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MOVIES

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ANTIVIRAL

Grant Park. 14A

David Cronenberg's son Brandon Cronenberg proves the acorn doesn't fall far from the fleshy mutant tree with his twisted tale of a broker in celebrity diseases (Caleb Landry Jones) obliged to fight for his life when he's infected with the virus that killed a celeb superstar. If Antiviral is a homage to the senior Cronenberg, it pays particular tribute to Videodrome (1983), with its woozy, hallucinogenic ambience and its double indictment of a corrupt media and an audience complicit in its own degradation. While the movie is an undeniably powerful first feature, it is also relentlessly, shamelessly derivative. 'Ö'Ö'Ö

ARBITRAGE

Polo Park. 14A

Richard Gere stars as Robert Miller, a New York financier attempting to hold his life together while trying to cover up his fraudulent malfeasance and his role in the car accident that killed his mistress. Will he prevail, or succumb to the forces cumulated against him? It's difficult to care since watching Arbitrage is like watching Jaws from the perspective of the shark, a figure whose only demonstration of any real personality arises when he's about to take a bite. 'Ö'Ö'Ö

ARGO

Globe, Grant Park, Polo Park, St. Vital. 14A

Ben Affleck doesn't let facts get in the way of a good story with this based-on-fact tale of a CIA agent sent to rescue six American Embassy workers trapped in the Canadian consulate during the hostage crisis in Iran by posing as a film producer scouting for Persian locations for a science-fiction movie. The film shifts the focus of heroism away from the Canadians and onto American intelligence operatives who -- ahem -- kind of caused the mess in the first place. But as long as you remember "based on a true story" is not the same thing as "a true story," Argo is a fun ride. 'Ö'Ö'Ö1/2

END OF WATCH

Polo Park. 18A

While going about their harrowing duties, a pair of L.A. street cops (Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Pe±a) are targeted by a violent drug cartel. This compelling slice of cop life pivots on the excellent chemistry between Gyllenhaal and Pe±a. Reminiscent of the fiction of cop-turned-writer Joseph Wambaugh, it feels like an authentic insider glimpse of law enforcement, encompassing bravado, friction, battlefield bonding, mischief and sheer horror. 'Ö'Ö'Ö'Ö

FOR A GOOD TIME, CALL ...

Globe. 18A

Former enemies (Lauren Anne Miller and Ari Graynor) find themselves sharing an apartment in New York City and making ends meet in a phone-sex business. This tongue-in-cheek comedy is sort of funny, in a sad way, but it isn't really about the sex. It's a film about friendship, a female version of the bromance (a girliaison?) that just happens to be decorated with dildos. 'Ö'Ö1/2 (Reviewed by Jay Stone)

FRANKENWEENIE

Grant Park, Polo Park, Polo Park IMAX, St. Vital, Towne. G

Tim Burton directs this stop-motion animated adventure in 3-D black-and-white about a young boy named Victor who decides to raise his beloved dog from the dead. Compared to the more innovative kiddie-horror offering ParaNorman, Frankenweenie feels less fresh given all the films Burton has produced in this template. But as with its titular dead pup, just because it's not fresh doesn't mean it's not, in its way, decidedly lovable. 'Ö'Ö'Ö1/2

HERE COMES THE BOOM

Kildonan Place, Polo Park, St. Vital, Towne. PG

Raising cash to save his friend's job, a tubby high school teacher (Kevin James) becomes a mixed-martial-arts sensation. Yes, it is every bit as ridiculous as it looks. That's not such a bad thing for the movie, whose makers embrace the fact that they're essentially doing a live-action cartoon. The real flaws are the stabs at genuine moments -- the inspirational classroom hijinks, the simple-headed critiques of the shortcomings of public schools and the humdrum romance as James slowly wins the heart of Salma Hayek. Yeah, like that's going to happen. 'Ö'Ö1/2 (Reviewed by David Germain)

HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA

Grant Park, Kildonan Place, Polo Park, St. Vital, Towne. G

This animated comedy posits a protective dad Dracula (voiced by Adam Sandler) whose hideaway resort for monsters has kept humans from the vicinity of his innocent daughter Mavis (Selena Gomez), until a goofy human (voiced by Andy Samberg) blunders onto the property. This is mostly fun, except for a few moments that might terrify the very young. Considering most of the voice cast also starred in Grown Ups, this represents a vast improvement, comedy-wise. 'Ö'Ö1/2

THE HOUSE AT THE END OF THE STREET

St. Vital, Towne. 14A

A low-cal psychological thriller about a single mom (Elizabeth Shue) and her teenage daughter (Jennifer Lawrence) who move into an isolated house next door to a place where a horrific murder took place. The secrets are familiar, however, rather than terrifying, and despite many thematic homages, director Mark Tonderai is no Hitchcock. 'Ö'Ö1/2 (Reviewed by Jay Stone)

LOOPER

Grant Park, Kildonan Place, Polo Park, St. Vital, Towne. 14A

Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays a "looper," an assassin working with a time-travelling future Mafia that sends its victims to him for disposal, a system that works out OK until he is suddenly confronted with his future self (Bruce Willis). Made up to look like a young Bruce Willis, Gordon-Levitt looks as unnatural as a "Real Housewife" but this sci-fi noir from writer-director Rian Johnson is nevertheless a compellingly twisted tale. 'Ö'Ö'Ö1/2

THE MASTER

Grant Park, Polo Park. 14A

Joaquin Phoenix stars as a war vet-turned-drifter who drifts into the path of a brilliant philosopher and would-be prophet (Philip Seymour Hoffman) intent on initiating his own cult. Inspired by Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard, writer-director Paul Thomas Anderson (There Will Be Blood) fashions a fascinating dance between a would-be prophet and a would-be apostle, grounded by marvellous performances by Phoenix and Hoffman. 'Ö'Ö'Ö'Ö

THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER

Polo Park. PG

A teen loner (Logan Lerman) enters high school after suffering a personal tragedy and falls into the orbit of a pair of senior siblings (Emma Watson and Ezra Miller) as well as an inspirational teacher (Paul Rudd). This coming-of-age drama may not do anything groundbreaking, but it tells a familiar story in small, thoughtful ways. 'Ö'Ö'Ö1/2 (Reviewed by Christy Lemire)

PITCH PERFECT

Grant Park, Kildonan Place, Polo Park, St. Vital, Towne. PG

A raucous comedy about a troubled college girl (Anna Kendrick) who joins an a cappella singing group at the insistence of her father, only to bond with a collection of musical oddballs. As an attempt to revive the magic of the femme comedy Bridesmaids, it's lacking, but the music and the supporting cast do pitch in to deliver a modestly fun time. 'Ö'Ö1/2

SEARCHING FOR SUGAR MAN

Globe. PG

Malik Bendjelloul's movie about a little-known folksinger named Rodriguez is easily the feel-good movie of the summer and promises to surprise even the most jaded cynic with its heart, humour and historical significance. I'd tell you more, but I'd spoil the sweet sense of surprise. 'Ö'Ö'Ö'Ö (Reviewed by Katherine Monk)

SEVEN PSYCHOPATHS

Polo Park. 18A

A struggling screenwriter (Colin Farrell) becomes entangled with the underworld when a couple of his friends (Christopher Walken and Sam Rockwell) kidnap a gangster's pet shih tzu. With its blend of low-rent gangster cool, high-body-count hipster violence, smart-mouth dialogue, inspired casting and a blissfully retro soundtrack at odds with the onscreen mayhem, Seven Psychopaths might have been a groundbreaking film -- in 1992. As it stands, it just feels like leftover Quentin Tarantino or Elmore Leonard, repackaged and reheated for a new generation. 'Ö'Ö'Ö (Reviewed by Cary Darling)

SINISTER

Kildonan Place, Polo Park, St. Vital, Towne. 18A

A true-crime writer (Ethan Hawke) gets in over his head with supernatural terror when he moves his family into a murder house while researching a horrific crime. Co-writer-director Scott Derrickson skilfully builds the tension and Hawke earns his salary with an intense portrait of career desperation transmogrifying into a deeper kind of terror. But instead of achieving the desired climax, the story sadly devolves into tired horror-movie hokum. 'Ö'Ö1/2

TAKEN 2

Grant Park, Kildonan Place, Polo Park, St. Vital, Towne. 14A

Liam Neeson reprises the role of a tough security specialist "with a particular set of skills" obliged to take on a cadre of Albanian hoodlums out for revenge after the events of the first film. As good as Neeson was in Taken, and as good as he often is in the sequel, this is an often silly movie where the strain to stay credulous shows. 'Ö'Ö (Reviewed by Roger Moore)

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition October 14, 2012 A13

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