Melanie Dishman's archive

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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‘The Vow’

Starring: Channing Tatum,

Rachel McAdams

Director: Michael Sucsy

Rated: PG-13

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As much as I dislike horror movies, I can’t object to an old-fashioned fright, and there are plenty of seat-jumping moments in this throwback to the good old days of scary movies. There is nary a drop of blood spilled in this, not to mention the merciful overall lack of gore. This is one of those movies that plays with your mind instead of grossing you out. Every time a door creaks open or a candle blows out it telegraphs what is to follow, giving you just enough time to steel yourself before something jumps out — in good old 2-D.

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