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Blue Valentine (Review)

Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams dig deep in affecting drama

0 Comments · Wednesday, January 26, 2011
'Blue Valentine,' from writer-director Derek Cianfrance, finds Ryan Gosling in love with the dark side all over again. His character, Dean, is a slacker intellectual; an autodidact with little drive to succeed in the traditional sense (middle-class employment stability with the wife and kids in tow) but a huge heart and an even greater openness to the potential that the world has to offer. Grade: B-plus.  

Another Year (Review)

Mike Leigh's latest is effectively depressing

0 Comments · Wednesday, January 26, 2011
The veteran British filmmaker Mike Leigh again immerses his working-class characters in the messiness of everyday life, this time focusing his neorealist gaze on Gerri (Ruth Sheen) and Tom (Jim Broadbent), happily married sixtysomethings who revel in their long, still-evolving relationship and in simple pleasures like tending their garden. Grade: B-.  

The Mechanic (Review)

Action thriller is grindhouse-inspired, B-movie fun

0 Comments · Wednesday, January 26, 2011
Simon West, director of 'Con Air' and 'The General's Daughter,' has been off the big-screen radar long enough to properly contemplate the slick little cinematic take-over that is The Mechanic. The film's generic poster of a handgun made up of roughly sketched weapons cleverly conceals an ingenious update on the time-honored assassin-with-a-heart genre. Grade: B-plus.   

Casino Jack (Review)

Jack Abramoff biopic too slick for its own good

0 Comments · Wednesday, January 26, 2011
Released just a few months after Alex Gibney's Jack Abramoff documentary, director George Hickenlooper's feature version of the same tale of corruption shellacs rather than shackles its GOP super-lobbyist antihero. Grade: D.  

No Strings Attached (Review)

Raunchy romantic comedy fails to connect

0 Comments · Monday, January 24, 2011
Director Ivan Reitman beats 'Friends With Benefits' to the punch, but this Natalie Portman-Ashton Kutcher romantic comedy fails to connect the dots to create a meaningful picture of life and love in the new social network. Grade: D.  

The Way Back (Review)

True-life drama anchored by an intense Colin Farrell

0 Comments · Monday, January 24, 2011
Colin Farrell brings a charged thrill to Peter Weir's epic drama about a group of prisoners who escape from a Siberian gulag and walk 4,000 miles to India to secure their freedom. Grade: B.  

Just for Laughs

Ohio filmmakers discuss DIY comedy The General Specific

0 Comments · Wednesday, January 19, 2011
Tricycles and thongs are sore subjects for Brian Stevens — literally. “It (the thong) was uncomfortable and caused a lot of pain,” Stevens says. “And it took forever to shoot the scene because certain things kept falling out.” The co-writer and star of the independent comedy The General Specific had to fight through the pain for his role as Wally Floorie.  

The Dilemma (Review)

Vince Vaughn-Kevin James dramedy ties too hard

0 Comments · Thursday, January 13, 2011
Why is Ron Howard trying to transform himself into a Judd Apatow clone with The Dilemma? This Vince Vaughn-Kevin James dramedy feels less like Parenthood than an attempt to make the last third of Funny People with all of its infidelity issues as funny as the first two thirds by keeping the spotlight on the bromance between the leads. Grade: D-plus.  

The Green Hornet (Review)

Michel Gondry and Seth Rogen team up for breezy romp

0 Comments · Wednesday, January 12, 2011
Channeling the post-slacker comic stylings of Seth Rogen into a heroic fantasy would seem far-fetched even in an alternative reality, and Michel Gondry’s precious indie vision clashes wildly with the CGI-dominated frames of most of the current crop of comic book and graphic novel translations. But it is in these contradictions that 'The Green Hornet' finds its groove. Grade: B.  

Rabbit Hole (Review)

0 Comments · Wednesday, January 12, 2011
'Rabbit Hole' does for grief and loss what 'Shortbus' did for sex and the sense of identity we mold from our sexual orientations. We grieve in different ways, and others begin to see and define us by our expressions of that hurt. It changes us — our immersion in loss and/or how we handle our proximity to it and those that we love who are caught in its unshakeable grasp. Grade: A  

Made in Dagenham (Review)

Polished workplace comedy makes its points with spunk and wit

0 Comments · Wednesday, January 12, 2011
A determinedly sunny take on the labor struggles of women factory workers at a British Ford plant in 1968, Made in Dagenham is a highly polished comedy with a clear message about equal pay for women. Adapted from William Ivory's seamless script, director Nigel Cole taps into colorful cultural references of the era in order to convey layers of social subtext. Grade: B.  

Country Strong (Review)

Country Pop drama barely radio worthy

0 Comments · Friday, January 7, 2011
Writer-director Shana Feste has the misfortune of shepherding a Country music project a year after Jeff Bridges earned his first Academy Award in Scott Cooper’s 'Crazy Heart.' The authenticity of the hard-knock life as a singer-songwriter bent every note in Cooper’s film, which kept it perfectly in tune. But 'Country Strong' tries to glitz the arrangement up into a Country Pop piece, and the results are barely radio worthy. Grade: D-plus.  

Season of the Witch (Review)

Flawed period adventure generates unintentional laughs

0 Comments · Friday, January 7, 2011
Obviously, Dominic Sena (Gone in Sixty Seconds) has a degree of comfort working with Nicolas Cage, but there’s no way anyone will buy the off-kilter performer and Ron Perlman as his crusading sidekick in the 14th-century when they sound like they wondered off a mid-1980s buddy picture set. Grade: D-.  

Gulliver's Travels (Review)

Jack Black vehicle is dead on arrival

0 Comments · Friday, January 7, 2011
Audiences should be forgiven for thinking that Lemuel Gulliver (Jack Black) and his adventure on the island of Liliput has anything to do with Jonathan Swift’s classic, because all Black has done is somehow convince director Rob Letterman to shoot 'Travels' as if it were a craptastic 3-D spectacle from Jeff Portnoy, Black’s pandering character from 'Tropic Thunder.' Grade: D-.   

Forward Thinking

A look at the 2011 movie slate

0 Comments · Tuesday, January 4, 2011
How about a little forward thinking in 2011? Let’s say goodbye to 2010, at least for a moment (because, like all new year’s resolutions, this one is inevitably doomed to fail) and focus on what is to come, not as the blind wandering around in search of flickering lights in dark art-houses and multiplexes, but with, at the very least, a penlight and an outline of the new horizon.