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The Iceman

Director: Ariel Vromen
Cast: Michael Shannon, Winona Ryder, Chris Evans, Ray Liotta

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The Iceman
Millennium Films


Months before American Hustle, theaters briefly saw another true-to-life 1970s Jersey crime epic; only this one was awful. Michael Shannon plays killer-for-hire Richard Kuklinski, who claimed to have x’d out more than a hundred people over a couple decades, only his family never suspected. Any of this might have been interesting had the filmmakers brought a scintilla of originality to the cliché-riddled story or cast anybody else in the lead. Finding out Shannon is a contract killer is about as shocking as discovering Jack Nicholson in The Shining might be having trouble finishing that book. Chris Barsanti


 

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Delivery Man

Director: Ken Scott
Cast:   Vince Vaughn, Chris Pratt, Cobie Smulders

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Delivery Man
Touchstone Pictures


What’s worse than an unfunny Vince Vaughn. A soft and cuddly version of the versatile actor who is equally bereft of laughs. Oddly enough, the same mind that made the French Canadian indie hit—Ken Scott—concocted this ridiculous remake, clearly with the help of several clueless suits who have no idea what makes comedy work. Add in the warm and fuzzy stuff as Vaughn (who discovers he is the father of over 500 offspring thanks to a glitch at the sperm bank he “frequented” as a youth) tries to bond with his biologicals and you’ve got a film full of gags… just not the ones that leave an audience in stitches. Bill Gibron


 

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Lee Daniel’s The Butler

Cast: Forest Whitaker, Oprah Winfrey, David Oyelowo, Terence Howard, Vanessa Redgrave, Cuba Gooding, Jr., Lenny Kravitz, Robin Williams, James Marsden, John Cusack, Jane Fonda

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Lee Daniel’s The Butler
The Weinstein Company

Lee Daniels’ The Butler marks the second of the titular director’s features to be inexplicably hailed by most critics. Daniels’ first awkwardly-titled film, Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire somehow managed to confuse undiscriminating audiences eager to lap up a BS story of an impossible scenario. I didn’t think anything could top the 2009 film for utter preposterousness, but then I saw Lee Daniels’ The Butler. Forget the schmaltz. Forget the Lifetime “Movie of the Week” feel. All you need to know is this: most of Lee Daniels’ The Butler isn’t true. Not his name, not his family, and especially not the characterization drawn at the film’s bogus ending. Daniels has gone berserk yet again, and again, no one wants to call him on it. Ben Travers


 

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Adore

Director: Anne Fontaine
Cast: Naomi Watts, Robin Wright, Ben Mendelsohn, Xavier Samuel, James Frecheville

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Adore
Gaumont


Here’s a great way to celebrate the mature, right minded woman: have her and her best friend get into a quasi-incestual affair with each other’s hunky college age sons. Ewwwwww is RIGHT! Naomi Watts and Robin Wright deserve better than this Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone stupidity, their sun-dappled body avoiding all the issues that go along with MILFs making time with barely legal boys. If this wasn’t directed by a woman—Anne Fontaine of Coco After Chanel fame—you’d swear it was some sweaty perverts personal fantasy reel. Instead, it’s the sound of two deserving performers cashing a paycheck, hoping few will see what they had to do for said cash. Bill Gibron


 

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Upside Down

Director: Juan Diego Solanas
Cast: Jim Sturgess, Kirsten Dunst, Timothy Spall

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Upside Down
Millennium Entertainment


The worst thing about Upside Down is how it squanders a great idea. The movie is about two connected planets, one always on top of the other, with people and objects only affected by the gravity of their home planet. It’s not scientific, but it does allow for great images of buildings where people can walk on the ceiling, upside-down restaurants with chandeliers that grow up from the middle of the floor, and people “falling” upward when they try to visit the other planet.


It seems like a cool world to explore, but writer/director Juan Solanas makes that exploration painful. He sets up rules about the the way the planets work that he immediately subverts with no explanation. The story is the most over-the-top melodrama. (Did I mention the two star-crossed lovers at the center of this story are named Adam and Eden?)  People pop up in places where they don’t belong to deliver expositional lines, and then disappear again. And the whole thing ends in a humdinger of a reveal that, after careful consideration, makes absolutely no sense. I wish that I could take the visuals from Upside Down and give them to another director for a second crack at the story. Marisa LaScala


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