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Midnight in Paris

Owen Wilson headlines Woody Allen’s most engaging film in years

0 Comments · Wednesday, June 8, 2011
Midnight in Paris is a love letter to the city at night and the nostalgia for bygone days, but it realizes, even as it celebrates these elements, especially the past, that there is a trap in falling for the romance and old-fashioned romantic notions. Nostalgia, we are told, is denial of the present, the harsh realities, the swift movement forward that actually obliterates the now and seeks to erase everything that has come before.  

Incendies (Review)

Oscar-nominted drama is a powerful tale of a fracture family

0 Comments · Thursday, June 2, 2011
Brilliantly constructed from the bountiful narrative fabric of Wajdi Mouawad's complex stage play about a familial legacy passed down from a mother to her fraternal twins, 'Incendies' is one of the most powerful dramas ever conceived. Grade: A.  

The First Grader (Review)

True-life story weirdly mutes its dramatic possibilites

0 Comments · Thursday, June 2, 2011
There are, to be sure, foregone conclusions in any kind of inspirational true-life story of this ilk, but British filmmaker Justin Chadwick is weirdly keen on deflecting all drama. Grade: C-plus.  

X-Men: First Class (Review)

0 Comments · Wednesday, June 1, 2011
"Best. Comic Book Movie. Evah!” So my inner fangirl is screaming at the moment as she does a little happy Snoopy dance. “X-Men: First Class is totally awesome!” The cooler, more rational part of my brain is looking upon that inner fangirl with something like indulgent, affectionate pity.  

Meek's Cutoff (Review)

Kelly Reichardt and Michelle Williams rewire the western genre

0 Comments · Thursday, May 26, 2011
You might have seen various re-creations of pioneer journeys, but chances are you’ve never seen the stark realities of that kind of journey given the existential weight of Kelly Reichardt’s 'Meek’s Cutoff.' Screenwriter Jon Raymond draws from a real-life historical tale: an Oregon-bound wagon train led by guide Stephen Meek (Bruce Greenwood) in 1845 that took an alternate route to the well-traveled Oregon Trail. Dissent soon begins to simmer, however, as the pioneers begin to suspect that Meek doesn’t really know where he’s going. Grade: A-.   

Kung Fu Panda 2 (Review)

Jack Black is back for another round of animated mayhem

0 Comments · Thursday, May 26, 2011
Grand-scale animated spectacle in an atmosphere of China's exotic natural beauty is part and parcel to DreamWorks Animation's winning sequel to the 2008 original. Although the filmmakers only take full advantage of the film's 3-D aspect once to allow Jack Black's panda character Po to discharge dumplings across the fourth wall, the animation is gorgeous. Grade: B.  

The Hangover Part II (Review)

Half-assed sequel fails to reach its potential

0 Comments · Thursday, May 26, 2011
The comedic premise of the 2009 original was pure genius, executed with minimal imagination; it was like teenagers blessed with the power of invisibility who could only think to sneak into the girls’ locker room. This version copies the formula, to the same effect. Grade: C-plus.  

The Double Hour (Review)

French thriller melds mystery and romanticism

0 Comments · Thursday, May 26, 2011
Although not as witty in plot design as debut director Giuseppe Capotondi imagines, The Double Hour is an atmospheric suspense thriller that succeeds on the strength of its two leading actors. Grade: B-.  

No Ordinary Western

Filmmaker Kelly Reichardt discusses Meek's Cutoff

0 Comments · Wednesday, May 25, 2011
On the Oregon Trail in 1845, a wagon train of three families led by the mountain man Stephen Meek (Bruce Greenwood) is perilously lost, even though none are yet fully aware of that fact. It’s here that director Kelly Reichardt’s film begins. Actually, Meek’s Cutoff opens in silence, or, more accurately, with the sounds that become prominent in the absence of conversation.  

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (Review)

Captain Jack is back, but he's not enough to save this meandering mess

1 Comment · Friday, May 20, 2011
There’s nothing particularly strange about the latest outing of Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp). Granted, many seemingly key elements have changed, yet there’s the sense that the general proceedings have remained more than vaguely familiar, which is not necessarily a good thing. Grade: D-plus.  

Priest (Review)

Stylized apocalyptic tale lacks heart and soul

0 Comments · Thursday, May 19, 2011
Scott Charles Stewart (Legion) reteams with Paul Bettany in this adaptation of Min-Woo Hyung’s graphic novel series, which seems to have tried to transform Underworld into a religious adventure   

The Beaver (Review)

Mel Gibson strong in Jodie Foster's latest directorial effort

0 Comments · Thursday, May 19, 2011
Mel Gibson's cinematic mea culpa might not equate to a public apology to the countless people he's insulted in recent years. Still, and more importantly to moviegoers, the embattled actor turns in a memorable performance as a suicidal character grasping for straws in 'The Beaver.' Grade: B-.  

Elektra Luxx (Review)

Upper-crust actors can't save this unmitigated flop

0 Comments · Thursday, May 19, 2011
How writer/director Sebastian Gutierrez got upper-crust actors like Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Julianne Moore to take part in this unmitigated flop is a mystery. Everything about this movie is off. Grade: D.  

The Greatest Movie Ever Sold (Review)

Morgan Spurlock doc investigates product placement in movies

0 Comments · Thursday, May 19, 2011
There’s a sense of a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants vibe to the approach of documentary filmmaker Morgan Spurlock. In the case of 'The Greatest Movie Ever Sold,' Spurlock entices several leading national brands to chain themselves together with him with often amusing results. Grade: B-.  

Queen of the Sun (Review)

Documentary looks that at the importance of honeybees

0 Comments · Thursday, May 19, 2011
Taggart Siegel documentary investigates how we’ve now managed to screw up the life of honeybees — there’s a crisis of what’s known as “colony collapse disorder,” in which the worker bees are disappearing from hives — and how this has a threatening impact on the entire world. Grade: B.