Melanie Dishman's archive

It used to be that men were from Mars and women were from Venus, but in 2009 comedian Steve Harvey wrote the bestseller “Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man,” causing both genders to rethink intimate relationships. Now it’s been cleverly turned into a rom-com with a great cast.

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With book sales of more than 26 million for Suzanne Collins’ futuristic trilogy, a lot is riding on this initial film that introduces teen heroine Katniss Everdeen to audiences in what will be the first of at least three, possibly four, movies. Aimed at what marketers call the coveted “YA” or “young adult” market, the film has obviously been toned down from the book to earn the all-important PG-13 rating.

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For an actor who has such a reputation for histrionics that his last name ought to be Rage rather than Cage, Nicolas plays against the type here as a passive, high school English teacher in this B-movie thriller set in New Orleans. Unfortunately, it doesn’t portray the Crescent City in a very flattering way.

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This romantic comedy tries to be all things to all people with its cutesy, erudite banter coupled with coarse language and a myriad of characters ranging from sweet to self-centered. Written and directed by Jennifer Westfeldt, the co-writer and director of “Kissing Jessica Stein,” this is another NYC-based look at love and marriage — and children.

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In a year when movie attendance was at its lowest, so is my interest in Oscar, despite the good news that Billy Crystal will host the show. More than ever, this evening devoted to film excellence is becoming a popularity contest, and all attempts to correct the course are failing. The addition of five more films in the Best Picture category, a move designed to be more inclusive of popular films, only succeeds in omissions in that the Best Director category still limited to five nominees. Case in point: “The Help” received a nomination but director Tate Taylor didn’t.

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