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
At the movie's conclusion, Lucy (Scarlett Johansson) states: "We've had life for a billion years. Now we know what to do with it." What does she think we should do with our lives? Presumably we should be able to stare at a gun and watch the bullets fall out harmlessly to the ground; look at a bunch of gangsters pointing AK-47s at us and have them drop their pieces and fly to the ceiling flaying impotently' conjure up dinosaurs and disappear just as they are about to gobble you up; and drive effortlessly down a one-way highway while watching cars pile up helplessly. In other words, while you may think that Lucy, who is steadily able to raise the capacity of her brain from the usual, human 10% to 100%, will be able to solve a Rubik Cube in 15 seconds, complete a New York Times Sunday crossword puzzle in indelible ink, or memorize 154 theorems in minutes without ever taking high-school geometry, Lucy's brain is completely different. Sure, she probably could learn to speak French with a Montréal accent if she should get the strange notion to do so, but writer-director Luc Besson has other plans for this brainiac. She has the powers of a superhero: she can exercise telekinesis by moving objects and people from one place to another by simply willing it, can take a quick look at the unspoiled U.S. when Native Americans ruled the land, and touch the forehead of a famous scientist to discover that his six-year-old daughter had died in an auto accident. What's more she can look at an X-ray of a person on an operating table, discern that he has advanced, incurable cancer, and shoot the poor fellow because "he could not possibly survive anyway."
A Most Wanted ManWhat is it like to be a spy? Some cynics say that it's a game indulged by its proponents; that our spies know their spies and vice versa, and the groups, however hostile their countries to each other, simply exchange information freely, thereby keeping their jobs. Others, less cynical and more naive, think that spies are like 007, licensed to kill, engaged in high stakes acrobatics in pursuit of subversives. If you want to know the real story, however, you probably can do a lot worse than to peruse the novels of John Le Carré, who became a superstar writer with The Spy Who Came in From the Cold (in which an operative watches as an agent is shot by East German sentries). Le Carré's A Most Wanted Man, which like The Spy in its emphasis on twists and turns and, best of all, duplicity, has been successfully adapted into a tense thriller, but one which will not necessarily satisfy a mainstream audience that likes more guns and faster action. While Anton Corbijn's movie version has some exceptionally melodramatic action in its conclusion, most of the tale, told amid the gray skies of Hamburg Germany, features people on both sides who are likewise gray for the most part. They lack the vibrant colors we always find in a James Bond episode, but they make up for it by showing us a more authentic, realistic view of the cloak-and-dagger industry than Hollywood generally provides.
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
Marvel expands its cinematic clout to encompass another colorful franchise, encompassing a rag-tag team of intergalactic adventurers. Headed by Peter Quill, a.k.a. Star Lord (Chris Pratt), the quintet includes the green-skinned warrior Gamora (Zoe Saldana), vengeance-seeking Drax the Destroyer (WWW champ Dave Bautista) and two endearing CG characters: clever, cybernetically-enhanced, gun-slinging Rocket Raccoon, voiced by Bradley Cooper, and Groot, a humanoid, self-regenerating tree whose one line of dialogue ("I am Groot") is uttered repeatedly - but with different intonations - by Vin Diesel.

More Susan Granger Reviews

  • 22 Jump Street, Satisfyingly Silly

    Having conquered the box-office in their first mismatched buddies action-comedy, those bumbling undercover cops - brawny Jenko (Channing Tatum) and brainy Schmidt (Jonah Hill) - are back again. Only, this time, they've moved into the Vietnamese church across the street, along with Deputy Chief Hardy (Nick Offerman). "Nobody cared about the Jump Street reboot," they're told, "but you got lucky, so now this department has invested a lot of money to make sure Jump Street keeps going."
  • How to Train Your Dragon 2 - Enchanting

    Writer/director Dean DeBlois breathes fresh fire into the second chapter of this animated trilogy, returning to the mythological world of the heroic Viking Hiccup and his faithful dragon Toothless.
  • James Mapes
    Quantum Leap Thinking

    An Owner's Guide to the Mind

  • Communicate to Mute the Dark Side of the Imagination

    Communication is the glue that holds relationships together. So, the question is - Do you believe that you communicate often enough and in the right way to create and sustain positive relationships in all areas of your life?
  • The Psychology of Fun, Play and Full Engagement

    Creativity is intelligence having fun. ~ Albert Einstein, physicist

    Do you think fun is frivolous? If so, perhaps you should think again.

    Pause at the end of this paragraph - just for a few seconds - to recall a very happy, joyful, engaging moment from your life. Please stop and reflect now.

  • 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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