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Wednesday, April 23, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
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Author Archive: Christy Lemire

Review: ‘Hangover’ trilogy ends on a dark note

“Daring” isn’t a word you would use very much to describe 2011′s “The Hangover Part II,” the disappointingly lazy, beat-for-beat rehash of the wild and wildly successful original “Hangover” from 2009. And yet, here we are with “The Hangover Part III,” which runs a different sort of risk by going to darker and more dangerous […]

Review: All sparkle, no soul in ‘Great Gatsby’

If any piece of classic American literature should be depicted on film with wildly decadent and boldly inventive style, it’s “The Great Gatsby.” After all, who was the character of Jay Gatsby himself if not a spinner of grandiose tales and a peddler of lavish dreams? And Baz Luhrmann would seem like the ideal director […]

Review: ‘G.I. Joe’ knows it’s big and dumb

If a big, dumb action movie knows it’s a big, dumb action movie and revels in that fact, is that preferable to a big, dumb action movie making the mistake of thinking it’s significant, relevant art? That’s the question to ponder – if you can think straight and your ears aren’t ringing too badly – […]

Review: ‘Croods’ is simple but dazzles visually

Cavemen — they’re just like us! — or so “The Croods” seems to be saying with its familiar mix of generational clashes, coming-of-age milestones and generally relatable laughs. The animated adventure features a strong, star-studded cast and dazzles visually in wondrously colorful, vibrant 3-D, but the script doesn’t pop off the screen quite so effectively. […]

Review: ‘Admission’ a huge waste of Fey and Rudd

What should be a hilarious, long-overdue pairing of two hugely likable, superstar comedians ends up being a major disappointment with “Admission.” As much film and television work as they do individually, Tina Fey and Paul Rudd surprisingly never have worked together. In theory, her smart, zingy persona should mesh beautifully with his easygoing goofiness — […]

Review: Little magic in ‘Burt Wonderstone’

The only incredible thing about “The Incredible Burt Wonderstone” is that way it makes Steve Carell so thoroughly and irreparably unlikable. In a film about magic tricks, this is the most difficult feat of all. Even when Carell is playing characters who are nerdy (“The 40-Year-Old Virgin”) or needy (“Crazy, Stupid, Love”) or clueless (TV’s […]

‘Oz the Great and Powerful’ isn’t exactly either

“Oz the Great and Powerful” aims for nostalgia in older viewers who grew up on “The Wizard of Oz” and still hold the classic dear while simultaneously enchanting a newer, younger audience. It never really accomplishes either successfully. A prequel to the groundbreaking 1939 film, “Oz” can be very pretty but also overlong and repetitive, […]

Review: A lively, detailed ‘Giant Slayer’

A big-budget, effects-laden, 3-D retelling of the Jack and the Beanstalk legend may seem like the unlikeliest pairing yet of director Bryan Singer and writer Christopher McQuarrie, but “Jack the Giant Slayer” ends up being smart, thrilling and a whole lot of fun. Singer and McQuarrie’s collaborations include, most famously, the twisty crime mystery “The Usual […]

Review: ‘Ultima’ an earnest coming-of-age tale

“Bless Me, Ultima,” the book, is a widely read and critically acclaimed piece of Chicano literature that also has been quite divisive since its publication in 1972. Some critics and parents have decried Rudolfo Anaya’s novel as anti-Catholic or too profane and pushed to have it banned from school districts across the country. “Bless Me, Ultima,” the […]

Review: The latest ‘Die Hard’ movie simply won’t

It’s supposed to be a parody of itself, right? That’s the only way to explain the ridiculously over-the-top, repetitively numbing fifth film in the “Die Hard” franchise, the clunkily titled “A Good Day to Die Hard.” John McClane used to be a cowboy. Now, he’s a cartoon character — specifically, Wile E. Coyote, given how […]

Review: ‘Creatures’ concocts familiar teen angst

The genders have been reversed but the supernatural, star-crossed teen angst remains firmly intact in “Beautiful Creatures,” which clearly aims to pick up where the “Twilight” franchise left off. Writer-director Richard LaGravenese’s film, based on the first novel in the young adult series by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl, oozes Southern Gothic eccentricity and some […]

Review: ‘Side Effects’ a twisty thriller

If “Side Effects” is indeed Steven Soderbergh’s final film, as he’s said it will be after toying with the notion of retirement for a couple of years now, then intriguingly it feels like he’s coming full circle in some ways to the film that put him on the map: the trailblazing, 1989 indie “sex, lies and […]

Analysis: J.J. Abrams good fit for ‘Star Wars’

LOS ANGELES  This may sound sacrilegious to the legions of hardcore “Star Wars” fans, but having J.J. Abrams direct “Episode VII” will be a vast improvement and the best thing to happen to the franchise in a very long time. Yes, it was incredibly cool in 2005′s “Episode III — Revenge of the Sith” to […]

5 great movies about deception

LOS ANGELES — When scandalous tales of fraud involving superstar athletes Lance Armstrong and Manti Te’o were exposed in the last week, connections to films were immediate and obvious. The story of Notre Dame Football hero Te’o falling for a fake dead girlfriend on the Internet called to mind the documentary “Catfish.” And disgraced cyclist […]

Review: ‘Parker’ is rather perfunctory

“Parker” plays like the bloodiest promotional video ever made for Palm Beach tourism. Stabbings, explosions and furniture-smashing brawls occur at some of the ritziest (and name-checked) locations within the sun-splashed, pastel-soaked slab of Florida opulence. Kinda gives a whole new meaning to the idea of The Breakers. The city is the setting for an elaborate, […]

Review: Arnold’s back in ‘The Last Stand’

“The Last Stand” is the Arnold Schwarzenegger movie you didn’t even realize you wanted to see. This is the action superstar’s first leading role in a decade, having left acting to serve as the governor of California and whatnot, and while it may not have occurred to you to miss him during that time, it’s […]

Review: ‘Broken City’ could use some fixing

It should come as no surprise that every character in a movie called “Broken City” is either rotten to the core, or a liar, or a schemer, or the bearer of seriously damaging secrets. What is surprising — and frustrating, really — is that these characters never feel like real people, despite a series of […]

Review: ‘Gangster Squad’ is a numbing barrage

“Gangster Squad,” a pulpy, violent tale of cops and mobsters in 1949 Los Angeles, rides an uncomfortable line between outlandishness and outright parody, and it’s difficult to tell which is director Ruben Fleischer’s intention. Which is a problem. While the film wallows in period detail and has some sporadic moments of amusing banter, it’s mostly […]

Review: ‘Promised Land’ doesn’t dig deep

“Promised Land” offers an experience that’s alternately amusing and frustrating, full of impassioned earnestness as well as saggy sections. Director Gus Van Sant has the challenging task of taking the divisive, high-tech practice of fracking and trying to make it not just human but cinematic. Working from a script by co-stars Matt Damon and John […]

Review: Cruise oozes low-key charisma as ‘Reacher’

The idea of watching a movie in which a sniper methodically crafts his own bullets, practices weekly at a gun range, then waits quietly in an empty parking garage before shooting five people dead may not sound like the most appealing form of entertainment during these tragic days. Nevertheless, it’s important to assess “Jack Reacher” […]

Review: Hooper’s ‘Les Miserables’ is relentless

Tom Hooper’s extravaganza, big-screen telling of the beloved musical “Les Miserables” is as relentlessly driven as the ruthless Inspector Javert himself. It simply will not let up until you’ve Felt Something – powerfully and repeatedly – until you’ve touched the grime and smelled the squalor and cried a few tears of your own. It is […]

Review: ‘This Is 40′ a raw, funny snapshot

“This Is 40″ is every inch a Judd Apatow movie, from the pop culture references and potty mouths to the blunt body humor and escapist drug use. Like all the movies he’s directed — and it’s amazing to think there have only been three previous ones, given his name-brand value — it’s a good 20 […]

AP critics pick the year’s best movies

The top 10 films of 2012, according to AP Movie Critic Christy Lemire: 1. “Argo” – Directing just his third feature, Ben Affleck has come up with a seamless blend of detailed international drama and breathtaking suspense, with just the right amount of dry humor to provide context and levity. He shows a deft handling […]

Review: ‘Playing for Keeps’ one of year’s worst

This is supposed to be the time of year when high-quality movies come out, whether they’re potential Oscar contenders or crowd-pleasing family fare. So the presence of flat, hacky, unfunny dreck like “Playing for Keeps” — the kind of film that ordinarily tries to fly under the radar in January or February but would be […]

Review: ‘Softly’ hammers its message hard

Writer-director Andrew Dominik’s “Killing Them Softly” is an incredibly stylish genre exercise set in the world of mobsters, junkies and lowlifes, but it’s also trying incredibly hard to be About Something. Not content merely to be profane, abrasive and occasionally, darkly amusing, it also wants to be relevant. And so Dominik has taken the 1974 […]

Review: ‘The Twilight Saga’ ends with real bite

Finally — finally! — the “Twilight” franchise embraces its own innate absurdity with the gleefully over-the-top conclusion, “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn — Part 2.” This is by far the best film in the series. This does not necessarily mean it’s good. But as it reaches its prolonged and wildly violent crescendo, it’s at least […]

Review: Bond is better than ever in ‘Skyfall’

To borrow a line from Depeche Mode, death is everywhere in “Skyfall.” James Bond’s mortality has never been in such prominent focus, but the demise of the entire British spy game as we know it seems imminent, as well. Still, this 23rd entry in the enduring James Bond franchise is no downer. Far from it: […]

5 examples of cinematographer Deakins’ best work

LOS ANGELES — Roger Deakins is the rare person I was actually nervous to interview because I’m such a huge fan of his work. When I talked to the veteran cinematographer in early 2008, after he’d received Academy Award nominations for both “No Country for Old Men” and “The Assassination of Jesse James by the […]

Review: Denzel soars as troubled pilot in ‘Flight’

If “Flight” weren’t so exceptionally crafted and acted, this tale of self-destruction and eventual redemption might feel like the sort of feel-good fare you’d see on the Lifetime Movie Network, or even a 12-step-program promotion. Instead, director Robert Zemeckis’ first live-action film since 2000′s “Cast Away” is by turns thrilling, engrossing and even darkly funny, […]

Review: ‘Cloud Atlas’ is laughably self-serious

Maybe if you’re 20 years old and high in your dorm room with your friends, the platitudes presented in “Cloud Atlas” might seem profound. Anyone else in his or her right mind should recognize it for what it is: a bloated, pseudo-intellectual, self-indulgent slog through some notions that are really rather facile. Ooh, we’re all […]

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