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Michael Jackson's This Is It Proves Entertaining But Not Revelatory

Instead of focusing on Michael Jackson's private life or his particular oddities, This Is It is really all about the music and a farewell tour that'll never see the light of day, a move that ultimately casts Jackson, and his legacy, in a more favorable light.

  • Christa Banister |
  • January 26, 2010 |
  • comments
Love Burns True in Jane Campion's Bright Star

Jane Campion has made a career off of tortured love stories, yet Bright Star is different (even opposite, and superior). Her past films have been about tortured people who destroy their circumstances. This, conversely, is a bittersweet arc of pure people who are tragically tortured by circumstances.

Accept Any and All Substitutes for Surrogates

Rather than develop the more cerebral aspects of the story in the rushed, 88 minutes of Surrogates, director Jonathan Mostow (Terminator 3) substitutes action where thoughtful dialogue and exposition would have been more helpful.

  • Christian Hamaker |
  • January 26, 2010 |
  • comments
Truth Be Told, The Invention of Lying Is Woefully Misguided

In The Invention of Lying, Ricky Gervais brings to the screen a story with some genuine laugh-out-loud potential. But its sharp, unexpected turn only serves as the actor/director’s personal atheistic soapbox.

  • Christa Banister |
  • January 19, 2010 |
  • comments
Blindingly Bad Whiteout Is a Blizzard of Balderdash

Kate Beckinsale’s career once looked promising, but her willingness to take paycheck jobs like Whiteout isn’t helping her career. Was she so blinded by the story that she couldn’t see how disastrous the final result would be?

  • Christian Hamaker |
  • January 19, 2010 |
  • comments
Mind of a Soldier Explored Inside The Hurt Locker

Key to the success of the The Hurt Locker is that its agenda is neither pro-war nor anti-war. Instead, the film is a look at the psychology of the men who go to war, and especially of those who willingly take part in the most dangerous aspects of conflict.

  • Christian Hamaker |
  • January 12, 2010 |
  • comments
Updated Fame Probably Won't Live Forever in Viewers' Minds

Given our culture's continued obsession with seeing ordinary people "make it big" and “achieve their dreams of stardom," it was only a matter of time before the '80s flick Fame got a modern-day makeover.

  • Christa Banister |
  • January 12, 2010 |
  • comments
Post Grad Doesn't Earn High Marks in Reality

Instead of giving the storyline the gravitas it deserves, Post Grad quickly goes Little Miss Sunshine with way too much screen time dedicated to the main character's quirky family, the sort only dreamed up for movies in the first place.

  • Christa Banister |
  • January 12, 2010 |
  • comments
Rockwell's Performance Orbits a Distant Moon

Sam Rockwell has performed well in supporting roles in several powerful dramas recently (Frost/Nixon, Snow Angels), but Moon is his coming-out party—an announcement that he's ready for the big leagues.

  • Christian Hamaker |
  • January 12, 2010 |
  • comments
Final Destination Characters Meet Eye-Popping Endings

The Final Destination is the fourth film in the horror franchise about people who try to cheat death, but it's the first installment filmed using Real-D 3D technology. The three-dimensional presentation takes the decimation, decapitation and disgust to depressing levels.

  • Christian Hamaker |
  • January 05, 2010 |
  • comments
Apparently 9 Is the Bleakest Number

Considering that an animated account of "the end of the world as we know it" was already done so well and winningly in last year's Wall·E (Pixar), 9 just doesn’t add anything new to the perilous conversation.

  • Christa Banister |
  • December 29, 2009 |
  • comments
Michael Moore Wants a Divorce from Capitalism

With his latest film, Capitalism: A Love Story, Michael Moore has delivered his least convincing, sloppiest work. The holes in his theory about capitalism being "evil" are so gaping that it's difficult to give credence to his more salutary points.

  • Christian Hamaker |
  • December 29, 2009 |
  • comments
Rom-Coms Get a Refreshing Spin in (500) Days of Summer

While adherence to romantic-comedy genre rules and staples lacks the inspiration of its premise, the refreshing spin of (500) Days of Summer is found primarily in first-time director Marc Webb’s style.

All About Steve Can Be Summed Up in Three Letters: B-A-D

If you can overlook the lowbrow attempts for a laugh, there’s a very good message hidden deep, deep down in the very bad comedy of All About Steve. Unfortunately, 98 minutes is far too long to waste trying to find it.

  • Christa Banister |
  • December 22, 2009 |
  • comments
District 9 Disappoints Despite Inspired Genre Mash-Up

In an inspired genre mash-up of sci-fi, horror and documentary styles, District 9 looks to tackle relevant themes related to the War on Terror (and the U.S. detention center at Guantanamo Bay, specifically) through a parabolic lens.

Workplace Comedy Extract Labors for Laughs

Extract is better than some of the coarse R-rated comedies this year, but it's also surprisingly insubstantial given its moral content. The film does offer a few mild laughs, but the potentially offensive material is abundant throughout.

  • Christian Hamaker |
  • December 21, 2009 |
  • comments
The Hangover Hits Bottom for Laughs

The Hangover continues the trend toward outrageous, raunchy R-rated comedies. That domain, dominated by writer/director Judd Apatow (The 40 Year Old Virgin), can make room for director Todd Phillips among its list of big names.

  • Christian Hamaker |
  • December 15, 2009 |
  • comments
Quentin Tarantino's Latest a Mostly Self-Indulgent Battle

Proving he's far more blood-thirsty than any of the vampires wholeheartedly embraced by pop culture these days, famed director Quentin Tarantino leaves no opportunity for over-the-top, gratuitous violence unturned in his latest work, Inglourious B*sterds.

  • Christa Banister |
  • December 15, 2009 |
  • comments
Not Much Story to Tell in Taking Woodstock

By the end of Taking Woodstock, despite some worthy craftsmanship, this look at how Woodstock came to be actually has the inverse effect of its likely intent: less historically significant without much of a story to tell.

Childhood Officially Left Behind in Half-Blood Prince

Juxtaposing a far more ominous tone with the clumsy romantic entanglements of its teenage protagonists, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is easily the funniest, darkest and most ambitious film of the successful series.

  • Christa Banister |
  • December 08, 2009 |
  • comments
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