The Watch

Add Comment on July 26, 2012 by James Rocchi
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As broad as a barn yet as thin as paper, The Watch is a summertime action-comedy that works almost in spite of its overcrowded cast and loose, pulpy spitball of a plot. Ben Stiller, civic booster and suburbanite, starts a Neighborhood Watch group after the murder of an employee. Alas, the men who volunteer—Vince Vaughn, Jonah Hill and Richard Ayoade—may not share his pure motives. Audiences will be hard-pressed to not enjoy Stiller, Vaughn, Hill and Ayoade just winding up and running and meshing together like gears in a Swiss, uh, you know. Still, it's difficult to imagine the audience remembering anything in The Watch much longer than it takes them to get from the theater to their cars, never mind back safe and sound in their own suburban homes.

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Ruby Sparks

Add Comment on July 25, 2012 by Pete Hammond
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With a tip of the hat to classics like Pygmalion, Frankenstein and even the more recent Ryan Gosling film, Lars and The Real Girl, the directing and producing team plus co-star of Little Miss Sunshine have banded together to create a charming male fantasy comedy with a twist. In Ruby Sparks, Sunshine's Paul Dano plays a creatively blocked writer who conjures up the perfect woman (screenwriter and co-star Zoe Kazan) in his mind and manuscript. But when she comes to flesh and blood life, he gets more than he ever bargained for. This smart and sophisticated romp takes surprising directions as it examines the creative process of writing, the delicate balance of relationships, and the mysteries of men and women.

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Almayer's Folly

Add Comment on July 19, 2012 by Sara Maria Vizcarrondo

Chantal Akerman's newest is a loose adaptation of the Joseph Conrad novel of the same name, re-imagining Almayer's "nearly non-existent" daughter as the axis around which her father's story turns. Almayer (Stanislas Merhar) is a white man in third world country, a character of the occidental ruling classes who was guided into business and matrimony in a riverside village. Though he lives well and with servants, his Hamlet-like ennui overcomes him—the greenery that constantly encroaches on his home seems a fitting metaphor for both his self-imposed isolation and his self-satisfied depression.

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Trishna

Add Comment on July 19, 2012 by David Ehrlich
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"At last, something beautiful you can truly own." Those are the words with which Mad Men's Don Draper hoped to sell Jaguars to American motorists, a slogan that's less of an advertisement for cars than it is a cold analysis of the dull desire that motivates some men to buy them. There exists an inextricable tension between class and captivity—a dynamic at the bedrock of every financially stratified society in recorded history—the persistence of which affords Thomas Hardy's 1891 novel "Tess of the D'Ubervilles" enduring relevance, and makes it a natural choice of material for Michael Winterbottom's third feature adaptation of his fellow Englishman's work.

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The Waiting Room

Add Comment on July 19, 2012 by Sara Maria Vizcarrondo

The waiting room of the Highland Hospital ER in Oakland, California, is full for 1,000 reasons unrelated to the rough area surrounding it. People lacking health insurance or (in many cases) benefits have no choice but to wait until their conditions merit emergency attention and then hit the ER, where they'll sit until one of Highland's terribly limited beds becomes available. The stress and frustration, to say nothing of the pain and fear of those waiting, reads like a slow-motion battlefield, and the nurse at the front lines is a stunningly chill woman, a thin but matronly lady who "could be your gramma.

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Gypsy (2012)

Add Comment on July 19, 2012 by Sara Maria Vizcarrondo

The gypsies of the title aren't nomadic, they live in a community as isolated as insular, and the shabby mortar buildings they call home often take on the importance of castles in a Shakespearean play. This film's Hamlet, a teen named Adam, is the eldest of his siblings and we meet him just as his father has died or been killed—the nature of this death, like most moral conundrums, is never made explicit. Out of concern for her children, Adam's mother instantly and absently remarries her brother-in-law, surrounding everything with the stifling, stink of incest. Adam's uncle/father is questionable, the inverse of his heroic predecessor. Dad was an assistant to the police: "Dad" is a swindler, smuggler, reseller, thief.

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The Imposter

Add Comment on July 16, 2012 by Mark Keizer
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The tragic disappearance of a Texas teen becomes the springboard for a gripping exploration of self-delusion and pathological reinvention in Bart Layton's documentary The Imposter. Taken by itself, the story of how a brown-haired, brown-eyed, 23-year-old French-Algerian convinced everyone he was the blonde-haired, blue-eyed Texas boy who'd vanished three years earlier would be documentary enough. But Layton pushes it many steps further, stylistically and thematically, until he's ensnared us in a tangle of willfully-embraced lies and unsolved mysteries. A true crime tale with added layers of intrigue and atmosphere, The Imposter is poised for better than average documentary business in both theatrical and ancillary.

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