Movie Reviews June 1
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Director. John Gulager
Stars. Danielle Panabaker, David Hasselhoff, Matt Bush
To be honest, Piranha 3DD doesn’t take itself very seriously. And so I won’t be excoriating some disparaging critical diagnosis or justifying any hopeful merit (for the record there are no merits). Just know that when the producers pitched this low-brow money-grab about a waterpark overrun with flesh-eating fish (need I say more?), they likely only had three words for potential investors: blood, boobs and 3D.
In the Family
Director. Patrick Wang
Stars. Patrick Wang, Trevor St. John, Sebastian Banes
Writer/director/producer Patrick Wang also stars in In the Family, his subtle but incredibly moving first feature film.
Cody (St. John) and Joey (Wang) have raised Cody’s biological son, Chip (Banes), together since he was a baby. But when Cody is killed in a car accident, Joey learns that Cody’s six-year-old will names Cody’s sister as Chip’s legal guardian.
In the Family follows Joey as he attempts to regain custody of his son and as he learns what it really means to be “family.”
We Have a Pope
Director. Nanni Moretti
Stars. Nanni Moretti, Michel Piccoli
Italian auteur (and Cannes Film Fest jury president) Nanni Moretti’s intriguing comedy We Have a Pope explores the notion of a pontiff going rogue with an anxiety attack after gaining his newly appointed status.
While the rambling story may meander at times, French acting legend Michel Piccoli gives the protagonist a heavenly presence definitely worth checking out.
Director. Wes Anderson
Stars. Jared Gilman, Bruce Willis, Edward Norton
Wes Anderson’s films aren’t everyone’s cup of tea. And with Moonrise Kingdom, the quirky auteur (The Royal Tenenbaums) doesn’t bow to box-office pressure over originality either.
Set in 1965, two adolescents fall in love and runaway on a small island on the eve of a great storm.
While Anderson won’t likely recruit many new fans, there’s no denying his evocative, meticulous style, which helps make this film a fascinating contemporary fable.
A Beginner’s Guide to Endings
Director. Jonathan Sobol
Stars. Harvey Keitel, Scott Caan
If A Beginner’s Guide to Endings didn’t feel so contrived from its fabricated foundation, it might have been a cool film.
A comic look at three distinct brothers who struggle with imminent mortality alongside their no-good gambling dad (Harvey Keitel), the trio attempt their own bucket lists with slightly predictable results.
Jonathan Sobol definitely has some set skills, but the accomplished cast seems to enjoy the material more than the audience.
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Director. Olivier Nakache
Stars. François Cluzet, Omar Sy, Anne Le Ny
A massive box-office hit in its native France, The Intouchables mines a fascinating true-life story about a wealthy quadriplegic’s friendship with his caregiver for slick populist uplift: it’s a tear-jerking, subtitled version of The Odd Couple.
Omar Sy and Francois Cluzet give polished performances in the leads, but the film is sentimental and manipulative -— the fact that it is proudly and unashamedly so doesn’t make it any less enervating.
Director. Steve Rash
Stars. Brandon Routh, Michael Hudson, Gil Birmingham
Sports movies by definition have a predetermined ending — the underdog team wins despite the odds, or loses the game, but wins on moral grounds.
Despite this, Hollywood continues to churn the things out like they were Avengers’ solo films.
Crooked Arrows in no way deviates from this pattern — it literally lifts its plot points from the Mighty Ducks, replacing inner city kids playing hockey with first-nations kids playing lacrosse.
Director. Eduardo Sanchez
Stars. Gretchen Lodge, Johnny Lewis
Lovely Molly has its share of tense moments, but this chiller about a woman literally haunted by her past is too familiar.
It’s not shocking that scenes are filmed through the stylistically exhausted point-of-view of Molly’s camcorder, since filmmaker Sanchez initiated the trend with The Blair Witch Project, but shaky shots and big gaps of logic don’t solicit any sensible scares.
In Focus: Richard Crouse