Film » Film Clips

Capsule reviews of films playing the week of Nov. 24

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WAITING FOR "SUPERMAN" Davis Guggenheim, who won an Academy Award for An Inconvenient Truth, here presents another inconvenient truth: The United States public school system just isn't working. This comes as a shock to absolutely no one, but because it's a universal issue that affects legions of folks across the country — particularly the children — it's the sort of film that begs to be seen. This documentary, heavy on the outrage and frustration and light on the inspiration and hope, often focuses on a hero (education reformer Geoffrey Canada), an anti-hero (controversial former chancellor Michelle Rhee) and a villain (the self-serving American Federation of Teachers), but the heart of the film of course rests with its youngest subjects. Central are five students (in LA, NYC and DC) whose best chance at having a bright future lies in whether they'll be randomly selected in their respective locales' education lotteries to be transferred from their low-performing neighborhood schools to successful charter schools. While this climactic section of the picture proves to be the most schematic (whose name or number will pop up next?), it's impossible not to be left either elated or heartbroken, depending on which way the (lottery) ball bounces. ***

WALL STREET: MONEY NEVER SLEEPS Michael Douglas won the Best Actor Oscar for his sly turn as uber-capitalist Gordon Gekko in 1987's Wall Street, but the majority of the film's running time was commandeered by Charlie Sheen as his gullible protégé Bud Fox. That timeshare worked for that picture, but with the 23-years-after-the-fact Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, it's no secret that we're all here for Douglas. But aside from a quick glimpse of him in the prologue, he doesn't return for a full half-hour, meaning that it's Shia LaBeouf calling the shots. He's passable as a financial whiz kid who's in love with Gordon's daughter (Carey Mulligan) but finds himself turning to her estranged dad to help take down a corporate nemesis (Josh Brolin). But it's Douglas' continuing commitment to his iconic role that sporadically gooses the proceedings, at least until a mawkish conclusion that resembles nothing so much as a Wall Street — and Wall Street — crash. **1/2

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