Abraham Benrubi

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The Finest Hours Review

Excellent

With its rousing, old-fashioned tone, this fact-based epic is properly thrilling and inspirational, a tale of heroism that almost seems too good to be true. But it's the astonishing story of a real sea rescue carried out by ordinary men who rose to the challenge. It's also expertly directed by Craig Gillespie (Million Dollar Arm) to bring out subtle character detail amid the exhilarating action.

The events took place in a sleepy Massachusetts fishing town in the dead of winter 1952, where Bernie (Chris Pine) is an earnest Coast Guard sailor who has just agreed to marry his strong-willed sweetheart Miriam (Holliday Grainger). Then one night a fierce storm breaks an oil tanker in half just off the coast, and Bernie is sent by his aloof commander Daniel (Eric Bana) to lead a rescue mission. He takes his colleague Richard (Ben Foster) and two young crewmen (Kyle Gallner and John Magaro) with him, heading into the dangerous sea swells. Meanwhile on the tanker's still-floating stern section, engineer Ray (Casey Affleck) becomes the leader of a cantankerous 32-man crew, steering the wreckage toward the relative safety of a shoal. And in these conditions, the odds are in nobody's favour.

Unusually, despite pitch-black conditions with driving rain and swelling seas, the on-screen action is crisp and clear. Gillespie uses vivid effects and clever camerawork to keep the audience right in the thick of things, conveying a vivid sense of scale while detailing the connections between each string of events. And because we understand what's happening and who these people are, the set-pieces are literally breathtaking. This is partially due to the fact that these are normal people who are very easy to identify with, from Pine's inarticulate but tenacious sailor to Affleck's reluctant natural leader. Intriguingly, Grainger's Miriam is the film's feistiest character, a woman who simply can't sit still and wait for news.

Continue reading: The Finest Hours Review

Little Boy Trailer


Pepper Flynt Busbee (Jakob Salvati) is a 7-year-old boy who stands much shorter than any of his classmates, to the worry of his mother (Emily Watson). He has few worries himself though, despite the occasional bully, forever playing adventure games with his beloved father (Michael Rapaport) and feeling like he can take on the world. Things take a turn for the worst, however, when his father is sent off to fight during the troubles of World War II. Distraught, Pepper is willing to do anything to get his father back, and when he is encouraged to use his focus to move an object during a magic show, he starts to see that he really can do anything. He's determined to use his ability to summon Mr. Busbee back home, but he has to be careful never to let a single trace of doubt cross his mind.

Continue: Little Boy Trailer

Bounty Killer Review


Good

Like a spoof mash-up of Mad Max and Machete, this nutty action movie throws us into a Wild West dystopia with enough wit and energy to overcome its clunky production values. A whiff of serious subtext helps too. Although it's essentially just a riotous B-movie thrill ride without much of a plot.

The story takes place in the near future, after the Corporate Wars destroyed the world. Now the former company executives are under death warrants, chased by superstar bounty killers through the desolate landscape. One of the most notorious killers is Drifter (Marsden), who has a bounty on his head after sniffing too close to a major scandal. As he heads to the Council to clear his name, he and his new gun caddy Jack (Hardley) are chased by the glamourous killer Mary Death (Pitre). And all of them are being pursued by the relentless Van Sterling (Busey), whose shady boss (Loken) is working on some sort of nefarious plan.

The film's luridly colourful design echoes its graphic-novel origins, as do the comic-book animation segments. And the violence is relentlessly blood-spurting, keeping us laughing so we don't notice how cheesy the effects and action really are. Fortunately, everything is underscored with sardonic humour, rude jokes and melodramatic characters, each of whom has a torrid history. This allows for plenty of irrelevant innuendo, especially between the inexpressive Marsden and the striking Pitre.

Continue reading: Bounty Killer Review

Miss Congeniality 2: Armed & Fabulous Review


Unbearable

Sandra Bullock isn't doing her underappreciated talentany favors by appearing in "Miss Congeniality 2: Armed & Fabulous,"a relentlessly dim-witted sequel to her 2000 hit about a tomboy FBI agentgoing undercover at a beauty pageant.

The first "MissCongeniality" was itself so hackneyed thatthe actress's Lucille-Ball-like gift for guffaws was just about its onlysaving grace, and the same fate befalls her here. Bullock's delivery ofa few choice one-liners is the sole source of laughs in this clunker, andit's amazing to see her pull them off when her character has, without explanation,turned into a vapid, shallow, egocentric Barbie doll nitwit after becomingan implausible spokesmodel for the FBI.

It seems after her exposure at the Miss United States beautypageant in the first picture, the bureau decided she could best serve hercountry by being tarted up literally in satin and bows, and paraded aroundon a waving-and-smiling publicity tour of talk shows and personal appearances.

Continue reading: Miss Congeniality 2: Armed & Fabulous Review

Without A Paddle Review


Weak

A threesome of comedy second-bananas star in "Without a Paddle" as childhood pals (and Central Casting clichés) who reunite after the funeral of an adventurous friend (he died in a parachuting accident) for one "last chance to do something incredibly stupid together" -- they get lost in the Oregon woods while hunting for the missing loot of legendary skyjacker D.B. Cooper.

One guy is an over-achieving pantywaist physician (Seth Green, Scott Evil in "Austin Powers"), one's a slacker stuck in a responsibility-ducking rut (Matthew Lillard, Shaggy from the "Scooby-Doo" flicks), and one's a wisecracking lout (Ashton Kutcher's talent-deficient "Punk'd" sidekick Dax Shepard) who is rapidly approaching an age at which arrested development becomes inescapably pathetic.

But on this boating trip, all of them will overcome their hang-ups and discover that "being alive is the treasure" by way of predictable misadventures: going over waterfalls and having run-ins with bears, a redneck sheriff, heavy-set and heavily-armed hillbilly pot farmers, a mysterious mountain man (wild-bearded Burt Reynolds) and a pair of sexy tree-sitting flower children with shaved pits but hairy legs.

Continue reading: Without A Paddle Review

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Abraham Benrubi Movies

The Finest Hours Movie Review

The Finest Hours Movie Review

With its rousing, old-fashioned tone, this fact-based epic is properly thrilling and inspirational, a tale...

Little Boy Trailer

Little Boy Trailer

Pepper Flynt Busbee (Jakob Salvati) is a 7-year-old boy who stands much shorter than any...

Bounty Killer Movie Review

Bounty Killer Movie Review

Like a spoof mash-up of Mad Max and Machete, this nutty action movie throws us...

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Miss Congeniality 2: Armed & Fabulous Movie Review

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Without A Paddle Movie Review

Without A Paddle Movie Review

A threesome of comedy second-bananas star in "Without a Paddle" as childhood pals (and Central...

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