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Underrated / Overrated

December 06, 2007

Underrated

It says nothing good about our bubble-wrapped culture that there are no professional daredevils anymore (sorry, crash mannequin Johnny Knoxville doesn't qualify). Before there were name-brand Hollywood stunt actors like Zoe Bell, one man forged through the wilderness, clad in a sparkly, patriotic jumpsuit. With the death of Evel Knievel, the frontier just got a whole lot smaller.

Happy Holidays from your local studio! Our gifts for the season? The bleakest, most downbeat films of 2007: "The Mist," "No Country for Old Men," "The Savages," "Before the Devil Knows You're Dead," the upcoming "There Will Be Blood" and "Atonement" -- even the holiday musical "Sweeney Todd" is about a throat-slashing barber. The funny thing is, we're enjoying the trend. Joy gets old fast when one is bombarded with the packaged variety at every grocery store, coffee chain and shopping mall.

DAREDEVILS

GRIM CHRISTMAS MOVIES

TAKING CRENSHAW AVENUE

Faster than La Brea to the 10.

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Overrated

'3:10 TO YUMA'

It's bad enough James Mangold is directing features when he ought to be exiled to TV movies. It's even worse he's considered some sort of auteur. But re-releasing this turgid foray into the underappreciated western genre (for Oscar consideration) takes the cake for hubristic delusion. Rent John Ford's "My Darling Clementine" instead: The stagecoach chase alone leaves "3:10" in the dust.

KEEP ON KEEPING ON

No denying Blondie frontwoman Deborah Harry's place in our pantheon, but was "Necessary Evil" (her first solo album in 14 years) really necessary? The crowd Friday at the Music Box @ Fonda might be hoping to hear some back catalog.

THE EDISON

Andrew Meieran's subterranean downtown L.A. club suffers from delusions of grandeur, right down to the overdressed door people. Attempting New York sophistication here is futile. The Edison is an overpriced sports bar, with a dressed-for-the-Lakers crowd (so much for the dress code) and football games on that giant screen. That's class. The food's great, though. Too bad you can't get takeout.

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