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Legendary is the first in a line of several, softer, family-oriented movies that WWE Studios is releasing in an attempt to reach out to their TV PG audience and show a different side to their hand-selected superstar thespians. The core of this story – which is about a family splintered apart by survival guilt – works, but the execution is rough and contrived.
John Cena plays depressed former high school wrestling star Mike Chetley, while Devon Graye (teen Dexter from Showtime's Dexter) plays his younger "quirky" brother, Cal, who decides to join the grappling team with hopes of strengthening his spirit and re-uniting his family. Patricia Clarkson, as their quietly-tormented spitfire mom, Sharon, delivers a great, tangible performance that the movie itself almost doesn't deserve.
She's Out of My League
**Recommended soundtrack to this review: Joe Jackson's "Is She Really Going Out With Him?" Cue it up on YouTube and then commence reading.**
The storyline of She's Out of My League is not a particularly new one. Average boy -- with average friends, average job, annoying family and ex-girlfriend -- meets Gorgeous Girl with great job, hot friends, perfect parents and a GQ/Fighter Pilot ex-boyfriend. Sparks, amazingly enough, fly. In League, the average guy is Kirk (played by Jay Baruchel, of Tropic Thunder, Knocked Up, and 2010's Sorcerer's Apprentice,) -- an unassuming "6" -- who works in airport security and one day, through a series of only slightly unbelievable events, finds himself meeting and dating the aforementioned perfect girl, Molly -- a "hard 10." Naturally, Kirk can't figure out why Molly is interested, so enter Kirk's knucklehead friends and family who offer no support, ridiculous advice, and eventually beat Kirk's self-confidence to a pulp... so much so that there's nothing left -- for Kirk or for Molly. Hilarity ensues. Really.
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Writer-director Scott Cooper's Crazy Heart follows Bad Blake (Jeff Bridges), a grizzled country singer pushing 60 who is climbing further and further into a bottle and farther away from the spotlight he once basked in as a country music outlaw in the vein of Kris Kristofferson, Merle Haggard, Willie Nelson, Hank Williams Jr. and Waylon Jennings. Bad has endured busted marriages, bouts with booze, has an adult son he doesn't even know, and a protegee, Tommy Sweet (Colin Farrell), who has achieved a level of mainstream success that Bad never did.
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The Brothers Bloom
There comes a point when you've innovated something as far as it can possibly go, added all that you could conceivably add, discovered all that there was to discover, so that nothing can ever again be new. For the most part, the con-man genre is like this, and if you draw a line back through cinematic history, you can trace the evolution of the double-cross in the most basic of terms. It began with a lie – one character deceiving another in such a way that the audience was in on the scam. And for awhile, the lie was enough. We were content to know exactly where the ball was at any point during the shell game. Whether the target would figure out the con was thrill enough for us. But then we got smarter, wiser, more demanding, and filmmakers delivered the triple-cross, or simply added another element to the con, shuffling around the shells at such a rate and speed that while the audience was aware of the deception, the conclusion was always surprising.
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Transporting legendary sky nomad Amelia Earhart to the screen is nothing new. Various sightings and incarnation across the decades range from Amy Adams in Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian, Rosalind Russell in Flight For Freedom, Close Encounters Of The Third Kind and Star Trek: Voyager, to Diane Keaton and even as a side dish to a biopic about Shirley Temple.
Unknown White Male
A phrase I remember from a long-ago TV show argued: "A person is the sum of his memories." If that's the case, what's to be said about an adult man who loses his entire past in the span of one night? Does a loss of memory equate to a loss of identity? And how can someone who no longer knows his name, his favorite color, or his preferred food, speak with a rich vocabulary, scribble a signature on a piece of paper, and perform a barrage of everyday tasks? For biologists and psychologists, such an individual becomes a living experiment to test the "nature versus nuture" theory. How much of who we are is determined by genetics and how much is the result of the environment in which we develop?
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Death of a President
It has been one of the hottest tickets everywhere in North America where it has been shown. Now, placed in a limited number of U.S. theaters despite the near-solidarity of a chain multiplex ban, the movie is opening less than two weeks before Election Day. That timing, one could argue, is a bigger political point that anything in the content. I'm referring to the pseudo-documentary Death of a President, which has received an inordinate amount of media coverage and has been tagged with the label "controversial." For this movie, as for Snakes on a Plane, the hype dwarfs the reality. Death of a President is celluloid mediocrity. It's neither interesting nor convincing.
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A-list actors with a large fan following are often criticized for taking roles that don’t physically or emotionally challenge them, as their fans will see any movie they’re in. Academy Award-winning actor Adrien Brody is one exception to this rule, as seen in the upcoming IFC Midnight Films release ‘Wrecked.’ The independent movie not only shows Brody’s ease at emotionally developing his character, who has little back-story and is in the majority of the movie by himself, he also wasn’t afraid to perform his own stunts to better connect to his role.
One aspect that virtually assures a good motion picture is solid character development (sometimes referred to as a "character arc"). It doesn't matter if it's a mainstream movie or an offbeat indie - any narrative-based film benefits if the characters are not stuck in stasis (unless, of course, that's the point). The most extreme form of character development is the transformation - where an individual begins as one thing, and, by the end of the film, is someone completely different. This kind of dramatic character arc is the most difficult one to pull of successfully, and the easiest one to screw up. Usually, that occurs when characters are poorly-developed, situations are predictable, and relationships are presented half-baked. Such is the case with Lisa Cholodenko's Laurel Canyon, the disappointing follow-up to the director's debut feature, the overrated High Art. Like the earlier movie, Laurel Canyon comes across pretty much as a pretentious soap opera - a movie that wants the audience to believe it has more to say about life than the usual melodrama. Unlike High Art, however, Laurel Canyon is not exceptionally well-acted (with one notable exception) and the characters are far less interesting (again, with one exception.)
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NYPD Detective John Shaft is called in to investigate the racially motivated murder of Trey Howard, committed by Walter Wade Jr., the son of a wealthy real estate tycoon. Shaft briefly meets a potential eyewitness to the murder, Diane Palmieri, but she disappears soon after and cannot be found for the trial. Wade Jr. is let off on bail and flees to Switzerland.
Two years later, Wade Jr. returns and Shaft rearrests him for leaving the country. During his temporary incarceration at police headquarters, Wade Jr. meets Peoples Hernandez, a Dominican drug lord. Wade Jr., his passport relinquished, is let off on bail again, and in frustration Shaft resigns from the police force, promising to bring Wade Jr. to justice on his own terms. Worried that Shaft might find the missing eyewitness, Wade Jr. hires Peoples to find and kill her first.
Some days it sucks to be a movie critic. And then there are days when you have to sit through pointless, nonsensical junk like Jimmy Nickerson’s “Forbidden Warrior”, a movie so Godawful that if you were to shoot a film in your backyard with your dad’s old Super VHS camcorder, and somehow convinced that slow kid next door to run into a wall over and over again so you could film it, you would still have a better movie than “Forbidden Warrior”. And the most unforgivable aspect of “Warrior”? There’s actually some money in this thing. Not a whole lot of money, mind you, but some money that could have been better spent hiring Martha Stewart to hunt down Osama Bin Laden armed only with a toothpick and a sewing kit. Or possibly convince Ashlee Simpson that just because her big sister is a TV and music star doesn’t necessarily mean she should, or could, be one, too.
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The Last Castle
ieutenant General Eugene Irwin (Robert Redford) is brought to a maximum security military prison to begin a ten-year sentence for his decision (in violation of a presidential order) to send U.S. troops on a mission in Burundi, Africa, resulting in the deaths of eight soldiers. Colonel Winter (James Gandolfini), the prison's commandant, is a great admirer of the general but is offended by a comment by Irwin that he overhears. Irwin criticizes Winter's much-prized military artifacts collection, saying that the used bullets from the Civil War it includes is something no combat veteran - such as Irwin - would ever have. Colonel Winter, who has never seen combat in his career, quickly resents what he perceives as Irwin's attempt to change the attitude of the prisoners, and his admiration and respect of Irwin fades fast.
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An offbeat comedy in the style of Bottle Rocket and After Hours. Wiley Roth finds a severed human finger in his kitchen one night. Understandably freaked out, Wiley and his best friend Mitch try to figure out the mystery of the finger, in a search across Los Angeles that brings them in contact with psychics, ineffectual police, crooked taxidermists, mysterious neighbors who might be on drugs, and a nine-fingered woman named Cheryl who might, improbably, end up being the girl of his dreams.
When hard-drinking and embittered stand-up comedian Pipes (Mike Houlihan) vents his frustration at street-dweller Nuts (Ben Vereen), Nuts curses him to walk a mile or more in his vagrant and mentally unbalanced shoes. Soon, Pipes finds himself among the outcasts of society. Struggling to keep himself fed and his sanity intact, he ends up learning a thing or two in the process. Tim Kazurinski and Greg Hollimon co-star in this quirky comedy.
Sam Bowden is a womanizing lawyer who has cheated on his burnt out, bitter wife Leigh Bowden. Sam, Leigh, and their 15 year old daughter Danielle have moved to a backwater Florida town for a new start, but Sam is already showing signs of fooling around with his clerk, 16 year old Lori Davis. Meanwhile, Leigh broods at home, venting her bitterness on Danielle. But Sams unfaithfulness becomes the least of Leighs worries. Years ago, as a public defender, Sam had a client named Max Cady, who was accused of brutalizing a teenage girl. Sam put up a lousy defense for Max after discovering that Max was guilty of brutalizing the girl. Now, 14 years later, Cady has been released from prison and hes hungry for revenge on Sam, having spent his sentence making himself well-read in philosophy and literature. Cadys plan is to destroy Sams career and family. Cady fatally poisons the family dog, brutalizes Lori, and comes close to getting Danielle to sympathize with him, successfully goading Sam into violence. Sam has Lieutenant Eigert, of the local police department, try to harass Cady into leaving town, hires sleazy private eye Claude Kersek to have Cady beaten up, and offers Cady money to simply go away. When all that fails, Sam uses his family as bait to lure Cady into his house while Kersek is guarding the place. It ends up as a bloody mess when Cady sneaks in and kills Kersek. This prompts the Bowdens to leave the house, with Cady following them all the way to the Bowden houseboat for a confrontation on the Cape Fear River in North Carolina.
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King of Paper Chasin'
In the city of 9 Million people everyone is engulfed in the everyday rat race chasing that almighty dollar. This movie tells the story of one of its own Carter Blanche. Carter has staked his claim to the American dream. But history teaches us that behind every wealthy empire is a major crime and Carters rise to power is no exception. Trying to go legit, he is faced with deception, betrayal, and self serving agendas from those closest to him and must maneuver his way through all those who want to crumble what he has built. As he determines whos friend or foe. The decisions Carter makes can, and will cost lives.
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