* Miles Top Pick
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End Of Watch (R) It's basically a cop/buddy movie, familiar territory for writer-director David Ayer (Training Day), but it's exciting and intense. Michael Pena and Jake Gyllenhaal do the honors. Anna Kendrick and America Ferrera play the requisite babes.
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The Master (R ) *Joaquin Phoenix is sensational as a sailor who returns home after World War II and falls under the spell of a cult leader, brilliantly played by Philip Seymour Hoffman. The director Paul Thomas Anderson (Magnolia, There Will be Blood) brilliantly weaves this off-kilter tale and it leaves viewers struggling for answers by the film's end. Co-starring Amy Adams and Laura Dern. The cast may earn several Oscar nominations among them.
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The Pirates! Band of Misfits This animated film bombed in the theaters but should play much better at home for the kids. Hugh Grant is charming as the Pirate Captain who takes on the villainous Black Bellamy (Jeremy Pevin) and Cutlass Liz (Salma Hayek). Shiver me timbers and all that sort of stuff.
Lawless (R) Shia LaBeouf, Guy Pearce, and Tom Hardy star as the real-life Bondurant Brothers, the legendary bootleggers who made it big during Prohibition. It's basically a very violent gangster movie, so beware before you let the little ones sneak in to see it.
The Inbetweeners (R) This British TV series, about four nerds who go on vacation and bond, has been done many, many times starting with American Pie. This one, like most of the others, is crude and silly, but funny. Add a star if you are a nerdy 15 year-old with nerdy friends who like to bond.
For A Good Time Call... (R) You knew they were coming after the success of Bridesmaids female buddy movies. This one works, thanks to a sassy script by newcomers Lauren Anne Miller and Katie Anne Naylon. Seth Rogen, Nia Vardalos, Mimi Rogers and Justin Long lead a solid cast.
Premium Rush (PG-13) * September begins the golden season for film lovers, when the big summer action blockbusters fade and the serious awards contenders are released. David Koepp, one of Hollywood's go-to film writers (Spider Man, Mission Impossible) wrote and directed this sleeper about an aggressive New York City bicycle messenger who finds himself targeted for death. It's a good one, and New Yorkers will especially love it whether it plays well in Hollywood remains to be seen, but we may have our first Oscar contender. Don't miss it.
Sleepwalk With Me (NR) Comedian Mike Birbiglia employs a documentary technique to tell his first person tale of a struggling comedian trying to make it to the big time. He made most of the stuff up but no matter, it's a hilarious tale indeed. Don't miss it.
The Expendables 2 (R) It's hard to believe they made another one, but they did. This time around, as in their first effort, Sly Stallone and his Over The Hill Gang of mercenaries ham it up while the bodies stack up. Stallone penned the suitably unbelievable script, and Dolph Lundgren, Jason Statham, Bruce Willis et al pick up an easy paycheck while perpetuating the myth that they are still tough guys.
Cosmopolis (R) The director David Cronenberg (The Fly, The Dead Zone) brings us this complex, troubling sci-fi flick starring the white-hot Robert Pattinson, who is brilliant as financial wizard whose world suddenly crumbles. Juliette Binoche and Paul Giamatti lead a sterling cast. This is a well-thought out fantasy/thriller and worth seeing.
Hope Springs (PG-13) Two old pros, Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones, are at the top of their games in this dramedy from the director David Frankel (The Devil Wears Prada). Kay (Streep) convinces her skeptical husband Arnold (Jones) to visit a couples specialist (Steve Carrell) in the hope of invigorating their marriage. It's a fun romp and touching and Oscar likely beckons for both stars.
The Bourne Legacy (PG-13) The hugely popular franchise the films have grossed a billion dollars worldwide carries on with a new Bourne, Jeremy (The Hurt Locker) Renner. It's even slicker than the others, and features a cast to die for Rachel Weisz, Albert Finney, Edward Norton, Stacy Keach, and the wonderful Joan Allen. Bourne lives on.
Celeste And Jesse Forever (R ) Celeste and Jesse are high school sweethearts who get married. But by age 30 Celeste is an upcoming executive and Jesse an unemployed underachiever. Celeste decides a divorce is the only way to save their long-term friendship. In lesser hands this movie might have flopped, but Rashida Jones (I Love You Man, The Social Network) has penned a sassy, multilayered script and Andy Samberg ("Saturday Night Life") is perfectly cast as Jesse. Jones, the Harvard-educated daughter of music producer Quincy Jones and the actress Peggy Lipton, has herself a hit.
Diary Of A Wimpy Kid: Dog Days (PG-13) Greg Heffley, the hero of the book series, comes to the big screen as played by Zachary Gordon (National Treasure: Book Of Secrets). David Bowers (Star Wars Episode III) directs. If you are 13, this is a must see movie.
Klown (NR) This insane film follows three crazy people two men and a 12 year-old, through a series of escapades too outlandish to even mention here. There is a slapstick element to the film we couldn't quite get into, but it is undeniably funny and strangely sentimental. It's worth the price of admission and then some.
Killer Joe (NC-17) It's been a while since William Friedkin (The Exorcist, The French Connection) had a commercial smash and this film probably won't be it's too brutal, for one reason. It's the story of a 22-year drug dealer (Emile Hirsch) who approaches his father (Thomas Haden Church) for help after his mother steals his stash. The pair decides to hire a hit man to kill the despised mother and collect her insurance. Enter Matthew McConaughey, who (Gasp!) gives a deeply textured yet disturbing performance as Joe Cooper. It's a mystery, suspenseful and even funny at times. Ultimately, though, it's too disturbing for the mainstream moviegoer.
Ted (R) Seth MacFarlane, the creator of "Family Guy," tries his hand on the big screen with this offbeat effort, about a grown man (Mark Wahlberg) whose cherished Teddy Bear suddenly comes to life. Really. There may be films that have been produced on flimsier plot lines, but we can't think of any offhand. Nevertheless, MacFarlane, has a sick sense of humor, and some of his stuff is truly funny.
The Dark Knight Rises (PG-13) Christian Bale returns as Batman/Bruce Wayne four years after the last megahit. As was the case the last time, the film is too long at 165 minutes, and all the action sequences begin to wear. Gary Oldman, Michael Caine, and Anne Hathaway co-star. Tom Hardy, though, as the ruthless criminal Bane, gets the plum job as the villain that brings Batman out of retirement.
Hara-Kiri: Death of a Samurai (NR) * Takashi Miike has created a remarkable film earmarked by his stunning camera work and gripping performances. On the surface it is the tale of a samurai who wants an honorable death by ritual suicide, but the plot runs far deeper, and branches out in many unforeseen directions. This film may not be screened on the East End, but New Yorkers should take note to look for it in the city.
The Collaborator (NR) Martin Donovan wrote, directed, and stars in this film, billed as a comedy about a screenwriter on the skids. It's not really funny, but critics seem to like it. On the other hand, audiences haven't. Be forewarned. Co-starring David Morse, Olivia Williams, and Katherine Helmond.
The Imposter * Critics are raving about this documentary about the 1994 disappearance of a 13 year-old in Texas. Director Bart Layton, in his first effort, deftly lays out a series of occurrences even Hollywood's greatest scriptwriters would have trouble coming up with. And it's all true. This film may not make it to the East End, but it is worth a trip to Manhattan if it doesn't.
The Amazing Spider Man (PG-13) Again? Yep. This time with a new director (Marc Webb) and a new cast. But Andrew Garfield (The Social Network) as Peter brings some chops to the role. Unlike Tobey Maquire, a somewhat nerdy Spiderman whose overly innocent look seldom left his face, Garfield has a chip on his shoulder -- he's something of a rebel, and Emma Stone (The Help) is perfect as Gwen. It's slick summer fare to be sure, but it's edgy enough to distinguish itself from the original. Martin Sheen, Dennis Leary and Sally Field anchor an excellent supporting cast.
The Pact (NR) Nicholas McCarthy's first film has a tired premise: Two sisters (played by Agnes Bruckner and Caity Lotz) return home after their mother dies and stay overnight in the house. When the lights go out . . . yes, you guessed it creepy things happen. Yes, folks, ghosts. The twist is the sisters unveil some dark secrets about mumsy. It is what it is summer product for the young crowd.
People Like Us (PG-13) Alex Kurtzman, who worked with Chris Pine in Star Trek, casts his young star in a family dramedy this time around, and Pine once again delivers a fine performance. Cast as Sam, a high-powered salesman whose life crashes when a big deal collapses on the same day his father dies, Pine discovers he has a sister he's never met (Elizabeth Banks). It doesn't sound like much of a plot, but an absorbing screenplay and good actors make it surprisingly effective. Michelle Pfeiffer and the ever-present Mark Duplass co-star.
Beasts Of The Southern Wild * (PG-13) Fox Searchlight has high hopes for this fantastical debut film by Ben Zeitlin, and it is a magical ride indeed. In fact, it is the first film of the year likely to garner an Oscar nomination. Don't miss it.
Snow White And The Huntsmen (Pg-13) Credit Kristen Stewart, who can look dull and bored around werewolves and vampires and equally nonplussed with the evildoers and would-be assassins in this wacky film. The trouble is director Rupert Sanders isn't sure if it's a drama, an adventure, or a romance movie. In the end, it's all over the map. Charlize Theron is luscious as the evil queen; Chris Hemsworth and Sam Claflin also star.
Your Sister's Sister (R) Director Lynn Shelton hasn't had much commercial success or artistic either, for that matter with bombs like Humpday but she has fashioned a complex and rewarding dramedy with this one. Shelton has attracted an excellent cast, and Emily Blunt, Mark Duplass, and Rosemarie DeWitt play off of each other like seasoned pros. Part family drama, part sex farce, the film is convoluted but undeniably original.
Safety Not Guaranteed (R) Speaking of R rated dramedies starring Mark Duplass, here's another one, opening almost simultaneously. Newcomer Colin Trevorrow, working off a script from Derek Connolly, directs Duplass as an eccentric supermarket clerk who believes in time travel. It's quirky and funny, and it comes from the folks who brought us Little Miss Sunshine. Like that movie, it's a little film with a big heart. Jeff Garlin and Kristin Bell co-star.
Prometheus (R) * Ridley Scott (Alien, Blade Runner) is back in the Sci-Fi genre, and he delivers a terrifying epic sure to be one of the summer's most popular movies. Noomi Rapace (The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo) leads a stellar cast that includes Charlize Theron, Michael Fassbender, and Guy Pearce. Don't miss it.
The Loved Ones (NR) New director Dean Burns mines the Carrie vein with delightful results. When Lola asks Brent to take her to the prom and he says no Lola exacts her revenge and bad things happen. It's a good date flick.
High School (R) It's the summer season, and the teens love going to the movies. This comedy about an honor student who takes a toke and then finds out he has to take a mandatory drug test, should itch the scratch. Adrien Brody is delightfully over-the-top as the local drug dealer. All the Cheech and Chong stoner moves are on display, and every pot cliché used. In other words, the youth of America will relate.
Moonrise Kingdom * (PG-13) Wes Anderson (Bottle Rocket, Royal Tennenbaums) has assembled an incredible cast for this tale of two 12 year olds who run away into the wilderness as a violent storm approaches a New England island circa 1965. Bruce Willis plays the local sheriff, Ed Norton a scout leader, and Frances McDormand the mother of the girl as the frantic search intensifies with each passing hour. Tilda Swinton, Jason Schwartzman, co-star. Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward play the kids.
Men In Black III (PG-13) East Hampton's Barry Sonnenfeld brings his franchise back for Number 3 and like two old friends it's great to see them again. They literally go back in time, to save the world from creatures both grotesque and humorous. Agents J (Will Smith) and K (Tommy Lee Jones) have the usual snappy banter going, and Josh Brolin signs on as the wet-behind-the-ear newbie agent. Emma Thompson costars.
The Dictator (NR) Sacha Baron Cohen's latest is more of the same silliness, but this one has a few more laughs than his usual efforts. An all-star cast led by John C. Reilly, Ben Kingsley, and Megan Fox helps.
Dark Shadows (PG-13) Johnny Depp is perfect as Barnabas the vampire, but this isn't one of Tim Burton's best efforts. Don't expect a laugh riot, because a lot of the funny scenes are in the trailer. Instead, the script is meandering, the scenes disjointed, and the whole thing feels like Burton kind of mailed it in. Still, it has its moments. Add a star if you love Depp.
Yellow Submarine * (G) Yes, the one with the Beatles. Amazingly, though, it's held up remarkably well. And is still a visual treat. The music is a blast, but that goes without saying. The story line meanders, the plot is predictably far-fetched, but it's still a must see, and little kids will love it as much as their stoned parents did.
Think Like A Man (PG-13) Steve Harvey's best selling book is a surprise hit in theaters, though it suffers from director Tim Story's excesses pat dialogue and one-dimensional script. Story (Barbershop, Fantastic Four) knows how to mine for laughs, and the cast, which includes Harvey and Kevin Hart, make the most of the opportunities. It has its moments.
Marvel's The Avengers (PG-13) Summer must be near because Hollywood is unleashing its blockbusters, beginning with this all-star collection of Marvel superheroes -- Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Thor, Captain America, Hawkeye and Black Widow. Robert Downey Jr. reprises his Iron Man role, and he's joined by Mark Ruffalo (The Hulk), Chris Hemsworth (Thor), Jeremy Renner (Hawkeye), and Chris Evans (Captain America). The perceived risk would be too much star power on one screen, but the cast meshes perfectly and the film is lots of fun. Credit writer/director Joss Whedon. Samuel L. Jackson co-stars. It's typical blockbuster fare loud, incredible special effects, epic battles but it's a blast.
Piranha 3D (R) Do we really need to tell you?
The Raven (R) We usually love John Cusack, and we figured he'd be wonderful playing Edgar Allen Poe. Actually, he's not that bad, but this bloody tale, courtesy of director James McTeigue, has the makings of a serious bomb.
Darling Companion (PG-13) Usually a movie by the director Lawrence Kasdan promises to be enjoyable and sometimes (The Big Chill, Accidental Tourist) downright brilliant. And Diane Keaton and Kevin Kline are always good, right? Wrong. This is one of those dog movies where-in the bedraggled animal gets all the good scenes and the human actors come off like plastic people. Elisabeth Moss, Dianne Weist, and Mark Duplass are among the co-stars who go down with the script.
Marley (PG-13) No, not the one with Jen and the dog. This is Kevin Macdonald's documentary about the real Marley, the reggae music icon. It was made with the approval of his family so it is a loving portrait indeed. Add a star if you are into the spleef, mon.
The Three Stooges (PG-13) We hated these moronic idiots when we watched them as children, and we hate them anew after watching this loser courtesy of Bobby and Peter Farrelly. Sean Hayes does his best as Larry, Chris Diamantopoulos dies in the Mo role and Will Sasso gets the most obnoxious Stooge, Curley, and makes him ever dumber than he used to be. What was Jane Lynch thinking when she agreed to take the Mother Superior role? And Jennifer Hudson you can sing girl; you don't need this kind of flop on your resume.
A Little Bit Of Heaven (PG-13) Ouch . . . this one hurts. Kate Hudson stars in this bomb, a romantic comedy about colon cancer. Really. Even God himself as played by Whoopi Goldberg in a cameo appearance - can't save it.
The Cabin In The Woods (R ) * You think you know the plot five (attractive, of course) young people go to a remote cabin in the woods for some down time and horrible things happen. But the writers, Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard, who also directs, have created a delicious plate of surprises for those whose tastes run bloody. Whedon, by the way, is a third generation screenwriter who created Buffy The Vampire Slayer and worked on the Toy Story script. This movie is more than a horror film it takes the genre, shakes it upside down and recreates it. Don't miss this film.
Damsels In Distress (PG-13) The writer director Whit Stillman (The Last Days Of Disco, Metropolitan) has his fans, but we're not among them. His latest finds a trio of femme fatales reinventing college life.
Greta Gerwig, Megalyn Echikunwoke and Carrie MacLemore all try their best not to over-act. They meet boys and blah blah blah. It is, frankly, a waste of time. Add a star of you're a college freshman at a school that doesn't require particularly intelligent students.
Mirror Mirror (PG-13) A new take on Snow White, with Lily Collins in the title role and Julia Roberts as the evil queen. We prefer the traditional take on the fairy tale. Nathan Lane co-stars.
Titanic (In 3-D) James Cameron's epic classic gets a 3-D re-release for its 15th birthday, and Cameron reportedly employed state-of-the-art digital special effects this time around. If you loved it, you'll love it more.
Bully (R ) The darling of the Sundance Film Festival is destined to forever more be shown in schools all over the world. Lee Hirsch's stunning documentary follows five families through the school year, including two that have lost children to suicide. Each of the kids was the target of bullies. The camera goes inside their homes, classrooms, and lives, and flushes out the physical and psychological repercussions of living life in fear.
The Deep Blue Sea (R ) A tour-de-force for Rachel Weisz, a romantic caught in a loveless marriage. Terence Davies directs this adaptation of Terence Rattigan's 1952 play by giving Weisz the ball and getting out of her way. She is indeed brilliant, but some might find the film lags a bit.
The Hunger Games (PG-13) Suzanne Collins' wildly successful novel comes to the big screen courtesy of director Gary Ross (Big, Dave) and it is easily the most wildly anticipated movie of the year tickets were selling out in advance in Manhattan. Jennifer Lawrence (Winter's Bone) gets the coveted role of Katniss Everdeen and she's sensational. Liam Hemsworth, Elizabeth Banks, and Woody Harrelson co-star. Yes, that's rocker turned actor Lenny Kravitz you see on the screen. It's a muted version of the novel, but nevertheless a must-see.
Jeff Who Lives At Home (R) Jay and Mark Duplass give us another quirky comedy, this one about a dork looking for the meaning of life oh wait, that was what their other films were about. They have found a niche following, but we're not among the faithful. It's a stupid film.
Jiro Dreams of Sushi (NR) A documentary about Jiro Ono, 85, the world's greatest sushi chef. His tiny 10-seat restaurant in Tokyo is considered among the best in the world. Needless to say, meatloaf isn't on the menu. If you think it's hard to get a seat at Nick & Toni's on July Fourth, consider folks come from all over the world, booking a table months and even years in advance. Watch the film and you'll know why.
Friends With Kids (R ) Kristen Wiig and Maya Rudolph, fresh off their Bridesmaids triumph, team up again in this vehicle courtesy of writer-director Jennifer Westfeldt, and it looks like another smash. Audiences who attended advance screening raved about the touching comedy, which explores how having children affects friendships. Critics have been effusive in their praise as well.
Let The Bullets Fly * Wen Jiang's action/comedy starring Chow Yun-Fat wowed audiences all over the world and will doubtless do so here as well. The plot, set in 1920, revolves around two mobsters in Sichuan who engage in a fierce rivalry that is not only funny but over-the-top violent. It is easily the best film released in this young year and will doubtless be one of the best you'll see in 2012.
Act Of Valor (R ) It's been a good year for the Navy SEALs what with bin Laden and all, and Hollywood, as always, is there to hop on the gravy train and bleed it dry. There's been a rash of these SEAL movies, and one common thread is they all purport to be based on a true story. They aren't. They are a great vehicle for blowing the hell out of third world militants, though.
Thin Ice (R) Greg Kinnear and Lea Thompson star in this little suspense thriller from Jill Sprecher, who wrote and produced. Kinnear is a con man in frigid Wisconsin who thinks he's found the perfect sucker a retired farmer played perfectly by Alan Arkin. Billy Crudup co-stars. The film has a few Fargo-like moments, but it tends to plod.
The Vow (PG-13) Oh boy how many times have you seen this one: a couple falls in love, one gets in an accident and suffers amnesia, and the other has to rebuild their love from scratch. Channing Tatum and Rachel McAdams are the star-crossed couple; Jessica Lange and Sam Neill co-star. It's a snorer. Add a star if you're brain dead.
The Secret World of Arrietty *(G) The latest from Disney Animation is a marvelous little story about a tiny 14-year-old girl, who lives in the recesses of a suburban home unbeknownst to the owners. The little girl makes rare excursions above the floorboards to gather supplies, and on one such foray, a 12 year-old boy discovers her. Her existence, and the existence of all like her, depends on him. Directors Hiromasa Yonebayashi and Gary Rydstrom have made a tender and touching film that will resonate with young and old alike.
In Darkness * (R) You may have to go to the city to catch the latest from the director Agnieszka Holland, but this film is well worth the trip. Based on a true story, In Darkness tells the tale of a sewer worker in Nazi-occupied Poland who is paid to hide a group of Jews in a labyrinth of the sewer system. It is a story of survival and much more. Don't miss it.