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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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“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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