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The Lucky Ones Review


Unbearable
Soldiers returning home from Iraq deserve a proper narrative feature that addresses the physical discomfort, mental anguish, and emotional hardship they encounter while assimilating into the day-to-day routines of normal life.

The Lucky Ones is not that film. It is, instead, a sloppily executed (though decently acted) road trip picture that manages to do one thing consistently, and that's veer off the path of good intentions and crash.

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The Hunting Party Review


Weak
Despite the Western genre's resurgence -- and Hollywood's willingness to remake already acceptable examples of the classic format -- Richard Shepard's The Hunting Party has nothing to do with Don Medford's smoldering love-triangle-on-the-pioneer-trail from 1971 that carries the same name. Instead of a brilliant stand-off between Gene Hackman and Oliver Reed, we get the versatile Terrence Howard and a dependable (but unremarkable) Richard Gere sprinting through a ripped-from-the-headlines satire of our nation's ongoing military turmoil overseas.

Simon Hunt (Gere) has had enough. After years spent covering the atrocities of war with fearless cameraman Duck (Howard) in tow, Hunt lets his wearied emotions get the better of him during a live segment. His meltdown doesn't approach Howard Beale's "mad as hell" level, but it's enough to pull the plug on Hunt's career for the time being.

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Levity Review


Good
Billy Bob Thornton does a variation of his nearly invisible barber from The Man Who Wasn't There in screenwriter Ed Solomon's directorial debut Levity, escaping once again into a role of a hollow loner whose contemplative interior life dominates his every waking hour. Yet unlike in the Coen brothers' loopy noir homage, Thornton's character - a recently paroled convict named Manual (yes, "Manual") Jordan - is not a passive observer but, rather, a lost soul vainly searching for some way to make up for past sins. Although he does not believe in God (or divine redemption), Manual traverses the empty streets of his hometown desperately looking for some way to lessen the burden he has carried since that fateful day he shot a young convenience store clerk in a robbery gone terribly awry.

Thornton's reserved performance, involving lots of aimless shuffling around town and empty stares into nothingness, is well suited to the rhythms of Solomon's glacially-paced film (which he wrote as well as directed); his Manual a man who, having been unceremoniously dumped back into society against his will (he believes he deserves to stay in prison for his crime), doesn't know how to pick up the pieces of his non-existent life and move forward. With long thinning grey locks and a weathered, creased face, Manual is like a ghost forever doomed to haunt the locale of his greatest error, and when he moves through a subway station tunnel directly after leaving the Big House, it's not surprising to find that the crowds rush past him without acknowledging his presence. Thornton plays the character as though he had shriveled up from the inside out, and his expressions of bemused confusion and timid fright convey the feelings of unwieldy guilt and desperation that plague his conscience.

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Shattered Glass Review


Good
The need to get the best story first has always been an inherent part of the news business. But when a journalist crosses the line into the realm of fictional the whole integrity of the news business is thrown out the window.

This is in essence what happened to The New Republic magazine in 1998 when a writer of theirs named Stephen Glass fabricated a story about a computer hacker to such an extent that nothing in it was true including - sorry to say - the allegation that the hacker left his mark with an appealingly humorous alliterative caption: "THE BIG BAD BIONIC BOY HAS BEEN HERE BABY." (This of course has been overshadowed by the recent Jayson Blair/New York Times scandal, which shook out nearly identically but with much greater fanfare earlier this year.)

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