Reviews in Short: June 2012

Tell

 

Tell No One     A so-so thriller from France.  Eight years after losing his wife, a pediatrician (Francois Cluzet) finds himself on the run from cops and bad guys.  There are a few dazzling scenes, but Cluzet is no Cary Grant and it’s a bad sign when, near the end of the film, one character must take 10 minutes of screen time to explain the convoluted plot.  Release:  2006  Grade:  B-

 

*****


Woman

 

The Woman in Black     Daniel Radcliffe encounters clichés and deafening sound effects in a plodding, derivative ghost story.  Radcliffe plays a lawyer dispatched to work at an old dark house, where he hears things that go bump in the night, sees shapes that do not seem all right, and delivers a jolly good fright — just kidding.  If there are “starter movies” for kids itching to see their first spooky film, this might be tame (or lame) enough to qualify.  Release:  2012  Grade:  C-

 

*****

                                      War

 

The War Room     Probably of interest mainly to politics junkies and die-hard Democrats, this “fly on the wall” documentary is hampered by the fact that everyone on camera is acutely aware of that fly on the wall.  The result is reality TV, politics-style:  not particularly insightful, but an entertaining time capsule.  How much you enjoy the film — ostensibly about the 1992 Clinton campaign, but really The James Carville Show — will depend on whether campaign manager Carville amuses or irritates you.  He amused me, but only to a point.  Release:  1993  Grade:  B

 

*****

 

Chronicle

 

Chronicle     It’s a bird, it’s a plane … it’s Carrie meets Son of Flubber.  Or possibly Christine meets Spider-Man.  At any rate, a Stephen King sensibility permeates this silly-but-entertaining romp.  Chronicle follows three Seattle teens who develop telekinetic powers after encountering a mysterious force buried in the ground.  Fun stuff, but it’s time for Hollywood to dump the shaky amateur-cam, which by now is less realistic than distracting.  Release:  2012  Grade:  B

 

*****

 

Skin

 

The Skin I Live In     Crazed plastic surgeon Antonio Banderas has bad luck with women, to put it mildly, and the result is two hours of non-stop unpleasantness, populated with characters who are emotionally dead, psychotic, or both.  If you’re going to make a movie about death, rape, and revenge, it would help if you include at least one sympathetic character.  But the film does look pretty.  Release:  2011  Grade:  C

 

*****

 

Lars

 

Lars and the Real Girl     An original idea marred by some exceedingly stupid scenes.  Mentally ill Ryan Gosling orders an Internet-era version of Harvey the invisible rabbit, a sex doll named “Bianca,” and everyone in town humors him by playing along with his fantasy — including the entire staff of a hospital emergency room.  Yeah, right.  But there are some charming moments, and Paul Schneider is a hoot as Gosling’s exasperated older brother.  Release:  2007  Grade:  C+

 

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