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Is it worth $10? Yes

“Boyhood” was shot in 39 days, which is modest by Hollywood standards. What isn’t modest is the fact that those 39 days were over the course of 12 years, which allows writer/director Richard Linklater (“Before Sunrise”) to show the growth of a six year-old into an 18 year-old college freshman in the span of 166 minutes. It’s a remarkable piece of filmmaking.

When we first meet Mason (Ellar Coltrane) he’s a sweet six-year old who often fights with his older sister Samantha (Lorelei Linklater, Richard’s daughter). Their parents (Patricia Arquette and Ethan Hawke) are divorced, and mom is essentially raising them on her own with their father only around for an occasional weekend. Nothing particularly interesting here.

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In “Sabotage,” Arnold Schwarzenegger plays John “Breacher” Wharton, a rough and tumble, no-nonsense leader of an elite squad of DEA agents who specialize in raiding the homes of drug cartel kingpins and busting each other’s chops with what I am sure they think is witty banter. The film opens with them stealing some cash from a mansion they’re raiding. The plan is to come back later for the loot and split it up. One problem: When they go back, it’s gone. And since this squad is the only one who know the loot was there, one of them had to take it. But who—and who can and cannot be trusted?

Clever premise, and in spite of some awful dialogue—the kind of tough talk written by someone who has no idea what tough talk really sounds like—it is well executed. As Breacher’s crew gets knocked off one by one, and in some extremely gruesome ways, a homicide inspector named Caroline (Olivia Williams) partners with Breacher to catch the killer. It all leads to a pretty exciting showdown involving big cars and bigger guns, with a satisfying payoff. In addition to the dialogue, the chemistry between the characters could have been better, but in a movie like “Sabotage” I can forgive the lack of chemistry since all of the supporting players are a means to an end. That is, they’re there to get bumped off and ratchet up the suspense of who will be next until all is revealed in the climactic showdown. “Sabotage” may not be deep in portraying its band of brothers, but on a more superficial level it offers gore, guts, and good times. Nothing wrong with that, just take it for what it is and Rent It.

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This past season “Modern Family,” one of TV’s most progressive and popular sitcoms, hosted an extravagant wedding in its two part season finale. The fact that the wedding was between two men did not detract from the sweetness and hilarity as everything went wrong and all their best laid plans fell apart. The thing about that wedding was the audience was rooting for these characters. They have rough moments but accept each other for who they are and, even more relevant, their families learn to accept them too.

ABC also used the finale as a platform to support gay marriage for real couples as well; they offered to pay for same sex couples to get married in New York City in the weeks leading up to the finale episodes. It was a somewhat surprising move but one that garnered a lot of good will and, oddly, not a lot of backlash. While “Modern Family” is certainly not the first sitcom to feature a same sex marriage – “Roseanne” featured one of the first gay weddings to be aired on a broadcast network – other sitcom series that have tried to focus on same sex couples have not gone so well (“Partners,” “The New Normal,” etc.). Regardless of how well the shows have done at respectfully examining the dynamics of the couples, they never really connected with the audience and didn’t make it past their first season.

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Is it worth $10? No

Cameron Diaz is gorgeous, and in “Sex Tape” that’s a bad thing.

As appealing as the notion of a naked Diaz having frequent sex in a raunchy comedy may be, the reality of “Sex Tape” is this: It’s incredibly unsexy. Why? Because it’s hard to believe a sultry sexpot like Diaz would settle for an average Joe like Jason Segel, so we never buy them as a couple. Worse, the sex scenes aren’t sexy – they feel mechanical and choreographed when they should be wild and uninhibited.

The movie is also not funny and lacks energy, it features the worst parenting decision of the year, and Diaz and Segel have zero chemistry. We’re supposed to believe their characters met in college and couldn’t stop having sex. Instead we notice how uncomfortable they look together and don’t laugh at the jokes because none of it seems genuine.

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Is it worth $10? Yes

“The Purge: Anarchy” is a sequel that’s aware of what its predecessor did wrong and is intent on fixing it. Whereas “The Purge” (2013) did nothing with its clever premise by settling into a home invasion thriller, “Anarchy” expands on the idea of what happens during a lawless night and is notably better because of it.

In 2023 America, crime rates are at an all time low. The reason is the “Purge,” one night a year in which all crime, including murder, is legal. Americans are encouraged by the government to “release the beast” and purge themselves of all hatred and revenge during this 12-hour period. The night has its dissenters, notably an activist named Carmelo Johns (Michael K. Williams), but in essence it’s an unpleasant night that people deal with and move on. Obviously, any non-homicidal maniac will take a sleeping pill, shelter up and call it a day, but for the slightly more cuckoo it’s time for blood. 

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Is it worth $10? No

Zach Braff portrays a backsliding "dreamer" of a Jewish father who embarks on efforts to do right by his two young children. His wife (played by Kate Hudson) in "Wish I Was Here" is "half Jewish" and pays the bills while her actor husband spends his time auditioning for bit parts.

Braff's Aidan must also deal with his ill father (Mandy Patinkin) and his slacker brother (Josh Gad, "Thanks For Sharing" [2013]). The two are estranged, and Aidan takes it upon himself to bring them together before it's too late.

This mix of challenging situations, while unimaginative, sounds like it ought to be enough to build a movie upon. And that's exactly the problem. Director/co-writer Braff takes these mediocre plot elements and, along with his co-writer brother Adam J. Braff, plops them into a sophomoric script. Then, they just run with it.

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Director Marco Bellocchio's ("Vincere" [2009]) potent movie begins in a Rome perfectly maddened by religiosity, end-of-life decisions, and national politics. In this environment, a senator (played by Toni Servillo [2013's Oscar-winner "The Great Beauty"]) is pressured, absurdly, by party colleagues to vote for a bill that would grant the government permission to end his seriously ill wife's life.

It's part of the film's commentary on fanaticism and mob rule, which is further described in part by the actual condition of the senator's wife Eluana (a character based on the real Eluana Englaro, an Italian woman whose end-of-life issues stirred real political controversy and national obsession). Described by politicians on television as being in "a vegetative state," several scenes show her alert, awake, and interacting coherently with her family.

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Is it worth $10? No

In 1953, the United Kingdom decided that, due to recent attempts by competing nations, their last chance to be the first nation to summit Mount Everest had arrived. "Beyond The Edge" is a documentary about New Zealander Edmund Hillary, Nepalese Sherpa Tenzing Norgay, and the crucial work of the British team's supporting players toward that lofty goal.

Ed Hillary was a product of his family's high expectations, and the film takes the time to analyze the elements of his personality that led to his mountaineering in general and his decision to take on Everest in particular.

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