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Monday, March 18,2013

The spirit is willing — to do some killing

Daniel Radcliffe's 'Woman in Black' conjures up some old-fashioned chills

by James Sanford
One of the biggest shocks in “The Woman in Black” arrives in the first minutes, when you realize that Daniel Radcliffe, who seemed to be a child himself not so very long ago, is now playing the father of a 4-year-old. Granted, “Woman” is set in the Victorian era, when it was commonplace for teens to marry and start families, but even so the sight of a cherubic little boy calling Radcliffe “Daddy” is a bit jarring.
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Monday, March 18,2013

From bullied geek to supernatural freak

'Chronicle' isn't your standard superhero movie, but it isn't very good, either

by James Sanford
When Madonna hired a documentary crew to follow her around for her 1991 film “Truth or Dare,” many observers thought she’d scaled new heights of narcissism (even her then-boyfriend Warren Beatty brayed, “She doesn’t want to live off-camera!”). As it turned out, the high priestess of pop had once again seen the future: Twenty years later, anyone with a camera, a Facebook page or a Twitter account can be the star of his or her own show — he or she may also be the only truly interested member of the audience as well.
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Monday, March 18,2013

The layered look

Pedro Almodovar dresses up a twisted tale in stunning style in 'The Skin I Live In'

by James Sanford
Thursday, Feb. 23 — Before he was an international sex symbol, Antonio Banderas was a familiar face to fans of the films of Spanish director Pedro Almodovar. More than 20 years since their last collaboration (“Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!”), but they are reunited in “The Skin I Live In (La Piel Que Habito),” an elegantly twisted science-fiction/psychological thriller/romance that’s utterly bizarre and stunningly stylish, even by Almodovar’s standards.
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Monday, March 18,2013

Fit to be tie-dyed

Zany 'Wanderlust' finds Manhattanites Paul Rudd and Jennifer Aniston communing with hippies

by James Sanford
George and Linda Gergenblatt (Paul Rudd and Jennifer Aniston) leave behind their Manhattan studio apartment — sorry: “microloft” — for a Georgia commune — oops: “intentional community” — in director David Wain’s “Wanderlust,” a fish-out-of-water comedy that manages to be both raunchy and surprisingly sweet-natured. And no, it's not always so genteel in its language.
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Monday, March 18,2013

Warm up for 'Moulin Rouge — The Ballet' with 'Moulin Rouge' the movie

The Nicole Kidman/Ewan McGregor musical returns to Celebration Cinema this weekend

by James Sanford
Wednesday, March 7 — Canada's Royal Winnipeg Ballet presents "Moulin Rouge — The Ballet" next Wednesday at the Wharton Center. You can get in the "Moulin" mood with the 2001 Nicole Kidman/Ewan McGregor movie, which screens this weekend at Celebration Cinema Lansing.
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Monday, March 18,2013

'Flash Gordon' without the flash

Edgar Rice Burroughs' 'John Carter' series turns 100 this year; 'John Carter' the movie only seems to go on for 100 years

by James Sanford
Rip Van Winkle’s got nothing on John Carter, a Civil War vet who falls asleep in an Arizona cave in 1868 and awakens in an arid wasteland in which he finds himself able to jump half a mile into the sky and bound effortlessly across the plains. “Where on earth am I?” Carter wonders. It’s called Mars — or, as the natives say, Barsoom.
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Monday, March 18,2013

Let your 'Guard' down and laugh

Brendan Gleeson and Don Cheadle are a mismatched pair of cops in a politically incorrect comedy set in Ireland

by James Sanford
Tuesday, March 13 — Mismatched cop comedies are certainly nothing new, but leave it to writer-director John Michael McDonagh to put a bit of Irish spring into an all-too-familiar concept.
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Monday, March 18,2013

'Home'-spun humor

Jason Segel, Ed Helms and Susan Sarandon bring comic conviction to 'Jeff'

by James Sanford
“What do you do in the basement?” asks Jeff’s puzzled mom, Sharon (Susan Sarandon). “You’re not cleaning it.” “Do you really want to know?” Jeff (Jason Segel) answers. “You didn’t like the last time we had this conversation.” That’s not so surprising since the 30-year-old Jeff is a pothead, an M. Night Shyamalan fan and one of those “failure to launch” cases that never got his act together and took it on the road. Consequently, he remains “Jeff, Who Lives at Home.”
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Monday, March 18,2013

Fast times at Rerun High

Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill 'Jump' into action in a hilarious take-off

by James Sanford
What the world probably doesn’t need right now is one more big-screen adaptation of an all-but-forgotten TV series. Another buddy-cop flick? Yeah, we could get along just fine without that, too. But “21 Jump Street” qualifies as a happy surprise, a bad idea that turns out to be an often uproariously funny movie.
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Monday, March 18,2013

Food for thought

Disturbing? Yes. Violent. Sure. But 'The Hunger Games' is also a smart, stylish crowd-pleaser

by James Sanford
What if they held a Hunger Games pageant and nobody watched? That's the question posed by Gale Hawthorne (Liam Hemsworth), a young man who stands a strong chance of being recruited for the annual ritual held in the futuristic republic of Panem. His friend, Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence), laughs at the thought of people tuning out on the Hunger Games because if you're a citizen of Panem, you're expected to be glued to your TV.
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