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MAY 7TH, 2013

THE ORANGES // With a great cast and of-our-time, messy love story, “The Oranges” plays out similar to an off-beat comedy like “Orange County”. The narration is used effectively to tell the story and comes from the best character it could (Alia Shawcat), while the story itself is fresh, depicting the older man / younger woman scenario like its never been told before, bringing to light the complex nature of doing what makes you happy, regardless of what people around you will say. Hugh Laurie shows that he definitely has a place following the conclusion of “House M.D.” while the rest of the cast fill their roles nicely without much rising above their regular performances.

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MAMA // For the most part, Guillermo del Toro and his team get it right with “Mama”, creating a truly unique and classic-tinged horror film. Centered around two feral young girls who are found in the wilderness and taken in by their uncle, the eeriness about the children in their new living situation along with a woman (Jessica Chastain) who is definitely not ready for children, is horrific enough to keep the film fresh and endearing. Whether the girls are crawling around in the dark, singing in the night, or smiling evilly into a corner, the kids sell this film to its utmost potential, while Chastain basically holds on for dear life, reacting with painful ease through the twists and turns of the plot. What then kills that potential is the need to give Mama a face. At first, we are allowed to imagine what Mama could be, as one of the girls plays blanket tug-o-war with an unknown entity. Out of focus and creeping in the nether regions of the frame, Mama is terrifying. But as soon as she’s given a face to which we see constantly, it refrains from being scary. The screenplay gets so convoluted that by the end of the film, you are shaking your head and wondering where the formidable horror film ran off to.

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JACK REACHER // With a solid performance from Tom Cruise in a role that is all too close to his “Mission Impossible” persona, “Jack Reacher” pulls itself out of the disaster it could have been, and remains a decent action thriller. With the film banking on several twists, there is often the cause for concern of diving into melodrama, yet director-writer McQuarrie never quite takes the audience there and keeps most twists straight-forward. There are several moments in the film I still don’t agree with, one of which was used in marketing, in which by-standing pedestrians help Reacher to elude the huge mass of cop cars chasing him. I get that as the audience, we know Reacher is the protagonist and, for the most part, we root for that character, but those pedestrians have no idea who he is and the fact that police are chasing him should be more cause for concern. Are they afraid of him? Are they genuinely bad people allowing criminals to escape? Who can tell for sure. Overall, “Jack Reacher” overshadows its shortcomings with decent performances, especially from the all-but-unknown Jai Courtney as one of the main villains and a surprising, yet astounding performance from director Werner Herzog.

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SAFE HAVEN // Truth be told, I could watch Julianne Hough with short, blonde hair, do just about anything for any period of time. And for such a young actress with plenty of other professions on her plate, she nails a good portion of her moments. “Safe Haven” is another Nicholas Sparks adaptation and although it lacks the sincerity and thoughtfulness of Sparks’ previous works (meaning I did not cry during this screening), it still attempts to hit those marks. Containing many telegraphed and laughable twists, the film falls shy of two hours long and loses all of its steam in the last thirty minutes. Sparks’ films rely heavily on the chemistry between the leads and Hough/Duhamel may not be the best couple to come out of his adaptations, it was still nice to see. The love story of “Safe Haven” is worth the price of admission, but the muddling counterparts including the insanely bad twist at the end is what gives these types of films a bad name.

New Releases
Jack Reacher
Mama (2013)
The Oranges (2012)
Safe Haven (2013)
Upstream Color


TV Box Set

  • Flashpoint: Season Five
  • Fringe: Season Five
  • Fringe: The Complete Series
  • Gunsmoke: Season Eight
  • Have Gun Will Travel: Season Six
  • K9: The Complete Series
  • Private Practice: Season Six
  • Rookie Blue: Season Three
  • Royal Pains: Season Four

Special Editions/Other Releases

  • Ariadne Auf Naxos
  • Band of Outsiders: Criterion
  • Beyond the Heavens
  • Clandestine Childhood
  • The Condemned
  • Doctors of the Dark Side
  • Kids on the Slope: Complete Collection
  • Pocoyo: Pocoyo’s World
  • Radio Unnameable
  • The Rabbi’s Cat
  • Starlet 2-denied2
  • Superman: Unbound
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