MEEK AT THE MOVIES —- The Hunt (2.5 STARS)

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If you’ve seen Sam Peckinpah’s masterfully macabre “Straw Dogs” (let’s all please agree to forget the far inferior recent remake) then you’re already up to speed on what happens in “The Hunt” : quiet European hamlet; a mindful and reserved intellect with a complex past; slow constant simmer; sexual tension; strong reactions based on false assumptions; and a gentlemanly hunt in the woods serving as a ruse for a deeper more perverse game at hand.

Though the arc, ambiance and elements of the two films bear many acute similarities, the context and articulation could not be further apart. Mads Mikkelsen — whom most US viewers know as Hannibal in the self-titled NBC TV series, or as the European bad-ass who bashed in Bond’s balls in “Casino Royale” — plays Lucas, a quiet man trying to gain some degree of custody of his teen son in the aftermath of a bitter…

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MEEK AT THE MOVIES : THE WOLVERINE ( 2.5 STARS )

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^ Hugh Jackman as The Wolverine in film of same name

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The Wolverine onscreen always was the more intriguing of the X-Men lot. As an enigmatic outsider with a tortured past and tacit persona, he had character and depth, something few of the skimpily sketched circus anomalies in Dr. Xavier’s menagerie could offer. If you draped a poncho across his back and put a six shooter in his hand he’d not be unlike a young Clint Eastwood in Sergio Leone’s ‘Man with No Name’ trilogy. And now that I come to think of it, the man who plays Logan, (a.k.a the Wolverine), Hugh Jackman, and Eastwood, if of a similar age, look and sound somewhat alike. I’m not sure if their politics or tastes in furniture are akin, but that’s beside the point.

Given the “cool” factor, it’s no surprise that the immortal mutant with a metal reinforced…

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MEEK AT THE MOVIES : FRUITVALE STATION ( 3 stars )

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^ Michael B. Jordan as Oscar Grant in “Fruitvale Station”

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With the George Zimmerman trial and cries of justice for Trayvon fresh in our minds, “Fruitvale Station” could not come at a more appropriate time. It won’t ease the current emotional swell, but it will help further the conversation.

At 2 AM on New Year’s Day, 2009, Oscar Grant, a twenty two year-old Black man, was shot and killed by a transit cop as he lay face down and partially restrained on the platform of the subway stop of the title; a tragic end to a buoyant and hopeful evening as Grant and his friends tried to make their way back to Oakland from a sojourn across the Bay to see the fireworks.

Much of the inexplicable act was caught on cellphone video. The cop later said he meant to draw his Taser and was sentenced for…

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MEEK AT THE MOVIES : Indie DIY – Two Far-flung Visions on the Cheap

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^ young dalliance : Michael Cera and Gaby Hoffman

For the second time this summer we find Michael Cera behaving badly in a bathroom. In “This is the End” he was effete and self-centered as he was orally pleasured by two nubile ingénues. Here, in “Crystal Fairy,” as an American in Chile on a quest for the ultimate peyote, his Jamie has some flushing complications after a number two. Normally this would be a conundrum for most, but Jamie happens to be stoned and hanging out with a few of his Chilean hommies, so what’s a little stink among friends?

The head-trip objective runs its narrative arc fairly straight up with a few scatological sprinkles and some moronic lunacy along the way. In most every scene, Jamie’s shrieking hubris consumes the screen, and it doesn’t help he can’t speak Spanish. As far as the project’s origins, you can almost see…

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MEEK AT THE MOVIES —- Lovelace ( 2.5 STARS )

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^ Amanda Seyfried as Linda Lovelace in “Lovelace”

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Well I remember back in college (and no, I was not in college when “Deep Throat” was released in 1972) my dorm neighbor having a poster on his door of an old man with a shit-eating grin on his face and a T shirt saying “I choked Linda Lovelace to death.” At the time — pre-Viagra time — I found the image devilish and perverse, now I find the notion sad, ironic and somewhat misogynistic, sentiments reinforced by the new bio-pic “Lovelace,” which details the infamous porn star’s story from the POV of her controversial 1980 memoir, “Ordeal.”

For those not in the know, Linda Lovelace (born Linda Boreman) was the first adult performer to become a household name and a regular punchline for Johnny Carson and other late night talk show hosts as the free-love ’60s melted into…

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MEEK AT THE MOVIES : A SHARLTO COPLEY TWO=-FER — ELYSIUM ( 2.5 stars) and EUROPA REPORT ( 2 stars )

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^ Sharlto Copley in Elysium, with Jodie Foster and Matt Damon

For blockbuster fans out there, still hungry for a real summer hit to carry you into the fall, I’m sorry to inform you that “Elysium,” Neil Blomkamp’s follow up to “District 9,” isn’t the answer– perhaps about as worthy an answer as was “Pacific Rim.”. What the South African wunderkind, who wowed audiences with his stark, inventive first film (it garnered several Oscar nods, including a Best Picture bid) now has conjured is something that’s less a new, grim re-envisioning of the not so distant future (it’s 2154) than a retooling of the film that made him an A-list name. Unfortunately, the new movie is addled, by everything bloated and boxed up that Hollywood brings to such a project when it gets its hooks deep into an upcoming auteur.

The plot moves like a whiplash. LA is now a…

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MEEK AT THE MOVIES : THE BUTLER ( 3 stars )

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^ Oprah Winfrey and Forest Whitaker in “The Butler”

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In the wake of the George Zimmerman trial, you couldn’t ask for a better movie–or I should say, movies–to help carve out a common understanding at the middle of the racial divide. No matter how you took the Zimmerman decision, Ryan Coogler’s “Fruitvale Station” delivered an air tight version of the same story with the same tragic end, the main difference being that the shooting took place before an audience of cellphone cameras leaving no wiggle room for conjecture as to what happened between two men in the dark. But also, and more to the point, the “based on real events” docudrama eloquently tapped into the plight of a young black man struggling to succeed in a society reticent to give him a fair shake based on the color of his skin.

To underscore that, and for anyone…

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MEEK AT THE MOVIES — YOU’RE NEXT ( 3 stars )

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^ animal-faced marauders in Adam Wingard’s “You’re Next.”

A bunch of well-to-do yuppies head off to a remote manse for a family reunion of sorts. Dad’s recently retired and made millions as the head of marketing for a defense contractor (isn’t the market the government?). The renovation of the aging structure is supposed to be his golden years’ project, but things in the woods aren’t so idyllic. His eldest sons, the uber-yup (Joe Swanberg, whose upcoming directorial effort, “Drinking Buddies,” is an indie must-see) and the doughy academic (AJ Bowen), continuously, and ideologically, get at each other’s throats. Along too are the younger sister and brother, and all have wives or SOs ; mostly, however, they don’t matter, as they’re all primarily fodder for a group of animal-masked marauders who mysteriously show up and pick apart the family one by one, starting with the opening salvo of crossbow bolts. Cellphones…

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MEEK AT THE MOVIES —-CLOSED CIRCUIT ( 3 stars )

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^ Eric Bana and Rebecca Hall in James Crowley’s “Closed Circuit”

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A deft thinking man’s thriller from the team of producers behind “Tinker, Taylor, Soldier, Spy.” Clearly, they know intrigue, though “Closed Circuit” is less of a brain boggle than the 2011 Cold War chess game based on the John Le Clair novel. It’s never a street brawl either, though plenty of blood is spilt (but mostly off screen). Based on real events, London is rocked by a massive terrorist attack that kills over 100 innocents. The means of mayhem is nothing special: a truck full of explosives is parked in front of an open market and triggered suicide style. What is special, is that the mastermind is so easily caught.

The rub comes during the staging of the trial. The Crown, for security reasons, wants a closed hearing due to sensitive ‘secret evidence’ that could put…

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MEEK AT THE MOVIES : SHORT TERM 12 ( 3 stars )

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^ Brie Larson as Grace, in Destin Cretton’s “Short Term 12”

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Not so long ago, for about two or three years, I taught creative writing to girls and young women who were wards of the state at the Germaine Lawrence School in Arlington, MA. These women had lived hard lives, drug addiction, rape, multiple pregnancies by the age of sixteen and abuse. A friend of mine who worked at the school and knew that I wrote, had grants and was looking for artists to help the girls shape their stories and find their inner voice. I was apprehensive at first, but agreed to do so and found it one of the most rewarding, eye-opening experiences of my life. I’m certain the girls did more for me than I did for them, but there would be times when a girl would not show up for class, and when…

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