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Thumbnails Apr 13

by Tony Medley

Admission (9/10): Producer/director Paul Weitz recaptures the magic he created in 2004ís ďAbout a BoyĒ in this scintillating comedy. Tina Fey gives her best performance, showing surprising range, ably abetted by Paul Rudd and a fine supporting cast including Michael Sheen, Lily Tomlin, and the always enjoyable Wallace Shawn.

Ginger & Rosa (9/10): Set in 1962, the way the charming and attractive Alessandro Nivola, Elle Fanningís father, expresses his existentialist beliefs is captivating until one sees how he actually lives his philosophy in the way he treats his wife and daughter. While Fanning also gives a fine performance, Alice Englert, as her close friend, although not stunningly beautiful, exhibits a unique steamy sexuality that marks her as a star in the making.

The Place Beyond the Pines (8/10):  This is really two films in one. The first hour is about Ryan Gosling and what he does to affect Bradley Cooper and his family 16 years later, the second hour. Despite the jarring visual caused by horrible miscasting of Emory Cohen, a short, ugly teenager who looks, talks, and acts like he is a refugee from Mickey Cohenís Jewish mafia, as the natural son of movie star-attractive Rose Byrne and Bradley Cooper who are both of Irish descent, this is an engrossing film. Derek Cianfrance directs the superb cast with an adroit touch, keeping the pace and tension alive for the entire film. At the beginning I was turned off by the Gregorian chant-style score by Mike Patton. But as the film progressed the music became much better and enhanced the story.

Snitch (8/10): Ably directed (and co-written with Justin Haythe) by Ric Roman Waugh in his directorial debut (he is an experienced stuntman) this is a well-paced, high tension thriller that satisfies on every level. Dwayne Johnson continues to prove heís an accomplished actor, not just a sexy athlete who can raise one eyebrow, as a father who gets involved in the drug trade to save his son from prison. He is buttressed by fine supporting performances by Benjamin Bratt and Barry Pepper.

Starbuck (8/10): Deftly directed by Ken Scott, Patrick Huard, in an excellent turn, faces a moral dilemma; what is his responsibility to the 533 children he fathered as a sperm donor? Even though I thought that the reaction of Davidís children was unrealistic, this is still an intuitive, unusual comedy that deals with a real societal problem commendably. Scheduled for an American remake with Vince Vaughn in Huardís role, my advice is to see this first. In French.

The Call (8/10): Director Brad Anderson keeps raising the tension, getting terrific performances by Halle Berry, Abigail Breslin, and Michael Eklund, in this well-paced thriller that has the unique capability of keeping you on the edge of your seat and leaving you exhausted.

Olympus Has Fallen 7/10): This ďDie HardĒ one-man-against-impossible-odds genre ripoff directed by action director Antoine Fuqua is nothing but, well, action. An Oscarģ-quality score (Trevor Morris) enhances the tension throughout and Fuqua keeps the pace rolling. Thereís nothing much to the acting, but gorgeous Radha Mitchell finally gets a chance and gives a good supporting performance. This is unbelievable, but grandly entertaining.

Jack the Giant Slayer (7/10): Iím not a fan of fantasies, but this is a delightful movie, an entertainment, something we donít get a lot of these days, with exceptionally good 3-D.

The Incredible Burt Wonderstone (1/10): The only magic in this unfunny, ridiculous, and finally irresponsible movie is that it actually got made and distributed.

21 & Over (0/10): This is yet another movie showing young adults to be immoral, profane, irresponsible dolts. There were a couple of these last year, Fun Size and Project X, which were equally atrocious. Actually, I want to rethink that. This could be the most agonizing movie Iíve ever had to endure.