After opening nationally (in larger markets) in November, Alexander Payne's comic elegy Nebraska - nominated for six Oscars, including Best Picture and Director - finally hit Quad Cities cineplexes this past weekend.
Beyond its rather stunning scenic design, the best thing about director Len Wiseman's new Total Recall update is Kate Beckinsale, which is pretty surprising, considering that this admittedly capable, inarguably gorgeous performer really hasn't been the best thing about any of her previous movies.
Ron Howard's adaptation of playwright Peter Morgan's Frost/Nixon has been nominated for five Academy Awards, and in Variety magazine, Morgan reacted to its success by saying, "The film is political but entertaining, and the credit goes to Ron. He takes the experience the audience has at the cinema very seriously." That's why I love Howard, and also why, as a director, he drives me absolutely crazy.
Watching the so-silly-it's-almost-fun mixed-martial-arts melodrama Never Back Down, I felt instantly transported to the summer of 1984, when my friends and I saw The Karate Kid the first time around. Fight Club was still 15 years away, so we weren't yet treated to this film's bone-crunchingly "kinetic" violence, nor to the sight of shirtless brawlers pummeling each other with their pants buttoned 12 inches below their navels. (Nor, for that matter, to topless teenage lesbians making out in a jacuzzi.) But Never Back Down is still pretty much Karate Kid redux, and the experience of watching it felt like time-travel for another reason: The movie's high-schooler lead is played by Tom Cruise.
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