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Thursday, December 6, 2012

November roundup

Fell behind again so here's some quickie reviews of a bunch of films that came out over the last month.


The Odd Life of Timothy Green. A bit of an oddity, this. It's effectively a simple fairy tale about a couple who suddenly find themselves the parents of a young boy after burying all their wishes for a child in a box in their backyard, but it's one without much point or, more damningly, much magic. It has a nice performance from Jennifer Garner and it's a sweet enough tale but it's not one that will leave much of an impression. (5/10)

The Possession. Effectively a Jewish version of The Exorcist in that the demon in question, the dibbuk, comes straight out of Jewish lore and it features a supporting turn from Hassidic reggae-hip-hopper Matisyahu. As a Jewish guy who spent his teenage years in the 90s as an avid X-Files fan, I've long been intrigued by the supernatural forces presented in Judaism - even if I've never been convinced that they literally exist. With all this said though, The Possession in only a passable horror film that is far too close to the infinitely superior Exorcist to stand up as anything but a perfectly competent but cheap clone. (6/10)

Footnote. Speaking of Jewish-themed films that never fully explore their Jewishness, this Israeli film about a rivalry between father and son Talmudic scholars works well as a family drama with strong performances and an emotionally charged script, but lacks the individual flare that might have come about had it more fully exploited its rather unique context. (7/10)


Jeff Who Lives at Home. A very small, very unassuming little tale about a slacker who believes that he is destined for something great and the day that proves that he may well be right  It has some great turns from Jason Segal, Ed Helms and Susan Sarandon and it manages to be both smart and charming but is let down by being almost too humble for its own good. Memorable it ain't, but it's good stuff while it's on. (7/10)

The Cold Light of Day. Sigourney Weaver again lowers her standards for another kidnapping thriller and, though this is a bit better but less laughably bad than Abduction, it's still entirely uninteresting and unremarkable. It does nothing at all that you haven't seen done before and better by countless other thrillers and is only - and only barely - notable for being a bit of a preview of new Superman Henry Cavillin a lead role... and frankly he's going to need to do a lot better than this in The Man of Steel if he has any hope in hell of working as a suitable replacement for the irreplaceable Christopher Reeve. (4/10)

Peace, Love and Misunderstanding. An enjoyable but somewhat slight family drama about a woman going through a bitter divorce with her husband, who takes her children to live with her estranged mother for a few days, but is surprised by the effect that her hippy mother has on her kids - and her. Some nice performances from Elizabeth Olsen, Catherine Keener, Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Jane Fonda prop up a storyline that veers between moving and cliched throughout but remains solidly likable throughout. (7/10)

Freelancers. After the abominable Gun, 50 Cent is back with a film that is significantly better, but still barely releasable. And to be fair, he's only part of the problem - after all, Robert Deniro, in possibly his worst performance ever, is no better here than Fiddy is. It's dumb, it's morally dubious, it's underdeveloped and it's one of the least engaging crime film I've seen in some time. It ain't Gun, but it's still pretty damn wretched. (1/10)

Fun Size. Not as bad as some might suggest, this peculiar comedy effectively plays out like a stoner film for kids, but, ya know, without any actual drugs. It has next to nothing going for it for anyone out of their tweenies, except for it's unrepentant lunacy, which turns out to be oddly captivating. Weird stuff indeed. (4/10)

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