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Jordan Hoffman

’12 Years a Slave’ Review

12 Years a Slave Review
Fox Searchlight

It would be a lot easier if you could say, "it's just a movie." The sickening thing, the thing that may make it difficult to convince you to buy a ticket, is the opening card that reads, "based on a true story." But facing the cruelty of America's original sin is what '12 Years a Slave' is all about. That's what Solomon Northup did.

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‘Rush’ Review

Rush review
Universal Pictures

Ron Howard's 'Rush' is over two straight hours of lionizing F1 drivers as though they were Gods who ride among us. That aspect is demeaning and insufferable. But the thing is, 'Rush' is a good enough movie on its merits that I pretty much enjoyed it. If you are one who enjoys racing, I can only imagine how you'll react. (Perhaps you should wear a bib for all the drooling.)

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‘Prisoners’ Review

Prisoners review
Warner Bros.

Here's a tip. If you don't want people to think you are a child molester, pick out different frames than the ones Paul Dano wears in 'Prisoners.'

When neither Jake Gyllenhaal (as Detective Loki - yeah, you read that right) or his CSI crew can find any evidence that suspected molester Dano abducted two little girls that went for an unsupervised walk through a Pennsylvania suburb after Thanksgiving dinner, it's up to one of the two fathers of the girls - Hugh Jackman - to take matters into his own hand...

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‘Getaway’ Review

Getaway review
Warner Bros.

It's clear from the start that 'Getaway' is not a good movie. The opening sequence is a mess of different video stocks and flashbacks, an easy tell that a team of editors tore out their hair trying to skip as much boring exposition while leaving the first scenes cogent. But once former race car driver Brent Magna (Ethan Hawke) is behind the wheel of his stolen souped-up vehicle and is receiving crazy, destructive orders from the disembodied voice of Jon Voight, there's at least plenty of smashy-smashy to keep you occupied. The bad guy has some master plan – kidnapping Hawke's wife so that he'll be a mobile slave to his chaotic whims is part of laying the ground work.

But more than seeing traffic destruction on the streets of Sofia, Bulgaria (this month's production location low-bidder) there's a bigger catastrophe. Fifteen minutes into the movie, Selena Gomez shows up.

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We Ask the ‘Divergent’ Cast to Explain the Film to Newbies

Divergent cast
Jerod Harris, Getty Images

If you watched the new 'Divergent' trailer this morning and wondered, "Wait, what exactly is this?," don't feel bad. We did too. Despite being based on the insanely popular book series and being touted as "the next 'Hunger Games'," we'll admit to not knowing much about the story or why it's become such a sensation. So, we went to some people who we thought might know: the cast of 'Divergent.'

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‘The World’s End’ Review

The Worlds End review
Focus Features

I'd call it something of a coup that 'The World's End' - sloppy drunk though its plotting may be - so well captures the melancholy essence of men accepting, with varying success, that somehow they got old. Even though Gary King (Simon Pegg) refuses to grow up, he's caught in an early-90s time warp, still listening to mixed tapes of Soup Dragons and Stone Roses and still thinks about his high school guidance counselor. When he spies a gaggle of young punks in his quiet hometown of Letchworth he sees them as a natural threat to his entire way of life.

While subtext, this emotional material "works" in 'The World's End,' mostly due to Pegg's striking performance - a dark turn from him that mixes the sad, antic clown of early Bill Murray with a dash of genuine self-destructive menace. Also, and this is a compliment, the character drama refuses to take a back seat to the lunacy driving the plot.

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‘The Grandmaster’ Review

The Grandmaster
The Weinstein Company

How could something that is so gorgeous also be so damn dull? Well, where there's a will, there's a Wong Kar Wai.

The jazzy, experimental arthouse darling of the 1990s ('Chunking Express,' 'Fallen Angels,' 'Happy Together') fails to get out of his '2046'/'My Blueberry Nights' slump with 'The Grandmaster,' a strong contender for most boring picture of 2013. The version I saw is the Weinstein Company's “American Cut,” not to be confused with the homegrown successful “Chinese Cut” or the intermediary cut that played at festivals like Berlin.

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‘We’re the Millers’ Review

We're the Millers Review
Warner Bros.

'We're the Millers' is a vexing film. It's just funny enough to keep from being truly bad, but too preposterous and predictable to be anything close to good. For every laugh there's something that will make you want to hurl an object at the screen. When it flubs, it flubs hard, allowing each of the four main characters a chance to embarrass themselves. And yet, if you wait 'til the next scene, there's the possibility that whoever just served up a would-be joke in a humiliating fashion will do something inspired. As such, 'We're the Millers' wins some respect for at least being a very odd moviegoing experience.

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‘Elysium’ Review

Elysium review
Sony Pictures

Here's one of my favorite jokes of all time. There's no punchline, it's just a sentence. "I've been rich and miserable, and I've been poor and miserable. And I'll tell ya: rich is better."

I don't know if this is what director Neill Blomkamp had in mind as the ultimate message of 'Elysium,' his visually stunning follow-up to 'District 9,' but beneath the dazzling spectacle, there isn't much else beyond that aphorism to cling to.

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’2 Guns’ Review

2 Guns review
Universal Pictures

There's the old quote repeated by John Lennon, "life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans." '2 Guns,' starring the formidable Denzel Washington and the affable Mark Wahlberg, feels like the type of movie big stars make when they are in-between the projects they'll end up being proud of. '2 Guns' isn't terrible – it's just rare to see a movie content with “agreeable in-flight entertainment” as its highest achievement.

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