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‘Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close’ but emotionally trying

January 25th, 2012 Posted in Movies Tags: , ,

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Catholic News Service

Few events in recent history have exerted as deeply personal an impact on the lives of millions of Americans, and of people across the globe, as the attacks of 9/11.

So it’s odd and a little baffling that a film based on our national tragedy of a decade ago should register for most of its two-hour-plus running time, at least, as uninvolving. Read more »

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‘Red Tails’ homage to Tuskegee Airmen heroes

January 20th, 2012 Posted in Movies, Uncategorized Tags: , , , ,

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Catholic News Service

The last time audiences watched flag-waving hokum on the order of “Red Tails” (Fox), the show may have included a cartoon and a newsreel, and war bonds may have been for sale in the lobby. Patriotic corn, it seems, is not a staple that ages especially well.

During World War II, combat-themed films were relentlessly upbeat because the federal government, as well as the Production Code Administration, decreed such optimism to be in the interest of home-front morale.

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‘Haywire’ is suspenseful but brutal

January 20th, 2012 Posted in Movies Tags: , ,

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Catholic News Service

 

With the fairly suspenseful but frequently brutal thriller “Haywire” (Relativity), filmmaker Steven Soderbergh tries his hand at action-oriented espionage. Stylish and spare, the result plays like the work of a talented yet restless director ticking another genre off his list.

 

What moviegoers may appreciate most about “Haywire” is that it clocks in at a swift 93 minutes. What they’ll likely find most disconcerting is its casual approach to violence, even after allowing for the life-and-death nature of international spying and covert military operations.

 

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‘The Artist’ is a silent charmer for adults

January 13th, 2012 Posted in Featured, Movies Tags: , ,

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Catholic News Service

At a time when Hollywood movies tend to get louder and more offensive, “The Artist” is a breath of fresh air, without uttering a word. Who knew a modern-made silent movie could be so charming and entertaining?

French director Michel Hazanavicius displays a flair for re-creating the techniques of old Hollywood, from the lively musical score and use of intertitles to the dramatic lighting and good use of the studio back lot. He also draws from his actors the pure emotions that can be evoked with a simple expression or a single tear.

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Crime, vulgarity pay in ‘Contraband’

January 13th, 2012 Posted in Movies Tags: , ,

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Catholic News Service

Movies set in criminal milieus are often less than life-affirming because of the nature of the felonious activity being depicted. Yet there’s something especially dispiriting about a crime thriller that only succeeds in being gritty on the surface because it doesn’t follow through on its own logic.

In the case of “Contraband,” a movie that promptly bogs down in a sea of expletives, the protagonist is an ex-smuggler who not only thwarts the bad guys while miraculously avoiding harm, but has no compunction about enjoying ill-gotten plunder. This revelation doesn’t qualify as a plot spoiler since the story follows a very predictable trajectory.

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“Joyful Noise” celebrates traditional values

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Catholic News Service

Divas duel and a red-state Romeo and Juliet fall for each other in “Joyful Noise.”

Though it gives a pass to an incidental out-of-wedlock fling, and showcases some humor and vocabulary that make it unsuitable for youngsters, writer-director Todd Graff’s otherwise uplifting celebration of traditional values emphasizes trust in God and illustrates the positive effects of compassionate and forgiving behavior.

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‘Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy’ a brainy cloak and dagger flick

January 11th, 2012 Posted in Movies Tags: , , , ,

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Catholic News Service

There’s a double agent on the loose, and seemingly no one can be trusted in “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy,” a faithful adaptation of John le Carre’s best-selling 1974 novel.

Swedish director Tomas Alfredson (“Let the Right One In”) sets a deliberately slow pace, especially for an espionage thriller, demanding the viewer’s full attention as he introduces pieces of the puzzle and juggles multiple characters and story lines, many told in flashback. It’s a journey that’s labyrinthine and sometimes confusing, disturbing and often gruesome, and it leads to a morally ambiguous resolution.

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‘The Devil Inside,’ is cheap, grotesque and bigoted

January 10th, 2012 Posted in Movies Tags: ,

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“The Devil Inside,” so we’re told, is a film the Vatican doesn’t want you to see. If so, perhaps there’s a “Da Vinci Code”-like conspiracy afoot intended to save you 12 of your hard-earned, economic-downturn dollars.

Those foolhardy enough to insist on wading through this cheap, inept piece of storytelling will experience an eye-poppingly bad, grotesque little horror outing. And that’s not to mention the consistent spewing forth of lazy, sullen antagonism toward the Catholic Church.

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“The Darkest Hour” a 3-D movie to avoid

December 30th, 2011 Posted in Movies Tags: ,

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Catholic News Service

In an earlier era, “The Darkest Hour,” a weak entry about five … whoops, four … wait, make that three plucky youngsters running away from invading aliens, would have been marketed as cheap thrills for drive-in moviegoers.

That era having passed, the flick is instead being retailed as a collection of expensive 3-D thrills, a ploy that only serves to highlight its stale plot. As sketched for us, the story line depends on characters making bad decisions about going through the deserted streets of Moscow to see whether someone will get blown up by those aggressive intruders.

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‘The Adventures of Tintin’ is exhilarating and family-friendly

December 29th, 2011 Posted in Movies Tags: ,

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Catholic News Service

“Great snakes!” The characteristic exclamation of the titular hero of “The Adventures of Tintin” may also be the cry of surprised audience members taken aback both by the high-quality animation, and the exhilarating plot, of what might otherwise have turned out to be yet another chapter in mediocre translations from page to reel. Parents as well will nod appreciatively at the messages of self-sacrifice, friendship and determination on offer.

This is not the first time the characters drawn by Belgian illustrator Herge (real name Georges Remi), and first published in the Belgian Catholic newspaper “Le Vingtieme Siecle” in 1929, have been featured in motion — a highly successful TV series spawned from the books ran on HBO during the early 1990’s. But it is the first time the curiously coiffed reporter known as Tintin (voiced by Jamie Bell) and his terrier sidekick Snowy have made it to the big screen.

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