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Reviews for February 18th, 2011

The Chaperone

Directed by Stephen Herek

Please check back soon for a full review.
Number of times I checked my watch: 5
Opens at the Village East Cinema.
Released by Samuel Goldwyn Films.

Even the Rain

Directed by Icíar Bollaín

Please check back soon for a full review.
Number of times I checked my watch: 1
Opens at the Angelika Film Center.
Released by Vitagraph Films.

I Am Number Four

Directed by D.J. Caruso.

Based on the novel by Jobie Hughes and James Frey.

      John Smith (Alex Pettyfer), a Loriens alien seeking refuge on planet Earth, has superpowers that he hasn’t learned to control yet. The Mogadorian aliens have already destroyed his race on his home planet, and have killed three Loriens on Earth, so John knows that he would be number four, the next Lorien to be killed. He moves with his guardian, Henri (Timothy Olyphant), from Florida to the small town of Paradise, Ohio where he assumes a new identity and enrolls in the local high school before Henri makes sure to erase all photos of him on the internet. Good luck trying not to roll your eyes when John befriends and defends a geek, Sam (Callan McAuliffe), develops a romance with a Sarah (Dianna Agron), a sexy girl who’s passionate about photography, and must deal with a cocky jock, Mark (Jake Abel), who competes with him for Sarah’s affection. A total of three screenwriters, namely, Alfred Gough, Miles Millar and Marti Noxon, wrote the screenplay and it feels that way because I Am Number Four tries to be a teen romance, drama and sci-fi action thriller all at once, but ends up being neither diverting, suspenseful or engrossing. The plot doesn’t even have internal logic. If you haven’t read the novel, chances are that you’ll be confused throughout most of the film, especially during the later part of the second act when something unexpected happens to John’s dog which will most likely cause you to laugh unintentionally.

      Alex Pettyfer gives such a bland performance as the lead role that he turns John Smith into a charmless, boring character thereby making it difficult to grasp what Sarah sees in him to begin with. Some audience members might be able to forgive the corny, implausible romance between John and Sarah, but even when the film kicks its action into full gear, there’s nothing to really hold your interest beyond the nifty CGI effects. Here’s hoping that there won’t be a sequel. At a running time of 1 hour and 49 minutes, I Am Number Four suffers from so much style over substance, lack of internal logic, contrived subplots and wooden performances that it makes Twilight look like Gone with the Wind.
Number of times I checked my watch: 5
Opens nationwide.
Released by Touchtone Pictures.

The Last Lions

Directed by Dereck Joubert

Please check back soon for a full review.
Number of times I checked my watch: 0
Opens at the Angelika Film Center and Paris Theatre.
Released by National Geographic Entertainment.

Now & Later

Directed by Phillippe Diaz

      Bill (James Wortham), a former banker, faces eight years in prison for stealing large sums of money from the bank that he worked at. Instead of heading to jail, he jumps bails and flees to Los Angeles where he crosses paths with an illegal immigrant, Angela (Shari Solanis). She invites him to her humble abode where they briefly chat before she disrobes and has sex with him despite that he has a wife, Sally (Marcellina Walker). There’s very little to like about Bill because he’s not only a criminal, but also an adulterer who comes across as concurrently selfish and unintelligent. Angela keenly points out to him that most Americans are trapped in a bubble, so-to-speak, because they don’t realize how corrupt their own government is when it comes to the CIA assassinating leaders around the world. When he’s initially shy about getting naked, she derides him for being so scared of being afraid to have meaningless, casual sex with her. Unfortunately, writer/director Philippe Diaz doesn’t take his concepts far enough, so when Bill and Angela aren’t have sex, they talk a lot, but say very little that helps you to care about them as human beings. Why not provide more background information about both of them or at least let them have an intelligent conversation or two about the interesting political points that Angela makes?

     Audiences looking for lots of nudity and sex will be pleased by those unflinchingly graphic scenes, but probably will feel bored by the seemingly tacked-on sociopolitical messages. Conversely, those looking for political messages or an engaging drama/romance will find the sex scenes to be merely distracting from the larger, more important issues that the film lazily dodges. Shari Solanis indeed looks sexy which helps you to see why Bill feels so attracted to her, but she gives a mediocre performance at best while James Wortham pretty much sleepwalks through his role as Bill without the requisite charisma or acting abilities to make his character believable or even remotely engaging. At a running time of 1 hour and 37 minutes, Now & Later is essentially a lazy porno with an dull plot, poor performances and tacked-on, underexplored sociopolitical messages.
Number of times I checked my watch: 3
Opens at the Quad Cinema.
Released by Cinema Libre Studio.

We Are What We Are

Directed by Jorge Michel Grau

Please check back soon for a full review.
Number of times I checked my watch: 1
Opens at IFC Center.
Released by IFC Films.

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