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Home » Articles »   By Michael Phillips
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Thursday, March 31,2011

John Hughes for kids

By Michael Phillips
Greg, played by Zachary Gordon, is heading into seventh grade in his overwhelmingly lily-white town. His pal Rowley (Robert Capron, who has yet to discover a neutral expression; everything is either manic grinning or overt panicking) devotes his spare time to perfecting magic tricks for the community talent show.
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Thursday, March 10,2011

You've seen this film before

By Michael Phillips
Grace plays a disillusioned MIT graduate stuck working at a Suncoast Video store in 1988, when cell phones the size of dinosaurs ruled the earth. The comedy echoes one ’80s artifact after another. It has the visual ambience (minus the self-importance) of Less Than Zero.
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Thursday, March 10,2011

A jumbled mess

By Michael Phillips
Moans and sobs of pre-teen fright whenever Rattlesnake Jake slithered into view, threatening murder. Any one crowd’s response to any movie may not be indicative; nonetheless the audience’s mood seemed in sync with my own. The best contemporary animation, from Pixar to (occasionally) DreamWorks, works for various ages in varying ways.
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Thursday, March 3,2011

Corruption of small-town innocence

By Michael Phillips
It's a hardy tradition, though naturally prone to patronizing attitudes about provincials and their simple ways. Maybe I wouldn't notice the condescending part if I'd grown up somewhere other than a medium-size town in Wisconsin. Then again, the protagonist of the new comedy Cedar Rapids.
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Thursday, March 3,2011

Freebie fraught with failure

By Michael Phillips
Rick and Maggie are happy enough in their marriage, luckier than most, even. But sex has become a sometime thing, their three kids (barely visible in the story) taking up most of their energy.
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Thursday, February 24,2011

A solid but soulless adaptation

By Michael Phillips
Arriving in Berlin for a biotechnology summit, botanist Martin Harris and his wife, Liz, check into their hotel. Harris instantly realizes he has left a crucial suitcase on a luggage cart back at the airport. One near-fatal taxicab accident later, Harris is in a coma.
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Thursday, February 17,2011

A film of great scowling

By Michael Phillips
Object of the road trip: to retrieve the shining gold symbol of the far-reaching Roman Empire, the eagle statue, last carried into battle by Rome's Ninth Legion.
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Thursday, February 10,2011

Sensationalism, not drama

By Michael Phillips
With intensity levels starting at 11 and going all the way to 20, director and co-writer Alejandro Gonzales Inarritu's latest melodrama exerts maximum tension, maximum death-shrouded poetry, maximum maximalism. The man who made the bad-luck epic Babel, 21 Grams,.
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Thursday, February 10,2011

Flood of clichés

By Michael Phillips
To make things odder, at heart it's a father-son bonding tale. The Ahab-like underwater cave diver Frank, played as a human growl by Richard Roxburgh, is leading his intrepid crew deep into the 'largest unexplored cave system in the world' off the coast of New Guinea.
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Thursday, February 3,2011

To see a man about a demon

By Michael Phillips
Young, brooding Michael, played by young, brooding Irish stage actor Colin O'Donoghue, opts out of the family business to become a seminary student but lacks the spiritual commitment to go all the way. Then a tragic accident and a slyly blackmailing priest (played by Toby Jones) conspire to send Michael to Rome on a training program for exorcists.
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