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The Road, from the novel by Cormac McCarthy, is a post-apocalyptic road movie of a man, a boy, a gray wasteland, and roving bands of ragtag cannibals whom Mad Max would have blown away with a sneeze. Naturalistic science fiction, it amounts to an anti-2012 (careful what you wish for) from the maker of the Australian anti-Western, The Proposition, John Hillcoat, a small-scale spectacle of unrelieved grimness and gloom, short on characters, thin in incident, thick with sallow grimy hairy closeups (Viggo Mortensen and a barely recognizable Robert Duvall among them), a spitting-up of blood here and an upchuck there, a gun held repeatedly to the head of a child. The boy’s cultivation of morality and charity, in defiance of his father’s stony-hearted defenses, offers a hint of dramatic interest.

New Moon, a vampire movie sprinkled with pop songs, long and slow and slack, is the second installment in “The Twilight Saga” from the best-selling books of Stephenie Meyer. (New director: Chris Weitz.) Whatever may be the attributes that make this franchise a “phenomenon,” they seem to ensure that it will also have a significant silly factor: e.g., the extracurricular alignment of Team Edward against Team Jacob. Hardly has the lipsticked bloodsucker (a narcotized Robert Pattinson as Edward) given his human girlfriend the kiss-off for her own good — “Leaving you,” he will later allow, “was the hardest thing I’ve done in a hundred years” — than his only romantic rival (a bulked-up Taylor Lautner as Jacob) turns into a werewolf and, again for her own good, gives her another kiss-off. (Further silliness: he and his bare-chested pack are good werewolves, preying only on bad vampires and leaving humans as well as good vampires untouched.) Kristen Stewart, who looks to my eye a little different, as if possibly she spent summer vacation getting an advanced degree at cosmetology school, makes something palpable of the adolescent tragedy of rejection, quite an achievement in the circumstances.

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Comments

Josh Board Dec. 2, 2009 @ 4:08 p.m.

You nailed it with the Cage movie. You're entertained, but it's really just a mess.

Loved the line in Precious review, where you mention the title and "push comes to shove."

But please, someone explain critics to me. Why in the world did it need to be mentioned in your review, that she gets HIV from her dad? This comes as a shocker in the movie, when her life finally seems to be going in a more positive direction. And including it in your write-up, adds nothing. It could've easily been left out.

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shizzyfinn Dec. 12, 2009 @ 10:35 a.m.

That's why it's a dangerous game to read reviews before seeing movies. Not only do you go into the movie with the expectations created by someone else's opinion, but very often some key plot twists are spoiled. In this case, it seems like Duncan sets out to steal Precious's thunder: "We don’t find out all of that at once. It piles up."

Personally, if I'm thinking of seeing a movie, I try to take a peek at the aggregate rating on rottentomatoes, but I save the actual reviews for afterward, when I compare my take with the reviewers', and maybe pick up on something I missed.

Though I must say rottentomatoes steered me wrong on Bad Lieutenant...it's got an 86% approval rating, with several reviewers gushing over it, while Duncan was right all along: outside of Cage's enjoyable performance, the movie sucks.

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