Category: "Sponsored Movie Review"

The Visitor

June 8th, 2011

The VisitorHailed as "one of the most intriguing drama" (Claudia Puig, USA Today), THE VISITOR stars Richard Jenkins (SIX FEET UNDER) in a "perfect performance" (Lisa Schwarzbaum, Entertainment Weekly) as Walter, a disaffected college professor who has been drifting aimlessly through his life.

When, in a chance encounter on a trip into New York, Walter discovers a couple has taken up residence in his apartment in the city, he develops as unexpected and profound conection to them that will change his life forever.

As challenges arise for his tenants Tarek (Haaz Sleiman) and Zainab (Danai Gurira), Walter finds himself compelled to help his new friends, and rediscovers a passion he thought he had lost long ago. Written and directed by Tom McCarthy (The Station Agent), internationally-renowned Hiam Abbass (Munic) co-stars in "the year's first genuine must-see film" (Ann Hornaday, The Washington Post) about rediscovering life's rhythms in the most unexpected places.

I was eager to see this movie. It was written and directed by the man who both wrote and directed a movie that I really enjoy: The Station Agent. Both movies feature a theme of a solitary man finding friends in the least likely of circumstances.

Richard Jenkins plays the protagonist in The Visitor and, while it is not the most dynamic role, he was great. It was not his performance, however, that should get you to see this movie. Haaz Sleiman may be a one-hit wonder, but I hope not. He is Tarek, the illegal immigrant that Jenkins's character finds living in his apartment in New York City. He is tremendously charismatic.

This is not the fastest-paced movie. Please be patient, this movie is worth your time.



March 17th, 2011


TraitorAcademy Award nominee Don Cheadle (Hotel Rwanda, Crash) and Guy Pearce (Memento, L.A. Confidential) star in Traitor, a taut international thriller set against a puzzle of covert counter-espionage operations.

When straight-arrow FBI agent agent Roy Clayton (Pearce) investigates a dangerous international conspiracy responsible for a prison break in Yemen, a bombing in Nice and a raid in London, all clues seem to lead back to former U.S. Special Operations officer, Samir Horn (Cheadle). But a tangle of contradictory evidence emerges, forcing Clayton to question whether his suspect is a disaffected former military operative -- or something far more complicated.

Obsessed with discovering the truth, Clayton tracks Horn across the globe as the elusive ex-soldier burrows deeper and deeper into a world of shadows and intrigue.

Don Cheadle is Samir Horn, a man who makes unlikely friends with a Middle-Eastern terrorist group. Does he support their holy mission, in furtherance of the God he shares with them? Or may he be the catalyst to bring this group down...from the inside?

You can no longer count the number of movies about the global threat of Middle Eastern terrorism on one hand. It is a topic that gets headlines around the world, and movie makers must salivate over the screenplays. I have admitted my bias, and maybe that is what made this movie mediocre for me. I thought the Americans were portrayed as ruthless, witless cowboys. I'm not saying I agree or disagree with that viewpoint, but only that I grow tired of it.

Don Cheadle is my saving grace. He is one of the finest actors of this time. He has a seriousness about him that makes everything he says worth hearing. This movie followed him through some very difficult decisions and you feel torn in two directions almost more than he is. He is a talent worth keeping an eye on. He is also the only real highlight in this movie for me. The rest of the movie was just another take on these now-popular, religious Crusades.


Sunshine Cleaning

March 8th, 2011


Sunshine CleaningAcademy Award Nominee Amy Adams, Golden Globe Winner Emily Blunt, and Academy Award Winner Alan Arkin find an unexpected way to turn their lives around in this "colorful, refreshingly quirky comic drama" (Leah Rozen, People).

Desperate to get her son into a better school, single mom Rose Lorkowski (Amy Adams) persuades her slacker sister Norah (Emily Blunt) to join her in the crime scene cleanup business to make some quick case. With the help of their ill-fated salesman father (Alan Arkin), they climb the ranks in a very dirty job, finding themselves up to their elbows in murders, suicides, and...specialized situations. But underneath the dust and grime they also come to discover a true respect for one another, and create a brighter future for the entire Lorkowski family.

The plot was nothing extraordinary, but the characters and the actors cast in those roles could have been very endearing. The character development left much to be desired. With a cast including Amy Adams, Alan Arkin and Clifton Collins, Jr., it might be my naïveté to assume the film makers would let them shine. Ms. Adams and Mr. Arkin drift aimlessly through this film as cliché. The former cheer captain who is unable to lead her own life and leave the star quarterback behind. The grandfather who is unlucky in business but always working some angle only to disappoint his family with unfulfilled promises. If the characters are nothing new, at least try to present them in a unique fashion. That was not done here. Mr. Collins, Jr. is too talented to take such a small part where his role is as more of a prop than a character worth developing. Regardless of Mr. Collins Jr.'s involvement, the character he played could have improved the movie with minimal expansion.

I wanted a movie about the strength of troubled relatives as they came together as a family. Perhaps it was my expectations that got the better of me. Perhaps this movie was a good idea in theory and once executed missed its mark. If you must, decide for yourself. I'm sorry, but I cannot recommend this movie.

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