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side effects rooney mara and channing tatum

Side Effects

A strong final bow for Soderbergh?
Channing Tatum and Rooney Mara
Directed by Steven Soderbergh

In addition to being his supposedly last theatrical film director Steven Soderbergh, for a while, would have you believe “Side Effects” could be his best—a complex thriller about psychiatric drugs—only to lose its focus almost entirely and make you wish screenwriter Scott Z. Burns took a shot of Ritalin. Martin and Emily (Channing Tatum and Rooney Mara) are a New York couple with issues. He has ... more >

sorcerer and the white snake tony ching

The sorcerer and the white snake

A surprisingly moving action romance flick from Asia
Jet Li, Shengyi Huang and Raymond Lam
Directed by Tony Ching

“The Sorcerer and the White Snake” does what so many fairytale romances--“Twilight” and “Warm Bodies," to name a few--don't: it goes big. This 2011 Hong Kong film by Chinese choreographer and action director Ching Siu-Tung a.k.a "Tony Ching," recounts the story of a demon--actually a white snake with the seductive head and shoulders of a woman (Eva Huang)--who falls in love with a poor herbalist ... more >

Sylvester Stallone

Bullet to the head

The choir boy and the commander: an uneasy partnership
Directed by Walter Hill

I wish I could have been in on the creative meeting when the producers were discussing titles for this thing. Formerly called “Headshot," before someone presumably thought that title was too sissified, “Bullet to the Head” is about as apt a description for a film as I’ve seen in a while. But for all the empty violence, “B2TH” is still kind of fun and compared to last week's “Parker," its ... more >

Paul-Giamatti-John-Dies-at-the-End

John dies at the end

It's going to be one of those years
Rob Mayes and Chase Williamson
Directed by Don Coscarelli

“John Dies at the End” has the spirit, if not always the laughs, of Sam Raimi’s “Evil Dead” trilogy. Don Coscarelli, who has a nearly thirty plus-year career working on B-grade horror films like “The Beastmaster” and Bubba Ho-Tep," has adapted David Wong’s 2004 comic-graphic novel into one messy, freaky, and mind-boggling ride of a movie. Chase Williamson and Rob Mayes are Dave and John, two ... more >

The Last Stand

Schwarzenegger's best starring vehicle since "Eraser"
Arnold Schwarzenegger and Forest Whitaker
Directed by Kim Jee-Woon

Terminator, governator, what will we call this new chapter in the life of one of the best action heroes of my generation? What we can be sure of is that Schwarzenegger arrives in another decade coming off much better than he did, as an actor anyway, in the previous one. “The Expendables 2” was a blast and “The Last Stand” is the best starring vehicle he’s had since 1996’s “Eraser." This is a ... more >

Broken City

Big-city cop brawn and mayoral intrigues
Mark Wahlberg and Russell Crowe
Directed by Allen Hughes

Allen Hughes, one half of the directing brothers who did the stylized Jack The Ripper feature “From Hell” and street-life drama “Menace 2 Society," flies solo for “Broken City.” And yet, if his name was not included in the credits you would've never known it. Lacking suspense, style, and the surprise effect "Broken City" falls on its face almost out of the gate. Mark Wahlberg is Billy Taggert, ... more >

Craig Younkin’s Year-in-Review

The best and the worse of a mitigated 2012 year

2012 you were very kind to me. I got to do more of what I love--saw over a hundred movies this year, many of them entertaining. Sure, the superhero franchises weren’t as terrific as their predecessors and 2012 had its share of lightweights; and I had to sit through another "Twilight" movie. But on the plus side there were a lot of overly creative, character-driven titles (“Silver Linings ... more >