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Movie Review: Endless Love

It’s Endless Love redux. But this time the movie released in theaters Friday fails with cliched themes about love. The first one, starring Brook Shields, Tom Cruise and James Spader, affected many movie-goers in 1981 because of its attempt at the kind of eros found in Shakespeare, like Romeo and Juliet. This movie, not so much.

“Endless Love” is the story of David (Alex Pettyfer) and Jade (Gabriella Wilde), two teens who fall in love. But Jade’s dad wants to keep them apart.

But if you like to look at pretty people fall in love, this one’s for you. Directed by Shana Feste the film stars Alex Pettyfer as David Elliot and Gabriella Wilde as Jade Butterfield, the movie dishes up a smattering of cliched “tender moments” of when boy meets girl, falls in love, overcome obstacles in their way, and then live everily after.

The particulars of this movie is not exactly striking. But it does have a few comic relief scenes, played by  David’s friend played by Dayo Okeniyi,  that punctuate more than an hour of banality.

By Fran Wilson 

Endless Love

Opens on Friday.

Directed by Shana Feste; written by Ms. Feste and Joshua Safran, based on the book by Scott Spencer; director of photography, Andrew Dunn; edited by Maryann Brandon; music by Christophe Beck; production design by Clay Griffith; costumes by Stacey Battat; produced by Scott Stuber, Pamela Abdy, Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage; released by Universal Pictures. Running time: 1 hour 43 minutes.

Rate P.G.


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“Red Tails” Soars With Good Cast, Crashes With Script

By Jonathan Smalls, Film Critic

George Lucas tried. He really did. He had a genuine admiration, and respect for the Tuskeegee air men, and their sacrifices in integrating the armed forces during World War II. He had a pretty good cast of actors, a rich history of real events to base his story on, and all of the time in the world. Unfortunately what he lacked was any semblance of a decent script.

The plot has its moments much as a broken clock is right twice daily, but most of the time it only gets an A for effort. It jams too many story lines into a two hour film: the fight for equality, dissent among the troops, opposing a known villain, a love story, a POW story, the list goes on in addition to the actual combat. You can probably guess that when that much content needs to hit the screen in a fixed amount of time, none of it gets the treatment it deserves. The characters usually just blurt out a few lines so that audiences are not completely lost, and then Red Tails moves onto the next scene.

Within these scenes there are even more issues. For one thing an air man successfully woos an Italian girl without speaking any Italian, and without her speaking any English. They just hold hands for a few scenes, and then he proposes. There is also the fact that this same guy is able to blow up a naval destroyer with just his bullets, and no help from any one else. Then at the end of the movie the squadron gathers to mourn the loss of one of their pilots. It is a very sombre, and sobering moment as the colonel says a few words to honor the fallen, and motivate his troops. Then another one drives up in a jeep after being MIA for a few scenes, and suddenly no one cares, and it is a party.

Usually audiences can look past a weak script to a few stand out performances. Red Tails has its moments. Brian Cranston is sufficiently vile to make us despise him, but he is around for one scene, and then is never seen again. Terrence Howard, and Cuba Gooding Jr manage a few moments, but they are pretty crippled by the lines that they are forced to deliver. The only actor to escape the script reasonably well off is lead David Oyelowo. Even that is not because his lines are any better, but because he has so much screen time that we eventually HAVE to feel for him much like Stockholm syndrome.

I want to keep this part short. Save your time. Save your money. Red Tails means well, but it is worth neither. Wait for some one else with a better, more focused script to come along, and do justice to a proud, and often forgotten part of our national history.

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“In the Land of Blood and Honey” Delivers Raw Drama

By Jonathan Smalls, Film Critic

Leave it to the artists to create true art. Angelina Jolie, and Graham King are the biggest names associated with In the Land of Blood and Honey, and they appear no where on screen. There is no need to be at all surprised by this quality of work from King after an amazing show like the Departed. What is most surprising is that Jolie, one of the most recognized faces in Hollywood, directed this film so that her looks count for no thing. In the Land of Blood & Honey stands on its own as a powerful, and compelling tale of the Bosnian war.

The plot mostly follows your typical star crossed lovers; a Serb, and a Muslim are dating, and then separated by the war. That can be the basis of a good story, but not the whole thing by itself. What makes this film so powerful is that it pulls absolutely no punches, hitting audiences with the full force of the humanity of the oppressors, and ugliness of their genocide, the emotional devastation of systematic, mass rape. This film is not for the faint of heart. It looks straight at you with the unapologetic, unflinching candor that can only come from as driven an artist as Jolie behind the camera.

The plot its self is not particularly strong. In fact once you remove the power of the images the script actually starts to feel like a hodge podge of events, like the producers wanted to be sure to throw every thing in rather than tell a completely coherent narrative. It is still pretty good, but probably the weakest link in the chain.

The film also wins huge kudos for breaking the Hollywood convention of corrupting all foreign languages into English with a British accent, English with a Russian accent, or English with a Chinese accent. Although one version of the film is in English, the other is in full out Serbo-Croatian with subtitles.

The cast of actors, led by Goran Kostic as Danijel, and Zana Marjanovic as Ajla, are varied. The quality of their performance seems inversely related with their time on screen. Kostic, and Marjanovic seem wooden, and boring most of the time; there is very little passion between them, or any one else. On the other hand the supporting characters are aggressively invested, and believable with their roles. In this fim you definitely need to look past the leads to see the real performances.

The only outright problem with the film is that in its falling action is changes from a riveting tale of lives changed in a civil war to a commentary on USAmerican interventionism. What makes it great is that it feels like an unbiased account of how ugly civil war can be over some thing as ridiculous as who loves God the right way, but then it turns into a finger wagging school teacher with our lesson for the day.

In the Land of Blood and Honey is very raw, very unapologetic. It may make some audiences uncomfortable. It takes the common love story in a war setting, and removes all sanatization of how lives are affected. This film may give you reason for pause after leaving the theatre. It is not at all perfect, but its core is extremely strong, and emotional.


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