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February 2009
Dramatic Sparks Fly in The Class

The Class, which won the top award at the most recent Cannes Film Festival, mixes teacher-student interaction throughout the course of one year at a school in Paris with behind-the-scenes political maneuvers and struggles.

  • Christian Hamaker |
  • February 23, 2009 |
  • comments
 
Madea Goes to Jail but Davis Brings the Drama

In light of Oscar nominee Viola Davis' soaring reputation, it's no surprise that the actress takes Tyler Perry's latest tale, Tyler Perry’s Madea Goes to Jail, and gives it more dramatic weight than expected.

  • Christian Hamaker |
  • February 23, 2009 |
  • comments
 
Materialistic Shopaholic Is Woefully Misguided

Not only is Confessions of a Shopaholic a cautionary tale of excess gone seriously awry, but it’s a colossal embarrassment to my gender. With a heroine so self-involved that she makes ditzy Elle Woods (of Legally Blonde fame) look like a Rhodes scholar in comparison, it's woefully misguided from the start.

  • Christa Banister |
  • February 13, 2009 |
  • comments
 
The International Is Densely Plotted Yet Riveting

Literary thrillers are a staple of airplane rides and beachside vacations. The International is their cinematic equivalent, and though it’s as instantly disposable as those paperback counterparts it’s also as equally riveting.

 
He's Just Not That into You Is Engaging Yet Disturbing

Considering that the source material was a relatively short, best-selling self-help book, He's Just Not That into You serves as an insightful yet equally disturbing barometer of our culture's perspective on relationships.

  • Christa Banister |
  • February 06, 2009 |
  • comments
 
Another Phone-in for Martin in Pink Panther 2

While the originals in The Pink Panther series were fueled by comic inspiration, invention and wit, the contemporary rip-offs are barely even trying. The difference is best exemplified by comparing Peter Sellers' Inspector Clouseau and Steve Martin's pale imitation.

 
Dark Coraline Too Nightmarish for Kids

Coraline’s cinematic qualities are spectacular and many; its themes important and biblically sound. Nevertheless, its dark content and tone—which are nightmarish, among other things—make it inaccessible for many kids.

January 2009
No Need to Attend "Uninvited"

Viewers looking for genuine frights are advised to skip the remake of The Uninvited. If they need a scare, they might want to turn on the evening news or review their latest 401(k) statements. Why add to the suffering?

  • Christian Hamaker |
  • January 30, 2009 |
  • comments
 
Love of Literature Extolled in Inkheart

Inkheart brings Cornelia Funke's much-loved novel to life without losing the glorious detail and character development in the process—an essential for great literature and an oft-neglected feature of many novels-turned-movies.

  • Christa Banister |
  • January 23, 2009 |
  • comments
 
Adoption-Oriented Hotel for Dogs Worth Checking Into

While not as funny as Bolt, Hotel for Dogs is ultimately more substantial than Beverly Hills Chihuahua and doesn't require Kleenex like Marley & Me. That should please parents, while kids get another helping of delightful doggie antics.

  • Christa Banister |
  • January 16, 2009 |
  • comments
January 2009
Zwick's Defiance Reduces Life's Horrors

Edward Zwick’s films feel like they’re more interested in making $100 million than anything else. Defiance is no different as it reduces life’s horrors to genre elements, taking it as an opportunity to shoot bad guys and blow things up real good.

 
James' Comedic Talents Showcased in Paul Blart

Kevin James can take the most standard comic scenarios and spin them into comedy. He can make anything funny and anyone laugh—and he does just that in Paul Blart: Mall Cop, one of the best of its kind since Tommy Boy.

 
"Che" Has Fighting Spirit, But Is That Enough?

A work of rigor and discipline, Che stands as a major achievement from a very talented filmmaker—not a traditional Hollywood entertainment or biopic, but a film that captures a revolutionary spirit far better than it does the essence of any one man.

  • Christian Hamaker |
  • January 16, 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
 
Don't Bother RSVPing for Bride Wars

Not only is every stereotype about women and weddings acted out in the course of 90 very long minutes of Bride Wars, but the main characters are about as likeable as leftover fruitcake long after the holidays have passed.

  • Christa Banister |
  • January 09, 2009 |
  • comments
 
Explicit "Reader" Is an Emotionless Affair

The Reader may be a well-regarded novel that gained popularity as an "Oprah’s Book Club" selection, but this film adaptation is exploitative and ineffective. Its focus on sexual intimacy between a teenager and a much older woman is made without apology.

  • Christian Hamaker |
  • January 09, 2009 |
  • comments
December 2008
Revolutionary Road Kicks the American Dream to the Curb

Revolutionary Road juxtaposes the idyllic image of the American Dream with the deterioration of a marriage that has become a nightmare—via an ironic casting reunion of Titanic stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet.

 
Audience's Emotions Are on the Leash in Marley & Me

Don’t be fooled by the trailers that make this out to be some lighthearted tale. Anyone who has read the book that inspired the movie already knows that this broadly funny story of puppy love is destined for major tearjerker territory.

  • Christa Banister |
  • December 25, 2008 |
  • comments
 
Tired Formula Gives Gran Torino Some Mileage

Clint Eastwood’s performance as Walt Kowalski in Gran Torino is the film’s highlight—an update on the tough-guy persona he perfected as “Dirty Harry” Callahan. He clings to his older ways in a neighborhood that has changed significantly.

  • Christian Hamaker |
  • December 25, 2008 |
  • comments
 
Bedtime Stories Reveals a Softer Side of Adam Sandler

Now that Adam Sandler has a couple of daughters of his own, he wanted to make a movie that kids could safely enjoy. And from both a moral and artistic level, he’s mostly succeeded with the imaginative Bedtime Stories.

  • Christa Banister |
  • December 24, 2008 |
  • comments
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