2016: Obama's America

Add Comment on August 24, 2012 by Phil Contrino

India native and famous conservative pundit Dinesh D'Souza has translated his best-selling book, The Roots of Obama's Rage onto film, and the result is 2016: Obama's America, a manipulative, over-produced political documentary that accomplishes little more than catering to the anti-Obama crowd. Yet, even if 2016 is preaching to the choir, its fanbase is eager to tithe—it's spent this week as Fandango's #1 ticket seller. The Rocky Mountain Pictures release is expanding wide after posting a surprisingly robust location average in limited release. Expect a very strong theatrical run as word spreads in conservative circles.

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The Apparition

1 comment on August 24, 2012 by Sara Maria Vizcarrondo

Draco Malfoy keeps making the wrong decisions in supernatural school. In The Apparition, Harry Potter's Tom Felton plays the ringleader of a séance that aims to repeat an infamous 1973 "experiment" using with advanced technology. His group of college copycats comically overdo all the mechanics—heat sensors, EEG readings, brain wave amplifiers—and the effects of their fatal tomfoolery are felt most by a super-hot but ordinary couple living in a borrowed McHome out in the center of a spanking new suburban sprawl. Why would anyone torment them? The answers are inconclusive, but at least writer/director Todd Lincoln's capacity for conventional suspense is great, resulting in squirm, squeal and scream-inducing scares.

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Hit and Run

Add Comment on August 23, 2012 by Pete Hammond

Coming right at the tail end of summer is one of the season's wildest rides. Dax Shepard (TV's Parenthood) stars, writes and co-directs (with David Palmer) this breezy concoction about a guy in witness protection who risks it all to drive his girlfriend to a job interview several hundred miles away. Rising above the average level of this type of car chase genre picture, Hit and Run scores points for deftly marrying comedy and action with likeable leads in the form of Shepard and real life fiancée Kristen Bell to form one of the summer's great escapes—no mean feat in a year that has attempted, but failed, to provide fun, mindless, movie fare.

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Premium Rush

Add Comment on August 23, 2012 by Sara Maria Vizcarrondo

This cartoon-inspired action flick tracks Wilee (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), the Lance Armstrong of Manhattan bike messengers, on a no-brakes sprint to bring a mysteriously valuable scrap of paper to an even more mysterious woman in Chinatown. This simple premise does a fast and fun job showing how every person in this New York is a moving part in a massive machine. While the landmarks and routes get reduced to GPS graphics, the people—particularly Levitt, who's really rocking the action movies—are melodramatic, unique and convincing. But Premium Rush has a rewarding relentlessness and a payoff that suggests that whirring city that surrounds us in is full of supporters who see past the system. Plus, it's about time we had some softcore for ladies who love cyclists.

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Add Comment on August 17, 2012 by David Ehrlich

Ron Fricke might have invented YouTube if he weren't too busy marveling at the world to stop and gawk. A mild-mannered camera wizard and the cinema's foremost pioneer of time-lapse photography, Fricke served as cinematographer on Godfrey Reggio's macro-polemical Koyaanisqatsi before he decided to strike out on his own and capture our planet from a somewhat gentler and more awed perspective. Baraka, which Fricke released in 1992 after partnering with producer Mark Magidson, anticipated the post-millennial desire to bounce between a mess of exotic and technologically affected spectacles.

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Sparkle (2012)

Add Comment on August 17, 2012 by Sara Maria Vizcarrondo

In this song and scandal story about a talented but restless family, the dramas are as enormous as the voices. American Idol winner Jordin Sparks is the quiet star, playing a singer-songwriter with a skill her mother won't call a gift because gifts bring bad omens. The shadow of Whitney Houston's stardom and crushing recent death hang heavy over this midrange movie that promises its female audience at least three good cries during its somewhat overlong run time. Producer and minister T.D. Jakes brings the church into Sparkle as a saving grace, but his tone here is less explicit, more embracing and more meaningful than in his preachy previous flick (Woman Thou Art Loosed, Not Easily Broken).

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The Expendables 2

Add Comment on August 15, 2012 by Amy Nicholson

Chuck Norris has counted to infinity—twice. He also counted up the number of f-bombs in the script for The Expendables 2 and said he wouldn't be in it unless the R-rated flick was toned down to a PG-13. Sylvester Stallone conceded. Action fans mourned. Then Sylvester Stallone reneged. Hurrah! The Expendables 2 is bathed in bright red CGI blood and burns up its quota of cussing in the first five minutes. And not only does Chuck Norris still appear, he tells a Chuck Norris joke about himself. Like Fast Five, this over-the-top sequel caters to the lowest common denominator in the best possible way, and it's so fully committed to brainless bombast that it muscles audiences to applaud by sheer force of will.

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