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Avi Lerner and Heidi Jo Markel - VIP screening of 'Lovelace' hosted by Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino Las Vegas - Arrivals - Las Vegas, NV, United States - Sunday 4th August 2013

Avi Lerner and Heidi Jo Markel

Conan The Barbarian Review


Weak
With a complete lack of self-awareness, this po-faced remake looks more like a trash-TV series (a la Spartacus or Camelot) than a proper movie. Mainly because the filmmakers continually opt for gratuitous gore rather than actual storytelling.

Born in battle, Conan (Howard, then Momoa) is set on vengeance. His people, the Cimmerians, were slaughtered by the evil Khalar Zym (Lang), who was looking for the barbarian-held pieces to a mythical all-powerful mask. Once the mask is reassembled, Khalar Zym and his fiendish daughter Marique (McGowan) need a pure-blood of Acheron to activate it and, as luck would have it, the last one is hot babe Tamara (Nichols). So of course Conan and Tamara team up to fight off the villains and save the pre-historic world.

Continue reading: Conan The Barbarian Review

Trust Review


Excellent
Even though this film has a deeply disturbing theme, one of the most frightening things about it is the way it continually threatens to turn into a revenge thriller. But the filmmakers have something much more involving - and wrenching - in mind.

Will and Lynn (Owen and Keener) are parents of three lively, independent-minded kids. Peter (Curnutt) is just heading off to university, 14-year-old Annie (Liberato) is starting high school and Katie (DeButch) is still too young to understand much of what happens next. Annie is chatting online with Charlie, a teen in another city who slowly becomes her closest confidant. So she's a bit startled when he confesses that he's 20. Then 25. Then he agrees to meet her and turns out to be closer to 35 (Coffey). But he loves her and makes her feel beautiful.

Continue reading: Trust Review

The Expendables Review


OK
Relentlessly loud and bombastic, this old-school thriller is clearly trying to exceed the 1980s action movies it so shamelessly emulates. And Stallone and his fellow potato-faced buddies come very close to doing just this.

Barney (Stallone) is the leader of a ruthless team of mercenaries: knife-wielding Lee (Statham), chop-socky Yin (Li), tattooist Tool (Rourke), hotheaded Gunnar (Lundgren), muscle-gun toting Hale (Crews) and demolition man Toll Road (Couture). Their new mission is to infiltrate the Latin American island of Vilena and overthrow the dictator (Zavas). But he's merely the puppet of a rogue American agent-turned-trafficker (Roberts). He also has a sexy daughter (Itie) to distract the boys. Then there's the issue of Gunnar, who's disgruntled after being thrown off the team.

Continue reading: The Expendables Review

Brooklyn's Finest Review


Good
This darkly shaded cop drama has an effectively moody tone, although it never feels any more gritty or realistic than a TV series. And despite solid acting, the plot feels both contrived and rather lethargic.

Three Brooklyn cops are confronting moral dilemmas on the job. Eddie (Gere) is a week away from retirement when he's asked to help a couple of rookies learn the ropes. But he'd rather just keep his head down. Tango (Cheadle) is deep undercover in a drug sting, threatened by a tough FBI agent (Barkin) to set up his childhood friend (Snipes). And Sal (Hawke) is looking to steal some drug-bust cash to top up his salary so he can look after his pregnant wife (Taylor) and children.

Continue reading: Brooklyn's Finest Review

Rambo (2008) Review


Good
What do you do when Tinseltown no longer cares for your career, when your latest attempts at an artistic renaissance or cultural relevancy have failed miserably? Well, if you're one time box office king Sylvester Stallone, you cannibalize your past and hope that someone out there in film geek nation still cares. After 2006's Rocky Balboa proved that audiences could cotton to a self-referential return to former glory, a post-Planet Hollywood Stallone decided pissed off Vietnam Vet John Rambo was due for a comeback. Of course, the main question in everyone's mind was, after three previous installments of the mercenary and mayhem series, could the actor bring anything new to the show?

The answer is yes, and it's painted in glorious clots of deep, deep red. When a group of goody-two-shoes religious types get caught up in the middle of Burma's brutal civil war, a reluctant reverend (Ken Howard) seeks out soldier-turned-snake wrangler John Rambo for help. Seems he wants to send some paid "professionals" in to retrieve his flock, and since our hero guided the original tour into enemy territory, he's the best man to lead this latest incursion. Of course, when the hired help proves woefully egotistical, Rambo steps up to show them the proper way to kick bad guy butt. Besides, he has been "spiritually" touched by the sole female member, an idealist named Sarah (Julie Benz). He must then break into a heavily-guarded compound and save her and her friends before a corrupt local General throws them to his collection of flesh-eating pigs, among other inhuman tortures.

Continue reading: Rambo (2008) Review

Mad Money Review


Good
Why should George Clooney, Brad Pitt, and their Las Vegas crew have all of the fun? Callie Khouri's clever Mad Money lets the girls in on the action for a change, as Diane Keaton, Queen Latifah, and Katie Holmes hatch a scheme to "withdraw" funds from the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City.

Suburban socialite Bridget (Keaton) cooks up the inside job after her husband's financial ruin forces her to take custodial work at the bank. After all, she has to figure some way to fund her cushy, upper-class comfort zone crafted by greed. Bridget's foolproof plan requires help. She recruits flighty cash transporter Jackie (Holmes) and struggling single mom Nina (Latifah), whose job requires she shred bills that are no longer in circulation.

Continue reading: Mad Money Review

King Of California Review


Bad
It's easy to see what attracted Michael Douglas to the role of Charlie in writer-director Mike Cahill's whimsical comedy King of California. Charlie is a cuddly, middle-age loony, the kind of screwtop crackpot that Academy voters love. And Douglas wades into the role with all of his might, his grizzly charm coming off like a New Age cross between Henry Travers and David Crosby. Unfortunately, Douglas is hurling all of his oddball ticks and psychotic charms into a vacuum.

King of California is cute, innocent, and precocious, just like the little 10-year-old niece you want to kill. Cahill's film aims to be quirky and quizzical and it has the feel of the kind of anti-establishment films made in the '60s and '70s along the lines of They Might Be Giants or Daddy Douglas' The Lonely Are the Brave. But there is no ballast for the whimsy, and the whole concept wisps away like a leaky balloon full of hot air.

Continue reading: King Of California Review

Loverboy Review


Bad
Much like Robert Towne's recent adaptation of Ask the Dust, Kevin Bacon's Loverboy is a labor of love. Sometime in 2003, Kyra Sedgwick (Bacon's spouse) handed him a copy of Victoria Redel's novel, Loverboy, and both found themselves eager to bring the story to the screen. And similar to Towne's effort, Bacon is so enthusiastic about the material that he can't get his concentration correct.

Emily Stoll (Sedgwick) is in her late 20s and roaming the Midwest and just about everywhere else for the right ejaculate. After a miscarriage from a "no father," multi-partner pregnancy, she meets Paul (Campbell Scott) and in one night of passion, a child is conceived. The son, Paul aka Loverboy (Dominic Scott Kay), quickly becomes Emily's entire life, trying to make life a magical, ongoing discovery. Emily has nightmarish flashbacks of her lovebird parents (Bacon and Marisa Tomei) who were too busy being in love to take care of a child properly, and she daydreams of her fantasy mother, Mrs. Harker (Sandra Bullock). Loverboy eventually becomes wise to his mother's obsessive grasp on him and begins to revolt, especially when she tries to seduce Mark (Matt Dillon), a father figure. This, of course, can't end well.

Continue reading: Loverboy Review

Home Of The Brave Review


Weak
Irwin Winkler's Home of the Brave is notable for being the first major narrative, non-documentary film about the Iraq War and, more specifically, veterans of that war adjusting to life back home afterward. Unfortunately, that's about all it will be notable for. A politically timid and artistically confused misfire right from the start, the film is an argument for the rule that filmmakers often need years of distance from a big historic event before they are able to make something out of it. Home of the Brave won't exactly come to be known as this war's version of The Green Berets, it will most likely be forgotten, good intentions or no.

A strictly by-the-book opening segment places the film in a firebase in Iraq run by a unit of National Guardsmen. A batch of them are rounded up to guard a medical convoy going out on a humanitarian mission into a nearby town. It's painfully clear from the start that an ambush is coming (for one, the unit just found out they're demobilizing back to the States in a couple of weeks) and everything prior to that is stilted Audience-Character Identification 101. The firefight itself is as clumsily handled as just about everything else in the film, leavening the generally poor choreography with some shockingly moronic actions on the part of the Guardsmen, many of whom act as though they'd never been trained for combat.

Continue reading: Home Of The Brave Review

The Wicker Man (2006) Review


Weak
The new version of The Wicker Man is a surprisingly tony addition to the new class of horror remakes, adapted and directed not by a disgraced former action director or a newbie music-video director but arthouse mainstay Neil LaBute; starring not a WB star paying his or her dues, but Nicolas Cage.

I haven't seen the original Wicker Man (or read the novel on which it was based), but apparently the major change to the story - about a cop visiting a remote island commune to investigate the disappearance of a young girl - is, appropriate to LaBute's resume (In the Company of Men, The Shape of Things), a gender switch. Whereas the original island was overseen by Christopher Lee, this one has Ellen Burstyn as Sister Summersisle, who oversees a flock of women conducting themselves with creepy calm. Men are present, in tiny clusters, but seem resigned mainly to lifting things in silence.

Continue reading: The Wicker Man (2006) Review

16 Blocks Review


OK
It's just about eight in the morning, and the worst cop in the world needs a drink. Instead of a drink, the lieutenant gives him a job: at some point over the next 118 minutes, get this witness 16 blocks downtown to 100 Centre Street so he can give testimony before a grand jury. The witness is a talker, with a whiney voice; way too early for this. Traffic is bad, though, so the cop nips into a liquor store while they're on the way. While he's in the store, two hitmen try to kill the witness. Cop drops his brown-bag bottle of Canadian Club, plugs one of the hitmen, hightails it with the witness to a friendly nearby bar, where his backup finds him and announces, sorry, but we've got to kill the witness anyway, he's going to testify against a bunch of us police. Cop decides for once to side with his conscience and takes off again with the witness, only now the streets between them and the courthouse are filled with NYPD who want to take them both out.

As a short story in some pulp magazine of a sadly bygone era, 16 Blocks would be a dirty little gem. Crooked cops, lots of twists and turns, some tough-guy badinage spit out on the knife's edge. In the hands of Richard "Lethal Weapon" Donner, however, it morphs into a strange and weak buddy flick that mixes 48 Hrs., Die Hard: With a Vengeance, and about a dozen other cop movies together in a desperate attempt to seem vital and gritty. The result is something more than a complete failure (unlike, say, Donner's last one, Timeline) but something quite a bit less than good.

Continue reading: 16 Blocks Review

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Avi Lerner Movies

Before I Go to Sleep Movie Review

Before I Go to Sleep Movie Review

A clever premise can't help but grab the audience's attention as this mystery-thriller plays with...

The Expendables 3 Movie Review

The Expendables 3 Movie Review

Striking a tone somewhere between the po-faced original and the silly Part 2, this rampaging...

As I Lay Dying Movie Review

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James Franco makes his directing debut with this ambitious adaptation of William Faulkner's notoriously downbeat...

The Expendables 2 Movie Review

The Expendables 2 Movie Review

Although there's been no attempt to tone down the first film's bloodthirsty hyperviolence or dim-witted...

Conan The Barbarian Movie Review

Conan The Barbarian Movie Review

With a complete lack of self-awareness, this po-faced remake looks more like a trash-TV series...

Trust Movie Review

Trust Movie Review

Even though this film has a deeply disturbing theme, one of the most frightening things...

The Mechanic Movie Review

The Mechanic Movie Review

Remade from Michael Winner's 1972 thriller, this action movie can't be bothered to get as...

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The Expendables Movie Review

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Relentlessly loud and bombastic, this old-school thriller is clearly trying to exceed the 1980s action...

Brooklyn's Finest Movie Review

Brooklyn's Finest Movie Review

This darkly shaded cop drama has an effectively moody tone, although it never feels any...

Righteous Kill Movie Review

Righteous Kill Movie Review

Robert De Niro and Al Pacino -- has there ever been a better acting team?...

My Mom's New Boyfriend Movie Review

My Mom's New Boyfriend Movie Review

Grown-up son living at home becomes angry and frustrated when his mom brings a new...

Rambo (2008) Movie Review

Rambo (2008) Movie Review

What do you do when Tinseltown no longer cares for your career, when your latest...

Mad Money Movie Review

Mad Money Movie Review

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