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Monday, March 18,2013

Diamonds are a boy's best friend

Brad Pitt leads a winning team in the engaging 'Moneyball'

by James Sanford
You’re the general manager of a baseball team. Three of your most notable players are leaving at the end of the season and you’ve got to find replacements. Unfortunately, you don’t have a bottomless well of money to pay out to potential superstars. What’s your strategy?
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Monday, March 18,2013

The best medicine

Beautifully balanced '50/50' reveals the lighter side of a life-threatening crisis

by James Sanford
In “50/50,” Adam Lerner (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) has to break some very bad news to his mother (Anjelica Huston) midway through dinner. There’s no easy way to start the discussion, but Adam has a strategy.“Have you ever seen ‘Terms of Endearment’?” he asks.Yes, the 27-year-old Adam has cancer, a malignant, rapidly growing tumor on his spine that, his physician has told him — with barely suppressed excitement — is the result of “an incredibly rare gene mutation.” Although Adam has about a 50/50 chance of survival, his doctor has a near-100 percent chance of getting a terrific paper out of the case.
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Monday, March 18,2013

It's party time

George Clooney directs and co-stars in entertaining 'Ides of March,' but he gives the central role to Ryan Gosling

by James Sanford
This is a great year to be Ryan Gosling.The Canadian-born actor has had a rather phenomenal run of late, starting with the national release of "Blue Valentine" earlier this year, in which he and Michelle Williams gave bruisingly real performances as a seemingly doomed couple. A few months later, Gosling was wowing audiences with his knack for light comedy, playing a pick-up artist who turns out to have a heart in "Crazy, Stupid, Love." Gosling switched gears again weeks later to play the cryptic wheelman in the hypnotic thriller "Drive."
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Monday, March 18,2013

Almost paradise?

It's debatable whether or not we needed a new version of 'Footloose,' but director Craig Brewer's remake is energetic fun

by James Sanford
To the generation that grew up in the early days of MTV — a.k.a. back when the channel was still showing music videos instead of chronicling the travails of teen moms or celebrating the debauchery of the “Jersey Shore” gang — the idea of remaking “Footloose” ranks right up there with letting Rebecca Black do a cover version of “Bette Davis Eyes.” Some 1980s icons are not to be tampered with.
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Monday, March 18,2013

Crazy talk

Felicity Jones and Anton Yelchin discuss long-distance love

by James Sanford
Friday, Dec. 16 — When it came to understanding the dynamics of long-distance love, “Like Crazy” stars Felicity Jones and Anton Yelchin were already experts before the cameras rolled. “I’m an actor, so I’m always in a long-distance relationship,” Jones explained in an interview during the Toronto International Film Festival in September. “So I definitely empathized with how it feels to be away from home and in transit.”
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Monday, March 18,2013

We're only in it for the money

'Where Soldiers Come From' takes a tough look at the realities of combat

by James Sanford
Friday, Nov. 4 -- Remember the days when young men enlisted in the military because they wanted to fight to preserve the American way of life, or defeat a foreign threat or simply see the world? Bodi, Dom and Cole, the trio of young men from Michigan's Upper Peninsula who are the central figures in "Where Soldiers Come From," didn't join the National Guard for any of those reasons. They did it for the money and, as two of them note, a feeling of "I might as well do something with my life."
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Monday, March 18,2013

City Pulse makes 'The Colbert Report'

Bullying article gets Comedy Central spotlight

by James Sanford
Thursday, Nov. 10 — Yes, that really was a City Pulse clip on last night's "The Colbert Report" episode on Comedy Central: The "Brushfire over bullying" story was shown in Stephen Colbert's introduction to a segment on the controversy over Michigan's anti-bullying legislation and Republican lawmakers' attempts to modify the language in the bill. The article in the current edition was used as a jumping-off point for its look at the measure that passed the state Senate last week with a provision that protected “statements of a sincerely held religious belief or moral conviction.”
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Monday, March 18,2013

To fetch a pail of (toilet) water

Adam Sandler tackles a dual role in the painfully puerile 'Jack and Jill'

by James Sanford
In the secret language shared by twins Jack and Jill Sadelstein, the phrase “polly wolly zoom golly golly” means “I want to choke on my own vomit.” And that’s precisely what Adam Sandler proceeds to do for 91 soul-crushing, stomach-churning, laugh-free minutes in “Jack and Jill,” yet another movie that was made primarily because the star needed a vacation (for no apparent reason, most of the last third of the film is essentially a commercial for Royal Caribbean International cruises). Sandler gives his audience a trip, too — a first-class ticket straight to Hollywood Hell.
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Monday, March 18,2013

Breaking down

Overwrought, unintentionally hilarious 'Breaking Dawn, Part One' kills off the 'Twilight' franchise

by James Sanford
Stephenie Meyer, the queen of supernatural teen romance, was faced with a rebellion in her kingdom when “Breaking Dawn,” the final installment of her phenomenally successful “Twilight” series, was published in 2008. Many readers were dissatisfied with the wrap-up of the love triangle between mortal Bella Swan, vampire Edward Cullen and werewolf Jacob Black, and they took their complaints to Facebook, Twitter and fan sites.Three years later, the griping can begin anew with “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Part One,” which quickly vanquishes whatever good will might have been built up by the earlier films in the series. Sour, clunky and sometimes unintentionally hilarious, the cinematic “Dawn” drives a splintery stake straight through the heart of the franchise.
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Monday, March 18,2013

'Flint Food Fighters' premieres at MSU

Documentary profiles five people involved in the urban farming movement

by James Sanford
Thursday, Nov. 17 — The documentary "The Kings of Flint" screened last Sunday as part of the East Lansing Film Festival — but it's already got a sequel. Michigan State University faculty members Geri Alumit Zeldes and Troy Hale host the premiere of “Flint Food Fighters” at 10 a.m. Friday in room 145 of the Communication Arts and Sciences Building on the MSU campus.
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