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Theatrical (390)

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Editor's rating: 
 2.0
Thursday, 29 January 2009 ,  Written by Daniel Hirshleifer
Reader, The (2008)
I remember listening to an audio commentary by German director Werner Herzog. In it, he was discussing how his generation had an acute crisis: How does one deal with the fact their parents were Nazis or Nazi sympathizers? Despite all I had learned as a child about the Holocaust, this particular aspect of World War II had never occurred to me. Immediately, I became fascinated. After all, it was easy to empathize with the victims of the Nazi regime, people rounded up and killed for nothing more than their beliefs, or skin color, or sexual orientation. But what of the Germans who came after? How do they deal with a national legacy that institutionalized bigotry and murder? Such are the questions brought to bear by The Reader, the newest film by Stephen Daldry (The Hours). The film focuses on ...
Editor's rating: 
 4.0
Monday, 26 January 2009 ,  Written by Daniel Hirshleifer
Gran Torino (2008)
Don’t let the trailers fool you. While it may look like a geriatric Dirty Harry, Gran Torino is anything but. Instead, it’s a film filled with warmth, humor, and a sense of contemplation rarely found in Eastwood’s earlier work.  Clint Eastwood, in his first performance since the Oscar-winning Million Dollar Baby, plays Walt Kowalski, a Korean War vet. As the film opens, he’s at his wife’s funeral. His sons and their families care not a whit for his feelings. They’re more concerned with how he’s treated them over the years. It doesn’t help that whenever anyone tries to reach out, Walt forcefully shoves them away. Walt doesn’t mince words and doesn’t care what people think of him. The only person to attempt to break through his tough façade is the local priest, Father Janovich (Christopher Carley). Still, Walt is content ...
Editor's rating: 
 2.5
Monday, 15 December 2008 ,  Written by Bill Warren
Day the Earth Stood Still, The (2008)
The original “The Day the Earth Stood Still,” released in 1951, memorably starred Michael Rennie as Klaatu, an alien emissary sent to Earth to try to persuade us to keep our war-like activities confined to our own planet.  This remake, of the same title, stars Keanu Reeves as Klaatu, also an alien emissary, but he’s here to tell us that the cosmos only has a small number of planets capable of supporting life—and we’re ruining ours.  He’s here to save the Earth, not mankind; if we live, the planet dies; if we die, the planet lives.  For Klaatu and the alien civilizations he represents, the choice is obvious.   Changing the theme from ban-the-bomb to save-the planet is a reasonably timely updating, except that, sadly, the anti-war premise is just as applicable today.  Nonetheless, evidently in hopes of making the new ...
Editor's rating: 
 2.5
Friday, 24 October 2008 ,  Written by Bill Warren
“Pride and Glory” was made with sincerity and some skill, particularly in cinematography (by Declan Quinn), but overlength and overfamiliarity damage what could have been a decent movie. The good cast can’t make headway against a confusing, uninvolving story and a set of characters we’ve seen far too often already. It’s especially similar to “We Own the Night” of a few years ago, but its mix of honest and crooked cops, several of whom are related by family ties, is commonplace and unoriginal. The director is Gavin O’Connor; he also cowrote the script with Joe Carnahan from a screen story by O’Connor, his twin brother Greg (who produces) and Robert Hopes. The O’Connor twins are the sons of a cop; it feels almost like an apology to their family for not being cops themselves. The story wouldn’t feel as muddled as ...
Editor's rating: 
 3.5
Friday, 24 October 2008 ,  Written by Bill Warren
Changeling (2008)
“Changeling” had the potential to be an outstanding movie, but while worth seeing, it falls short of that mark, partly because it tries to tell two stories—they’re linked, but they’re about very different subjects. The initial story is about a young single mother in 1928 Los Angeles whose 8-year old son disappears. A couple of months later, the police—who have not been very cooperative—proudly present her with a boy they (and he) says is her son, but he isn’t. The other story is about the discovery of a child murderer, who lives on a chicken farm not far from the Riverside County town of Wineville. The missing boy may have been one of his victims. The screenplay is by television writer J. Michael Straczynski, his first feature film. It was bought to be directed by Ron Howard, but his schedule prevented ...
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