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Home Movies, 4/7

A double serving this week as I forgot (sorry!) to post last week. Those releases included Oscar champ Slumdog Millionaire (about which you've probably read everything you want but, if not, you can peruse my review here); the breathtakingly awful Will Smith vehicle Seven Pounds (my take here; A.O. Scott's--for my money the funniest review of the year--here); and the French thriller Tell No One, which I didn't review but is well worth a look: Despite some issues with structure and plot (and length), it is a fine, moody neo-noir.

This week sees the release of John Patrick Shanley's Doubt, about which I was lukewarm (though Philip Seymour Hoffman is characteristically masterful); and the remake of The Day the Earth Stood Still, which left me hot and bothered. Due to its brevity, I will reprint the latter review in its entirety:

Give them this much: The producers of the Keanu Reeves-starring remake of The Day the Earth Stood Still were wise to squeeze it into the same calendar year as its fellow breathtakingly awful sci-fi eco-parable The Happening, thereby sparing it a wide array of possible "Worst" awards.

Utter lack of narrative logic or continuity from scene to scene? Check. Painful, lifeless expository dialogue? Check. Ridiculous interspecies quasi-romance? Check. Jennifer Connelly in another of a series of decidedly improbable brainiac roles? Check. Men in Black ripoff (this time not intended as parody) of aliens living among us? Check. Political message of dull, thundering obviousness; rude, troublemaking preadolescent who learns a Valuable Lesson; near-extinction of the human race as an opportunity for family reconciliation? Check, check, check.

On the plus side, Reeves is relatively well cast as an affectless alien. One can only hope that in the future he will devote himself to playing androids, less-self-aware species of undead, stylish pieces of contemporary furniture, and other roles that do not require the exhibition of any recognizably human traits.

--Christopher Orr