Reviews

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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TV Review: GLEE – SEASON 2 – “Grilled Cheesus”

Cory Monteith in GLEE - Season 2 - "Grilled Cheesus" | ©2010 Fox/Adam Rose

When you’re going to take on religion, take it on head first and do something powerful with it or humorous. Don’t do something like GLEE does with “Grilled Cheesus” a rather sucky episode that has its intentions in the right place, but yet again doesn’t know how to deliver the goods. Falling somewhere between sappy (Kurt’s dad has a brain aneurysm and is in critical condition in the hospital) and silly (Finn prays to the image of Jesus that ends up burned into the toast of his grilled cheese) it’s a weird blend of spiritualism and comedy that never quite comes together.

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TV Review: CHUCK – Season 4 – “Vs. The Cubic Z.”

Steve Austin in CHUCK - Season 4 - "Vs. The Cubic Z." | ©2010 NBC

Something has definitely been off with CHUCK in its fourth season. Maybe making Chuck (Zachary Levi) more of a spy has actually taken the edge off of why the show was so charming in the first place – he was an average guy put in extraordinary circumstances he was incapable of dealing with alone. Add to that the “will they or won’t they” relationship between Chuck and fellow spy Sarah (Yvonne Strahovski) completely gone since they’ve consummated and become a couple. Now the show has had to stoop to relationship woes to keep their romance alive and chemistry. Unfortunately, when the relationship woes include Sarah upset that Chuck eventually wants to have kids and get married, it seems so pat and obvious for a show like CHUCK that’s always been so clever and different in the handling of this type of material.

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Preview: It’s three cheers for The CW’s HELLCATS

Heather Hemmens, Matt Barr, Aly Michalka, Robbie Jones and Ashley Tisdale in HELLCATS - Season 1 | © 2010 The CW/Andrew Eccles

This may be the last year for Tom Welling playing Clark Kent on The CW’s SMALLVILLE, but he’s already lined up his next gig – as executive producer on the new CW drama HELLCATS about competitive cheerleaders. “I thought it was a great story, had a lot of heart and found it very interesting,” says Welling at this summer’s CW’s TCA press tour. In terms of dividing his time between the two series, he adds, “fortunately, HELLCATS also shoots in Vancouver, ten minutes away from SMALLVILLE.” “It’s a huge benefit,” says Welling. “We have a fantastic crew on both shows […]Read On »

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Music Review: Gin Blossoms – NO CHOCOLATE CAKE

Gin Blossoms - NO CHOCOLATE CAKE | ©2010 429 Records

The Gin Blossoms were one of the 1990s strongest hook-happy groups that shot to the top of the charts with their hit single “Hey, Jealousy” off NEW MISERABLE EXPERIENCE and later with “Til I Hear It from You” co-written by pop-craftsman Marshall Crenshaw for the film EMPIRE RECORDS. Though they disbanded in 1997, the group eventually reformed in 2002 followed by the lackluster 2006 disc MAJOR LODGE VICTORY.

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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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