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Reviews for February 3rd, 2012


Directed by Josh Trank

      Andrew Detmer (Dane DeHaan), his cousin Matt (Alex Russell) and Steve Montgomery (Michael B. Jordan) behave like typical high school students until, one day, they enter a hole in the ground where they touch a giant crystal that gives mysterious telekinetic superpowers. They start using their superpowers on very small scales, i.e. by using their mind to lift up Legos and items, such as stuffed animals, at a store. Then they move on to moving cars in parking lots and, before you know it, they learn how to fly. Andrew documents everything with a video camera, so what you see is from the camera's footage. Soon, a second camera enters the picture when Matt befriends Casey (Ashley Hinshaw), a girl who records her life on video for her own blog. Will Andrew, Matt and Steve be able to control their superpowers from getting out of hand? What might happen if their secret were publicly exposed?

      A truly great sci-fi thriller should not only have nifty special effects, but it should also be intelligent and at least somewhat grounded in reality with believable characters. Fortunately, Chronicle has just those elements to turn it into a sci-fi classic. Andrew isn't just a stereotypically alienated high school student. He's clearly suffering from being bullied at school, the abuse by his alcoholic father, and the fact that his beloved mother lies dying of cancer in bed. There's a lot of pent-up anger inside him, so the events that transpire to him in the second half of the film make logical sense. It's also worth mentioning that he and his two buddies actually show some signs of intelligence, i.e. when Matt refers to Plato's Allegory of the Cave from The Republic as he and his buddies descend into the cavernous hole in the ground. There's no particular nemesis in Chronicle because the characters are quite complicated humans instead of cartoonish, cardboard characters. It also helps that the performances, particular DeHaan's, remain thoroughly believable and natural.

      Director Josh Trank moves the film along at an appropriately brisk pace so that not a single moment drags. Given the budget limitations, the special effects look quite impressive at times---although, fortunately, those effects aren't the only special aspects of Chronicle: it also has a clever and surprisingly poignant screenplay. Screenwriter Max Landis should be commended for not dumbing down the dialogue. He treats the audience (and characters) with respect which is more than you can say for most films in the "found footage" sci-fi/horror genre, i.e. Paranormal Activity, which normally require you to check your brain at the door in order to be entertained. When the stakes become higher in the third act, the internal logics of the film remain intact and nothing feels too gimmicky, convoluted or over-the-top. Moreover, you will also find a few moments of comic relief, which won't be spoiled here, as the boys find ways to amuse themselves with their superpowers.

      At an ideal running time of 1 hour and 23 minutes, Chronicle manages to be a thoroughly exhilarating, imaginative and character driven sci-fi thriller that's invigoratingly smart and surprisingly poignant. It's destined to become a sci-fi classic.

Number of times I checked my watch: 0
Opens nationwide.
Released by 20th Century Fox.

An Inconsistent Truth

Directed by Shayne Edwards

      In An Inconvenient Truth, Al Gore had his chance to present his data to try to persuade you to believe in global warming. That belief has essentially become a party line that's rarely, if at all, thoroughly disputed or adequately analyzed. Director Shayne Edwards and producer/radio host Phil Valentine bravely shed light on the other end of the spectrum to give naysayers a chance to present their facts which disproves that man-made global warming exists. If you're open minded, you would at least be willing to hear what they have to say and then come up with your own conclusions. Those scientists include Dr. John Christy, Dr. Roy Spencer and Dr. Fred Singer. They claim that the real data regarding the Earth's temperature does not point a general warming trend, and that the data that global warming scientists have been using all along to measure the temperatures isn't accurate because it isn't measured via satellite. The fact that Al Gore came forward with innacurate data to preach his "party line" about global warming should raise your suspicious about his credibility. Moreover, An Inconsistent Truth poses a very interesting question with even more interesting answers: Is carbon dioxide really harmful to the environment given that plants actually need it of photosynthesis in order to survive? Smog, which doesn't have carbon dioxide like many people assume it does, should be of more concern. Perhaps, though, it would have been even more insightful had Edwards or Valentine responded to that argument by asking if man-made carbon dioxide is exactly the same and as unharmful as truly natural carbon-dioxide.

      Not surprisingly, it turns out that Al Gore doesn't even practice what he preaches given his energy bill is quite high, and the fact that he travels via airplane so often---but, then again, what politician does practice what he/she preaches. His publicist refuses to grant Edwards and Valentine an interview with him, and a visit to a book-signing doesn't help either. As a security guard (and fan of Valentine) wisely states, if Al Gore were truly correct about his global warming theory and has nothing to hide, then why doesn't he agree to speak to anyone and everyone about it, including the naysayers? It's quite possible that Gore has prostituted himself to an ideology that's based on lies and propaganda, much like many so-called experts, i.e. the FDA, have prostituted themselves to the idea that monosodium glutamate is safe and even natural: (Please click here for more information about the cover-up of hidden MSG.) At least in that cover-up, it's easy to figure out who the pimps are: the billion-dollar pharmaceutical industry. When it comes to Al Gore and other global warming "experts", it still remains a mystery when it comes to who their pimp(s) are.

      In reality, nothing is purely black and white. Perhaps the theory that global warming doesn't exist is also based on lies and propaganda, and that the truth lies somewhere in between the end of those two spectrums, but there's no denying the importance of critical thinking, questioning everything and hearing all sides of the story, especially for the sake of maintaining a somewhat democracy. The best questions are often the subversive ones. Keep in mind that just because something's subversive doesn't necessarily make it any less truthful. After all, many years ago it was subversive to even consider that the Earth is not flat---naysayers were killed.

      Director Shayne Edwards doesn't just bombard viewers with lots of talking heads, graphs/charts and dry facts-and-figures like the rather bland An Inconvenient Truth did. The stylish editing along with Valentine's brief moments of comic relief and the footage of everyday people giving their myopic perspectives on global warming makes for quite a lively and engaging documentary. As a member of the Bush administration once reminded me, there are not just two sides to every coin; there's the ridges, the sides of the ridges, the corners, and so on. While An Inconvenient Truth invoked a lot of fear about global warming, now comes An Inconsistent Truth to calm you down and to open your eyes.

Number of times I checked my watch: 0
Opens in Nashville, TN.
Released by Rocky Montain Pictures.

The Innkeepers

Directed by Ti West

Number of times I checked my watch: 2
Opens at the Village East Cinema.
Released by Magnet Releasing.


Directed by Laura Israel

Please check back soon for a full review.
Number of times I checked my watch: 2
Opens at the Quad Cinema.
Released by First Run Features.

The Woman in Black

Directed by James Watkins

Number of times I checked my watch: 1
Opens nationwide.
Released by CBS Films.

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