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October 2010
Action Movies Get Better with Age in Red

Like this past summer's surprise hit The Expendables, the bulk of Red's cast may qualify for AARP card-carrying status—Bruce Willis, Morgan Freeman, John Malkovich, Helen Mirren, etc. But it's a serious mistake to underestimate their strength.

  • Christa Banister |
  • October 15, 2010 |
  • comments
 
Melancholy Never Let Me Go Bends Genres

Based on the book by acclaimed novelist Kazuo Ishiguro, Never Let Me Go is a genre-bending indie drama that blindsides with a shocking revelation about twenty minutes in.

 
Family-Friendly Secretariat a Safe Yet Ineffectual Film

Secretariat is a quintessential family film in this respect: there's nothing to complain about and nothing to rave about. It's safe, conventional, professional; an old-fashioned movie made up of warm fuzzies. In short, Secretariat is as inoffensive as it is ineffectual.

 
Believable Chemistry Elevates Life As We Know It

In Life As We Know It, the latest rom-com to hit theaters, the combined charms of Katherine Heigl and Josh Duhamel, plus a little help from an adorable baby, ultimately elevates what could've been a big-screen sitcom gone seriously wrong.

  • Christa Banister |
  • October 08, 2010 |
  • comments
 
Depression Isn't So Depressing in This Funny Story

A film about depression that isn't depressing; how's that for a small miracle? Starring Keir Gilchrist and Zach Galifianakis, It's Kind of a Funny Story is a title perfectly suited to this appealing slice of despondent life, one that comes by its laughs in insightful ways.

 
Perils of Adolescence Brought Memorably to Life in Let Me In

Director Matt Reeves has taken the original Swedish film, Let the Right One In, moved the setting to 1983 New Mexico, and has crafted a beautifully realized film about the uncertainties and loneliness of adolescence. It also explicitly raises the idea that evil is quite real—although not always in the places we might think.

  • Christian Hamaker |
  • October 04, 2010 |
  • comments
 
Waiting for "Superman" Explores How to Save Public Education

Whether or not viewers wholeheartedly agree with how documentarian Davis Guggenheim actually goes about proving his thesis, Waiting for "Superman" is still an important and compelling look at the current state of public education—unsightly warts and all.

  • Christa Banister |
  • October 04, 2010 |
  • comments
 
Thought-Provoking Freakonomics Handles the "Truth"

Unlike many documentaries, Freakonomics is not dry or academic. The multiple directors, each of whom was assigned different segments of the film, often handle the material with humorous scripting and entertaining re-enactments of true-life events.

 
True Connection or False Validation is The Social Network's Question

The Social Network asks a broader question of us about the Web site Mark Zuckerberg founded: does Facebook offer true connection or false validation? The answer lies, as with all things, not in the amoral device being used but rather in the souls that use it.

September 2010
Despite Weak Comedy, You Again Still Has Some Heart

If you've never seen a romantic comedy, or a story about old rivalries rekindled, then you might—just might—find You Again tolerable, even enjoyable. It's well performed by a game cast that tries to make the most of a limp screenplay that's virtually free of surprises.

  • Christian Hamaker |
  • September 27, 2010 |
  • comments
September 2010
Bets Are Hedged with a Kinder, Gentler Gekko in Wall Street Sequel

Purely as escapist entertainment, this film is far from boring. But the lack of insight, not to mention the kinder, gentler Gordon Gekko who emerges certainly makes you miss the era of greed being good—which isn't the conclusion the filmmakers were probably hoping for.

  • Christa Banister |
  • September 24, 2010 |
  • comments
 
Compressed Story Clips Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole

In tying together multiple books, director Zack Snyder and screenwriters John Orloff and Emil Stern pack in too much and too little—too many characters in a plot that tries to cover too much ground for its 90-minute running time, leaving its characters and ideas underdeveloped.

  • Christian Hamaker |
  • September 24, 2010 |
  • comments
 
Staying in the Box is What Makes Buried Effective

A heavy wooden coffin is where all of Buried takes place. Thanks to a seemingly never-ending supply of tight camera shots and rather limited lighting in those incredibly close quarters, the audience can't help feeling equally claustrophobic while tuning in.

  • Christa Banister |
  • September 24, 2010 |
  • comments
 
Christian Themes Deliver Devil 

A good horror movie is hard to find. A good horror movie full of Christian themes and spiritual teachings that validate the reality of God is virtually non-existent—and yet this is precisely what audiences get with Devil, conceived and written by M. Night Shyamalan.

  • Richard Abanes |
  • September 20, 2010 |
  • comments
 
Alpha and Omega is a Howl and a Miss

Alpha and Omega doesn't bother scraping the bottom of the barrel for cheap laughs. But even with a healthy dose of aw-shucks charm, this road-trip romance still lacks the warmth and sophistication, not to mention those essential eye-popping visuals, of its recent animated counterparts Toy Story 3 and Despicable Me.

  • Christa Banister |
  • September 17, 2010 |
  • comments
 
Ben Affleck Pulls Triple Duty with Aplomb in The Town

With The Town, Ben Affleck gets ambitious serving as the film's director, co-writer and star. For the most part, he pulls off his duties with aplomb. And like his directorial debut (Gone Baby Gone), this is a multi-layered, unsettling morality tale where drugs and four-letter words are used in abundance.

  • Christa Banister |
  • September 17, 2010 |
  • comments
 
Resident Evil: Afterlife Destined for Quick Video 'Afterlife'

It's hard to imagine this Resident Evil chapter expanding the franchise's audience. The film should have a brief theatrical run before finding its "afterlife" on home video, where its loyal audience can watch it over and over again. For everyone else, once will be quite enough.

  • Christian Hamaker |
  • September 13, 2010 |
  • comments
 
Seriously Consider an Exit Strategy Before Going the Distance

In an effort to defy conventional romantic comedy, the screenwriter of Going the Distance took an intriguing premise—how does a long-distance couple actually make it work?—and immediately shot it in the foot with a bazooka.

  • Christa Banister |
  • September 03, 2010 |
  • comments
 
Circumstance, Psychology Build Tension in The American

Director Anton Corbijn creates a moody but minimalist atmosphere in The American. The camera is mostly static, music scarcely heard, and shots linger. While thrillers usually depend on opposite tactics to set the tone, Corbijn strips those away—instead allowing circumstance and psychology alone to create confusion and build tension.

  • Jeffrey Huston |
  • September 01, 2010 |
  • comments
August 2010
Nostalgic Flipped Plods through Tale of First Love

When there's been nothing more than mindless popcorn flicks at a theater near you this summer, you can't help but want to root for a seemingly charming little movie like Flipped. But when the end product is little more than a plodding slice of nostalgia, you simply want something more.

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