Saturday, November 19, 2011


Review: The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 1
1 star (out of 5)
By R. Kurt Osenlund

There are two parties equipped to enjoy, or even tolerate, the Twilight movies, specifically The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 1, the hopelessly god-awful penultimate installment of the five-film adaptation of Stephenie Meyer's heavy-and-dumb-as-a-brick quadrilogy. The first includes the book series's fans (or "Twi-Hards," if I must), who've already sold their souls and would gladly follow Bella Swan and her devil/angel man candy into the grimiest bowels of hell. The second consists of those who've embraced the notion that this is all just the frivolous, vicarious fantasy of a sexually repressed, egocentric author, and should be casually digested as such, with the same abandon with which one catches an episode of The Real Housewives. But even for those hailing from the latter, Breaking Dawn offers precious few returns, and it continually punishes all who curb their cynicism for even a split second.

Friday, November 11, 2011


Review: Immortals
4 stars (out of 5)
By R. Kurt Osenlund

Dashing across the screen in all its bloody, gilded glory, the awesome and beautiful Immortals marks an all-win scenario. It affords art lovers a busy and clamorous actioner they can relish, gives boyish battle fans a splatterific fix that's actually of value, offers Tarsem Singh the budget to widen his already broad imagination, and allows producers to refresh the ever-burgeoning violent epic, transcending its banality thanks to Tarsem's singularly bold yet blockbuster-friendly vision. Turns out Tarsem is the man you call when there are no more new ways to employ bullet time, when CG "agent" programs no longer wow in their abilities to convey the breadth of an army, when fast cutting is finally recognized as an impact-diminisher in slick fight scenes, and when a dreadful swords-and-sandals script is picked up, but destined for oblivion in the wrong hands.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011


Review: The Greening of Whitney Brown
2.5 stars (out of 5)
By R. Kurt Osenlund

For all those who've been patiently awaiting the definitive family horse flick for the tween set, there is, at long last, The Greening of Whitney Brown, a saddles-and-sass mash-up whose most telling image is an equine hoof painted electric pink. The gal of the title is a giddy, urbanized, emoticon-loving eighth-grader, and if you're not one yourself, it's best to try channeling the species if you hope to enjoy such a niche-targeted bauble. "I'm an American princess," chirps the tra-la-lollipop opening track, which accompanies a slideshow on a bejeweled pink iPhone, a pint-sized nod to Carrie Bradshaw. All wireless but for having the world on a string, prima donna Whitney (Sammi Hanratty) is class president at her Philadelphia school, has a Heathers-style posse of minions, is courting the new football star, and wants "nothing less" than Marc Jacobs couture for her kiddie prom dress. 

Thursday, November 3, 2011


Review: Tower Heist
2 stars (out of 5)
By R. Kurt Osenlund

In Tower Heist, on top of some laugh-out-loud moments and a general theme of underdog triumph, there's a surplus of wink-wink catchphrase motifs, the kind that leave diversion-seeking viewers feeling like pigs in mud. But it's dead-hollow amusement that's offered by Brett Ratner's latest, a bland, schematic contrivance of a class comedy that never elicits any responses beyond the primitive and the childish. Defiantly graceless, Ratner—who, according to devastating new reports, is also in talks to direct the film version of Wicked—deals in loudness, haplessness, obviousness, and, certainly, crudeness, reminding you of his directorial presence with such inclusions as a scolded kid who tells his disciplinarian to "suck it."


Review: The Son of No One
3 stars (out of 5)
By R. Kurt Osenlund

If you've got genuine New York gum stuck to the bottom of your shoe, chances are Dito Montiel wants to shoot it. A model turned punk rocker turned adapter of his own gritty writing, the Astoria-raised multi-hyphenate has an infatuation with the decay and grime of his home metropolis, a self-reflective proclivity that yields a kind of pulled-from-the-gutter ambiance. With the crooked-cop drama The Son of No One, the guy who brought you the autobiographical, memoir-based A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints translates another self-penned story, and in the process offers an interpretation of New York that's consummately ugly. In shaky-cam shots that often seem to be spliced together with a knowing choppiness, Montiel captures bloody bathtubs, bum fights, low-income housing, and rooftop fellatio as if documenting some greasy nightmare, his pulpy, tactile visions less real than surreal.