Carl Levin

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Rock Of Ages Review


Very Good
This raucous trawl through 80s power ballads, rock anthems and gigantic hair is a lot of fun, partly because it throws so many big stars into against-type roles in which they get to sing and dance. But the plot couldn't be any thinner or it wouldn't exist at all.

Small-town girl Sherrie (Hough) takes the bus to 1987 Hollywood to become a rock star. There she meets Drew (Boneta), who has the same dream and works in the famed Bourbon Room on the Sunset Strip. He convinces the owner (Baldwin) to hire her as a barmaid just as diva-rocker Stacee Jaxx (Cruise) comes to play a major gig. Buzzing around him are a Rolling Stone journalist (Akerman) wanting an interview and a right-winger (Zeta-Jones) trying to protect the children from the evils of rock-n-roll.

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Taxi To The Dark Side Review


Excellent
Many Americans have not been terribly thrilled about their country's name being associated many times over the past few years with episodes of prisoner abuse and torture that would have seemed downright abhorrent to our forefathers. This is understandable, as the practices of setting dogs on naked prisoners, denying that the right to habeas corpus has any real applicability, and using sensory deprivation techniques thought to have been discontinued years ago all have a tendency to conflict with the way that many citizens prefer to see their own country. A very flawed but still noble paragon of some sort of justice and democracy, that sort of thing. But for some reason, this recoiling from ugly and un-American practices hasn't been universal. A random sampling of the citizenry would most likely (if years worth of polling, and a general lack of public outrage, can be believed) come up with a good number of people who may not like torturing all them Middle Easterners, but hey, it's an ugly world....

It's for those people in particular that Alex Gibney's deeply unsettling documentary Taxi to the Dark Side should be required viewing, though just about any citizen should feel the film worthy of their time. Gibney, who did a smart job of untangling the tortured and headache-inducing mess that was the Enron case with 2005's Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room, does similarly swift work here cleaving through the morass of obfuscation and half-truths that have veiled the country's involvement in torture and extralegal detention since 9/11.

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The Life And Times Of Hank Greenberg Review


Excellent
While Keeping the Faith cracks enough Rabbi jokes to keep the masses happy, The Life and Times of Hank Greenberg actually has something to offer to the cinematic world. Blending fan interviews with archival footage, The Life and Times of Hank Greenberg is one of the most lighthearted documentaries to come out in ages.

Hank Greenberg was not the first Jewish ballplayer, but he was the first Jewish ballplayer to keep his last name when he entered the game. As such, Greenberg faced anti-Semitic comments in addition to the insults that come with the game. As its title would suggest, The Life and Times of Hank Greenberg discusses how Greenberg dealt with that (such as the decisions to take certain religious holidays off). It also discusses how Greenberg's very presence brought hope into the hearts of Jewish people everywhere, and does all of this in a humorous fashion, to boot.

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Pretty Persuasion Review


Excellent
In a time when the collected works of Hilary Duff and Lindsay Lohan have looked like they could suck out whatever feeble life is left in the high school film, along comes a black-hearted piece of nastiness like Pretty Persuasion to remind us that, yes, nothing can simultaneously shock and entertain quite so well as a teenager let loose.

It must be said that things don't begin well, however, with its focus the film's star bitch, 15-year-old Kimberly Joyce (Evan Rachel Wood), who looks to be the queen of her snotty private high school in Beverly Hills. Appearing at first to be the result of some hideous experiment whereby Reese Witherspoon's Election spunk and drive was spliced with the power-lusting evil of at least a couple of the Heathers, Kimberly soon shows herself to be an entirely different sort of villain. In the process of escorting a quiet new Arab student, Randa Azzouni (Adi Schnall), around campus and explaining to her the facts of life and a clinical cost/benefit analysis of the two of them being friends (Randa gets to hang out with one of the school's stars, while Kimberly thinks she looks prettier standing next to Randa), Kimberly drops in this little nugget, "I have respect for all races. But I'm really happy to have been born white." She then proceeds to list, in descending order, the races she would prefer to be, and then patiently explains to Randa - in her flat, rational, almost toneless voice - exactly why Arab would be her last choice ("No offence.").

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Carl Levin Movies

Rock of Ages Movie Review

Rock of Ages Movie Review

This raucous trawl through 80s power ballads, rock anthems and gigantic hair is a lot...

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Pretty Persuasion Movie Review

Pretty Persuasion Movie Review

In a time when the collected works of Hilary Duff and Lindsay Lohan have looked...

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