Movies

Movie Review: DUE DATE

©2010 Warner Bros. DUE DATE movie poster

When two teams of writers work on a project, it’s generally not good news. Such is the case with DUE DATE, a road trip comedy blessed with the intense, intelligent presence of Robert Downey, Jr. and Zack Galifianakis as mismatched travelers, but lacking hilarity in either premise or details.

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Movie Review: CONVICTION

CONVICTION movie poster | ©2010 Fox Searchlight

Although parts of CONVICTION have no doubt been fictionalized to make a better story, the heart of the film is what in fact happened. When Kenneth (Sam Rockwell) was convicted of a vicious murder and lost his first appeal, his sister, small-town barmaid Betty Anne Waters (Hilary Swank) put herself through law school for the purpose of becoming a lawyer so she could re-open her brother’s case and exonerate him. The entire process took eighteen years.

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Movie Review: HEREAFTER

HEREAFTER movie poster | © 2010 Warner Bros.

With gorgeous locations in London, Paris, San Francisco and Hawaii (this last standing in for Indonesia) and the agreeable company of Matt Damon as a tamped-down, but not hopeless man who is trying to change his life, HEREAFTER is quite pleasant. However, one gets the feeling that director Clint Eastwood and writer Peter Morgan (of THE QUEEN and FROST/NIXON fame) had something a bit more affecting in mind, and the movie seldom connects on a fully emotional level. Indeed, it actually generates more intellectual curiosity about the story’s claims of scientific proof of some sort of shared afterlife.

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Movie Review: RED

RED movie poster | © 2010 Summit Entertainment

What happens to old CIA (and MI-6, and KGB) agents once they’re put out to pasture? Well, according to RED (the film’s acronym for the status of Retired, Extremely Dangerous), they can lead absolutely mundane lives. Unless of course somebody tries to kill them, in which case, they return to form in no time flat.

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Movie Review: STONE

STONE movie poster | ©2010 Overture Films

STONE takes its title from the nickname of Edward Norton’s character, who when we meet him has done eight years of a ten-to-fifteen sentence for arson; the incident also caused the deaths of Stone’s grandparents, although his cousin was convicted of the murders. Stone is looking to get paroled, which means he has to have some sessions with Jack (Robert De Niro), the prison’s advisor to the parole board on which inmates seem ready to take responsibility for their actions and which ones should stay locked up. Stone has a good time arguing philosophy with Jack and getting the older man’s goat, without ever saying the words Jack needs to hear in order to be comfortable about recommending parole. Instead, Stone’s wife Lucetta (Milla Jovovich) begins a full-court press of persuasion with Jack, who is married to the religiously devout and unhappily alcoholic Madylyn (Frances Conroy).

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Movie Review: MONSTERS

MONSTERS movie poster | ©2010 Magnet Releasing

MONSTERS is an inventive low-budget blend of science-fiction, horror, character study and political parable. It hits this last aspect a bit hard, but otherwise, it’s very entertaining. Director/writer Gareth Edwards admirably avoids the one-two-three-something-jumps-out-of-the-dark scares common to creature features in favor of a steady sense of tension. The film has the “what-if?” factor of DISTRICT 9, the giant entities wreaking havoc of CLOVERFIELD, the astonishing natural splendor of its Mexican/Central American locations and the soul of a low-budget indie.

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Movie Review: MY SOUL TO TAKE

MY SOUL TO TAKE movie poster | ©2010 Rogue Pictures

Wes Craven’s most famous filmmaking creation is still arguably the NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET franchise, but the supernatural aspects of his latest offering as writer/director, MY SOUL TO TAKE, are closer to those in THE SERPENT AND THE RAINBOW and SHOCKER. What’s surprising is that SOUL is sincere about depicting the high school travails of its main characters – this goes well beyond the interest SCREAM (directed by Craven, written by Kevin Williamson) showed in such things. Instead, it’s as though the horror elements of SOUL were married to a John Hughes movie, or even Craven’s school-orchestra drama MUSIC OF THE HEART. Plenty of horror films (including a number of Craven’s) are set in and around high school, but few deal this extensively with high school. The shift in emphasis is a bit surprising, but on the whole, it works.

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Movie Review: SECRETARIAT

SECRETARIAT movie poster |© 2010 Walt Disney Pictures

SECRETARIAT is about a horse called “Big Red” by those who knew him, who was one of the great equine athletes of all time. In 1973, Secretariat won the three races that together are the Triple Crown of American horse racing, setting a speed for the last one that has not yet been matched. It’s a story known to horse race fans and indeed to many people who aren’t into the sport but have heard the statistics.

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2010 Toronto International Film Festival – The New Complex

Dateline Toronto September 9-18, 2010 I was wrong. I’ve been gleefully attending the Toronto International Film Festival for more than 20 years but when I heard they were assembling a festival entertainment complex I bitched. And I moaned. Much of the fun  and success of Toronto’s film festival is that it is sprawled all over town. By jumping from theater to theater and event to event you’re forced to learn all the wonders the city holds. I feared the new complex would consolidate the festival too much. I was wrong. Located at the corners of Kings and John St, the […]Read On »

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Movie Review: LET ME IN

LET ME IN teaser poster | ©2010 Overture Films

Rating: R Stars: Kodi Smit-McPhee, Chloe Grace Moretz, Richard Jenkins, Elias Koteas Writer: Matt Reeves, based on the screenplay and novel by John Ajvide Lindqvist Director: Matt Reeves Distributor: Overture Films Release Date: October 1st, 2010 Director/screenwriter Matt Reeves is fairly faithful to the story, characters and even environment in LET ME IN, his English-language version of the 2008 Swedish horror film LET THE RIGHT ONE IN. Seeing the original, it was very hard to imagine the movie being made in the U.S., and filmmaker Reeves has tilted one element of the story to make it creepier and ever so […]Read On »

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