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Reviews for September 23rd, 2011






Abduction

Directed by John Singleton.




     

      Nathan Harper (Taylor Lautner), a teenager, lives in a quiet suburban home with his mother, Mara (Maria Bello), and his father, Kevin (Jason Isaacs). He suffers from anger problems, so he sees a shrink, Dr. Bennett (Sigourney Weaver). When his schoolteacher assigns him a research project, he happens to pair up with Karen (Lily Collins), who happens to be his neighbor and happens to be sexy. He then stumbles upon a photo that looks like him on a missing persons website which leads him to believe that Mara and Kevin arenít his real parents. Right when he confronts Mara, she admits the truth to him before assigns show up, kill her and Kevin, and burn down the house with a bomb in the oven to somehow make it look like a gas leak. Nathan and Karen find themselves running away from not only the assassins, but also a CIA team headed by Burton (Alfred Molina).

      The screenplay by Shawn Christensen throws plausibility right out the window from start to finish, which would have been acceptable if there were any thrills or suspense to compensate for that. Instead, you get poorly-paced action sequences, preposterous twists, stilted dialogue and, to top it all off, painfully wooden acting by Taylor Lautner who appears to be sleepwalking throughout the film. He doesnít even seem to be trying to act, so perhaps he was too bored with his role. Even respectable actors like Sigourney Weaver and Alfred Molina fall flat in their roles and embarrass themselves here because of the weak script. They should have known better than to choose to be in such an awful film.

      Christensen and director John Singleton have essentially made a comedy by accident because youíll find plenty of unintentionally funny lines and outrageously silly plot twists. Oh, and donít forget the painfully corny romance that develops between Nathan and Karen. In one particular scene that wonít be spoiled too much here, a character who shouldnít have been alive pops into the screen all of a sudden. One could only wish that the character were rising from the dead as a zombie to kill off the main characters. That would have been a satisfying ending. Even the transitions between scenes and the awkward tonal shifts will generate laughter.

      At a running time of 1 hour and 46 minutes, Abduction is the best unintentional comedy of the year.



Number of times I checked my watch: 3
Released by Lionsgate Films.
Opens nationwide.



Journey from Zanskar

Directed by Frederick Marx.






Number of times I checked my watch: 1
Released by Warrior Films.
Opens at the Quad Cinema.



Weekend

Directed by Andrew Haigh.




      Russell (Tom Cullen), a young man who hooks up with Glen (Chris New), an artist, after meeting him at a nightclub. The one-night-stand blossoms into an unexpected romance as they both gradually fall in love with one another throughout the weekend. Writer/director Andrew Haigh knows how to keep audiences engaged by maintaining realism unpretentiously. Russell and Glen both seem like real human beings with complex emotions, so, in turn, their chemistry is quite palpable. Haigh deftly balances the romance and drama with just the right amount of comic relief. On top of that, the cinematography looks crisp with exquisite compositions, and the film moves as just the right pace. One particularly memorable scene is a long shot of Glen walking on a path as Russell watches him from his apartment above. Itís worth noting that Haigh does not resort to creating tension via shaky camera movements because, instead, the tension comes from the well-written characters themselves.

     Weekend manages to be the most powerful, honest and engrossing romantic drama since Before Sunrise.

Number of times I checked my watch: 0
Released by Sundance Selects.
Opens at the IFC Center.


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