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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.  


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.   

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.   


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.   


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.    


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.