Wednesday, July 11, 2012


Review: Easy Money
3 stars (out of 5)
By R. Kurt Osenlund

It's easy to be impressed by the breadth of Easy Money, a two-hour crime saga that packs in enough dirty details, plot tendrils, and peripheral characters to feel worthy, at least in spirit, of the Martin Scorsese endorsement that's stamped on the film's posters. Known as Snabba Cash in its native Sweden, where it topped 2010's box-office charts before being snatched up by the Weinstein Company, the movie ultimately benefits from a sprawling sense of narrative accomplishment, thanks to the comprehensiveness with which lawyer turned author Jens Lapidus's hit novel is adapted. But coupled with the kind of gritty technique that can read as compensation for lack of substance, the scope is precisely what serves to mask Easy Money's intimate failings.


Review: Katy Perry: Part of Me
2.5 stars (out of 5)
By R. Kurt Osenlund

Katy Perry: Part of Me begins with a slew of video confessionals from teenagers, who declare that the pop star's music and lyrics have changed their lives. "She writes songs about real experiences," says one fan. "She tells me it's okay to be me," says another. Within moments, the action cuts to Perry's backstage inspection of a whipped-cream-shooting candy cane, and her own declaration that, in her skimpy new concert outfit, she looks like she's "got an ass like Nicki Minaj." Directed by Dan Cutforth and Jane Lipsitz, whose production company, Magical Elves, was also behind Justin Bieber: Never Say Never, this frothy 3D concert doc spends its entirety toggling between put-on profundity and frivolous, risqué showstoppers, resulting in a disconnect that hinders the goal of exposing an artist's identity.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012


Review: The Magic of Belle Isle
2.5 stars (out of 5)
By R. Kurt Osenlund

That the The Magic of Belle Isle can conjure any true feeling at all is some kind of wonder. Set in upstate New York, at the idyllic lakeside town of the title, this gooey reteaming of Rob Reiner and Morgan Freeman is crammed tight with baldly manipulative elements, its tearjerker quota busting at the seams. A cute dog, a mentally challenged neighbor, a caricatured Muslim cashier, a precocious young girl, her adorable sisters, a kindly single mom, and Freeman's redemption-bound curmudgeon are all accounted for, in a setting where the sun kisses everything and everyone knows your name. Freeman's character, a washed-up, wheelchair-bound author, goes by the name of Monte Wildhorn, and like the hero in the western novel that made his career, Monte exudes the moody heartache of a lonely cowboy—or, at least, that's what we're supposed to think. When Monte moves into a rent-free cabin with little more than a snarl, a Larry McMurtry typewriter, and a soon-to-be-replenished supply of scotch, he's greeted by all but the violins.