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Rise of the Planet of the Apes

Rupert Wyatt's prequel moves into fresh direction

0 Comments · Monday, August 8, 2011
New 'Apes' movie moves into a new direction via ideas that borrow more from the last decade’s worth of action thrillers rather than slavish devotion to all of those damned dirty apes and the feel-good socio-political posturing that came before. Grade: B-plus.  

The Change-Up (Review)

Unconvincing switcheroo comedy mired in muck

0 Comments · Thursday, August 4, 2011
Director David Dobkin has no signature style (it could be argued that he has no style at all, actually), which means that he’s simply going lewd and crude, and that handcuffs his stars, Jason Bateman and Ryan Reynolds. Grade: F.  

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan (Review)

Wayne Wang and Ron Bass reunite with mixed results

0 Comments · Thursday, August 4, 2011
The film, by shifting its time periods, seems to want to draw upon the epic possibility of history but instead it locks its two leading ladies and the filmmakers into an airless and pedestrian resolution. Grade: C-plus.  

Cowboys & Aliens (Review)

Genre mashup lacks believability and heart

1 Comment · Friday, July 29, 2011
Jon Favreau and his all-star producers (Brian Glazer, Ron Howard and Steven Spielberg) along with a solid cast keep the whole shebang banging, but there's not one ounce of heart or believability to be found in this genre mashup. Should rustle up a few bucks at the box office, but it won't inspire the shock and awe of a calvary ride from the good old days. Grade: C-.   

Project Nim (Review)

James Marsh doc delivers another unique cinematic experience

0 Comments · Thursday, July 28, 2011
James Marsh, director of 'Man on Wire,' examines the 25-year chronicle of Nim Chimpsky, a research chimpanzee who was put through the mill in the service of science when Columbia University professor Herb Terrace took the baby chimp away from his mother and attempted to train it to communicate through sign language. Grade: A.  

The Smurfs

1980s cartoon gets formulaic film adpatation

0 Comments · Thursday, July 28, 2011
As directed by Raja Gosnell, 'The Smurfs' hits every required element for such movies: musical number, toilet gags, rib-nudging pop-culture references, sloppy sentimentality. The familiar blue faces from the '80s cartoon, now in CGI, form-fly through a vortex from their Smurf village to New York City, where they can be a problem for an overworked, soon-to-be-first-time-dad marketing executive (Neil Patrick Harris). Grade: D-.  

Crazy, Stupid, Love.

Movie love and romance drive men to find cold comfort in … other men

0 Comments · Tuesday, July 26, 2011
Cal is the latest Steve Carell iteration from directors Glenn Ficarra and John Requa (the writing/directing combo behind 'I Love You Phillip Morris') facing his moment on the precipice. Having completed dinner with his wife Emily (Julianne Moore), he proposes that, on the count of three, they offer up the first thing that comes to mind. He's scanning dessert options; she asks for a divorce. Grade: B-.  

Friends with Benefits (Review)

Strong cast carries satire of romantic comedies

0 Comments · Monday, July 25, 2011
'Friends With Benefits' attempts to make fun of romantic comedies, while exploiting the same formula. It very nearly succeeds thanks to engaging performances from Mila Kunis and Justin Timberlake as the titular booty buddies and director Will Gluck. Grade: B.  

Captain America (Review)

Comic-book adaptation is competent if uninspired

0 Comments · Sunday, July 24, 2011
Joe Johnston, the director of numerous effects-driven adventures over the years (Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, Jumanji and Jurassic Park III, to name a few), brings sleek efficiency to this 3-D adaptation of the latest Marvel Comics staple to make it to the big screen, which is a nice way of saying that Captain America is a competent if uninspired opening salvo in what Paramount hopes is its next mondo franchise. Grade: C.  

Queen to Play (Review)

French drama revels in the pleasures of chess

0 Comments · Thursday, July 21, 2011
Superlative performances and a restrained directorial touch elevate this French drama from a schematic outline into a compelling story about a woman who gradually discovers horizons where previously she had seen none. Grade: B.  

A Little Help (Review)

Finding small truths in tragic moments

0 Comments · Tuesday, July 19, 2011
Writer-director Michael Weithorn, a veteran from the televised situation comedy world ('Family Ties,' 'The King of Queens'), looks back almost a decade later at the period immediately following 9/11, approximately 10 months afterward, in this new film and unearths a completely unique perspective on the tragic event and delves into a more flawed human experience of the moment. Grade: B.  

Winnie the Pooh (Review)

Classic book adaptation recalls a bygone era

0 Comments · Monday, July 18, 2011
Disney's film adaptation of A.A. Milne's beloved children's book recalls bygone lazy afternoons of imaginative play and suffers because it's too short and sweet to be taken seriously as a feature film. Grade: B-.  

Page One: Inside The New York Times (Review)

Compelling documentary looks at the state of modern media

0 Comments · Friday, July 15, 2011
Andrew Rossi's fly-on-the-wall documentary focuses on whether traditional print media can survive in a world now dominated by 24-hour television news networks and the ever-expanding reach of the Internet. Grade: B.  

A Better Life (Review)

Heartfelt immigrant drama is too predictable

0 Comments · Friday, July 15, 2011
Versatile director Chris Weitz's latest rarely transcends its programmatic structure and predictable character arcs, although its immigrant, working-class milieu is drenched in realism and heartache. Grade: D-plus.  

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2

Saga says goodbye by reaching adulthood

0 Comments · Wednesday, July 13, 2011
If you’ve followed the cinematic adventures of Harry Potter over the last decade — whether in print or cinematic form — it’s hard to imagine how Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2 could fail. A series that began as an investment in J.K. Rowling’s remarkable hero-quest narrative evolved, over the course of seven films, into something else: an investment in the coming-of-age of three young actors.