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items tagged with Sean Penn

O Christmas Three, O Christmas Three ... : "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty," "Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom," and "Grudge Match"
Written By: Mike Schulz
Section: Movies

Category: Reviews

2013-12-30 02:16:09

Ben Stiller in The Secret Life of Walter MittyTHE SECRET LIFE OF WALTER MITTY, MANDELA: LONG WALK TO FREEDOM, and GRUDGE MATCH

With apologies to Keanu Reeves fans and the true Beliebers among you, I still haven’t gotten around to 47 Ronin or Justin Bieber’s Believe. (In the case of the latter, I’m not sure I ever will, although stranger things have happened, I guess ... .) But among the numerous titles that opened opposite The Wolf of Wall Street on Christmas Day, I did manage to catch a few of ’em ... .


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The Needle in the Haystack: "Zero Dark Thirty," "Gangster Squad," "A Haunted House," and "Hitchcock"
Written By: Mike Schulz
Section: Movies

Category: Reviews

2013-01-14 18:45:03

Jessica Chastain in Zero Dark ThirtyZERO DARK THIRTY

As an orchestrator of cinematic suspense, Kathryn Bigelow might currently be without peer in American movies. The sequences of Jeremy Renner dismantling explosives in the director’s Oscar-winning The Hurt Locker were miniature masterpieces of sustained excitement; despite our knowing, through much of the film, that it was too early for Renner’s Sergeant William James to be killed off, each masterfully shot and edited act of bomb disposal vibrated with legitimate threat. In Zero Dark Thirty – Bigelow’s and screenwriter Mark Boal’s fictionalized docu-drama about the decade-long search for Osama bin Laden – nearly every scene feels like a ticking time bomb. There is, of course, never any doubt about the narrative’s outcome, yet Bigelow’s gifts for composition and pacing ensure that you still watch the picture with rapt attention and dread. And blessedly, she’s also a spectacular entertainer. The movie is tough-minded and sometimes tough to watch, but even when Bigelow is fraying your nerves, she’s tickling your senses.


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Me and You and Everyone We Know: “The Tree of Life”
Written By: Mike Schulz
Section: Movies

Category: Reviews

2011-07-24 14:45:44

Brad Pitt and Tye Sheridan in The Tree of LifeTHE TREE OF LIFE

Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life is total bliss, and I mean that in the term’s general and theological definitions.


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A-Stabbin' the Dorks: "Scream 4," "The Conspirator," "Soul Surfer," and "Your Highness"
Written By: Mike Schulz
Section: Movies

Category: Reviews

2011-04-18 17:44:08

Neve Campbell in Scream 4SCREAM 4

Directed, as all of the franchise’s outings have been, by Wes Craven, and written by Kevin Williamson, Scream 4 is a sequel, a reboot, and a big middle finger to reboots, all in one bloody, meta, mostly tedious package. It opens beautifully and features a bunch of (mostly verbal) horror-comedy pleasures, yet its overall effect is wearying; Craven and Williamson are so focused on deconstructing the genre – the Scream series in particular – for a media-soaked, hipper-than-thou young audience that even its “surprises” are in quotation marks. Watching Scream 4 is like watching a movie with its commentary track running before you’ve had a chance to experience the film without it.


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Secret Agent Woman: "Fair Game" and "The Warrior's Way"
Written By: Mike Schulz
Section: Movies

Category: Reviews

2010-12-05 19:03:54

Naomi Watts and Sean Penn in Fair GameFAIR GAME

Presuming that it might not open locally, I caught director Doug Liman’s Fair Game – in which Naomi Watts plays outed CIA operative Valerie Plame, and Sean Penn plays Plame’s husband, former ambassador Joe Wilson – in Chicagoland on Thanksgiving night. I thought the movie was intelligent and intensely well acted, but still didn’t feel much toward it, and with so many of the film’s characters arguing over events that, by 2010, have become old (if still infuriating) news, my eyelids grew droopy during a few scenes too many.


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