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Movie Reviews

Overcoming the sins of the father — and the fatherland

What if the people who loved you turned out to be monsters? Could you change your worldview to survive in this new order? Or would the truth end up swallowing you whole?     Fourteen-year-old Lore (Saskia Rosendahl: Für Elise) lives an idyllic life in World War II Germany. Blonde and blue-eyed, she’s the picture of youthful innocence, still more child than woman as she romps through fields in suspendered skirts and Heidi braids.

There’s no honor among dealers

John Matthews (Dwayne Johnson: Journey 2: The Mysterious Island) is living lush with his new wife and young daughter. Well connected, well dressed and wealthy, he’s the American dream.     John’s son Jason (Rafi Gavron: Celeste and Jesse Forever) isn’t quite so happy. Bitter over the divorce of his parents, Jason reviles his father and his money. In a moment of petulance and idiocy, he agrees to have a large bag of Ecstasy sent to his mother’s house.

Joyless performances make for a bad day for moviegoers

As one who thinks Die Hard one of the best action films ever, I must with a heavy heart urge all fans of John McClane to skip this movie.     In 1988, off-duty cop John McClane (Bruce Willis: Looper) walked into an office Christmas party and became a terrorist-killing legend. Twenty-five years later, McClane has dispatched baddies in office buildings, airports, the burroughs of New York and the streets of D.C.     The fatigue is starting to show.

What if the cure is worse than the disease?

In our world of Zoloft commercials, it’s become easy to believe that popping a pill will magically end your depression. What happens if those Prozac promises turn out false? What if there is no magic pill for your mental malaise? What if that magic pill makes you worse?

If you can’t win her heart, you can always eat it

R (Nicholas Hoult: X-Men: First Class) is a directionless 20-something. Unmotivated, grungy and introspective, R spends his days wandering the airport, speaking in grunts when accosted.     R is also a zombie.     But unlike many zombies, R feels conflicted about his blood lust. He’s curious about the humans he feasts on and tries his best to remember what it was like to be a person instead of a predator. He collects objects that he deems especially human: magazines, records, toys.

They’re not old, they’re classics

Beecham House is a nursing home with a twist. Billed as a community for retired musicians, Beecham is a haven for symphony and opera stars awaiting their final curtain call. Instead of bingo, they perform arias and celebrate the birth of Verdi with an annual gala performance that brings them back to the stage.

The former governor of California gets serious about border control

Sheriff Ray Owens (Arnold Schwarzenegger: The Expendables 2) left a life of action as a Los Angeles cop to police a small border town in Arizona.     Small town life gets a lot more exciting when Mexican cartel kingpin Gabriel Cortez (Eduardo Noriega: Una Pistola en Cada Mano) escapes from FBI custody. He jumps in a souped-up Corvette, takes a hostage and speeds toward freedom. The only thing standing in his way are the local yokels of Sommerton.

How far would you go to catch a terrorist?

After the September 11, 2001, attacks that murdered 3,000 Americans, Osama bin Laden became the world’s most-hunted man. Ten years later, the search continued.     For CIA agent Mya (Jessica Chastain: Lawless), the search for bin Laden is an obsession. She takes a position in the Pakistan bureau and spends every waking hour tracking obscure leads and interrogating detainees.

Matt Damon teaches the simple folk about the environment

Slick salesman Steve Butler (Matt Damon: We Bought a Zoo) rolls into a Pennsylvania farming town with a plan. The agricultural community is dying, and Steve has the solution: Lease your land to a natural gas company. Global Natural Gas wants to frack for gas pockets beneath the land, and the desperately poor community will get a percentage of the take.

White people’s problems

A British family’s 2004 Christmas on a Thai beach paradise is spoiled when a massive tsunami devastates Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines.     Maria (Naomi Watts: J. Edgar) and her eldest son Lucas (Tom Holland: The Secret World of Arrietty) are dragged by the wave through a battered countryside. Stranded in the middle of a foreign country, Lucas must figure out how to get his mother help before she succumbs to injuries.