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“I Am” grew out of Catholic director’s spiritual quest

December 28th, 2011 Posted in Movies Tags: , , ,

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Catholic News Service

Tom Shadyac, the Catholic movie director perhaps best known for the movie comedies “Bruce Almighty” and “Evan Almighty,” still wants to bring the human journey into clearer focus.

It’s just that he’s shifted from comedy to documentary to take the latest steps.

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“War Horse” stirring, but intense and violent

December 27th, 2011 Posted in Featured, Movies Tags: , , ,

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Catholic News Service

“War Horse” is director Steven Spielberg’s epic screen version of Michael Morpurgo’s 1982 novel, the stage adaptation of which has proved a critical and popular success both in London and on Broadway.

Despite Morpurgo’s tenure as the U.K.’s official children’s laureate, though, Spielberg’s vast canvas makes unsuitable viewing for kids — because of the intensity of the onscreen drama, the level of violence in scenes of World War I fighting and some of the vocabulary used in screenwriters Lee Hall and Richard Curtis’ script. Mature audience members, on the other hand, will encounter a stirring affirmation of human solidarity amid the tragedy of the trenches.

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“We Bought a Zoo” based on real-life mourning

December 27th, 2011 Posted in Movies Tags: , ,

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Catholic News Service

Of the various endangered species populating “We Bought a Zoo” (Fox), a man hoping for sufficient time to grieve his wife’s death is arguably the most threatened.

Based on the real-life experiences of British writer Benjamin Mee, this amiable and ambling holiday feature puts a Capraesque twist on the notion of caretaking in the wake of loss, and has some star wattage to boost its commercial prospects. If only it didn’t endorse society’s expectation that “getting over” the death of a loved one must happen within a prescribed time period.

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‘The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’ highlights degradation

December 21st, 2011 Posted in Movies Tags: , ,

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Catholic News Service

As fans of the late Swedish author Stieg Larsson’s “Millennium Trilogy” will attest, it’s difficult to name a more flawed and fascinating protagonist in recent popular fiction than Lisbeth Salander.

The mixture of sympathy and unease she triggers was ably captured in the 2009 Swedish-language film version of Larsson’s first volume — and it also marks American director David Fincher’s piercingly violent and sordid adaptation of the same tome: “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.” (Columbia).

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‘Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked’ is stale but wholesome

December 19th, 2011 Posted in Movies Tags: ,

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As Christmas-season attractions go, the animation and live-action blend “Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked” (Fox) is kind of a stale cookie.

In this third outing in the Chipmunks series, director Mike Mitchell and screenwriters Jonathan Aibel and Glenn Berger go heavy on both slapstick and comic riffs on other similarly themed media offerings, including the TV show “Lost” and Tom Hanks’ 2000 big-screen drama “Cast Away.” When Alvin squeaks out Charlie Sheen’s catchword — “Winning!” — the reference seems calculated to fly well over young children’s heads, and have adults gnashing their teeth.

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‘Young Adult’ not suitable for young

December 19th, 2011 Posted in Movies Tags: , ,

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As pretentiously droll as it is condescending, “Young Adult” (Paramount) shows small-town Minnesota life dominated by chain restaurants, a good deal of alcohol abuse, bitter wisecracking and moral drift.

Charlize Theron plays Mavis Gary, the moderately successful ghostwriter of a young-adult fiction series that’s had its day and is about to come to an end. She’s 37, divorced and unhappy with the direction of her life in Minneapolis.

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Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol

December 19th, 2011 Posted in Movies Tags: ,

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Catholic News Service

Make sure you take your motion sickness pills before seeing “Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol” (Paramount), a dizzying roller-coaster ride of an espionage thriller that propels you from the depths of urban sewers to the top of the world’s tallest building, and throws in outer space for good measure.

Director Brad Bird makes the leap from Pixar animation (“The Incredibles,” “Ratatouille”) to live-action movies with this fourth installment of the big screen “Mission: Impossible” franchise. He’s an excellent choice, bringing a cartoon-like frenetic energy and sense of fun to this highly entertaining slice of escapism, rebooting a series that was beginning to feel a bit shopworn.

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Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows

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Catholic News Service

“Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows,” director Guy Ritchie’s second take on the classic detective fiction of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, follows the pattern of its predecessor as it downplays old-fashioned sleuthing in favor of a constant flow of confrontations, escapades and escapes.

While the fast-paced proceedings ought to be off-limits for youngsters, adults with a high degree of tolerance for stylized violence will likely find them diverting enough.

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‘New Year’s Eve’ a holiday noisemaker that falls flat

December 9th, 2011 Posted in Movies Tags: , , ,

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Catholic News Service

A disappointing salute to an often disappointing social event, “New Year’s Eve” wastes a talented ensemble cast on a painfully forced romantic comedy.

Reuniting for a follow-up to 2010’s “Valentine’s Day,” director Garry Marshall and screenwriter Katherine Fugate weave a web of love stories largely free of the moral tangles that marred their earlier collaboration. A few one-liners aside, though, the humor falls flat, while the script’s strained effort to transform Dec. 31st into a kind of secular High Holy Day is simply irritating.

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‘The Sitter’ is a sick child endangerment fantasy

December 9th, 2011 Posted in Movies Tags: , ,

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Felony child endangerment presented as “life lessons” constitutes the theme, such as it is, of “The Sitter.”

Director David Gordon Green and screenwriters Brian Gatewood and Alessandro Tanaka run the gamut of degradation, tossing in some racism for good measure.

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