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Thumbnails May 11

by Tony Medley

Limitless (9/10): Bradley Cooper overcomes disappointing performances by Abbie Cornish and Robert De Niro to carry this fun movie. Cooper takes a drug that makes him a business genius, a metaphor for todayís steroid-created super-athletes. The tension never lets up, enhanced by terrific special effects, cinematography, editing, and music.

Source Code (9/10): Starting with a Robert Wise-style opening with gorgeous aerial shots of Chicago, this presents a refreshing new idea for time warp movies. Jake Gyllenhaalís performance shines, aided by outstanding cinematography and music. Although there are a few plot holes, itís not possible to make a time warp movie without them, time travel being impossible. But they were so few and so unimportant that they were easy to ignore.

POM Wonderful Presents: THE GREATEST MOVIE EVER SOLD: (8/10): The new style of documentary tells its story by concentrating on the person making the documentary. Here, Morgan Spurlock shows how he went about financing this film about product placement in movies by getting his entire film financed by product placement. Itís a laugh-out-loud funny, but educational, look at the way a movie gets made.

Hanna (8/10): Hanna (Saiorse Ronan) is a teenager raised in the Arctic by her father, Eric Bana, to be the perfect assassin. Out to kill Cate Blanchett, sheís as much in the dark as the audience. Ronan sparkles as the violent Hanna, as does Bana as her equally deadly father. Adding to the mischief, Blanchett, generally a good guy, is a satisfyingly hateful villain. There isnít a minute when the pace lapses. This is a highly entertaining film, but there is a lot of violence.

Exporting Raymond (8/10): Phil Rosenthal stars in his production of a cinema-verite, eponymous, funny documentary in the same mold as Spurlockís about how he got his sitcom ďEverybody Loves RaymondĒ produced in Russia. Rosenthalís superb sense of humor is amplified by his narrative talent.

Atlas Shrugged, Part I (7/10): Although burdened by a lead actress, Taylor Schilling, with the range of emotions of a blade of grass, this low budget, well-paced rendition of Ayn Randís conservative, prescient metaphysical blockbuster tells the story with surprisingly effective production values. The facts are so appropriate to todayís crisis in government, itís hard to believe it was written in 1957.

Your Highness (5/10): Faintly reminiscent of 2009ís Year One, but not nearly as clever or entertaining, there is only one truly funny line in the movie. Unfortunately, it is so tasteless and uncharming that I canít repeat it here. Itís not unexpected that this film is full of f-bombs, crude language, and scurrilous jokes since itís directed by David Gordon Green, who was responsible for 2008ís Pineapple Express which would have been a silent film without all the f-bombs.

Arthur (1/10): There are more laughs (three) in the two-minute trailer than there are in the 110 minute movie (none), and what was funny in the trailer is not funny in the movie. That the material is weak and offensive should not be a surprise since the script was written by Peter Baynham, who was responsible for the mindlessly obscene Borat (2006) and BruŮo (2009) both of which substituted vulgarity and shock value for humor.

The Conspirator 1/10): Director Robert Redford shamelessly stacks the deck by omitting all the convincing evidence against Mary Surratt  as a conspirator in the assassination of Lincoln to buttress his biased point of view that sheís innocent. But if guilty, as the totality of the missing evidence indicates, she is the most notorious villainess in American history since she could have prevented Lincolnís assassination. Surrattís story deserves better than this maladroit film thatís rife with life-threatening boredom. I barely made it out alive.