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movie reviews

Winter's Tale

0

Colin Farrell, Russell Crowe, Jessica Brown Findlay

Directed by: Akiva Goldsman

A kick in the ass to Valentine's Day and the very notion of a satisfying Somewhere In Time kind of romantic wallow at the movies. What happens to Mark Helprin's 1983 bestseller at the hands of Hollywood is a crying shame. In his feature directing debut, Oscar-winning screenwriter Akiva Goldsman (A Beautiful Mind), creates a beautiful mess, an embarrassment of epic proportions. On deck is a supernatural love story that spans a century and even death, Colin Farrell—sporting the ... | More »

Robocop

4

Joel Kinnaman, Michael Keaton

Directed by: José Padilha

This Robo-reboot tries fiercely to update the satirical punch and stylistic perversity Paul Verhoeven's 1987 original. It's a futile gesture. Brazilian director José Padilha (Elite Squad, Bus 174) soldiers on stolidly, but lacks the Dutch Verheoeven's abiding sense of mischief. Go ahead, skewer American jingoism and right-wing perspectives all you want – that never gets old – but do it with a specific point of view. Padilha seems content to just go through th... | More »

February 7, 2014

The Lego Movie

7

Chris Pratt, Will Ferrell

Directed by: Phil Lord and Christopher Miller

Animated movies in 3-D are box-office bonanzas, and The Lego Movie is no exception. George Clooney's Monuments Men should prepare to be shot down. The brightly-imagined Lego Movie is also a wickedly smart and funny free-for-all, and sassy enough to shoot well-aimed darts at corporate branding. Satirical subversion in family entertainment is an unexpected treat, especially in a movie that also functions as a triumph of product placement. For plot, we get Chris Pratt voicing a block of pla... | More »

Vampire Academy

0

Zoey Deutch, Lucy Fry

Directed by: Mark Waters

Since this movie wasn't screened for critics – usually a surefire sign of disaster – I bought my ticket today with everyone else (actually, the theater was near empty) and took a chance. Why you ask? Because it was directed by Mark Waters, who did the terrific Mean Girls, and written by his brother Daniel Waters, who did the script for the classic Heathers. If anyone might break the no-advance-screenings jinx it would be these guys. Not so. The only thing scary about Vampire ... | More »

January 31, 2014

That Awkward Moment

3

Zac Efron, Miles Teller, Michael B. Jordan

Directed by: Tom Gormican

Take three horny guys, all twentysomethings, mix with a plot that was old last century, and serve to an audience so desperate for dick jokes and toilet gags they might forgive a movie wired only with clichés. The compensation comes in the three lead actors, all way too good for the material dished out by writer-director Tom Gormican. Michael B. Jordan, so memorable in Fruitvale Station, plays Mickey, a Manhattan doctor whose wife dumps him. In crisis, he turns to his buds, book-cover d... | More »

Labor Day

4

Kate Winslet, Josh Brolin

Directed by: Jason Reitman

Nothing against Kate Winslet, Josh Brolin and director Jason Reitman – top talents all – but my goodwill drowned while trying to swallow this treacly cocktail of romantic swill. I mean, please. Set during the 1987 Labor Day weekend in New England, the film presents Winslet's Adele as a reclusive, love-starved single mom. Her passions are reawakened when she is kidnapped by Brolin's Frank, an escaped killer. He shows her that God is in the details by tossing a ball with h... | More »

The Monuments Men

6

George Clooney, Matt Damon, Bill Murray, John Goodman, Cate Blanchett

Directed by: George Clooney

Leave it to George clooney to kick Hitler's ass. In The Monuments Men, he kicks hard. But not in the way you think. It's all part of the retro fun and addictive adventure in this relatively bloodless World War II epic. Clooney, who directed The Monuments Men from a script he wrote with his producing partner, Grant Heslov, is riled up about the masterpieces of painting and sculpture that the Führer annexed for himself as his armies goose-stepped across Europe. Quentin Tarantino bas... | More »

Tim's Vermeer

7

Tim Jenison, Penn Gillette

Directed by: Teller

While George Clooney and his Monuments Men search for art stolen by the Nazis in World War II, inventor Tim Jenison uses this potently provocative documentary to accuse 17th-century Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer of cheating. Say what? You heard me. Jenison, the founder of New Tek and an innovator in computer graphics, theorizes that Vermeer used optical aids of the period, including camera obscura and even a simple mirror, to achieve the photo-realistic look of his paintings. Jenison marshal... | More »

January 23, 2014

Gimme Shelter

3

Vanessa Hudgens, Rosario Dawson

Directed by: Ronald Krauss

The story behind this Afternoon TV Special disguised as a real movie is Vanessa Hudgens. That’s right. The Disney cutie who costarred with then boyfriend Zac Efron in countless High School Musical romps and made her bones as a big girl (hell, she’s 25) acting slutty and trippy in Spring Breakers, has now followed the path of many ingénues before her to prove she can act. In Gimme Shelter, Hudgens deglams with a vengeance. (Hell, Charlize Theron won an Oscar for doing just t... | More »

Stranger By the Lake

6

Pierre Deladonchamps, Christophe Paou

Directed by: Alain Guiraudie

Guys cruise each other by an idyllic lake in summer. Gay porn? That's an eye of the beholder decision since blowjobs and jizz figure in the action. But Stranger By the Lake, making overt the gay subtext in Hitchcock's Strangers on a Train and North By Northwest, is at heart an erotic thriller of devilish twists and turns. Far from gender specific, this French spellbinder, sparked with wicked humor and intimations of homicide, speaks to universal rules of attraction. Writer-director ... | More »

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