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Theatrical (390)

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Editor's rating: 
Friday, 10 October 2008 ,  Written by Bill Warren
“Body of Lies” is a tough, engrossing thriller about intrigue and death in the current Middle East. Based on a novel by journalist David Ignatius and scripted by William Monahan (“The Departed”), the movie is intelligent but tough on audiences—there’s a torture scene late in the proceedings that’s hard to watch. Likeable people are ruthlessly killed (usually off-screen), casually sacrificed in the interests of expediency. This may be the way things really are over there; if so, we Americans need films like this one that tell the brutal truth. The movie’s only serious weakness is an ending that’s abrupt and somewhat inconclusive. Leonardo DiCaprio, as tough and vigorous as in “Blood Diamond,” is Roger Ferris, an Arab-speaking CIA agent we encounter as he has a meeting with an Arab who wants to change sides. But Ferris’ boss, Ed Hoffman (Russell Crowe), ...
Editor's rating: 
Friday, 03 October 2008 ,  Written by Bill Warren
Americans tend to love the underdog—at least in movies and on television. In real life, not so much. There’s no way “Flash of Genius” could ever be a hit; at most, it will be a modest success in theaters as well as on video. It’s so clearly about the (real-life) triumph of an underdog—an inventor takes on the Ford Motor Company. Movies about a little guy taking on a big corporation are almost always going to end with David triumphant over Goliath. Even “Tucker: The Man and His Dream” concluded with Tucker’s ideas winning out, even though the man wasn’t around to see it. Here, the idea the little guy has seems minor--intermittent automobile windshield wipers—until you realize that now almost all cars have that feature. Professor Robert “Bob” Kearns (played by Greg Kinnear) taught at a small Detroit college, raised ...
Editor's rating: 
Friday, 03 October 2008 ,  Written by Bill Warren
José Saramago’s novel "Ensaio Sobre a Cegueira" seems to be well-regarded, and has a premise interesting enough it’s not surprising it was turned into this film, directed by Fernando Meirelles from a script by Don McKellar (who appears as an actor, too). Brazilian Meirelles is best known in the U.S. for “City of God” and “The Constant Gardener;” unfortunately, “Blindness” is not going to increase his fame. This was the opening movie at the Cannes Film Festival in 2008, but it had a poor reception. It’s no wonder. The movie is listless and pretentious; in the middle stretches, it’s slow and tedious. The cast is above average, and Meirelles has elicited extremely naturalistic performances from them, including Mark Ruffalo and Julianne Moore (not that it’s hard to get good acting from those two). It’s set in an unnamed, vaguely international city ...
Editor's rating: 
Friday, 26 September 2008 ,  Written by Bill Warren
Eagle Eye
In the press notes for “Eagle Eye,” executive producer Steven Spielberg says he hopes no one regards this movie as science fiction. Tough luck, Steven. It’s unquestionably science fiction, and not very good science fiction at that. In fact, the movie is something of a disaster. A well-cast, well-produced disaster with a few fleeting good moments, but it’s based on a premise that’s nothing less than ludicrous, at least given the time period (right now). It wants, almost desperately, to be a smashing action picture; there’s a car chase in the streets of Chicago that’s clearly intended to rank among the great chase scenes of all time. Instead, it’s so wildly over-produced and over-directed that it’s one of the WORST car chases ever filmed. The credits indicate they used “pre-viz” for this—working from a kind of animated storyboard of every shot in the ...
Editor's rating: 
Friday, 19 September 2008 ,  Written by Bill Warren
Appaloosa (2008)
Despite the success last year of the remake of “3:10 to Yuma,” it’s not likely theatrical Westerns are making a comeback, but at least maybe we can get a good new one every now and then—like “Appaloosa.” It may not be outstanding, but it’s solid and entertaining, and particularly well acted. The structure is a bit lumpy, with two climaxes, and there’s too much standin’ around and tradin’ laconic quips between the action scenes. Still, it’s a welcome, refreshing change from all the big-city action thrillers of the year. Ed Harris not only stars as Virgil Cole, a traveling gun for hire, but he also directs and co-wrote the screenplay with Robert Knott from the best-selling novel by Robert P. Parker. His father Bob turns up as a judge, and Ed even sings one of the two songs over the closing ...
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