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You Say You Want a Retribution: “The Debt,” “Apollo 18,” and “Shark Night 3D” PDF Print E-mail
Reviews
Written by Mike Schulz   
Sunday, 04 September 2011 08:51

Sam Worthington and Jessica Chastain in The DebtTHE DEBT

After her moving, memorable performances in The Tree of Life, The Help, and the current John Madden thriller The Debt, I’m beginning to think that Jessica Chastain can do almost anything. As evidenced by the actress’ latest (though not last) 2011 release, however, one thing she cannot do is pass for a younger version of Helen Mirren, or at least Mirren as she appears here; beyond their ill-matching features, Chastain’s empathetic soulfulness and emotional accessibility bear little relation to the detached calm and haunted inscrutability of her more seasoned counterpart.

Having said that, if one of your few complaints about a movie lies in the casting of Jessica Chastain and/or Helen Mirren, obviously you have very little to bitch about.

 
Hide and Speak: "Don't Be Afraid of the Dark," "Our Idiot Brother," and "Sharks 3D" PDF Print E-mail
Reviews
Written by Mike Schulz   
Sunday, 28 August 2011 17:41

Katie Holmes and Bailee Madison in Don't Be Afraid of the DarkDON’T BE AFRAID OF THE DARK

When a horror movie is really working, you tend to feel a tightening in the gut – a means of preventing you from audibly reacting to the intensity. When a horror movie is really not working, at least at the cineplex, you also tend to feel this clenching of the stomach muscles, but not because you’re trying to avoid screaming. It’s because you’re trying to avoid laughing.

 
Chum Change: “One Day” and “Fright Night” PDF Print E-mail
Reviews
Written by Mike Schulz   
Saturday, 20 August 2011 12:35

Jim Sturgess and Anne Hathaway in One DayONE DAY

When Emma (Anne Hathaway) and Dexter (Jim Sturgess) first meet in director Lone Scherfig’s One Day, it’s the morning after their 1988 university graduation, and a few minutes before the happily drunken pair tumbles into Emma’s bed. They don’t wind up consummating their flirtation, but the young Brits – and best-friends-to-be – seem perfectly content to smile and snuggle while the sun rises, and Emma makes the observation that the new day, July 15, is the English near-holiday of St. Swithin’s Day. Or, as Scherfig’s comedy/drama/romance might cause me to think of it from now on, St. “Well, Isn’t That an Astounding Coincidence?” Day.

 
Mississippi Yearning: "The Help" and "Glee: The 3D Concert Movie" PDF Print E-mail
Reviews
Written by Mike Schulz   
Sunday, 14 August 2011 12:16

Emma Stone, Octavia Spencer, and Viola Davis in The HelpTHE HELP

Based on Kathryn Stockett’s much-loved bestseller, The Help concerns the tenuous relationships between black domestic workers and their privileged white employers in early-’60s Mississippi, and it’s a fairly obvious movie, with director Tate Taylor opting for broad brushstrokes over subtlety, and the occasionally wrenching drama sitting, rather uncomfortably, alongside klutzy jokiness. Yet offhand, I can’t think of another popular entertainment whose flaws matter less than this film’s, because everything that’s lacking in the picture is more than made up for in the fearless, emotionally precise, and oftentimes devastating portrayals of Taylor’s cast. The Help is easy to complain about, but all it takes is one of the magnificent Viola Davis’ fierce, tearful stares – or a blast of Octavia Spencer’s anger, or a flash of Emma Stone’s heartbreak, or a burst of Jessica Chastain’s joy – to make your complaints feel positively moot.

 
Fate Accompli: “Final Destination 5” and “30 Minutes or Less” PDF Print E-mail
Reviews
Written by Mike Schulz   
Sunday, 14 August 2011 12:12

Nicholas D'Agosto and Emma Bell in Final Destination 5FINAL DESTINATION 5

Because the quality has been noticeably, if not altogether damagingly, dipping with each new installment, there was reason to expect Final Destination 5 to be the horror series’ most tired and underwhelming entry to date. Yet like some long-running TV series that suddenly finds new life after years of going through the motions, this fifth in the popular Death-has-been-cheated-and-he’s-pissed franchise is a terrific return to sick-joke form, the most enticingly queasy and legitimately funny Final Destination since the second outing in 2003.

 
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