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Home » Articles »   By Michael Phillips
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Thursday, February 2,2012

Details matter

By Michael Phillips
You can say this for screenwriter Pablo F. Fenjves’ story: It stays busy. It starts in the hotel, moves to the ledge and then swoops back into a one-month-earlier flashback, explaining how Nick got there, why he went to prison in the first place and how he managed to turn a furlough for his father’s funeral into an opportunity for escape.
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Thursday, February 2,2012

Neeson vs. wolf

By Michael Phillips
We meet Liam Neeson’s character, a heartbroken loner named John Ottway, on the verge of suicide and thinking back, obsessively, to the woman who got away.
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Thursday, January 26,2012

Carano lacks punch

By Michael Phillips
Director Steven Soderbergh had an idea to showcase the serious, muscly agility of Women’s Mixed Martial Arts star Gina Carano, without a lot of digital this or stunt-double that. Early in the picture, special operative Mallory Kane, played by Carano, is being set up for a double-cross and suspects as much.
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Thursday, January 26,2012

Right story, wrong script

By Michael Phillips
The focus is on a fictional group of men stationed at Ramitelli Airfield. Hard-drinking squadron leader “Easy” Julian (Nate Parker) is the by-the-book contrast to his best friend, the Jedi whiz of the bunch, Joe “Lightning” Little (David Oyelowo).
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Thursday, January 19,2012

Wahlberg pulls through

By Michael Phillips
Playing a reformed cargo smuggler sucked back into the game, Mark Wahlberg is the star of Contraband, a fairly entertaining remake of the 2008 Icelandic thriller Reykjavik-Rotterdam.
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Thursday, January 19,2012

Gospel slop

By Michael Phillips
Assembled from spare parts of Footloose and Sister Act, the serviceable gospel contraption Joyful Noise takes place in an economically hard-hit Georgia town, where the multiracial members of the Divinity Church Choir raise voices and spirits under the direction of their beloved choirmaster, played by Kris Kristofferson.
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Thursday, January 12,2012

Oscar baiting

By Michael Phillips
Please be silent behind the screen. Backstage at the 1927 Hollywood premiere of his latest screen triumph, film star George Valentin — played with irresistible zest by Jean Dujardin — waits for the crowd’s response. Standing in front of the sign shushing the backstagers, he hears the applause. We only see it, The Artist being a silent film (or nearly) whose story begins in the late silent era.
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Thursday, December 29,2011

Damon’s above the corn

By Michael Phillips
Pap, but easygoing pap with a cast you can live with for a couple of hours, We Bought a Zoo is co-writer and director Cameron Crowe’s adaptation of a memoir by Benjamin Mee entitled We Bought a Zoo: The Amazing True Story of a Young Family, a Broken Down Zoo, and the 200 Wild Animals That Change Their Lives Forever.
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Thursday, December 29,2011

Uncomfortable in the uncanny valley

By Michael Phillips
Directed by Steven Spielberg, a longtime fan of the source material, The Adventures of Tintin begins with a gorgeous animated credit sequence, deftly incorporating bits of the narrative about to unfold. It’s as nifty as the overture in Spielberg’s earlier Catch Me If You Can, both scored, with a glancing touch, by his longtime mood generator, composer John Williams. It’s always gratifying to hear what Williams can do when he’s not in attack mode.
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Thursday, December 22,2011

Spy of fortune

By Michael Phillips
Actors so rarely get paid to sit still. This week at the movies, as Tom Cruise is on Imax screens playing a frantic, hamster-like intelligence gatherer in the new Mission: Impossible movie, we have also a superb adaptation of the John le Carre spy novel Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy.
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