Archives for: July 2011

07/20/11

Arthur 2011
Directed by Jason Winer
Starring: Russell Brand, Helen Mirren

Russell Brand reinvents the role of lovable billionaire Arthur Bach, an irresponsible charmer who has always relied on two things to get by: his limitless fortune and lifelong nanny Hobson (Academy Award® winner* Helen Mirren) to keep him out of trouble. Now he faces his biggest challenge: choosing between an arranged marriage to ambitious corporate exec Susan (Jennifer Garner) that will ensure his lavish lifestyle, or an uncertain future with the one thing money can’t buy – Naomi (Greta Gerwig), his true love. With Naomi’s inspiration and some unconventional help from Hobson, Arthur will take the most expensive risk of his life and learn what it means to be a man in this re-imagining of the beloved Oscar®-winning* romantic comedy Arthur.(Warner Bros.)


Warrior's Way 2010
Directed by Sngmoo Lee
Starring: Kate Bosworth, Jang Dong-gun

"This is the story of a sad flute, a laughing baby, and a weeping sword," a voice intones at the beginning of The Warrior's Way. It's also a story in which bullets fly, blood flows, and the body count mounts to the point where you'll need a calculator to keep track, often to the accompaniment of a Verdi opera. Writer-director Sngmoo Lee's film centers on a lone warrior named Yang (Jang Dong-gun), "the greatest swordsman in the history of mankind," who has managed to wipe out all of his enemies save one, that being an adorable infant whom he refuses to murder, much to the displeasure of his boss, the leader of a band known as the Sad Flutes. For reasons never quite explained, our exiled hero soon finds himself in a thoroughly dilapidated town in the American west, where a half-finished ferris wheel looms and the inhabitants consist mainly of a bunch of worn-out circus performers (clowns, bearded lady, midget ringmaster, the whole shebang), the town drunk (Geoffrey Rush, a very long way from his Oscar-winning performance in Shine), and a beautiful young woman (Kate Bosworth, sporting a ridiculous accent) whose family was slaughtered by a local bad guy known as the Colonel (Danny Huston, suitably sadistic). Yang improbably takes over the town's laundry service, plants a garden, and cares for the baby, but we know it won't be long before his real talents will be needed--and sure enough, when the Colonel and his band of filthy wretches ride back into town, followed not long thereafter by a platoon of acrobatic ninjas sent to dispatch our hero, Yang and the locals have their hands full. All of this is fairly ridiculous, but the movie has a surreal, painterly look (imagine a cross between Dali, Fellini, and a graphic novel) that's never less than engaging. Jang is no Olivier, to say the least, but he's handsome and charismatic, and although the ending holds few surprises (especially once he instructs the Bosworth character in "the warrior's way"), genre fans are likely to be enchanted. --Sam Graham


Trust 2010
Directed by David Schwimmer
Starring: Clive Owen, Catherine KeenerDavid Schwimmer

4 stars! One of the year s best films. Powerfully emotional. A remarkable performance by Liberato. ---Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times

A suburban family is torn apart when fourteen-year-old Annie (Liana Liberato) meets her first boyfriend online. After months of communicating via online chat and phone, Annie discovers her friend is not who he originally claimed to be. Shocked into disbelief, her parents (Clive Owen and Catherine Keener) are shattered by their daughter s actions and struggle to support her as she comes to terms with what has happened to her once innocent life. (Millennium Pictures)


07/18/11

The Back-up Plan 2010
Directed by Alan Poul
Starring: Jennifer Lopez, Alex O'Loughlin

Jennifer Lopez and Aussie heartthrob Alex O'Loughlin are pitch-perfect foils in the romantic comedy The Back-up Plan--a film that's as light as the foam on a root-beer float, but which manages to be both romantic and very funny. Lopez, after a long absence from the big screen, is a pleasure to watch--an accomplished (and underrated) comedian who can spar and spark with the best of her peers, and better than most. Lopez's chemistry with the dreamy O'Loughlin will engage viewers completely. Lopez plays Zoe, a smart woman whose dating life has been dismal--and who finally decides to become a single mom so she can achieve at least the motherhood she's always desired. As fate would have it, she meets Mr. Perfect (or Mr. Close To It), O'Loughlin's Stan, on the very day she visits the fertility clinic and becomes pregnant with twins. The early stages of their courtship involve Zoe's increasingly desperate measures to conceal her growing belly. By the time she confesses her condition, Stan is smitten--but with hormones on both sides roiling, and reality about to set in as the birth approaches, both Zoe and Stan get cold feet. If the plot of The Back-up Plan is a bit predictable, the flinty performances of both Lopez and O'Loughlin keep the viewer utterly engaged. Supporting actors Eric Christian Olsen, as Zoe's best guy pal, and the lovely and hilarious Michaela Watkins (The New Adventures of Old Christine) turn in terrific performances, too, and cameos by veterans including Albert Klein (as Zoe's hyperenthusiastic doctor), Tom Bosley, and Linda Lavin round out the excellent acting ensemble. The Back-up Plan also features an engaging soundtrack with a danceable tune by Lopez, "What Is Love?" and memorable songs by Colbie Caillat, India.Arie, and more. The Back-up Plan shows that love may not always go according to plan--OK, it never does--but it's worth the ride, however the heart ultimately gets there. --A.T. Hurley


07/13/11

Ca$h 2010
Directed by Stephen Milburn Anderson
Starring: Sean Bean, Chris Helmsworth

A stroke of good luck turns lethal for Sam Phelan (Chris Hemsworth) and his wife Leslie (Victoria Profeta) when they are faced with a life- changing decision that brings strange and sinister Pyke Kubic (Sean Bean) to their doorstep. As Pyke leads Sam and Leslie on a tumultuous adventure through the streets of Chicago, each are pulled deeper and deeper into a desperate spiral of deception and violence…all in the name of CA$H. (Lionsgate)


07/12/11

Season of the Witch 2011
Directed by Dominic Sena
Starring: Nicolas Cage, Ron Perlman

Oscar (R) winner Nicolas Cage (National Treasure, Ghost Rider) and Ron Perlman (Hellboy, Hellboy II) star in this supernatural action adventure about a heroic Crusader and his fellow soldier who must transport a woman accused of being a witch to a remote monastery. The arduous journey across perilous terrain tests their strength and courage as they discover the girl's secret and find themselves battling a terrifyingly powerful force that will determine the fate of the world. -- (C) Relativity Media


A Matador's Mistress 2011
Directed by Menno Meyjes
Starring: Adrien Brody, Penelope Cruz

Adrien Brody and Penélope Cruz star as legendary Spanish matador Manolete and his hot-tempered girlfriend Lupe Sino in director Menno Meyjes tale of love and bullfighting. The film is set in 1940s Spain and tells the story of Manolete s romantic quest for Lupe Sino's heart,
which continued until 1947, when he died in the bull ring at age 30. (Xenon)


The Company Men 2011
Directed by John Wells
Staring: Ben Affleck, Kevin Costner

Bobby Walker (Ben Affleck) is living the American dream: great job, beautiful family, shiny Porsche in the garage. When corporate downsizing leaves him and co-workers Phil Woodward (Chris Cooper) and Gene McClary (Tommy Lee Jones) jobless, the three men are forced to re-define their lives as men, husbands, and fathers.

Bobby soon finds himself enduring enthusiastic life coaching, a job building houses for his brother-in-law (Kevin Costner) which does not play to his executive skill set, and perhaps the realization that there is more to life than chasing the bigger, better deal. With humor, pathos, and keen observation, writer-director John Wells (the creator of "ER") introduces us to the new realities of American life. -- (C) Weinstein


Lincoln Lawyer 2011
Directed by Brad Furman
Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Marisa Tomei

Smooth operator Mickey Haller (Matthew McConaughey) zips around Los Angeles in his chauffeured Lincoln town car, cutting deals and finding clients on the road. Then he lands a doozy: a rich real-estate heir (Ryan Phillippe) accused of the brutal assault of an escort. At first, the case looks like a breeze, but odd details start nagging at Haller until he recognizes an ugly connection to an earlier case--and realizes he's been set up in the strangest way. There are some deep implausibilities in The Lincoln Lawyer, but they hardly matter. This is a movie that cruises on charm and smart casting, from McConaughey as a man whose glib polish is betrayed by a streak of doubt, down to the detectives (solid performances from Bryan Cranston, Michael Paré, Michaela Conlin, and others) and lowlifes (Katherine Moennig as an unlucky hooker, Shea Whigham as a lazy snitch) that flesh out the legal world. Every character pops out, clean and distinct; this sort of web-of-deceit story line, full of twists and turns, depends on the audience clearly connecting all the players. Some moments get overstated or maybe don't make complete sense, but the zippy pace carries the audience over those bumps. The Lincoln Lawyer could easily turn into a television series, a sort of Rockford Files-esque mixture of procedure and puzzle making. Also starring Marisa Tomei, William H. Macy, Frances Fisher, John Leguizamo, and Josh Lucas as the prosecuting attorney who gives McConaughey some competition in the chiseled-looks department. --Bret Fetzer


07/05/11

Happythankyoumoreplease 2010
Directed by Josh Radnor
Starring: Malin Akerman, Zoe Kazan

It probably wasn't intentional, but Josh Radnor's first feature feels like a cross between Reality Bites and Garden State. Like Ben Stiller and Zach Braff, who also spent time in the television trenches, the actor-director takes the pulse of his generation through a cluster of characters. Radnor (How I Met Your Mother) plays Sam, a freelance writer who lives in New York City, along with Mary-Catherine and Charlie (Broadway veterans Zoe Kazan and Pablo Schreiber), a couple agonizing over a move to Los Angeles, and Annie (Malin Åkerman), his best friend, who hasn't let an autoimmune disorder prevent her from enjoying an active social life, though she has doubts about the romantic potential in a particularly persistent attorney (Arrested Development's Tony Hale). When Sam falls for Mississippi (Kate Mara), a barmaid who moonlights as a cabaret singer, she admits a mutual attraction, but fears he treats relationships more like short stories than novels, when she's looking for a man with a longer attention span. Sam's short-term outlook starts to change when he takes in Rasheen (Michael Algieri), a silent comedian of a boy who loses track of his foster family on a crowded subway train. A few hours as his guardian turns into several days when Sam's every attempt to return him to the authorities goes awry. If the upbeat resolution to these interrelated stories comes as little surprise, Radnor's maiden directorial voyage registers as a sweetly diverting affair--though he may want to go easy on the folk-pop montages next time around. --Kathleen C. Fennessy


Immigration Tango 2010
Directed by David Burton Morris
Starring: Carlos Leon, McCaleb Burnett

An American couple and a foreign couple test the limits of friendship and love when they switch partners and get married for green cards in this fun and flirty romantic comedy that earned Best Picture at the Boston International Film Festival.(Lionsgate)


Hobo with a Shotgun 2011
Directed by Jason Eisner
Starring: Rutger Hauer

A movie that truly lives up (or is that down?) to its title, Hobo with a Shotgun brings on the giggly ick with a zeal that recalls the glory days of legendary exploitation mavens Troma Studios (The Toxic Avenger, Surf Nazis Must Die, Fat Guy Goes Nutzoid, etc.). Beginning with an awesome Ennio Morricone homage, the film follows the nameless title character (Rutger Hauer) as he hops a train to a new town with dreams of buying a lawnmower and settling down, only to run afoul of an evil drug kingpin and his two severely messed-up sons. Disgusted by the level of corruption surrounding him, he stumbles into a sporting goods store and… well, the title tells you the rest, really. Expanding on his notorious short of the same name (the winner of a trailer contest originated by Grindhouse's Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez), writer-director Jason Eisener maintains a delicate balance between black comedy and ridiculously gross money shots, with precious little of the downtime between inspired gags that plagues so many films of its type. Anchored by Hauer's more-committed-than-it-probably-needed-to-be performance, this assuredly guilty pleasure ranks as a real rarity: a tribute to '80s VHS trash that functions beyond mere parody. Keep your thumb poised near the rewind button at all times. --Andrew Wright


Barney's Version 2011
Directed by Richard J. Lewis
Starring: Paul Giamatti, Rosamund Pike

The publication of a book accusing him of murder leads schlock television producer Barney Panofsky (Paul Giamatti) to reflect on his tumultuous life--from his troubled first marriage to his best friend sleeping with his second wife to his one true love… and how he destroyed the happiest time in his life. By turns comic and self-lacerating, Panofsky is a richly drawn character given vivid life by Giamatti, who's built a remarkable career on prickly people (Sideways, American Splendor, John Adams). Regrettably, the women in his life aren't as fully realized, but the strong performances from the actresses playing them (Rachelle Lefevre, Minnie Driver, and Rosamund Pike) do a lot to make up for the thinness of how they're written. Rounding out the cast is Dustin Hoffman as Panofsky's father, a crude but vigorous ex-cop who loves his son unreservedly. Adapted from an award-winning Canadian book, Barney's Version feels, in the best sense, like a novel; small details and incidents build up to the picture of a man's life. The movie depicts that life without judgment, never manipulating the audience for cheap laughs or sentiment--and yet it is by turns wildly funny and achingly sad, largely due to Giamatti. He holds the viewer's attention effortlessly, quietly, never showboating his emotions or flaunting his intelligence. He's simply a superb actor, and this is a superb performance. --Bret Fetzer


Cyrus: mind of a serial killer 2010
Directed by Mark Vadik
Starring: Brian Krause, Danielle Harris

Ambitious television reporter Maria Sanchez (Danielle Harris of Rob Zombie's Halloween, Hatchet 2) is investigating the disappearance of over 200 Midwestern University students when a local man (Lance Henriksen of Aliens) contacts her with information that reveals details of the serial killer and his crimes: His name is Cyrus (a chilling performance by Brian Krause of ''Charmed'') and the murders themselves were brutal. What happened next was horrific but the worst is still to come. Based on shocking true events, this bloody and brutal story of the 'The County Line Cannibal' will leave a taste in your mouth that you'll never forget.(Anchor Bay)






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