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items tagged with Vacancy

The War at Home: "Brothers," "Armored," "Everybody's Fine," and "Transylmania"
Written By: Mike Schulz
Section: Movies

Category: Reviews

2009-12-06 22:35:54

Natalie Portman, Tobey Maguire, Bailee Madison, and Taylor Geare in BrothersBROTHERS

In director Jim Sheridan's Brothers, adapted from a 2004 Danish film of the same title, a stalwart Marine captain (Tobey Maguire) is captured, tortured, and presumed dead during his fourth tour in Afghanistan. Miraculously, however, he survives the ordeal, only to return home convinced - and not entirely without reason - that his loving wife (Natalie Portman) is sleeping with his ex-con brother (Jake Gyllenhaal). Even if the movie weren't a remake, this wouldn't exactly be the most inventive of plotlines, but there's still enough about Brothers that's raw, painful, and touching to make it satisfying melodrama regardless of its contrived design. Or rather, there would be, if you weren't so frequently distracted by all the capital-A Acting that's going on.


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Mike's Online-Only Movie Reviews - 2007
Written By: Mike Schulz
Section: Movies

Category: Reviews

2007-10-30 00:41:02

Eduardo Verastegui and Tammy Blanchard in BellaBella (PG-13) - Alejandro Monteverde's drama, which concerns the friendship between a chef and a newly pregnant, newly unemployed waitress, received the People's Choice Award at the 2006 Toronto Film Festival. Um... who are these "people," exactly? Space people? Because I can see how Bella might be confused with a great movie if you didn't understand a word of human conversation. Even then, of course, you might still be put off by the film's bizarre editing (with flash-forwards routinely, meaninglessly interrupting scenes-in-progress) and lackluster photography; Montevrede shows more interest in food than in his stars. And then there's that baffling ending, which seems to set the film up for a sequel - one that fills in that massive "Huh?!?" of a climactic plot hole. But it's still the mawkish, maudlin screenplay that does it in; Eduardo Verástegui (looking uncannily like Jim Caviezel as Christ) and Tammy Blanchard (as ever, looking uncannily like Judy Garland) are stuck with unplayable dialogue and baldly written characters, and the movie shamelessly plies on the merely-functional supporting stereotypes. The movie is pro-life and pro-family with a vengeance, which might account for its (limited) popular success. I just wish it were also a little pro-brain, and a lot anti-cliché.


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