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Stone's W. Neglects Key Elements of Bush Biography

Oliver Stone has now turned his attention to George W. Bush in W., written well before the completion of his second term and rushed into release before the end of his time in office. The perils of such an approach are evident in this entertaining but unresolved account of Bush's life and presidency.

  • Christian Hamaker |
  • February 10, 2009 |
  • comments
Unfocused Miracle at St. Anna Misses the Target

Clocking in at 160 minutes, Spike Lee’s Miracle at St. Anna wants to be so many things—a rewriting of history, a war movie, a murder mystery, even a heartstrings-tugging melodrama—that it doesn’t do anything particularly well.

  • Christa Banister |
  • February 10, 2009 |
  • comments
Slow-Moving Rodanthe Doesn't Defy Expectations

Like 2004’s The Notebook, an adaptation of author Nicholas Sparks’ best-selling book, Nights in Rodanthe is a tearjerker. But unlike its predecessor, this film labors under a plodding pace and melodramatic, made-for-TV storyline.

  • Christa Banister |
  • February 10, 2009 |
  • comments
Offensive, Insulting Blindness Better Left Unseen

Blindness is the type of odious filmmaking that drives people who dare give it a shot right back to the refuge of mindless blockbusters. But films on the opposite end of the spectrum—like Blindness—are equally responsible.

Hedonism Is the Answer in Vicky Cristina Barcelona

Woody Allen’s world—both private and professional—has always been a weird one. In his latest film, which showcases his newest “muse,” Scarlett Johansson, he serves up his nihilistic worldview. Here, he tells us, hedonism is the answer.

  • Annabelle Robertson |
  • February 05, 2009 |
  • comments
Bees Undercuts Complexity with Contrived Melodrama

The Secret Life of Bees is just the sort of serious/feel-good/weeper chick flick you’d expect it to be. It’s not a bad film, necessarily, but it falls short by emotionally pandering to its core audience rather than reaching beyond it.

Nick and Norah Offers Charming Cast but Weak Story

Michael Cera’s latest role as the Nick of Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist, floats across the screen like it was written just for him—showcasing his unpretentious charm and carrying an otherwise forgettable movie.

  • Stephen McGarvey |
  • February 03, 2009 |
  • comments
Earnest Fireproof Could Use More Spark

For a film that shows characters making so many honorable decisions, Fireproof is simply no more exciting than an episode of Seventh Heaven. It's hard to say whether the importance of the film's message outweighs the lackluster filmmaking. That is for viewers to decide.

  • Christian Hamaker |
  • January 27, 2009 |
  • comments
Pride and Glory Follows a Familiar Family Plot

Men in blue have hearts of black in Gavin O’Connor’s Pride and Glory, a dark film about dirty cops and one man who fights the system—and his family—to break the stranglehold of corruption on the New York Police Department.

  • Christian Hamaker |
  • January 27, 2009 |
  • comments
Max Payne Makes the Leap from Game to Screen

Starring Mark Wahlberg and based on the popular video game, Max Payne carries all the usual limitations of an adaptation from game to screen—namely, a weak script and over-the-top situations that have little to do with reality.

  • Annabelle Robertston |
  • January 26, 2009 |
  • comments
Classes, Ideologies Clash in Brideshead Revisited

In this big screen adaptation of Evelyn Waugh’s classic novel, England’s middle class clashes with the upper class, atheism with Catholicism and sexual tensions prevail. Fans of period pieces will be delighted at the magnificent sets, as well as the costumes.

  • Annabelle Robertson |
  • January 22, 2009 |
  • comments
Cook's Antics Prove Shocking in My Best Friend's Girl

Dane Cook fans will enjoy watching their favorite stand-up comic at the top of his game. He’s rude, crude and socially unacceptable. But even those used to Cook are likely to find themselves taken back by his shocking antics in My Best Friend’s Girl.

  • Annabelle Robertson |
  • January 22, 2009 |
  • comments
As an Apocalyptic Adventure, City of Ember Shines Bright

Keeping the pace fast, City of Ember plays out like The Goonies meets National Treasure with a twinge of science fiction. The constant twists and turns of the plot, and its inevitable intrigue, will easily hold your attention for an hour.

  • Christa Banister |
  • January 20, 2009 |
  • comments
Liberalism Gets the Laughs in An American Carol

If you've ever rolled your eyes at movies like Farenheit 9-11 or felt frustrated by a liberal’s comparison between evangelical missionaries and suicide bombers, you’ll definitely appreciate An American Carol.

  • Annabelle Robertson |
  • January 15, 2009 |
  • comments
Politics Gets Some Comic Relief in Swing Vote

Weary of the 24/7 coverage of the upcoming presidential election and wondering if your vote really makes a difference anyway? Swing Vote is timely and just cynical enough to garner a few much-needed laughs as the race lingers on.

  • Christa Banister |
  • January 13, 2009 |
  • comments
Diverting Babylon A.D. Eventually Falls Apart

Babylon A.D. probably won’t do much for Vin Diesel’s action-movie career. But its failure may be for the best if it pushes the actor into roles that require him to do more than mumble one-liners and shoot bad guys.

  • Christian Hamaker |
  • January 06, 2009 |
  • comments
Boredom Is the Ever-Present Danger in Bangkok

There’s nothing new in Bangkok Dangerous, which caps its dreary running time with a downbeat ending that might have been more credible if the movie preceding it sustained any semblance of a pulse.

  • Christian Hamaker |
  • January 06, 2009 |
  • comments
Funny, Entertaining Pineapple Express Is Also Super-Bad

Pineapple Express serves as a stark contrast to (and improvement over) the recent Will Ferrell misfire, Step Brothers. While both push the limits of R-rated humor, Step Brothers is wholly reliant on its crudity in a way that Pineapple Express is not.

Good Cop Goes Bad in Righteous Kill

Righteous Kill stars two of the most revered actors of their generation: Robert De Niro and Al Pacino. Not since Heat have the men shared a scene. But those hoping for acting fireworks here will need to wait for their next joint appearance.

  • Christian Hamaker |
  • January 06, 2009 |
  • comments
Simplistic Melodrama Mires Visually Stunning Duchess

A metaphor common to period pieces is how opulent exteriors often mask sordid realities. It’s certainly a staple of The Duchess, although the metaphor isn’t restricted to the film’s themes. It expands to its quality as well.

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