Andy Bockelman: Movies to round out the year

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Ratings

‘Paper Heart’

Rating: 2.5 out of 4 stars

‘Shorts’

Rating: 2 out of 4 stars

‘My One and Only’

Rating: 2 out of 4 stars

‘All About Steve’

Rating: 2.5 out of 4 stars

‘Bright Star’

Rating: 3.5 out of 4 stars;

‘Fame’

Rating: 1.5 out of 4 stars

‘A Serious Man’

Rating: 3 out of 4 stars

‘Michael Jackson’s This Is It’

Rating: 3 out of 4 stars

Andy Bockelman

Andy Bockelman is a member of the Denver Film Critics Society, and his movie reviews appear in Explore Steamboat and the Craig Daily Press. Contact him at 970-875-1793 or abockelman@CraigDailyPress.com.

Find more columns by Bockelman here.

Another year has come and gone with the various blend of films: the good, the bad and the ugly.

Unfortunately, not everything released in the past several months can have its due when it comes to movie reviews. The following is a list of recent flicks overlooked for one reason or another when they first came out, some of which already are on DVD or still in theaters.

‘Paper Heart’

Charlyne Yi doesn’t believe in love. And her doubts about the greatest of human emotions lead her to make a documentary about the subject and see what America has to say. But along the way, she meets actor Michael Cera, who may help her change her mind.

Part documentary and part romantic comedy, there’s a healthy dose of man-on-the-street interviews intertwined with the cutesy fictitious courtship between Yi and Cera. Neither holds up quite as well as it should, but the quirky personality and paper doll intervals crafted by artist/musician/comedienne Yi still are pleasant.

‘Shorts’

The residents of Black Falls, young and old alike, find their world turned upside down when a wishing rock lands in their town. So named because of its non-linear collection of vignettes, this comic fantasy from Robert Rodriguez is alternately funny, disgusting and exasperating as characters wish for everything imaginable from the magical, rainbow-colored stone, from nanobot bodyguards to a husband and wife being fused together.

The cast — including Jon Cryer, James Spader, Leslie Mann, William H. Macy and plenty of kids — is likable enough, but the story turns flat well before the third short.

‘My One and Only’

In 1953, New Yorker Anne Deveraux (Renée Zellweger) decides to leave her philandering musician husband (Kevin Bacon) and take her sons (Logan Lerman, Mark Rendall) on the road with a new Cadillac convertible.

Based on the early life of George Hamilton, this nostalgic look at family life has a nice design and a solid musical score but isn’t involving in the least. Zellweger is boring at best, and the rest of the players aren’t much better. The handling of Hamilton’s “sensitive” older half-brother is particularly bothersome.

‘All About Steve’

A crossword puzzle creator (Sandra Bullock) with virtually no life becomes fixated on a blind date (Bradley Cooper) and follows him across the country as he works as a cameraman for a news network.

Bullock is endearing in the weirdest possible way, wearing red leather cowboy boots and speaking with a slight affectation. The movie is too bizarre to work as a romantic comedy, but it does function as a very atypical, easygoing character study.

‘Bright Star’

In the early 19th century, British romantic poet John Keats (Ben Whishaw) is a sickly writer without a penny to his name who finds love and inspiration with his muse, Fannie Brawne (Abbie Cornish).

Taking its title from Keats’ signature sonnet, this exquisite period piece by writer/director Jane Campion is passionately made and deeply felt in its telling of a classic love story. The one fault is in the slow pacing, but when framed in such glorious cinematography, it’s barely an issue.

Additionally, Paul Schneider is a standout as Keats’ boisterous friend and financial provider, Charles Armitage Brown.

‘Fame’

Students at the New York High School of Performing Arts strive to stand out in an environment where competition is fierce to be the best in theater, music, dance and other performing outlets. The remake of the 1980 musical and its subsequent TV show is a flashy, fruitless endeavor with completely empty characters.

Thanks to the purposeless screenplay, not one of the student characters involved draw any kind of sympathy — most are just depicted as whiners who expect their stardom to be handed to them on the first day of classes — while the school’s staff members (Kelsey Grammer, Debbie Allen, Megan Mullally, Charles S. Dutton, Bebe Neuwirth) look bored. What a waste of good choreography!

‘A Serious Man’

Larry Gopnik (Michael Stuhlbarg), a Jewish Minnesota physics professor, finds his comfortable 1960s suburban lifestyle put into disarray as his wife (Sari Wagner Lennick) announces she is leaving him for another man (Fred Melamed) just as his career tenure is thrown into question and his ne’er-do-well brother (Richard Kind) attracts the attention of the FBI.

The latest from the Coen brothers is a well-told morality tale — with numerous comparisons to the story of Job — with fine black humor, a competent low-name cast and plenty of music from Jefferson Airplane.

‘Michael Jackson’s This Is It’

The King of Pop lives on through footage filmed during the rehearsal sessions for his planned 2009 comeback tour. Jackson’s performance of his repertoire is as awe-inspiring as ever and brings in phenomenal new visual stylistics for songs like “Thriller,” “Smooth Criminal,” “Bad” and many more.

What comes out of these makes for an excellent concert film, highlighting Jackson’s calming stage presence and his ability to bring out the best in everyone around him, further proving — as if there were any doubt — that the singer is one of the strongest performers the world has ever seen, the media circus following his death notwithstanding.

Still, it’s a shame we couldn’t see more Moonwalking.

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