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August 2009
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.

 
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.

 
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.

 
The Time Traveler's Wife Gets Lost in Translation

There's plenty that's lost in translation from book to the big screen in The Time Traveler's Wife—like a rhyme or reason to the time travel itself, anything in the way of character development, or depth of human emotion.

 
Visually Dazzling Ponyo Worth a Peek

Inspired by Hans Christian Andersen's The Little Mermaid, Ponyo also includes some distinctive, dazzling visuals—a trademark of director Hiyao Miyazaki—but its magical moments don't overcome its weaknesses in storytelling.

  • Christian Hamaker |
  • August 14, 2009 |
  • comments
 
G.I. Joe Rolls Snake Eyes

G.I. Joe's reported $175 million budget can be seen up on the screen, as some of the film's special effects are effectively eye-catching. But viewers are left with a story that feels half-formed at best. Apparently not much of that $175 million went to the screenwriters.

  • Christian Hamaker |
  • August 10, 2009 |
  • comments
 
Julie & Julia Serves Up a Delicious Comedic Diversion

In addition to fantastic acting from all of the leads (Meryl Streep, Amy Adams, Stanley Tucci), the skillful direction and winning screenplay from Nora Ephron help seal the winsome appeal of Julie & Julia.

July 2009
Crude Humor Drags Down Funny People

Funny People, the latest Judd Apatow shock comedy, doesn’t have enough of a positive message to overcome its stream of bawdy stand-up comedy and profanity-laced script. Additionally, the film’s excessive length only magnifies its negative elements.

 
Aliens in the Attic Lacks Anything Resembling Imagination

This movie's banal title pretty much tells you everything you need to know. There are aliens in the attic, and there's no compelling reason for the audience to care. Surely Hollywood can offer far more substantive and entertaining kiddie fare, can't it?

 
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.

July 2009
Giving Lip Service to Faith Explored in "The Answer Man"

In The Answer Man, Arlen Faber (Jeff Daniels) is a writer who doesn’t know his subject very well. In fact, when it comes to people, let alone matters of faith, Arlen, the author of Me and God, couldn’t be more clueless.

 
3-D G-Force Proves Strictly One-Dimensional

Despite a covert team of “highly trained” guinea pigs, G-Force is jazzed up only by a 3-D presentation. But even those moments deliver few eye-popping delights. It doesn't take special glasses to realize nearly every other element is strictly one-dimensional.

 
Crass Over Class Prevails in a Charmless Ugly Truth

What prevents The Ugly Truth from contributing anything worthwhile to the rom-com genre is its sheer absurdity. Not only does the dialogue—and attempts at humor—scrape the bottom of the barrel morally, but there aren’t even 10 seconds of this forgettable movie that are believable.

 
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.

 
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.

 
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.

 
People Are Shallow, Observations Are Deep in Cheri

Chéri is a period-piece about shallow, immoral and deceptive people, yet its ultimate observations are deep, its resolution moral, and its strength is in how deceptively it reaches those conclusions.

 
There's Little to Love About Beth Cooper

Unlike '80s movies where the viewer got a real sense of who the geeky guy and his popular-girl crush were and what endeared the unlikely duo to each other, I Love You, Beth Cooper never bothers with those important details.

 
Bruno Goes Where No Comedy Has Gone Before

As with all comedies built on outrageous gags, Brüno goes too far. There are a few laughs along the way, but a larger cost to be paid. One can only imagine what further images will comprise future “outrageous” comedies now that Brüno has lowered the bar.

 
Public Enemies Shoots 'Em Up in Style

Probably one of Hollywood’s greatest chameleons, Johnny Depp forgoes his usual oddball character and fully embraces the role of a real-life criminal, who was something of a folk hero in the Great Depression era, in Public Enemies.

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