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movie reviews

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 »

January 16, 2014

Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit

5

Chris Pine, Kevin Costner, Keira Knightley

Directed by: Kenneth Branagh

As espionage thrillers go, Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit skillfully marshals all the familiar elements. That's the damn problem. Despite a timely spy plot with Russian baddies trying to crash the U.S. economy via the Internet and terrorist attack, lots of glam globetrotting through Moscow, London and New York, and a studly, digital-savvy hero in Chris Pine, the movie feels deballed by its allegiance to formula. Are we not entertained? Sure we are. Class-act director Kenneth Branagh, happily ... | More »

Ride Along

2

Ice Cube, Kevin Hart

Directed by: Tim Story

It's January, when lemons fall off the Hollywood tree like assault weapons. Certainly the sourest comedy in the bunch is Ride Along, a collection of moldy gags that director Tim Story tries to polish. Not with these turds, pal. Ice Cube stars as an Atlanta detective who gives a ride-along to his sister's boo (Kevin Hart, way better than his material) to prove he's a shit-talking security-guard punk who's "about one chromosome short of being a midget." These are the jokes. ... | More »

January 9, 2014

Lone Survivor

6

Mark Wahlberg, Taylor Kitsch, Emile Hirsch, Ben Foster

Directed by: Peter Berg

What to say about a war film whose outcome is evident in the title? In the case of Lone Survivor, you commend the outstanding job done by writer-director Peter Berg in telling the remarkable true story recounted by Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell in his book of the same name. In 2005, medic and sniper Luttrell (Mark Wahlberg), Lt. Michael Murphy (Taylor Kitsch), gunner's mate Danny P. Dietz (Emile Hirsch) and sonar technician Matthew "Axe" Axelson (Ben Foster) were deployed to the Afghan mount... | More »

December 24, 2013

Grudge Match

2

Robert De Niro, Sylvester Stallone

Directed by: Peter Segal

Next to finding a lump of coal under your Christmas tree, I can't think of a worse gift for the holiday season than a ticket to Grudge Match. Sylvester Stallone, 67, plays Henry "Razor" Sharp, a Pittsburgh boxer who decided to retire in 1983 just before a decisive third match with Billy "The Kid" McDonnen, played by Robert De Niro, 70. Now these two feuding AARP stalwarts decide to hold a grudge match to settle the score. The jokes are older than the actors. "Gutsy move to go without a b... | More »

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