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We Own the Night Review


Weak
James Gray has assembled what looks and sounds like a good, smart thriller with We Own the Night: a strong cast, serious aspirations, a specific time and place (Brooklyn, 1988). The story is shopworn, but not without dramatic potential: Joaquin Phoenix and Mark Wahlberg play brothers on the opposite-ish sides of the law; Joseph (Wahlberg) has followed in the footsteps of their father (Robert Duvall) and joined the NYPD while Bobby (Phoenix) rebels by running a seedy nightclub. With a drug dealer inching into Bobby's territory, he's forced to reconsider his loyalties.

Meanwhile, the movie forces me to reconsider my own, because it spends a lot more time seeming like a good movie than actually being one. For a film with such an ominous, encompassing title, We Own the Night is content to skim the surface of the NYPD, lacking the obsessive attention to detail that distinguishes other crime-heavy glimpses into bygone American eras as diverse as Gangs of New York, Zodiac, or The Assassination of the Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford. Even Night's period details feel half-assed and incidental, like background songs that sound more like bits of '90s soundtracks to '80s-set movies instead of 1988 itself. In fact, though an early subtitle says so, the year doesn't even seem to be 1988 in particular but a vague, amorphous "eighties," Wedding Singer style.

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The Ex Review


Grim
Jesse Peretz's stitched-together comedy The Ex casts funny actors and provides funny scenarios but rarely matches talent to task. The movie, penned by David Guion and Michael Handelman, trades a traceable story arc for a series of maniacal sketches that can be crudely amusing -- as when a non-paralyzed man tried to impress his handicapped co-worker by joining him in a wheelchair basketball game -- but lend nothing to the movie as a whole. Thankfully, the film's bouncy pace means missed jokes spring to safety instead of stopping the momentum with a thud.

New parents Tom (Zach Braff) and Sophia (Amanda Peet) are proverbially chewed up by New York City and spit out to Ohio where perennial job hopper Tom takes a position at his father-in-law's ad agency. While Sophia copes with being a stay-at-home mom, Tom finds friendly -- then fierce -- office competition with Chip (Jason Bateman), an account executive and former flame of Sophia's who earns sympathy from the world because he is confined to a wheelchair.

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Turistas Review


Terrible
A tradesman in the ways of directing half-naked women, director John Stockwell has his hands full in his first foray into the horror genre. Stockwell has spent most of his career constructing exercises in bromidic romance and laughs, but here he attempts to follow up Into the Blue, his insipid take on The Deep, with a much darker trip into a tropical locale.

On a bus heading to a popular tourist town in Brazil, Alex (Josh Duhamel) has been given the charge of looking after his late-teen sister Bea (Olivia Wilde) and her friend Amy (Beau Garrett). When a near-accident sends the bus careening down a mountain and leaves the passengers waiting for another one, Alex, Bea, and Amy hook up with two Brits (Desmond Askew and Max Brown) and Pru (Melissa George), a tanned-up, bilingual woman who catches Alex's eye. They all head down to a beach bar where they proceed to drink themselves silly, grind against one another and practice the ancient art of putting on a bikini without getting naked (admittedly, my technique is lagging). When the sun comes up, the group realizes they have been drugged and that someone has stolen all their belongings, including passports and airplane tickets.

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Turistas Review


Terrible
A tradesman in the ways of directing half-naked women, director John Stockwell has his hands full in his first foray into the horror genre. Stockwell has spent most of his career constructing exercises in bromidic romance and laughs, but here he attempts to follow up Into the Blue, his insipid take on The Deep, with a much darker trip into a tropical locale.

On a bus heading to a popular tourist town in Brazil, Alex (Josh Duhamel) has been given the charge of looking after his late-teen sister Bea (Olivia Wilde) and her friend Amy (Beau Garrett). When a near-accident sends the bus careening down a mountain and leaves the passengers waiting for another one, Alex, Bea, and Amy hook up with two Brits (Desmond Askew and Max Brown) and Pru (Melissa George), a tanned-up, bilingual woman who catches Alex's eye. They all head down to a beach bar where they proceed to drink themselves silly, grind against one another and practice the ancient art of putting on a bikini without getting naked (admittedly, my technique is lagging). When the sun comes up, the group realizes they have been drugged and that someone has stolen all their belongings, including passports and airplane tickets.

Continue reading: Turistas Review

Good Night, and Good Luck Review


Excellent
One doesn't need much more of a reason to go to the movies than this: Edward R. Murrow taking on Senator Joe McCarthy (at the height of his power), crisp black-and-white cinematography, the clink of ice cubes over scotch, voluptuous clouds of cigarette smoke hanging in the air, a nation's conscience dangling in the balance. So it is with George Clooney's Good Night, and Good Luck, a film where the mood - just shy of too cool for its own good - sets the scene for Murrow, the patron saint of journalism, to cajole and castigate the audience in a time of complacency. It also has a great jazz soundtrack.

The story of the witch-hunt has endlessly retold, usually laden with the same self-satisfied 20/20 hindsight that afflicts stories of the civil rights movement, and fortunately Clooney and co-writer Grant Heslov see no need to go through it all again. With admirable precision, they've sliced away most all the accoutrements often used to open up the era for the modern viewer, ala Quiz Show. This is a film that takes place almost entirely inside a CBS studio and newsroom, with occasional trips to hallways, elevators, and a network executive's wood-paneled office. Once, they all go out to a bar. It's best in the studio, because that's where we find Murrow - incarnated with almost indecent accuracy by David Strathairn - looking and sounding like as though Rod Serling had decided to rejoin the human race, his manner clipped and astringent, cigarette cocked in one hand like a talisman warding off evil.

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Get Over It Review


Weak
Get Over It at least has one thing that a lot of other high school movies don't: earnest, affable leads. It also has all of the key flaws that make going to teen movies so risky: an almost unbearable goofy streak, a plot with the strength of a newborn fawn, and bland supporting characters.

The movie makes the same mistakes over and over and eventually drains one's patience, but yet I stuck around because the leads played kids I would have liked to know.

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Godsend Review


Grim
Watching Godsend compares to eating a gallon of fudge-filled chocolate ice cream minutes before going to bed. You know it's bad for you, but the experience is tons of fun. Soon enough, though, the gooey dessert stops tasting so good. By the time you near the bottom of the container, you can't even justify why you continue to swallow spoonfuls, but you keep eating despite the fact that it doesn't make sense to continue.

That also explains director Nick Hamm's jackhammer approach to his material. He knows he's working with a cheesy campfire story, the kind best whispered to terrified boy scouts in the dead of night. But he's sadly unaware of when enough is enough, and his final act becomes a series of ludicrous scientific explanations offset by cheap jolts to our nervous system.

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