REVIEW: Blue Jasmine ****
A woman married to a wealthy business executive finds her life
unraveling when she discovers his shady dealings and philandering. She
sets out to rebuild her life, while staying with her working-class
sister, but struggles to adjust. Superb performances by Cate Blanchett
and Sally Hawkins help make this one of Woody Allen's best recent
REVIEW: Captain Phillips ****
Intense, suspense-building story of Captain Phillips (Tom Hanks) and his
crew combating a take over of their cargo ship by Somali pirates in
2009. The film provides us with a battle of wits between Phillips and
the pirate's captain Muse (played with an occasional flash of humor by
Barkhad Abdi), who takes to calling his counterpart "Irish." Done with
an almost documentary style, much like his "United 93," director Paul
Greengrass again brings the audience along on a realistic yet incredible
ride. Tom Hanks hasn't been this good in a very long time, probably
not since at least "Road to Perdition" in 2002.
REVIEW: Curse of Chucky **
Chucky returns to take revenge on a family he has held a grudge against
for many years. As far as Direct-to-DVD titles go, this is actually
pretty decent. Director Don Mancini, the creator of the franchise, opts
more for suspense before playing up the gore. Some developments are
predictable, and there are a few one-liners thrown in that don't quite
work (though one victim predicts fate by saying "see you in the
morning... at the cemetery"), but fans of the series will likely be
surprised that this isn't bargain-basement quality. You could do worse
for your Halloween-season horror viewing than to rent/download/stream/
whatever this installment.
REVIEW: Elysium **
Heavy-handed allegory where a future sees the haves enjoying their own
space station away from the have-nots. The effects are good and Damon
makes an easy-to-like hero. On the other hand, Foster's villainous
Defense Secretary character is sort of a dead-end and the whole thing
ends up feeling like countless other sci-fi action movies.
REVIEW: Gravity ****
Involving, well-crafted story of the struggle of space engineers to
survive after their work is interrupted by a catastrophic strike from
debris. Dr. Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) finds herself basically alone
in space, with only the reassuring presence of the more experienced
astronaut Matt Kowalsky (George Clooney) to guide her through the
harrowing experience of trying to find a way back to Earth's surface.
Once everything goes haywire, she must race time or face the real
possibility of never getting back. Superb performance from Bullock,
with Clooney likable as her guiding voice.
REVIEW: Pacific Rim **½
Humans fight giant bug-like aliens while manning huge machine gear in
this exciting, if a bit cliche, action story. Technically impressive,
as it should be -- coming from "Pan's Labyrinth" and "Hellboy" director
Guillermo Del Toro.
REVIEW: Prisoners ***½
Intense, well-acted thriller stars Hugh Jackman as a man who becomes
unhinged when his daughter is abducted and the law (represented here in
the form of a detective played by Jake Gyllenhaal) seems slow in its
investigation. In his frustration, Jackman takes the law into his own
hands under the assumption that a particular suspect is guilty. If the
third act, which reveals some answers to what happened, seems a bit too
neat it is largely because of the escalating tension built through the
rest of the film.