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The Descendants

Clooney shines Alexander Payne's latest slanted dramedy

0 Comments · Tuesday, November 22, 2011
Matt King (George Clooney) comes from a distinct lineage. In terms of his own narrative, that of the new Alexander Payne film The Descendants, he is a modern-day land baron, the trustee of a family that owns the last and largest untapped acreage in Hawaii. But King is a simple man with a wife (Patricia Hastie) in a coma and two daughters, Alexandra (Shailene Woodley) and Scottie (Amara Miller), who knows that paradise is a dream world for fools. Grade: A.

My Week with Marilyn

Michelle Williams is mesmerizing as Mariilyn Monroe

0 Comments · Tuesday, November 22, 2011
Michelle Williams delivers an Oscar-worthy performance playing screen siren Marilyn Monroe. The vehicle is director Simon Curtis' thoughtful adaptation of Colin Clark's diaries. At the age of 23 Clark worked as third assistant director to Laurence Olivier for his 1956 romantic comedy The Prince and the Showgirl.

Happy Feet Two

Ambitious animated sequel needs more focus

0 Comments · Friday, November 18, 2011
The original 2006 Happy Feet incorporated live-action actors to surreal effect and presented a hard-to-miss allegory for tolerance of “alternative lifestyles” that inspired outrage from the likes of Glenn Beck and Michael Medved. Happy Feet Two is, in its way, also utterly distinctive from the great mass of contemporary animated fare — yet it’s also far too frantic and muddled to work as simple storytelling.  

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn — Part 1

Latest entry in saga leaves us twisting in the breeze

0 Comments · Friday, November 18, 2011
For a series that has been all about the waiting and the longing, it's only fitting that Part 1 leaves audiences twisting in the breeze again. But there could have been some real payoff here, enough to actually add to the highly anticipated clash of the monstrous titans to come.   

Like Crazy

Sundance favorite looks at the travails of young love

0 Comments · Wednesday, November 16, 2011
Writer-director Drake Doremus graduates from the micro-niche ranks into indie world with Like Crazy, the Grand Jury Prize winner at this year’s Sundance Film Festival. With works like Moonpie (2006), Spooner (2009) and Douchebag (2010), which screened in dramatic competition at Sundance, in the rearview, it would seem that Doremus would be poised for a breakout.   

The Skin I Live In

Almodovar's latest another lush, twisted gem

0 Comments · Friday, November 11, 2011
Pedro Almodóvar proves himself an apt technician at sustaining suspense in the thriller genre. Antonio Banderas returns to work with Almodóvar for the first time in over 20 years, since his memorable performance Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!. The years have been kind to Banderas, who brings his A game to a deliciously diabolical role.   

Jack and Jill

Adam Sandler refuses to grow up yet another lame comedy

0 Comments · Friday, November 11, 2011
Adam Sandler tightens his embrace of broad family hijinks with this story about a set of adult twins (Sandler plays both brother and sister, yeah!) who bicker, bicker, bond, bicker some more and then bond one last time during their annual holiday gathering. The movie kicks off (and ends) with real-life twins engaged in a bit of filmed back and forth about their relationships. The off-the-cuff banter and some of the contrasting visual juxtapositions contain the real gems lacking in what gets sandwiched in between.   


Majestic visual can't save this lifeless adventure

0 Comments · Friday, November 11, 2011
From the producers of 300 comes this neo-mythic tale of Theseus (Henry Cavill), the mortal chosen by the gods to lead the fight against Hyperion (Mickey Rourke), a ruthless king intent on awakening the vanquished titans to defeat the gods and destroy all of humanity.  

Martha Marcy May Marlene

Elizabeth Olsen is a quiet revelation in psychological thriller

0 Comments · Thursday, November 10, 2011
Writer-director Sean Durkin introduces Martha (Elizabeth Olsen) as a member of a commune, one of the compliant women who have surrendered to the domestic duties, the listless routine, the second-class status, and the waiting to share the bed of Patrick (John Hawkes), the paterfamilias of this clan  

J. Edgar

Clint Eastwood's Hoover biopic needs more psychological depth

0 Comments · Wednesday, November 9, 2011
Director Clint Eastwood and screenwriter Dustin Lance Black have as a subject one of American history's most enigmatic, polarizing figures in J. Edgar Hoover, and yet J. Edgar almost never offers the buzz of discovery. It's merely a 50-year kaleidoscope of American history, with the founder of the modern F.B.I. serving as Forrest Gump.  

The Cult of Horror

HorrorHound Weekend returns with a bevy of celebrity panels and more

0 Comments · Wednesday, November 9, 2011
Whether they admit it or not, the horror genre has a special place in the heart of most movie buffs. That affinity is usually traced back to childhood, a period during which we are far more open to spooky, supernatural occurrences; the terrifying possibility of a crazy guy in a mask wielding a chainsaw; or the likelihood of a maniacal, blood-thirsty leprechaun cracking jokes and skulls.  

A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas

Stoner bros reunite in time for a high holiday

0 Comments · Monday, November 7, 2011
Harold (John Cho) and Kumar (Kal Penn) aim to save 3-D effects and Christmas in their latest adventure, but first they’ve got to unite after drifting apart. Cho and Penn have lost their stoner bromantic mojo.   

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.