That's Seven Pounds in a nutshell, and it sounds more like Saw 6 than a holiday drama reuniting Pursuit of Happyness director Gabriele Muccino with Will Smith. But unlike Happyness, the feel-good movie of 2006, Seven Pounds is just the opposite -- a feel-bad movie -- and its unpleasant aftertaste lingers in your mouth for days. After watching this depression-inducing saga of sadness, you'll need a Zoloft prescription.
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Okay, scratch that last bit. Salvador is actually a gripping docu-drama about the horrors of the revolution in that country in the mid-1980s. From raped nuns to the mass dumping of dead bodies, Stone's gaze is unflinching on the horrors that occurred, and Wood's Boyle is there to document it all, despite an utter lack of charisma, money, or morality.
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Nine Lives opens strong on Sandra (Elpidia Carrillo), an imprisoned mother. Mopping up a floor, she's threatened by fellow prisoners, and harassed by a guard (Miguel Sandoval) who's convinced she can give him information. Everyone tells Sandra she's not going to make it, but you think she just might be able to, hunkering down turtle-like and just plowing through the rest of her sentence. But then her daughter visits, and the phone doesn't work, sending Sandra into a stunning explosion of rage, like a mother bear kept from her cub. It's a short, unrelentingly powerful story, and done by itself it would stand as a sublime little tragedy. The same goes for the final piece, in which Glenn Close and Dakota Fanning (hardly a better match could be imagined) visit a cemetery and talk with sublime ease about not much at all. But then comes the rest of the film in between.
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Yet, Predator does exhibit a few morsels of potential. Given the effective atmosphere and pacing of the film, it is evident that more capable minds could have molded this thriller into an ageless, unrelenting struggle between man and beast. Unfortunately, instead of penning a daring, original plot, writers Jim Thomas and John Thomas recycle formulas from movies like Rambo and Alien. It goes without saying that Predator brings nothing new to the table, and lacks both surprise and suspense.
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"Bread and Roses" isn't a movie so much as a political soapbox made of celluloid, so if you lean to the right on unionization and immigrant's rights, you might as well stop reading right here.
Personally, I tend to lean left. But no so far left that I'm ready to embrace this movie's selfish, ungrateful main character just because she makes minimum wage without benefits as a janitor, one month after sneaking over the border.
Maya (Pillar Padilla) is living in Los Angeles on the good graces of her older sister Rosa (Elpidia Carrillo), who helped her get into the country and got her a job cleaning offices in a downtown skyscraper. And even though generous, sacrificial Rosa -- who supports an injured husband and a handful of kids on her meager salary at the same job -- specifically asks her to not rock the boat at work, Maya gets involved with a union organizer named Sam (Adrien Brody) and it isn't long before she's helping lead marches and protests against the building's owners, tenants and contractors.
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