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2.5 Stars

Not Fade Away Review

Not Fade Away Review

RATING: (2.5 STARS) David Chase—creator of HBO’s The Sopranos—makes his debut as a feature filmmaker with Not Fade Away. Though not a far cry from his mafia series geographically (this film is more Jersey than Mike “The Situation”), Not Fade Away‘s subject matter couldn’t be more different. Focusing on a young man determined to be […]

Hope Springs Review

Hope Springs Review

RATING: (2.5 STARS) David Frankel (whose The Big Year was, improbably, both one of last year’s biggest surprises and worst films) must have quite a rapport with Meryl Streep. He directed her to an Oscar nomination in The Devil Wears Prada, and he somehow convinced her to star in his latest, Hope Springs—a film that […]

Bernie Review

Bernie Review

RATING: (2.5 STARS) Richard Linklater’s Bernie works on a number of levels, but it’s hamstrung by an awkward, repetitive structure which features real-life individuals sharing their recollections about the film’s based-on-real-events subject matter. It’s indicative of Warren Beatty’s Reds—a film that employed this technique to great effect—but Bernie‘s small-town roots aren’t able to support a […]

Once Upon a Time in Anatolia Review

Once Upon a Time in Anatolia Review

RATING: (2.5 STARS) Those who don’t take much stock in the old saying “Patience is a virtue” will likely have a hard time with Nuri Burge Ceylan’s Grand Prix-winning Once Upon a Time in Anatolia. The film, frankly, doesn’t tell much of a story, and it takes its sweet old time not telling it. You’ll […]

Footnote Review

Footnote Review

RATING: (2.5 STARS) Joseph Cedar’s Footnote tells a very personal story in an impersonal and trivializing way. It’s Cedar’s unusual, energetic style that likely pleased the 2011 Cannes Jury enough to give the film a prize (Best Screenplay), but it’s these very same qualities that will leave a mildly unsatisfying taste in your mouth. Footnote […]

Savages Review

Savages Review

RATING: (2.5 STARS) With Savages, Oliver Stone has veered off the path of politically-motivated dramas and moved in the direction of a simpler, and sexier, crime thriller. This adaptation of Don Winslow’s novel isn’t as narratively dense as something like JFK, but it ends up getting bogged down in unnecessary exposition, which ultimately takes away […]

Rock of Ages Review

Rock of Ages Review

RATING: (2.5 STARS) “I wanna rock!” exclaimed Twisted Sister in its famous 1984 song. It’s safe to assume most men and women attending Adam Shankman’s Rock of Ages would feel the same way. Well, hopefully they don’t mind Glee-style bastardizations of their beloved rock anthems because that’s Rock of Ages‘ modus operandi. Its numbers are […]

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel Review

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel Review

RATING: (2.5 STARS) This is the true story of seven people, who choose to live in a foreign land, retire together, and have their lives taped to find out what happens when India stops being polite and starts getting real. OK, it’s not a true story, but the rest is accurate. The Best Exotic Marigold […]

Pariah Review

Pariah Review

RATING: (2.5 STARS) For just over an hour, Pariah ticks along solidly, but unspectacularly. A series of good-to-great performances elevate the film above its paint-by-numbers screenplay, but just before its dramatic climax, the plot machinations rear their ugly head and transform even the film’s most vivid characters into devices meant to take us from point […]

Haywire Review

Haywire Review

RATING: (2.5 STARS) If the ultimate point of Haywire, the latest film from famously eclectic director Steven Soderbergh, is to show off the ass-kicking skills of the film’s star (MMA fighter Gina Carano), it’s a rousing success. Carano’s fight scenes are surprising, innovative, and spectacular, but the film in which they live is a limp […]

The Five-Year Engagement Review

The Five-Year Engagement Review

RATING: (2.5 STARS) A group of people sit in a room with a box of stale doughnuts. They’re told to eat if they wish, but fresher doughnuts are only 20 minutes away if they’d like to wait for something better. Will they really come? It’s up to each individual to decide, but needless to say, […]

Babygirl Review

Babygirl Review

RATING: (2.5 STARS) As a coming-of-age story, Macdara Vallely’s Babygirl is quite successful. Front and center in the film is Yainis Ynoa, an attractive young talent whose Lena is equal parts street smart and naive. These characteristics help her navigate the tricky waters of the Bronx where her mother’s boyfriend lusts after her while she […]

Death of a Superhero Review

Death of a Superhero Review

RATING: (2.5 STARS) For a few wonderful minutes in Death of a Superhero, it appears we’re in for something truly inspired. Films with dying characters trying to complete one final task or fulfill their last wish all play out the same way, but Ian Fitzgibbon’s film appears cut from a totally different cloth. Unfortunately, it […]

The Deep Blue Sea (2012) Review

The Deep Blue Sea (2012) Review

RATING: (2.5 STARS) All too often, the word “melodrama” has a negative connotation. It’s used interchangeably with “manipulative” to describe a film with less-than-authentic emotions. The truth is that the melodrama is a perfectly respectable genre of film with a number of genuine masterpieces to its name (Todd Haynes’ Far From Heaven comes immediately to […]

John Carter Review

John Carter Review

RATING: (2.5 STARS) It’s hard to believe a film so skillfully crafted and brimming with so many ideas could elicit such a blah reaction. But this is John Carter. Director Andrew Stanton‘s live-action debut is a hodgepodge of epic battles, clunky dialogue, interesting mythology, and trite romance. Much has been made of the film’s massive […]

The Iron Lady Review

The Iron Lady Review

RATING: (2.5 STARS) The Iron Lady lacks focus, plain and simple. It strives to be this grand biopic that encompasses the whole of Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s life. But for such a big, polarizing figure, it feels as if her messier, more complicated moments are glossed over in favor of spending time with a dementia-riddled […]