Brian Howe

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I Am Number Four Trailer


John Smith isn't a normal boy, he and his guardian Henri have shifted homes and moved around the country so much he doesn't really have a true place to call home. Though John might look like most other boys, he holds a secret, his home planet isn't Earth it's a place called Lorien - a planet that's been wiped out by an enemy species called the Mogadorians. The only surviving members of the Lorien race are nine infants who are sent to Earth to masquerade as human children.

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The Pursuit of Happyness Review


Good
There is a part of The Pursuit of Happyness -- most of the last third, honestly -- that is just plain too bleak. It's taking an eternally optimistic guy just trying to scrape by and doing more than making things rough for him; it's kicking him in the crotch and spitting on him, and maybe humiliating him a little bit. It's some really holiday good cheer.

Chris Gardner (Will Smith) is one of those downtrodden guys for whom better times are always just around the next corner. He's a salesman, hawking some over-priced and under-used equipment to hospitals around San Francisco. What Chris wants is a better life for his family, his angry and overworked wife Linda (Thandie Newton, unconvincing with her brittle, bottled up range) and his delectably cute five-year-old Christopher (played by Smith's real-life son Jaden -- or, as he's loftily billed in the credits, Jaden Christopher Syre Smith). And the idea he latches onto, because it does not require a college education, but could still pay off big time, is to become a stockbroker.

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The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra Review


Weak
'50s sci-fi is a ripe target for spoofing, but The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra doesn't have enough gas to work as a feature length film, running out of steam about midway through. All the elements are here: Corny dialogue, awful music, wooden acting (it's intentional), and cheesy special effects (though actually Larry Blaine's work is miles ahead of his '50s counterparts), but it isn't long before we're longing for a real Ed Wood flick or another Planet of the Vampires. Those we can legitimately make fun of. Here, the meta comedy is about one layer too far down to really work. Cute, though.

Catch Me If You Can Review


Excellent

Steven Spielberg's best movie in at least a decade, "Catch Me If You Can" is a capricious, invigorating, infectiously jaunty caper about one of the most extraordinary con men in United States history.

In the mid-1960s, Frank Abagnale Jr. passed himself off as an airline pilot and fooled Pan Am, as a doctor and got a job as a Georgia hospital's graveyard-shift emergency room manager, and as a lawyer, becoming an assistant prosecutor in Louisiana under the wing of his unsuspecting fiancée's father.

And when he was finally caught -- after cashing millions of dollars in bogus checks to boot -- Frank Abagnale Jr. was all of 20 years old.

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K-Pax Review


Weak

Quick, somebody give Kevin Spacey a bad guy role before he becomes as bland as Harrison Ford!

Just two years ago Spacey the Great was at the apex of his craft, unwrapping layers and layers of psychological subterfuge in "American Beauty" as a fettered suburban father having a volcanic eruption of a mid-life crisis. The man could project volumes of personality and complexity with the subtlest of glances and garner empathy even for his characters' ignominious acts.

But recently Spacey has stopped stretching as an actor, taking tepid, compassionate roles that come to rely on trademark tics he's developed. That curious puppy head tilt he once employed so deceptively in "The Usual Suspects" is one. His soft, lilting speech patterns that imply trustworthy gentleness is another.

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The Majestic Review


OK

A heartfelt and surprisingly successful revival of the cinema-idyllic world of Frank Capra movies, "The Majestic" stars Jim Carrey as a blacklisted Hollywood screenwriter with amnesia who stumbles into a small coastal hamlet where he's mistaken for a long-lost native World War II hero.

Affable alchemy is the specialty of director Frank Darabont -- the man behind the affecting sentimental sincerity of "The Shawshank Redemption" and "The Green Mile" -- and he's just about the only big-budget, soft-sell director in the business who could pull off this kind of potentially cloying picture without sending it into sugar shock. Capra's legacy is in good hands for these 150 minutes.

Darabont opens "The Majestic" with a terrific establishing shot of Carrey's melancholy mug as he listens to off-camera studio executives castrate his latest script. Despite his fresh-off-the-bus enthusiasm for Tinsel Town, Peter Appleton (Carrey) is already weary of being a B-movie hack after just one picture, the cheesy "Sand Pirates of the Sahara" (which Darabont shows us in delightfully authentic snippets featuring Bruce Campbell as the swashbuckling, pith-helmet hero and Cliff Curtis as an evil, wild-eyed sheik).

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Brian Howe

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