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Madea's Big Happy Family (Review)

Tyler Perry fails to elevate his latest beyond pedestrian riffs

0 Comments · Monday, April 25, 2011
Madea’s 'Big Happy Family' brings Loretta Devine further into the Tyler Perry troupe after her dazzling turn in 'For Colored Girls.' Unfortunately, she’s not able to elevate this material beyond its pedestrian riffs on black life. Grade: D.  

Water for Elephants (Review)

Film adaptation of popular novel a big-top full of creaky cliches

0 Comments · Monday, April 25, 2011
Seeking to prove he had the chops for more dramatic fare, Francis Lawrence directed this adaptation of Sara Gruen’s novel by noted screenwriter Richard LaGravenese, but he ended up hedging his bets a bit with the casting of 'Twilight' heartthrob Robert Pattinson as the dreamy veterinarian in this tragic sideshow romantic triangle. Grade: C-.   

Trust (Review)

Powerful drama looks at the issue of online predators

0 Comments · Thursday, April 21, 2011
David Schwimmer's sophomore effort as a director is a tour de force of socially relevant dramatic filmmaking. Clearly a labor of love for Schwimmer and his outstanding ensemble, 'Trust' comes at you from all angles. Grade: A.   

Rubber (Review)

Quentin Dupieux’s horror satire centers on a killer tire

0 Comments · Wednesday, April 20, 2011
It’s tempting to call Rubber an intimate glimpse into the tire condition. But that might seem excessively flippant. True, it’s hard not to describe this new independent film about a killer tire, which can be seen first-run on Time Warner Cable’s video-on-demand platform, without allowing for some humor.  

Come Again?

The second coming in the age of sequels and reboots

0 Comments · Wednesday, April 20, 2011
What better time, it would seem, to explore the life of God as Man? Our heroes are darker, more conflicted beings, grappling with ethical quandaries and the nature of morality. Machines have become more human as we have begun to mix and co-mingle with them. If we cannot re-imagine Jesus now and make him relevant, then when?  

Scream 4 (Review)

Horror franchise needs a fresher update

0 Comments · Monday, April 18, 2011
The most exciting part of the latest installment in horror maestro Wes Craven and writer Kevin Williamson's slasher deconstruction series is the intro, which is how the original was able to grab audiences — by offing a familiar actress during the pre-title sequence, it meant that anything could happen. Grade: C-plus.  

The Conspirator (Review)

James McAvoy and Robin Wright shine in true-life period piece

0 Comments · Thursday, April 14, 2011
Robert Redford's first directorial effort since his 2007 anti-war polemic 'Lions for Lambs' is a striking Civil War courtroom drama about how the assassination of President Lincoln called into question the possible participation of Mary Surratt, the mother of a young man who befriended John Wilkes Booth and his accomplices. Robin Wright soars to dramatic heights in her restrained performance as Surratt. The effect is reminiscent of Jessica Lange's finest work. Grade: B-.  

Rio (Review)

Computer-animated feature revisits a seemingly long-lost style

0 Comments · Wednesday, April 13, 2011
Plenty of contemporary animated features are trying so hard to be clever that they forget to be fundamentally enjoyable — and as for the emotional depth, we can appreciate Pixar's impressive track record without dismissing everything that doesn't live up to that standard. 'Rio' manages to be entertaining by working within an unlikely formula: making something that's fun for kids, in the style of movies that their parents would have watched when they were kids. Grade: B.  

Arthur (Review)

Russell Brand replaces Dudley Moore in comedy remake

0 Comments · Friday, April 8, 2011
Thirty years ago, Arthur was a spoiled drunk who needed to grow up, but now, in this remake starring Russell Brand, there’s something darker, maybe even edgier in the mix. Grade: B-.  

Hanna (Review)

Science-fiction action hybrid possesses no sense of logic

0 Comments · Friday, April 8, 2011
Hanna adeptly evades danger and doles out the requisite ass-kickings, but there's no sense of logic or reason to her motivations. She might as well be a robot. Director Joe Wright has gone astray here. Grade: C.  

Jane Eyre (Review)

Classic novel turned into lush big-screen gem

0 Comments · Friday, April 8, 2011
Director Cary Fukunaga vividly portrays Charlotte Bronte's classic novel's bleak social constraints and wistful natural surroundings. Moira Buffini's considerably compressed screenplay is fleet yet retains the dynamic poetry in Bronte's use of language and experience. Grade: B-plus.   

Of Gods and Men (Review)

Impressively restrained Cannes winner transcends its true-life story

0 Comments · Friday, April 8, 2011
Winner of the Grand Prize at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival, Xavier Beauvois' impressively restrained humanist drama centers on eight French Trappist monks whose faith is tested when the remote Algerian monastery in which they reside is threatened by a group of ruthless Islamic fundamentalists. Grade: B.  

The Music Never Stopped (Review)

Music-laden period drama never quite ignites

0 Comments · Friday, April 8, 2011
Producer-turned-first-time-director Jim Kohlberg is unable to wrench much life or visual flair from this music-infused medical mystery, although it will elicit some tears from those sensitive to its emotional tugs. Grade: C.  

Miral (Review)

Julian Schnabel tackles hot-button issue from an unexpected angle

0 Comments · Friday, April 8, 2011
Filmmaker Julian Schnabel’s glaring light seeks to expose the complex truth of the Palestinian situation and generally does so, despite having a less-than-compelling center in the undeniably beautiful Freida Pinto. Grade: B-.  

Your Highness (Review)

Incoherent period comedy needs to lay off the weed

0 Comments · Friday, April 8, 2011
From the pen of Danny McBride and under the command of 'Pineapple Express' director David Gordon Green, 'Your Highness' professes a love of the tacky swords-and-sorcery epics of the past but in reality is far more entranced by its smoke rings, penis jokes and its potty mouth. Grade: D-plus.