Chris Pine and Denzel Washington star in “Unstoppable.”
★★★ (out of four)
2010, Tony Scott, U.S., PG-13
- New Films
The following movies open Wednesday, Nov. 24:
Directors: Nathan Greno, Byron Howard.
Stars: Mandy Moore, Zachary Levi.
The plot: Rapunzel, a princess with 70 feet of magical, golden
hair, has been locked away for years in a tower high above her
kingdom. Desperate to be free, she strikes a deal with Flynn Rider,
a handsome bandit who chooses her tower as a hide-out spot.
Genre: Animation, comedy.
Director: Steve Antin.
Stars: Cher, Christina Aguilera.
The plot: A small-town girl ventures to Los Angeles and finds
her place in a neo-burlesque club run by a former dancer.
Genre: Drama, musical.
- Film Roundup
★ 1/2 (out of four)
The unifying story thread involves a former psychic (played by
Matt Damon, who has given us better work) who ditched the
high-pressure lifestyle for a simple existence as a factory worker.
He sometimes performs readings, but they rarely go well and his
“gift” always poses some kind of problem for his personal life.
Eventually, he decides to travel and “find himself.”
So ... What the hell is all this? Of course the stories
eventually intertwine on a literal level, but only superficially,
and without much thematic relevance. By the end, some things have
been resolved and some characters have forged immediate (and
therefore meaningless) connections to each other, but to what
“Paranormal Activity 2”
Studio execs have seen fit to expand the mythology established
in the first film to fill a needless sequel — or, in this case, a
prequel. To be fair, “Paranormal Activity 2” is no “Blair Witch 2”
— it’s not objectively terrible or torturous, the acting is
serviceable, and the direction is even, at times, inspired. But
it’s all just so repetitive, isn’t it? Cue security camera footage
showing the pool. Cut to the living room. A curtain moves when it
shouldn’t be moving. Cut to the little boy’s room. Cue loud banging
noise and barking dog. Repeat for 90 minutes.
When I say that “Red” represents a cast in search of a movie,
you may take it as a harsh criticism. And, certainly, it is an
issue when the power of your cast absolutely dwarfs anything your
film could possibly have to offer in terms of plot or dialogue or
visual appeal. However, in the rare case of a movie like “Red,”
such shortcomings take on less significance. See, “Red” is almost
exclusively concerned with how its characters — and, by extension,
the stars themselves — interact with one another. More pointedly,
it’s all about the feel-good vibe of cooperation and camaraderie
that steadily builds between this cast of characters, even if most
of them do happen to be retired assassins.
“The Social Network”
Were it not for the involvement of David Fincher, I would have
had little interest in “The Social Network,” the new film about the
founding of Facebook. ’Cause here’s the thing: I hate Facebook. I
hate the manner in which it was conceived, I hate its effect on the
online community, the banality of its users’ content and its
needlessly confusing interface. Most of all, I hate everyone always
asking me if I’m on Facebook, and when I tell them that I have no
intention of ever starting a page, seeing them look at me as if I
just asked where the Internets are. Facebook is a bunch of crap,
and resistance to its influence can only make you a better,
Posted: Friday, November 19, 2010 9:08 am
So I was in the middle of the downtown Stockton movie theater,
having just purchased a ticket for Todd Phillips’ comedy “Due
Date,” when an advertisement for the Tony Scott/Denzel Washington
action flick “Unstoppable” caught my eye.
Of course, I originally had zero interest in subjecting myself
to yet another Scott-helmed assault on the senses (if “Domino”
didn’t teach me my lesson, then “The Taking of Pelham 123”
certainly did). However, it was one of those cool cardboard
stand-up ads that features a positive review in its entirety, and I
found myself being swayed by Todd McCarthy’s description of
“Unstoppable” as an exceptional “blue-collar” actioner that offers
shades of political subtext to go along with all the suspense.
Arts and Entertainment
Friday, November 19, 2010 9:08 am.