Capsule reviews of films playing the week of Oct. 6 | Film Clips | Creative Loafing Charlotte

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Capsule reviews of films playing the week of Oct. 6

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THE TOWN While The Town doesn't quite match the giddy pleasures of Gone Baby Gone (which, after all, was second only to No Country for Old Men on my 10 Best list for '07), it aptly illustrates that writer-director Ben Affleck won't have to contend with either the label of "beginner's luck" or "sophomore jinx." A crackling drama with a fine sense of both spacial relationships (thank Affleck the director) and character relationships (thank Affleck the writer), this adaptation of Chuck Hogan's novel Prince of Thieves (co-scripted by Peter Craig and Aaron Stockard) is set in a section of Boston known for producing more bank robbers than anywhere else in the country. One of these heist-happy fellows is Doug MacRay (Affleck), who leads his accomplices on a caper that results in the masked bandits briefly taking a hostage, bank employee Claire Keesey (Rebecca Hall). Electing to keep tabs on Claire to insure she doesn't get too chummy with the FBI, Doug strikes up a friendship with the unsuspecting woman, a camaraderie that quickly turns into love. A genre flick like this can't avoid all the clichés, but it manages to sidestep some of the biggest ones — at any rate, it's the little moments that make this stand out. The film can quickly shift from funny to frightening, and it plays out in ways not entirely expected. ***1/2

VAMPIRES SUCK Despite that blanket title, don't expect any digs at Bela Lugosi, Christopher Lee or Anne Rice, and True Blood and The Vampire Diaries are dismissed with one brief gag apiece. No, this is strictly all-Twilight-all-the-time — thus, in the town of Sporks, we find Becca Crane (Jenn Proske, the best thing in the movie) falling for the sparkly vampire Edward Sullen (Matt Lanter), with wolfboy Jacob White (Chris Riggi) sniffing at her heels with a bad case of puppy love. While I've already seen worse movies than Vampires Suck this year, it's doubtful I'll see another as lazily constructed as this one — even a homemade YouTube video simply capturing a dog chasing its own tail displays more effort and imagination than anything here. Because this is an obvious ploy to con money out of all the Twilight haters out there, writer-directors Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer don't even try to come up with clever ways to mock the material in the biting manner of, say, MAD magazine or early Zucker-Abrahams-Zucker. Instead, they merely plop down some sequence practically lifted wholesale from the first two Twilight movies, add a gross-out gag, a piece of knockabout humor or a pop culture reference that will seem hopelessly dated in just a few years, and leave it at that. *

YOU AGAIN There's a lot about You Again that's instantly disposable, from its generic title to its bland leading lady to a storyline that's as weightless as a sponge cake. But leave it to the old pros in the cast to prevent this from completely sinking into the abyss of immediately forgotten comedies. Kristen Bell, only fitfully succeeding in making an impression, plays Marni, who's shocked to learn that her brother (Jimmy Wolk) is marrying Joanna (Odette Yustman), the girl who made her life an endless hell back in high school. Everyone in Marni's family thinks Joanna is the greatest, so Marni makes it her mission to expose her as malicious and deceitful. For her part, Marni's mom (Jamie Lee Curtis) is aghast when she discovers that Joanna's aunt is a former school chum (Sigourney Weaver) with whom she had a falling-out decades ago on prom night. The Marni-Joanna clashes offer little that's new, so the fun is in watching those exquisite older actresses, Curtis and Weaver, square off against each other. Throw in the always-welcome Victor Garber as Curtis' husband, an amusing Kristin Chenoweth as a spirited dance instructor, and a cameo by a former Dallas star that almost made me fall out of my seat, and you may want to give You Again a chance. But only if Mean Girls isn't playing on cable. **1/2


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