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“This Means War”

McG’s “This Means War” serves the purpose of revealing how banal and obsolete its genre, the romantic action comedy, has become in recent years. Discussing its plot is as cringe-worthy as watching it develop on screen: CIA agents FDR and Tuck (Chris Pine and Tom Hardy respectively) unwittingly form a logistically impossible and unconvincing love triangle with product tester Lauren Scott (Reese Witherspoon). The screenplay refuses to allow the film’s leads to do anything meaningful, instead setting up one contrived sequence after another. “This Means War” essentially serves as an aimless cinematic version of “The Bachelorette”.  In the end, it progresses too pointlessly and unsatisfactorily for its own good.

Rating: 1.5 stars

“Chronicle”

Josh Trank’s “Chronicle” is far from another needless found-footage film.  Focusing on a set of teenagers who gain superpowers, the movie advantageously employs the found-footage technique, in which a character holds the camera. The audience is able to see through the eyes of Andrew Detmer (a brilliant Dane DeHaan) the social mistreatment and emotional abuse continuously inflicted on him at school and home. This ultimately compels him to turn villainous despite the pleas of his cousin Matt (an excellent Alex Russell). Screenwriter Max Landis (son of “Animal House” and “Blues Brothers” director John Landis) superbly ties this social commentary with the requirements of superhero fare.

Rating: 3 stars

“A Separation”

Asghar Farhadi’s “A Separation” winner of the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, is an eloquent, well-woven drama set through the canvas of modern Iran.  It initially focuses on the divorce of Simin (Leila Hatami), who wishes to depart from Iran with her daughter to America, and Nader (Peyman Moaadi), who must care for his Alzheimer’s and dementia inflicted father.  Through a tragic and unforeseeable twist in circumstances, the story evolves to encompass the entirety of Iran’s legal system. The conflicts between characters seem as well-devised and poignant as those in a Shakespearean tragedy. The audience can relate to every individual within the story, each with a set of impeccably designed motivations and flaws.

Rating: 4 stars

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