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Straw Dogs

Rod Lurie's remake provides smart, subtle social commentary

0 Comments · Friday, September 16, 2011
Rod Lurie, back before he became a writer-director of thoughtful adult films like The Contender, spent time in the trenches as an entertainment reporter and film critic, and he brings that experience to bear in his latest film, a smart contemporary updating/remake of Sam Peckinpah’s Straw Dogs.   

Warrior

Crowd-pleaser melds sports and gritty sibling drama

0 Comments · Friday, September 16, 2011
Gavin O’Connor gets to mash-up two of his favorite genres — crowd-pleasing sports and gritty sibling drama — with Warrior, the story of two brothers (Tom Hardy and Joel Edgerton) waging distinctly different personal comebacks on their way towards a classic and completely inevitable showdown in the gladiator sport of MMA.   

Drive

Ryan Gosling and Nicolas Winding Reyn cruise into Hollywood’s past

0 Comments · Wednesday, September 14, 2011
Ryan Gosling and Nicolas Winding Reyn. Audiences should get used to seeing these names together, because this could be the start of a beautiful collaborative relationship. It would be one based on a real love of movies — good gritty Hollywood movies — proving that there doesn’t have to be any shame involved in enjoying films made simply to entertain.   

Higher Ground

Actress Vera Famiga faithfully steps behind the camera in search of Higher Ground

0 Comments · Wednesday, September 7, 2011
Religion, especially the fervent born-again set, bedevils filmmakers. The showmanship lurking behind the charismatic approach seems to be something that film can latch onto and present with much of its natural frenzy and allure intact, but there is the far trickier notion of faith, the belief that what cannot be seen and easily revealed eludes the frame.    

Contagion

Steven Soderbergh wastes top-flight cast with subpar script

0 Comments · Wednesday, September 7, 2011
Contagion’s PG-13 rating predicts the film’s less-than-horrific nature following a promising opening sequence. Director Steven Soderbergh inflects his beautifully photographed compositions with a slick Techno Pop score yet can’t compensate for a script splintered into too many subplots.   

Apollo 18

Claustrophobic faux documentary wears out welcome

0 Comments · Monday, September 5, 2011
Exploiting the found footage trend (triggered by The Blair Witch Project on through the recent Paranormal Activity series) that has carved out a niche in the horror-thriller genre, Apollo 18 documents the story of a 1974 lost lunar mission. Two American astronauts (Warren Christie and Lloyd Owen) pilot a probe to the moon with a Department of Defense payload of cameras and equipment and little additional information regarding their mission, which seems strange to these men — especially since exploration of the moon has been officially cancelled — but they race off, driven by their own innate curiosity and the chance to take the once-in-a-lifetime journey.
  

Bride Flight

Drama never reaches the necessary fever pitch

0 Comments · Monday, September 5, 2011
Three women of very different backgrounds find themselves on the same flight to New Zealand, joined in part by the fact that they are all post-WWII war bride on their way to start new lives in director Ben Sombogaart’s soapy drama.
  

Shark Night 3D

This is one truly forgetting night

0 Comments · Monday, September 5, 2011
Instead of allowing death or fate or some other philosophically cosmic notion to cut a swath through a group of anonymous teens and early twentysomethings, David R. Ellis (a couple of Final Destinations, Snakes on a Plane) outsources the task to a random collection of sharks hanging around a Louisiana Gulf lake house.  

Assessing the Season

Looking back at the summer movie season’s winners and losers

0 Comments · Wednesday, August 31, 2011
The summer movie season shows us, more than any other time of year, how supremely good and how horribly bad the medium can be. This summer gave us some good, a few mediocre and several downright awful options. But no matter how asggravating it can be to look back on the summer that was, an assessment is in order. After all, there were some diamonds in the rough.  

The Debt

Historical thriller driven by stellar cast

0 Comments · Wednesday, August 31, 2011
Director John Madden delves into the tricky landscape of the post-Holocaust world in 'The Debt,' which explores the consequences of actions taken by a three-man team of Mossad agents in 1965, charged with extracting a notorious Nazi doctor lurking in East Germany under a false name and identity back to Israel for trial and inevitably swift justice. Grade: B.  

Colombiana

Latest Luc Besson action production lacks spash and dash

0 Comments · Monday, August 29, 2011
Zoe Saldana, coming off a loose and suitably gritty B-movie turn in 'The Losers,' stars here as a highly efficient assassin with a deep debt of vengeance to repay. Grade: D-plus.  

The Devil's Double (Review)

True-life story a one-way trip through hell

0 Comments · Friday, August 26, 2011
The devil in this story is Uday Hussein, the notoriously decadent and monstrous elder son of Iraqi strongman Saddam Hussein. The story’s double is Latif Yahia, a valorous Iraqi soldier whose recently published memoir about his experiences serving as Uday’s body double provides the source material for this film. Grade: C.  

The Guard

Don Cheadle and Brendan Gleeson carry lilting black comedy

0 Comments · Friday, August 26, 2011
With a pinch of 'Trainspotting' irreverence and a dose of 'Pulp Fiction' social satire, debut director John Michael McDonagh cobbles together this lilting black comedy set in the Gaelic region of County Galway. Grade: B.  

Don't Be Afraid of the Dark

Horror remakes excels at building featured layers of suspense

0 Comments · Friday, August 26, 2011
Producer/co-writer Guillermo del Toro performs the neat trick of adapting the original 1973 television horror shocker Don't Be Afraid of the Dark into a tastefully suspenseful work of kid-friendly art, kid-friendly art. Grade: B.  

Our Idiot Brother

Paul Rudd saves comedy from its more cliched tendencies

0 Comments · Wednesday, August 24, 2011
We all bring certain baggage to movies, and here’s one of my too-big-for-carry-on pieces: I hate holy fools. Film history is full of stories about cynical and/or Type-A people whose lives are changed for the better through their experiences with plot devices in the shape of a simple-minded person. Your Rain Mans and your Forrest Gumps charmed audiences, sure, but largely on the basis of the brutally anti-intellectual notion that real wisdom only comes from the mouths and hearts of those who aren’t all about the book smarts.