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November 2007
John Cusack Keeps Martian Child Down to Earth

Much like Hugh Grant’s foray into more serious fare with 2002’s About a Boy, John Cusack, another consummate bachelor in real life, proves he’s got dramatic range and emotional gravitas in the otherworldly drama Martian Child.

  • Christa Banister |
  • November 02, 2007 |
  • comments
October 2007
Feel-Good Dan in Real Life a Nice Option

Overall, Dan in Real Life is a must-see, a total feel-good movie. It’s been a long time since I’ve observed an audience laughing and cheering so unabashedly. So it’s good to have a nice moviegoing option again.

 
Truths Are Gained in Things We Lost in the Fire

“Accept the good.” That’s the moral of Things We Lost in the Fire, and although the characters’ ideas of good aren’t consciously grounded in the ultimate Good, director Susanne Bier’s drama is tough to shake.

  • Christian Hamaker |
  • October 19, 2007 |
  • comments
 
A Few too Many Bumps along Reservation Road

Reservation Road take on issues of loss, grief and the ways in which we cope with the sudden death of a loved one. While not without merit, it has a few too many bumps. Steer clear for now, but this one may be worth catching on home video.

  • Christian Hamaker |
  • October 19, 2007 |
  • comments
 
Rendition Tortures Viewers with Simplicity and Slow Pacing

While “extraordinary rendition” is certainly a provocative topic in a post 9/11 world, the team behind Rendition doesn’t mind choosing the most simplistic, even manipulative, methods to getting its message across.

  • Christa Banister |
  • October 19, 2007 |
  • comments
 
Gritty Gone Baby Gone Begs Tough Decisions

Based on Dennis Lehane’s novel of the same name, Gone Baby Gone beckons us to play God right along with the protagonist and ask ourselves what hard decision we would make about the life and well-being of a little kidnapped girl.

  • Eric & Lisa Rice |
  • October 19, 2007 |
  • comments
 
Small-Town Spirit Falls Short in “The Final Season”

Although they’re both set in Iowa and they’re both about baseball, let’s get something straight right off the bat (no pun intended): The Final Season just can’t compete with Field of Dreams.

  • Christa Banister |
  • October 12, 2007 |
  • comments
 
Polished Michael Clayton Tells Its Story with Panache

Michael Clayton is crisp and propulsive, without being at all alienating. The story tackles clear, documented corporate criminality that will have even the most hardened supporters of Big Business wanting to see justice done.

  • Christian Hamaker |
  • October 12, 2007 |
  • comments
 
New Twists Given to Sleuth Remake

This remake of the 1972 classic of the same name has been given some distinctly new twists. Based on the successful stage production by Anthony Shaffer, it featured Lawrence Olivier as Wyke and Michael Caine as Tindle, in Jude Law’s current role.

  • Annabelle Robertson |
  • October 12, 2007 |
  • comments
 
Prodigal Son Echoes to Be Found in We Own the Night

Echoes of the prodigal son parable abound in the latest crime film by director-screenwriter James Gray. Although the plot isn’t brilliant and suffers from obvious contrivances, it’s still an engaging spectacle.

  • Annabelle Robertson |
  • October 12, 2007 |
  • comments
October 2007
Nearly Perfect Elizabeth Ties History to Entertainment

Elizabeth: The Golden Age is a fascinating, nearly perfect film. It’s always wonderful to tie history to entertainment, and the history of Europe in the 1500s is very exciting. The movie unfolds the age-old conflict between Protestants and Catholics, and shows how each side is praying for victory.

 
Jane Austen Book Club is Mediocre at Best

These days we certainly seem to be mad about Jane … Jane Austen that is. Yet it's hard to imagine either the author or her fans particularly enthusiastic about The Jane Austen Book Club, the latest entry in the ever-growing list of Austen-themed films.

  • Stephen McGarvey |
  • October 05, 2007 |
  • comments
 
Spiritual Allegories Abound in The Seeker

Based on the novel by Susan Cooper, The Seeker: The Dark Is Rising is the first film adaptation of the author's five-book series. Apparently the filmmakers have softened the overtly magical elements of the books and instead emphasize bravery, faith, discernment and unity.

  • Eric & Lisa Rice |
  • October 05, 2007 |
  • comments
 
Marriage, Morality Get a Beating in The Heartbreak Kid

In The Heartbreak Kid, all the Farrelly Brothers seem to be concerned about is pushing the proverbial envelope and taking potshots against marriage, which makes the film merely a rude and crude excuse to exercise the full limits of the “R” rating.

  • Christa Banister |
  • October 05, 2007 |
  • comments
 
Bleak, Beautiful Jesse James Is Worth a Look

The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford examines how entertainment culture exploits historical truth. The result is a beautiful, slow-paced examination of the wages of sin, and the conflicted role of the public and its view of history.

  • Christian Hamaker |
  • October 05, 2007 |
  • comments
 
Pimentel's Life and Work Portrayed in Music Within

Portrayed by Ron Livingston, Richard Pimentel is largely credited with the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990. Music Within, written by novice screenwriters and directed by the equally inexperienced Steven Sawalich, tells his story.

  • Annabelle Robertson |
  • October 01, 2007 |
  • comments
September 2007
The Game Plan Lays the Cute on Thick

While bordering on the cheesy and laying the cute on thick, The Game Plan is still a fairly solid choice for amusing family entertainment. What’s refreshing is the noticeable lack of curse words and rude humor typically used to cover up plot holes.

  • Christa Banister |
  • September 28, 2007 |
  • comments
 
Cultures Clash, Worldviews Collide in The Kingdom

In The Kingdom, the underlying theme is that all people are basically alike with the same loves, hates and desires. The problem is that it tries too hard to make Islam noble and beautiful. A film showing just as many scenes of praying, kneeling and supplication in an American church would never get made.

 
Trade Is Troubling in More Ways Than One

Trade, an uneven drama about human trafficking, deserves begrudging respect for raising the public’s awareness of troubling subject matter. The film nevertheless suffers from awkward melodrama and feeble dialogue.

  • Christian Hamaker |
  • September 28, 2007 |
  • comments
 
Good Luck Chuck Takes Filmmaking to the Gutter

The Greek meaning of entertain is “to inform with delight.” Lord willing, a new generation of filmmakers will begin turning the pendulum and elevating the hearts and minds of their patrons, rather than bringing them further into the gutter with films like Good Luck Chuck.

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