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Capsule reviews of films playing the week of June 3



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SUNSHINE CLEANING Sunshine Cleaning's ads trumpet that it's "from the producers of Little Miss Sunshine," and like that hit, it often belies its cheery title by exploring the darkness that descends on the lives of ordinary people just trying to get ahead. Yet while it may not be as sharply written, it contains enough fine moments – to say nothing of a strong performance by Amy Adams – to make it a worthwhile endeavor. Adams stars as Rose Lorkowski, once a popular high school cheerleader, now a struggling maid-for-hire with a troublesome son (Jason Spevack). When her married lover (Steve Zahn) suggests that she can make more money by providing cleanup services at crime scenes, she jumps at the suggestion, convincing her reluctant sister Norah (Emily Blunt) to join her in this new endeavor. Obtaining the proper license proves to be almost as challenging as the actual cleanup duties, but Rose is determined to carve out a better existence for her family. First-time scripter Megan Holley relies on too many familiar character types to flesh out her story: Here's yet another indie effort in which Mom is involved with a married man, Junior is a social outcast, and Grandpa is crusty yet kind (Alan Arkin virtually reprises his Little Miss Sunshine role). Yet other aspects of her screenplay are refreshing: The relationship between the sisters feels natural, the cleanup service angle is inspired, and the character of a one-armed janitorial store proprietor (nicely played by Clifton Collins Jr.) emerges as a complete original. Sunshine Cleaning's positives don't completely eclipse the tired material, but they do suggest that Holley might have a bright future ahead of her. **1/2

TERMINATOR SALVATION Make no mistake: Terminator Salvation is nowhere in the same league as James Cameron's 1984 classic The Terminator or his pull-out-all-the-stops 1991 sequel Terminator 2: Judgment Day. But it's a step up from the belated (and Cameron-less) 2003 entry Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, which surprisingly preserved the integrity of the narrative throughline but otherwise spun its wheels in regards to its characterizations and action set-pieces. In much the same way, this one (set in 2018) doesn't especially deepen our understanding of the apocalyptic future world first glimpsed in Cameron's original movie, and to say that it fails to flesh out the character of John Connor is an understatement. But it's entertaining nonetheless, as Connor (Christian Bale) tries to save the teenage Kyle Reese (Anton Yelchin) while also trying to ascertain whether a stranger (Sam Worthington) is a friend or foe. Complaints that the film is too bleak are ludicrous, and while the charges can't be denied that Bale's John Connor is rather humorless and one-note, what else are we to expect from a character who has spent his entire life burdened not only by the fact that the future is crappy but that he's somehow expected to fix it all? At any rate, the movie itself isn't completely devoid of humor, as witnessed by a few knowing winks at fans of the first films (including a cameo-of-sorts by a certain superstar). Terminator Salvation is, to borrow from Macbeth, full of sound and fury, but whether it's a tale told by an idiot (certainly, Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle earned director McG a battalion of haters) and signifying nothing will largely be determined by viewer preconceptions and a subsequent willingness to go with the flow. This isn't a classic Terminator model, but as the fourth line in a brand that was created a quarter-century ago, it serves its purpose nicely. ***

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