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May 2009

Film Review - Star Trek

STAR TREK kirk and spock

120 minutes of unrelenting goose bumps.

An artistic blood transfusion of immaculate execution, the new “Star Trek” boldly goes straight to the senses, providing a full-throated rush of operatic sci-fi, cleverly conceived characterizations, and a swarm of franchise homages and surprises that take incredible care of the brand name’s impossible 44-year-long pop culture reign, while forging firm new ground for those who couldn’t tell Kirk from Spock with a gun to their head. Director J.J. Abrams has achieved what many thought to be impossible, reaching bare-handed into the venomous depths of absurdly rigid canon, pulling together a sublime space adventure that flies as confidently and triumphantly as “Trek” ever has before. It’s not only a victorious series highlight, but perhaps one of the best pictures of the year.

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Film Review - The Girlfriend Experience


“The Girlfriend Experience” is a palate cleanser for director Steven Soderbergh, who embarks on one of these odd “personal” films every few years (“Bubble,” “Full Frontal”) when his fingers tire of counting “Ocean’s” trilogy money. A mood piece on vagaries of whorish behavior, Soderbergh is stuck in full wander mode with this picture, absent the sort of thespian effort that would enliven the cross-eyed atmosphere of disconnect Soderbergh is forever chasing.

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Film Review - Rudo y Cursi


I don’t know whether to laugh or cry over “Rudo y Cursi,” an oddball football dramedy that reteams actors Gael Garcia Bernal and Diego Luna eight years after their breakthrough roles in the indie sensation, “Y tu mama tambien.” “Rudo” isn’t a strikingly original creation, but the efforts of the cast make the stale script sing, assembling a motion picture that coasts along nicely on pure performance oomph. Granted, all this uncut Mexican energy will perhaps take a night in a sensory deprivation chamber to properly expunge from the system, but it’s a wild ride of thespian effort that keeps the material amicable.

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Film Review - Next Day Air


Need proof marijuana kills brain cells? Catch “Next Day Air,” a pot comedy trying to pass itself off as a Guy Ritchie/Quentin Tarantino multi-character crime caper. Weed is smoked liberally throughout the film, and I fear most of it was consumed behind the camera by director Benny Boom, who shows no discernable handle on the disorderly proceedings. “Air” is an interesting misfire, but often an irritatingly erratic viewing experience that would’ve profited greatly from a good old-fashioned dose of clear-headed concentration.

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Film Review - Killshot


“Killshot” hasn’t enjoyed the easiest road to a suitable release. Filmed nearly four years ago, the picture suffered through endless rounds of editorial indecision, reshooting, and the embarrassment of a pathetic five-screen theatrical release earlier this year. While the feature’s unpleasant personal history shouldn’t be at play during a viewing, it’s hard not to spot the sloppy stitch marks on the motion picture. While certainly endowed with a few startling moments of tension, “Killshot” is messy and unfocused, taking the stinger out of this Elmore Leonard adaptation.

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Wizarding World of Harry Potter Construction Update: 5/5/09

Harry Potter Cover

The fine folk at Universal Orlando seem to be clamping down on ideal photo spots to capture the hotly anticipated Wizarding World of Harry Potter construction. I can’t blame them, but it’s going to be impossible to fully cloak the enormity of this park. For every sweet shot spot of Hogwarts they remove, two more Hogsmeade angles spring up. As massive summer crowds are about ready to pounce on the Islands of Adventure, I’ll take the newfound tradeoff…for now.

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Disney's Hollywood Studios 20th Anniversary Party (5/1/09)


I’ve always felt a special kinship with Disney’s Hollywood Studios (formerly Disney-MGM Studios). It’s the only theme park I’ve, in a strange sense, “grown up with,” having visited for my first time in 1990, a little over a year after the property first opened to the public. The experience also marked my first taste of a scarily form-fitting theme park ambiance, instantly hooking me on the sweet stuff that continues to captivate me to this day.

Today was the park’s 20th birthday. How’s that to make a guy feel old!

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