Movie Reviews

What a week of openings! The big dilemma is trying to decide which is more unfunny: "Arthur" or "Your Highness." This may have to be settled by a coin toss. Here's what the team that made "Arthur" might have been thinking in remaking the terrific 1981 version which starred Dudley Moore and John Gielgud: Our society has become more vulgar, less literate, more attuned to comedy that's shoved on them rather than to the wit and gentle humor that presumably fit in better with bygone days, like the seventies and early eighties.
It would be easy to dismiss Sucker Punch as simply pandering to its audience. Yes, the movie aims at geek culture in general, teenage males in particular; and as such it certainly offers as much skin and anime-style action as it can provide within the confines of a PG-13 rating. But Punch does not want to just pander to its audience; instead, it aims to be something more than just your average Summer Action Movie, hoping perhaps to reach the lofty heights of "art". Unfortunately, this ambition turns out to be the movie's undoing.
Everyone wants to get their hands on the computer hard drive with incriminating information about arms dealers, gangsters and politicians who party with high-priced night ladies. Catalina, a high-class call girl has the drive and two neophyte private detectives are trying to protect her. She is being chased by the host of very dangerous people including a ruthless assassin who could be mistaken for Helen Mirren. This is the modern equivalent of classic action comedies like FOUL PLAY. Made for today it just is more chaotic, has more nudity, and had more violence including some slightly nauseating scenes of torture. Otherwise the film is funny and fun, a fast, entertaining ride. Rating: high +1 (-4 to +4) or 6/10

Movie Reviews

Brad Furman directs John Romano's screenplay based on the Michael Connelly novel. A sleazy lawyer has to tread a tricky path to fulfill the law, his responsibility to his client, and his idea of justice in a cleverly plotted legal thriller. Mickey Haller (Matthew McConaughey), is the kind of a lawyer who gives the profession a bad name. He is good at the law and uses it to squeeze the maximum fees from his wealthy clients. When he gets the case of defending a magnate's son charged with rape and assault he finds himself in a tight legal bind that could force him to protect a killer or even get himself killed. This is a tightly-written thriller that at the same time creates a tricky legal puzzle. Rating: high +2 (-4 to +4) or 8/10
This documentary is by turns spectacular and moving. In one Chilean desert astronomers look for the origins of the universe, archeologist find preserved mummies from pre-Columbian culture, and the survivors of the 1973 Chile coup look for the remains of their loved ones. Do not expect a lot of scientific knowledge, but the political message is strong and sincere. Rating: +1 (-4 to +4) or 6/10
The agents of Fate battle the force of Chance in this odd romantic fantasy loosely based on a Philip K. Dick story. Angels or aliens have agents on Earth to make sure that what Fate says will happen really does. Two people who are fated not to meet do meet by chance and fall in love. If they want to stay together they must defeat the little men in suits and fedoras who are the agents of fate. This is a film that nicely balances romance and philosophy. Spoiler warning: I tell a little more of the premise of the film and the agents than the viewer would see in the first ten minutes. If anything it should make the film more interesting for the viewer to know what is going on. Rating: +2 (-4 to +4) or 7/10

Latest Movie Reviews
By Harvey Critic

Member NYFCO
Union days appear over in America, where only nine percent of workers are members of organized labor. This certainly does not mean that the working classes and middle classes that were formerly active in such groups are ecstatic about their wages: quite the contrary. Bosses have found ways to work around militant organizations by exporting jobs to China, Vietnam and quite a few other countries with much lower standards of living than our own. And given the fear that working people have of being tossed out of their jobs should they try to fight for better conditions, they give the owners of industries large and small their tacit consent not to protest.
In much the way that Stephen Farber's exciting documentary "How to Survive a Plague" deals with the struggle to get politicians involved in finding an effective treatment for AIDS, Greg Williams's "The Anonymous People" runs with efforts to change the way we deal with folks addicted to drugs and alcohol. The overriding theme is that is in most states, the push is to arrest, prosecute and punish people (as Bush 41 states in the film) who are users of illegal drugs, presumably (though not mentioned in the movie) because demand for drugs creates a market for suppliers. (For example, also not cited by director Greg Williams, U.S. users of heroin and cocaine propel the Mexican drug market, which has already resulted in 60,000 murders by competing cartels south of our border.)
Arizona Blogs
TUCSON, Ariz - Once a year, top chefs and restaurants compete in an event that serves the region's cultural garden to modern day taste buds. The Southern Arizona Salsa and Tequila Challenge has shaken up the summers in Tucson for three years, with 2013 mixing up to be more flavorful than ever at La Encantada.
Indie Pop Rock duo, SIRSY, makes music chock full of soul and sincerity with just the right amount of sass. With hook-drenched, resonating melodies and clever, honest lyrics, their songs run the gamut from wildly joyful to utterly heartbreaking.
On Saturday, May 4 at 10 a.m., Southern Arizona Arts and Cultural Alliance and the Oro Valley Music and Dance Academy will let kids be princes or princesses for a day and dance just like royalty. The free interactive performance takes place at Town of Oro Valley's Council Chambers, 11000 N. La Canada Dr.

Latest Movie Reviews
By Susan Granger

Member NYFCO
Arnold Schwarzenegger plays John "Breacher" Wharton, veteran leader of a dauntless squad of grubby undercover DEA agents, who discovers, after effectively hiding the 10 million dollars they skimmed off after a massive raid of the "money room" at a Mexican drug cartel safe house, that someone has heisted the cash which was hidden inside a sewer line, leaving a single bullet in its place. During the subsequent official inquiry by the FBI, they're all suspended from duty.

More Susan Granger Reviews

  • Captain America: The Winter Soldier - Intriguing Espionage Thriller

    Marvel's new cinematic adventure not only continues the superhero saga but also plunges into a Cold War conspiracy which could deliver covert technology into the hands of an enemy agent. Set two years after "The Avengers" alien attack in New York, U.S. Army Officer Steve Rogers/Captain America (Chris Evans) becomes a target when he makes a discovery that could endanger the entire planet.
  • 300: Rise of an Empire - Gore Filled Fantasy

    Told in the same distinctive visual style as Zack Snyder's "300," this contiguous saga pits Greek general Themistocles (Sullivan Stapleton) against attacking Persian forces, ruled by glistening God-King Xerxes (Rodrigo Santoro), son/heir to King Darius, and led by his naval commander, cunning and vengeful Artemisia (Eva Green). The timeline is confusing since this occurs during and after the fall of Spartan King Leonidas at Thermopylae.
  • James Mapes
    Quantum Leap Thinking

    An Owner's Guide to the Mind

  • Mindfulness, Meditation and Malarkey

    If I guaranteed you would lower your anxiety, calm your mind, renew, recharge, think more clearly, reduce your fear response and enhance your creativity - just by investing two five-minute periods of time, twice-a-day - to meditate - would you commit to do it?
  • The Psychology of Fun

    What does play mean? It might be a sport or a game of charades or playing a musical instrument. It can be gaming or going to an amusement park. There are no limitations. When I was a child, our family played board games and card games, along with physical games, like baseball, horseshoes, Ping-Pong and badminton. We flew kites (still do), camped out (still do), built model airplanes and acted out our fantasies pretending to be knights and soldiers. We improvised and invented, often packing knapsacks with snacks to go hiking and exploring in the woods.

  • Finding Arizona Reporter

    In Our Last Issue


    The year 2008 was a rough one in American finance-recession, job losses, pessimism, a loss in the stock market to such an extent that most investors who did not sell when the selling was good lost half their Wall Street wealth. Those with little faith in the future sold out when the market was at the bottom, while the optimists correctly guessed that in the good old American way, the market would rebound. And it did with a vengeance. In the same way, there's nothing more heartening than a tale of a person suffering loss, whether of a romantic partner or otherwise, then recovering what was swept away. Such a person would have a keener appreciation of what he now has.
  • Remember Me - A Romantic, Angst-Rdden Film

    By Susan Granger - Astute minds are guiding Robert Pattinson's career. Segueing from his vampire role in the "Twilight" franchise, he's transitioned into tortured, misunderstood young man mode.

    In the summer of 2001, moody, rebellious Tyler Hawkins (Pattinson) is still haunted by the fact that his idolized older brother committed suicide on his 22nd birthday, a tragedy that split his wealthy Park Avenue family. While Tyler has reached an understanding with his now re-married mother, Diane Hirsch (Lena Olin), and adores his 11 year-old sister Caroline (Ruby Jerins), he's still at odds with his frosty, Wall Street lawyer father, Charles Hawkins (Pierce Brosnan). In fact, 21 year-old Tyler's only friend seems to be his loud, obnoxious, thoroughly irritating roommate, Aiden (Tate Ellington).
  • Green Zone - Tempting Cynical Wags

    By Susan Granger - If you haven't had enough of the Iraqi War with the Oscar-winning "The Hurt Zone" and are intrigued by re-teaming of director Paul Greengrass with Matt Damon, star of his "Bourne Supremacy" and "Bourne Ultimatum," this political thriller interweaves fact with fiction delving into the chaotic early "shock and awe" days in Baghdad in 2003.
  • MID-AUGUST LUNCH (Pranzo di Ferragosto)

    Girls just want to have fun, sings Cyndi Lauper, and there's no logical reason to believe that "girls" ever outgrow this perfectly human desire. This point is driven home in just a brief seventy-five minutes by Gianni Di Gregorio, who wrote and directed "Mid-August Lunch" (Pranzo di Ferragosto, or "Ferragosto Holiday Lunch" in the Italian title). Using non-professional actors, the first-time director, who takes the major role and inhabits virtually every frame, delivers a witty, charming tale that may be too small-potatoes to afford it a top critical grade but is a diverting piece of pre-prandial entertainment.
  • Review & Trailer: AFTER . LIFE

    If ever a product placement for an industry permeates a movie without the industry's even being mentioned, trust "After.Life" to be a commercial for the cremation business. We witness the gruesome method of one possibly psychotic mortician-how he drains the blood, sews the mouth closed, puts huge needles into the necks of the dead as part of the embalming process, then adds rouge and lipstick to make corpses look as though they were live. All of this is carried on quietly by a calm, seasoned undertaker who has papered the wall of his laboratory with the people he has worked on.
  • Our Family Wedding (Fox Searchlight Pictures)

    They say that when you marry, there are five people in bed with you. Aside from your wife (hopefully) you must make room for your parents and hers. This is realistic. Unless you are an out-and-out individualistic couple who can dismiss the interjections of the people who brought you into the world, you'd do well to have a smooth relationship with the older folks. When you and she come from different ethnic groups within the U.S., your love may last a lifetime, but if the parents and in-laws are more traditional, they may be shocked if you do not "stick to your own kind," as the Greek chorus in "West Side Story" sings.
  • Kimjongilia (Lorber Films)

    If I were asked to choose any country in the world for a trip where all expenses would be paid and would include a guide from a nation that would allow me access everywhere, I'd pick North Korea. This would sound like rank insanity by most of the people living there. After all since North Korea split from the South after both the Soviet Union and the U.S. liberated the entire country from the Japanese in 1945, the North to fall under Soviet communist influence and the South under the U.S., 300,000 people have risked their lives to leave. The reason for my odd ambition? The forbidden fruit. Anybody and his second cousin can travel from the U.S. to London, Paris and Rome, but I'd guess that fewer than 1,000 Americans have ever gone over to the Pyongyang regime to explore the world's most isolated country. This is a region that has no idea what's going in the world except to hear that Americans are evil and that their own state is a workers' paradise. They get no outside TV, no Internet access, at least from what one gathers from N.C. Keiken's documentary, and though Dear Leader Kim Jong-Il is said to have a vast treasury of Hollywood films in his residence, presumably only an elite corps of North Koreans have seen anything made outside their own propaganda mills.
  • MOVIE REVIEW: 'The Secret of Kells' - Stunning!

    By Susan Granger - Few American moviegoers had ever heard of this Irish-French-Belgian co-production until it was nominated for an Academy Award as Best Animated Feature, squeezing out "Ponyo," "Monsters vs. Aliens," "Cloud With a Chance of Meatballs" and "A Christmas Carol." Once you see it, you'll realize why.
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