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October 2008
Only Good, Clean Fun in High School Musical 3

Disney’s High School Musical franchise graduates from TV to the big screen for its third installment, and the result is an infectious family film that will satisfy younger viewers and won’t alienate their parents. In short, it is a lot of fun—good, clean fun.

  • Christian Hamaker |
  • October 24, 2008 |
  • 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 |
  • October 24, 2008 |
  • comments
 
Whimsical Happy-Go-Lucky a Breath of Fresh Air

Everyone needs a Poppy. She is the personification of Happy-Go-Lucky, a breath-of-fresh-air kind of movie that is sure to do more than put smiles on peoples faces (though it will) and actually lift their tired, world-weary spirits.

 
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.

 
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 |
  • October 17, 2008 |
  • comments
 
"Billy" Chronicles the Beginnings of Graham's Legacy

More than just the beginnings of arguably the world’s most well-known and respected evangelist, Billy: The Early Years is the story of two friends, of two roads taken and of two ways to make a biopic.

 
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 |
  • October 10, 2008 |
  • comments
 
Body of Lies Captures Shifting Alliances of a Long War

Body of Lies is not up to Ridley Scott’s best work, but the performances—especially from Leonardo DiCaprio—are strong. The result is a film that seriously examines U.S. foreign policy while still managing to entertain.

  • Christian Hamaker |
  • October 10, 2008 |
  • comments
 
Laugh Level Goes Down and Out in Beverly Hills Chihuahua

Those who are looking for mainly inoffensive entertainment, and don’t mind weak attempts at humor, may enjoy Beverly Hills Chihuahua. But those looking for something better than a retread of themes from better films are advised to stay away.

  • Christian Hamaker |
  • October 03, 2008 |
  • comments
 
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 |
  • October 03, 2008 |
  • comments
October 2008
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.

 
Feel-Good Flash of Genius Has Few Moments of Brilliance

Even with a compelling backdrop and a strong performance from Greg Kinnear, languid pacing and unimaginative, heavy-handed presentation prevent Flash of Genius from being anything more than a flash in the pan.

  • Christa Banister |
  • October 03, 2008 |
  • comments
September 2008
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 |
  • September 26, 2008 |
  • 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 |
  • September 26, 2008 |
  • comments
 
“Eagle Eye” Needs Better Focus

Director D.J. Caruso and star Shia LaBeouf have paired up again for Eagle Eye, a techno thriller that tries to meld social critique with popcorn thrills. The result is an unsettled and unsatisfying mix that gets by on the energy of some breathless action sequences until it resolves the film’s central mystery.

  • Christian Hamaker |
  • September 26, 2008 |
  • 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 |
  • September 26, 2008 |
  • 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.

  • Jeffrey Huston |
  • September 24, 2008 |
  • comments
 
Funny, Insightful Ghost Town Worth a Visit

Almost dying allows Ricky Gervais’ character to experience living in a whole new, rewarding way. And that definitely elevates Ghost Town a step above your typical, supernatural romantic comedy.

  • Christa Banister |
  • September 19, 2008 |
  • comments
 
Senior Citizens Still Rock in Young @ Heart

You’ve probably seen this band before. No, it’s not the Ramones—although they do a rousing chorus of “I Want to Be Sedated.” They’re the “Young @ Heart” chorus—a group of septa- and octogenarians who perform rock tunes.

  • Annabelle Robertson |
  • September 18, 2008 |
  • comments
 
A Faulty Sense of Empowerment Fuels The Women

If it wasn’t for the success of the recent Sex and the City on the big screen, chances are The Women, a remake of the 1939 classic that’s been in the works for over a decade, probably wouldn’t be playing at a theater near you as we speak.

  • Christa Banister |
  • September 12, 2008 |
  • comments
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