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What to See, What to Skip: New Reviews This Week

Photo of Nigel M Smith By Nigel M Smith | Indiewire June 17, 2011 at 3:54AM

In case you're living under a rock, the hopeful blockbuster "Green Lantern" opens wide this week. Word is it's not worth your green. Check out what is by having a look at all the reviews published this week on indieWIRE and our Blog Network.
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What to See, What to Skip: New Reviews This Week
Andrew Rossi's "Page One: A Year Inside the New York Times."

In case you're living under a rock, the hopeful blockbuster "Green Lantern" opens wide this week. Word is it's not worth your green. Check out what is by having a look at all the reviews published this week on indieWIRE and our Blog Network.

"Page One: A Year Inside the New York Times"

indieWIRE Review - A
Rossi uses their beat to explore the broader changes of the newspaper industry around the country. Moving beyond the newsroom, he speaks with advocates of emerging journalism models like Gawker founder Nick Denton, centering on the juxtaposition between their competitive strategies and the Times’ investment in maintaining its status at the top of the media totem pole. The remarkable amount of access that the paper allows Rossi enables him to capture veteran journalists on their final days at work after accepting buyouts, while others nervously watch from the sidelines.

"Buck"

indieWIRE Review - B+
Buck Brannaman, the subject of Cindy Meehl’s engaging documentary profile “Buck,” has a warm presence and knows how to tame horses better than anyone else. That’s the simplest encapsulation of the movie’s thesis, although the subtext runs much deeper than that. Beaten by his demanding father as a child and eventually sent to a foster home, Brannaman turned to horses for catharsis and found something even better: The ability to save innocent beings from never-ending turmoil. He doesn’t simply like the animals; he relates to them.

"The Art of Getting By"

Leonard Maltin's Review
Freddie Highmore is a highly watchable young actor and, with a flawless American accent, manages to make a somewhat inscrutable character interesting. He recounts, in the film’s first scenes, his morbid thoughts about the futility of life, which is supposed to explain his inability to—

"Green Lantern"

Leonard Maltin's Review
It isn’t innovative, it isn’t deep, the characters aren’t particularly well-developed, but I still had a good time watching Green Lantern. It’s hard to dislike a movie that has shortcomings and still provides an enjoyable viewing experience. I even liked its use of 3-D, although those glasses are getting to be a pain.

The Playlist Review - D+
Reynolds has always seemed a little bit above the material he’s forced to work with, but here, he’s forced to be a cog in a machine, a man who learns the value of not being a jerk and instead being an action figure. It’s all in line with the inexplicably random reverence in these stories stemming from this genre’s all-accepting worship of institutions, no matter if they be flawed, or run by a man named Sinestro. The picture takes great pains to answer Jordan’s worries with, “The ring never makes a mistake.” Maybe they should have hired the ring to direct.

Spout's Review
It’s almost distressing how easily director Martin Campbell and the writing team bungle the creative and unique potential that was built into the original “Green Lantern” comics. The guy has the power to create anything at all with his mind, and while there’s a somewhat awesome scene about halfway through involving a helicopter, by the end of the film Hal Jordan is just using giant imaginary green firearms and tossing around green rays of light. The supporting cast are mostly uninteresting and generic, especially Sinestro, Kilowog and Tomar-Re, who really need to be compelling characters if this franchise plans on going anywhere.

Caryn James' Review
Just when you’re thinking how silly it is for anyone to expect a tiny green eye mask to disguise a superhero’s identity, a woman he has rescued looks adoringly into the Green Lantern’s eyes and says . . . “Hal?!” That recognition offers one of the rare sharp moments in Green Lantern. The film has Ryan Reynolds as Hal Jordan, an underconfident fighter pilot who gets an energy-filled ring and gains superpowers, but mostly it has a lot of hyperactive, glowing green light.

"Jig"

The Playlist Review - C+
That’s not to say that “Jig” is a complete wash, because it isn’t. The dancing itself is expertly gripping to watch, at least for a little while. The way that these kids can ping themselves up in the air, their legs doing incredible, oversized things while the top half of their bodies remain eerily tranquil, is a marvel to behold, especially when the camera slows down and you can really take in the balletic nature of their moves. And, as stated before, some of the dancers are just too weird and engaging to look away from; but both of these elements of the movie fade out as it reaches its climax – the national competition.

"Mr. Popper's Penguins"

Leonard Maltin's Review
Jim Carrey is in pretty good form here, and I suppose many people will accept this as innocuous family fare. But taken on its storytelling merits, Mr. Popper’s Penguins is half-baked at best. Without divulging too many details, Carrey has a sudden, unexplained change of character at a crucial point in the story that undermines the rest of the picture and evaporates its emotional hold on the audience. I feel bad for parents who will be stuck with trying to explain this away. (I also feel sorry for families who will be inspired to visit Tavern on the Green, which ended its long run as a restaurant in 2009—although it still stands as a visitor center.)

The Playlist Review - C-
With director Mark Waters at the helm (no stranger to these high concept “comedies”, with the actually-pretty-decent “Freaky Friday” remake and “The Spiderwick Chronicles”, as well as crowning achievement “Mean Girls” under his belt), ‘Penguins’ barrels down to one of most asinine climaxes in recent memory, culminating with a press announcement that unites all the major and minor characters, and involves plot twists that ring of desperation to wrap up on a self-congratulatory note.

"Battle for Brooklyn"

The Playlist Review - B+
Galinsky and Hawley’s approach isn’t altogether artful, but it is honest, showcasing the struggle of people attempting to maintain their principles as their living situation is deemed “blighted.” Unable to boot several residences, Ratner has various state-run organizations evaluate buildings and determine their worth before a proposed bulldozering, literally cutting swaths through a community that remains in their homes. Despite attempts from Develop Don’t Destroy to draw up a new plan that would save residencies and still give Ratner his stadium, the opposition is muffled at every turn.

"A Matter of Taste: Serving Up Paul Liebrandt"

The Playlist Review - C
Director Sally Rowe has a helluva subject in Paul Liebrandt, but both he and the story are underserved by the film’s scant running time which pushes just over the one hour mark. For all the time we spend with Liebrandt—and given the film stretches over a number of years, we can only assume Rowe had some great access—there is very little we learn about the man himself other than his food. It’s interesting that he doesn’t have the ego or even the temper of some other celebrity chefs, but we learn little about his philosophy in approach to cooking or his views on the contemporary food scene.

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