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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-.  

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.   

The Lincoln Lawyer (Review)

Matthew McConaughey leads an entertaining legal thriller

0 Comments · Thursday, March 17, 2011
Mystery writer Michael Connelly's series of spin-off books provides the basis for this sturdy but rushed legal thriller. Matthew McConaughey ages nicely into the role of hotshot Los Angeles defense attorney Mick Haller. Grade: B.  

The Adjustment Bureau (Review)

Matt Damon and Emily Blunt simmer in suspense thriller

0 Comments · Wednesday, March 2, 2011
Loosely based on a 1954 short story by Philip K. Dick, Matt Damon makes a believable politician as David Norris, a blue-collar hotshot who gets robbed of a U.S. Senate seat after a tabloid revelation about a display of temper back in his college days. The sting of defeat is lessened when the young all-American everyman meets a beautiful dancer named Elise (Emily Blunt). The actors' convincing onscreen chemistry puts a simmer under the artificial sci-fi storyline that hovers above. Grade: B-.  

Rango (Review)

Johnny Depp-voiced chameleon headlines pleasurable animated comedy

0 Comments · Wednesday, March 2, 2011
In conjunction with Industrial Light and Magic, director Gore Verbinski ('Pirates of the Caribbean') has created a gorgeously animated western that doesn't need any stinking 3-D effects to entertain or pump up its profit margin. Grade: A-.  

Three-Dimensional Savior?

Hollywood goes all in on 3-D craze ... but should audiences?

0 Comments · Wednesday, February 23, 2011
To listen to Variety’s 3-D guru David Cohen talk you’d think that we’ll all be wearing 3-D glasses for every movie we see in the coming years. He compares the advent of 3-D to the arrival of sound in cinema. You’d never hear Cohen say that only 70 percent of the population can properly see 3-D due to a variety of ocular anomalies that include things such as color blindness. Naturally, that means only seven out of every 10 people can actually see 3-D.  

Barney's Version (Review)

A committed Paul Giamatti isn't enough to make this period drama compelling

0 Comments · Friday, February 18, 2011
We've all heard somebody say that so-and-so's life story should be made into a movie. But just because a producer thinks Mordecai Richler's faux autobiography is worthy of cinematic interpretation doesn't make it so. Debut director Richard J. Lewis gets saddled with deceptively less fertile source material than must have appeared to Paul Giamatti. Grade: C.  

Unknown (Review)

Liam Neeson is the best thing in this convoluted thriller

0 Comments · Wednesday, February 16, 2011
How Liam Neeson went from being that rare thespian animal of a leading-man character actor to a full-on action star while still keeping his artistic integrity is a mystery. His latest big-screen project is a fish-out-of-water mystery thriller. It's not an especially memorable film, which is ironic considering the analogous subject matter of its over-leveraged premise. Grade: B-.  

The Illusionist (Review)

Animated story channels the late, great Jacques Tati

0 Comments · Thursday, February 10, 2011
Animating an unproduced script by the late, great Jacques Tati proves a problematic challenge for filmmaker Sylvain Chomet ('The Triplets of Belleville'): Tati's ingenious style of physical comedy just doesn't translate in to animation. The entertaining effect of watching the actor play with balance and proportion as he moves is lost here, in spite of Chomet's best efforts to evoke Mr. Tati as a 1950s-era traveling magician. That's not to take anything away from Chomet, who employs light and color in elegant and understated ways. Grade: B-