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Movie Reviews

There’s more to espionage than car chases, explosions and bikinis

In the cinematic world of James Bond and Jason Bourne, spies are men with hard abs, steel fists and fast cars. Theirs is a world of high-octane excitement: car chases, shoot outs and loads of hand-to-hand combat. Usually there’s a pretty lady or two to dote upon them when the action slows.     So when we see pudgy, gray-haired, bespectacled George Smiley (Gary Oldman: Harry Potter) meekly enter a room, we don’t think spy. That’s precisely what Smiley is hoping for.

How many dysfunctions can you cram into two hours?

To say that The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is a dark film is like saying Ted Bundy was a bad date.     Rape. Beatings. Sexual sadism. And that doesn’t even cover the murder mystery at the heart of the film.

C’est magnifique

In 1927 a new fad was sweeping the film industry: Talking Pictures. You may have seen one or two if you’ve been to a movie in the past 84 years.     With the advent of the new technology, an entire industry fell to the wayside. Silent film actors and actresses became the cassette tapes of their times, cast into obscurity seemingly overnight.

An entertaining investigation heavier on brawn than brains

The master of deduction Sherlock Holmes (Robert Downey Jr.: Due Date) has been dealing with a lot of loss of late. His romance with Irene Adler (Rachel McAdams: Midnight in Paris) is untenable. He’s at a stalemate trying to foil the plans of arch nemesis Dr. Moriarty (Jared Harris: Mad Men). Worst of all, his best mate and sleuthing sidekick Dr. Watson (Jude Law: Hugo) is getting married.     Holmes isn’t taking it well.

Stay home with the kids instead of seeing this waste of celluloid

The Sitter is the kind of movie reviewers hate: It’s so tedious, lazy and humorless that it’s nearly impossible to mock.     Nearly.

A Christmas tale for the iPod generation

‘Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house, not a creature was stirring as a spaceship arrived.     Wait. Is that how the story goes?     In Arthur Christmas, a charming if not brilliant update on the story of Santa Claus, St. Nick is driven more by a palm pilot than eight tiny reindeer.

It’s easy to like green in this light-hearted tale

Brothers Walter and Gary (Jason Segel: Bad Teacher) are extremely different. Gary is tall, Walter is short. Gary has a girlfriend, Walter is single. Gary is human, Walter is a Muppet. Just typical family stuff.     In spite of these differences, the brothers are close and spend their nights watching reruns of their favorite show, The Muppets. Since Walter doesn’t have much of a life beyond hanging out with Gary, The Muppets become his obsession.

A father loses paradise but finds his family in this touching drama

Matt King (George Clooney: The Ides of March) is too busy for tragedy. The lawyer is the family trustee of the last untouched beach in Kauai, and his cousins are pressuring him to sell. But before King can make a final decision on which $100 million offer to take, his wife has a boating accident that lands her in an irreversible coma.     Now, King must come to terms with that fact and two daughters he barely knows. The process is even harder than it sounds.

Women don’t need brains when they have a man

Leaving Breaking Dawn Part 1, mercifully the second-to-last installment in the Twilight Saga, I heard a little girl cry:     “I have so many feelings about this movie, but I can’t put them into words!”     Me too, kiddo, but they pay me to try.     Aside from being poorly scripted and woodenly acted, the entire Twilight series spoon-feeds a destructive message to young girls.

Clint Eastwood delivers a touching romance rather than a hard-hitting biopic

J. Edgar Hoover, one of the most powerful men of the 20th century, gained much of his power through political maneuvering, even blackmail. Yet his personal life was characterized by quiet repression. Director Clint Eastwood (Hereafter) seeks to peel back the G-Man veneer and expose the scared little man behind the FBI.