Movie Reviews

Rock-bottom sci-fi flick 'Zenith' just underwhelms

Peter Scanavino fights "the conspiracy" in "Zenith."

The weird new sci-fi movie "Zenith" contains more implicit and explicit consumer warnings than a Viagra commercial.

The first is in the opening credits, where Vladan Nikolic is billed as "Experiment Supervisor," rather than director. Next comes a prefatory disclaimer: "The filmmakers shall not be liable under any legal theory for any direct, indirect or consequential damages that may be suffered by any viewers of this film in connection with, or as a result of, the information or sound or visuals herein."

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'The Way Back' dramatizes escape from Siberia

Colin Farrell escapes the Gulags in "The Way Back."

"It is not our guns, our dogs or our wire that form your prison," the commandant informs his new arrivals, "it is Siberia" -- all 5 million ferocious square miles of it.

Escape? Total fantasy. If nature and minus-70-degree temperatures don't get you, the natives will. The bounty on their heads is a year's income for Siberian villagers or nomads, and the only "proof" needed to claim the reward is one hand or foot.

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'Made in Dagenham' retells women's fight for equal pay

Sally Hawkins is a British "Norma Rae" of sorts in "Made In Dagenham."

In 1968, Ford Motor Co.'s Dagenham factories outside London comprised seven square miles and churned out an astonishing 3,000 vehicles a day. We -- and "Made in Dagenham" -- are focused on a machinists division in which the seat covers and door-panel upholstery are hand-cut on individual sewing machines by 187 women, many stripped to their underwear due to stifling work conditions.

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James Franco superb in '127 Hours'

James Franco in "127 Hours."

Me, I'd have given up after 127 minutes. But not Aron Ralston. It took him 127 desperate hours to extricate himself from being caught, literally and figuratively, between the ultimate rock and hard place.

Director Danny Boyle has turned that extraordinary predicament into an extraordinary film which, among other things, expands the definition of "happy ending."

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'La Danse' documentary long but delightful

'La Danse' documentary long but delightful

Nothing about Frederick Wiseman is more astonishing than his prolificacy. Since his terrifying debut film "Titicut Follies" (1967), about a Massachusetts prison hospital for the criminally insane, Mr. Wiseman has directed 35 subsequent documentaries about the agony and ecstasy of human experience in institutional settings common to all societies.

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'Beaches of Agnes' a soulful, brilliant documentary reflection

At one point in the totally enchanting "Beaches of Agnes," its heroine says, "I know my classics, and I know my friends." What more do you need?

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Coen Brothers' 'A Serious Man': super study of a seriously sensational shlemiel

It is said that a shlemiel is the guy who buys a suit with two pairs of pants and burns a hole in the coat.

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'Noodle' returns to Jewish Israeli film fest

By Barry Paris Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

"Noodle" opened the 2008 Pittsburgh Jewish Israeli Film Festival and retuns for a single showing this weekend. Here's a reprint of what PG film critic Barry Paris wrote last year.

Remember "The Man Who Came to Dinner" -- that guest who fell and ended up staying more or less permanently? This is "The Boy Who Came to Help Clean."

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'The Number 23'

Jim Carrey gives it all he's got in "The Number 23."

Jim Carrey plays an Animal Control Department specialist -- which is to say dogcatcher. But he's not Ace Ventura, and this isn't a comedy. He is Walter Sparrow, and when the dog bites or the bee stings, one of Walter's favorite things turns out to be the number 23.

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'Smokin'Aces' Film's a pack of nonsense, with some fun thrown in

By Barry Paris / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Today's Special -- all the nonstop blood 'n' guts you can eat in one sitting -- is "Smokin' Aces," essentially a National Assassins Convention in Nevada, with killer entertainment.

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