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April 22, 2008

Film Shorties: Recently Reviewed in LEO

SNOW ANGELS (Starring Kate Beckinsale, Sam Rockwell, Amy Sedaris and Michael Angarano. Directed by David Gordon Green.) David Gordon Green’s film sadly lacks credibility. Maybe it’s because he chose to adapt somebody else’s work (Stewart O’Nan’s novel); maybe it’s just that the source material is somewhat hackneyed; or maybe it’s just hard to picture smoking-hot British starlet Kate Beckinsale as a girl-next-door single mother and waitress. (Reviewed 4/9; C+) —Alan AbbottLEATHERHEADS (Starring George Clooney, Renee Zellweger, John Krasinski and Jonathan Pryce. Directed by George Clooney.) When it comes to witty banter, modern Hollywood movies are at a loss for words. George Clooney’s “Leatherheads” fashions itself after one of those Golden Age comedies, but it doesn’t reach the giddy high of the films it so overtly admires. (Reviewed 4/9; B-) —Jamie Peters4 MONTHS, 3 WEEKS AND 2 DAYS (Starring Anamaria Marinca, Vlad Ivanov, Laura Vasiliu and Luminita Gheorghiu. Directed by Cristian Mungiu.) Set in the dark days of Romanian Communism, the film is simultaneously bleak and kindhearted, intelligent and artful, plodding and restless. Yes, it is about abortion. But it’s also just a good film. (Reviewed 4/2; A) —Alan AbbottSTOP-LOSS (Starring Ryan Phillippe, Abbie Cornish, Channing Tatum and Timothy Olyphant. Directed by Kimberly Peirce.) Like many recent war movies, “Stop-Loss” leans too heavily on polemic and tired genre beats in its quest for high-impact drama. Director Peirce follows up 1999’s “Boys Don’t Cry” with a sophomore effort whose earnestness is undercut by its rusty story machinations. (Reviewed 4/2; B-) —Jamie PetersFUNNY GAMES (Starring Naomi Watts, Tim Roth, Brady Corbet, Devon Gearhart and Michael Pitt. Directed by Michael Haneke.) Writer and director Michael Haneke’s remake of his own 1998 film stretches the patience and tolerance of anyone without a dark sense of humor. The violence is both plentiful and stylized, face-front yet often, paradoxically, occurring off camera and thus out of reach. (Reviewed 3/19; B) —Paul KopaszDOOMSDAY (Starring Rhona Mitra, Bob Hoskins, Alexander Siddig, Adrian Lester and Sean Pertwee. Directed by Neil Marshall.) Director Neil Marshall strives for instant cult-classic status with his trash epic. The plot involves the government quarantining the entire Glasgow population because of a flesh-eating virus, but the story swerves into absurd set pieces that have the logic of a Troma movie. (Reviewed 3/19; B) —Jamie Peters