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April 8, 2008

Shorties: Recently Reviewed in LEO

4 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 PetersHONEYDRIPPER (Starring Danny Glover, Gary Clark Jr., Keb Mo, Ruth Brown and Kel Mitchell. Directed by John Sayles.) In Sayles’ “Honeydripper,” everything is exactly what it seems, and that is a problem. If the director’s intention was to imitate the cadences of the minister at the pulpit, he succeeds mostly in being preachy. Every issue of importance to black America is trotted out onto the main stage in this pedantic script. (Reviewed 3/12; C+) —Paul KopaszTHE BANK JOB (Starring Jason Statham, Saffron Burrows, Stephen Campbell Moore, Daniel Mays and James Faulkner. Directed by Roger Donaldson.) Star Jason Statham parlayed his talents for physical action into a low-investment, moderate return at the box office. The “based on a true story” aspect enables the movie to justify its pretzel-twist plot convolutions, while most heist films just use them as exhausting gimmicks. (Reviewed 3/12; B-) —Jamie Peters