Capsule Reviews of This Week's New Films - KFDA - NewsChannel 10 / Amarillo News, Weather, Sports

Capsule Reviews of This Week's New Films

Capsule reviews of films opening this week:

"Crazy Love" - This is a documentary about a man who was so obsessively possessive of his ex-girlfriend that he lied to her about divorcing his wife, paid guys to beat her up so she'd feel frightened enough to run back to him, and, most shockingly of all, hired a thug to throw lye in her face, leaving her blind and disfigured at 22. And it's funny! That's one of the most astounding elements of "Crazy Love" - the way in which director Dan Klores takes a horrific tale, which provided juicy fodder for the New York tabloids nearly 50 years ago, and consistently finds its innate humor. It helps a great deal that Burton Pugach and Linda Riss, now 80 and 70 years old respectively, are a longtime husband and wife who revel in the attention their bizarre relationship has drawn. They're great storytellers with a great story to tell; their friends and relatives are also complete characters. Klores cleverly combines photographs, footage and fitting music (for example, "You've Really Got a Hold on Me"), and while he keeps things moving, the commentary can get a little repetitive. PG-13 for language including sexual references, and mature thematic elements. 92 min. Three stars out of four.

_ Christy Lemire, AP Movie Critic

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"Hostel: Part II" - With the sequel to his successful 2006 gorefest, Eli Roth has made even more of a grindhouse flick than his buddy and mentor, Quentin Tarantino (who again serves as executive producer). A woman is suspended upside-down, naked, and tortured with a sickle. Another has her head sliced open with a circular saw, causing tufts of hair to fly about with the blood. It's only shocking if you allow it to be - it's only misogynistic if you give it that kind of power. As writer and director, Roth certainly wants to stun us, but in all of his movies there's an undercurrent of absurdity that lets you know he isn't taking this too seriously, and neither should you. Whether you can stomach the subject matter, you have to give him this much: He continues to prove himself as a technically astute filmmaker, capable of building palpable suspense. By now we know the secret: There's a hidden spot in Slovakia where the rich can pay to experience the thrill of killing someone. This time the potential victims are female: wealthy Beth (Lauren German), party girl Whitney (Bijou Phillips) and the sweetly nerdy Lorna (Heather Matarazzo), who's tagged along. But Roth is equal opportunity: The men get it where it hurts, too. R for sadistic scenes of torture and bloody violence, terror, nudity, sexual content, language and some drug content. 94 min. Two stars out of four.

_ Christy Lemire, AP Movie Critic

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"La Vie en Rose" - Edith Piaf lived fast and died young, but she didn't exactly leave a good-looking corpse. At 47, she looked closer to 67, her tiny body ravaged by the effects of longtime alcohol abuse, morphine addiction and, eventually, cancer. The fact that Marion Cotillard deeply immerses herself in the role as the doomed French songstress, making you forget that you're watching a beautiful actress, is only part of what makes her performance great. Cotillard, who appeared opposite Russell Crowe in "A Good Year," plays various stages of The Little Sparrow's life - as a 19-year-old being discovered singing on street corners, as a mercurial star at the height of her powers, and as a frail, demanding shell of herself on her deathbed. It's almost as if she's been asked to play three different roles, all of which she accomplishes convincingly, and with striking intensity. (Two younger actresses also play Piaf as a girl.) It's the acting that elevates this story beyond its biopic trappings. Although director and co-writer Olivier Dahan tries to invigorate the genre by jumping around in time, the telling of this extraordinary life still feels a bit too familiar. Gerard Depardieu, Jean-Pierre Martins and Sylvie Testud co-star. PG-13 for substance abuse, sexual content, brief nudity, language and thematic elements. 140 min. Two and a half stars out of four.

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"Ocean's Thirteen" - Glittery as a Vegas Strip stage revue, smooth and smarmy as a high-roller on the lucky streak of his life, the casino-heist franchise wins back some of the "Ocean's Eleven" charm it lost amid the sputtering sequel "Ocean's Twelve." Yet the latest caper with George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon and the gang still feels like one trip too many to the craps table. Director Steven Soderbergh and crew play the same hunches, with the outcome unimaginatively clear from the start: Categorical victory for the rascally good guys planning a Robin Hood-style heist, utter defeat and humiliation for the villain (Al Pacino). Except for Julia Roberts and Catherine Zeta-Jones, everybody's back, including Don Cheadle, Bernie Mac, Andy Garcia, Carl Reiner and Elliott Gould. Ellen Barkin joins as chief aide to Pacino's egomaniacal casino owner, whose joint is targeted by the Ocean's boys for an impossible robbery after he double-crosses one of their own. A highlight is Pacino's cool, though architecturally absurd, casino tower inserted into the Vegas skyline by computer images. PG-13 for brief sensuality. 122 min. Two stars out of four.

_ David Germain, AP Movie Writer

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"Surf's Up" - What the world needs now is not another penguin movie, it would seem, following the animated "Happy Feet" and the documentary "March of the Penguins," both Oscar winners, as well as the spoof "Farce of the Penguins" and movies like "Madagascar" in which penguins steal the show. But this one's so different from its predecessors, and so different from the slew of animated films that have come out in the past couple of years, it's hard not to be charmed. "Surf's Up" has a totally inspired vibe: It plays like a Christopher Guest-style mockumentary, complete with deadpan humor, improvised dialogue and hand-held "camera work" - or rather, its CGI equivalent. In going behind the scenes at the Big Z Memorial Surf Off on Pen Gu Island, directors and co-writers Chris Buck ("Tarzan") and Ash Brannon ("Toy Story 2") allow us to see a boom mic dipping into the frame, or a shot that's out of focus. We hear off-camera interviewers (Buck and Brannon themselves) ask questions of their subjects, and the sensation that we're really watching something spontaneous provides a giddy thrill. Shia LaBeouf, meanwhile, deviates from the cutesy-hyper delivery you'd expect from the genre as the confident, laid-back voice of Cody Maverick, a young surfer hoping to win the competition. He has great chemistry with Jeff Bridges as a retired local legend who becomes his reluctant mentor. PG for mild language and some rude humor. 86 min. Three stars out of four.

_ Christy Lemire, AP Movie Critic

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