alternate distribution network, a place where smaller, less overtly commercial films can find audiences eager to experience works that once more readily graced art-house and specialty cinemas. And while the young, still-evolving Cincinnati Film Festival (CFF) might not have the reputation or infrastructure of a Sundance or the many well-established smaller fests across the U.S., it’s quickly making its mark.  

Moneyball

Brad Pitt shines in compelling baseball tale

0 Comments · Thursday, September 22, 2011
In adapting the nonfiction book by Michael Lewis, director Bennett Miller and screenwriters Steven Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin are telling the story of people who decided to throw away the romanticized notion of baseball in favor of something pragmatic that actually worked for their circumstance. And it feels not at all coincidental that Moneyball itself takes a uniquely un-romanticized approach to making a baseball movie.  

Dolphin Tale

True-life family drama tries way too hard

0 Comments · Thursday, September 22, 2011
The grading, in this case, is on a generous curve because this inspired by a true story family drama from actor-turned-director Charles Martin Smith has all the hallmarks of a terribly mainstream project with not an ounce of grit or drama to unsettle anyone’s nerves.   

Smorgasbord of Cinematic Riches

Toronto International Film Festival continues to raise its game

0 Comments · Wednesday, September 21, 2011
The Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) is not only the biggest and most vital film festival in North America — it now rivals Cannes as most important cinematic event on the planet. More than 300 films (the majority of which were world, international or North American premieres) from 65 different countries screened during the 11-day festival (Sept. 8-18).   

I Don't Know How She Does It

Sarah Jessica Parker's latest is condescending tripe

0 Comments · Monday, September 19, 2011
Sarah Jessica Parker goes from Sex and the City to career mommy under siege in this family comedy from Douglas McGrath (Infamous). I can’t for the life of me figure out how she ever had a career in movies at all, if she devotes all of her energy to making such offensively condescending choices as this tripe, which sets the feminist movement back about a century or two.