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CAPSULE MOVIE REVIEWS

'Casi Divas'

Also reviewed: 'House of Numbers,' 'Sikandar,' 'Post Grad' and 'X Games 3D: The Movie'

August 21, 2009|Kevin Thomas; Gary Goldstein; Robert Abele

The ease in which even a gentle youngster can be manipulated into violent action gives the story its heft, although greater probing of Sikandar's emotional state as well as more context about the area's opposing factions may have helped offset this ambitious film's sporadic contrivances and melodramatic flourishes.

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Gary Goldstein --

"Sikandar." MPAA rating: Unrated. Running time: 1 hour, 44 minutes. In Hindi and Urdu with English subtitles. At the Naz 8 Cinemas, Lakewood.

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Flunking plot development

A joyless fluffball about after-college job woes with a dispiriting message for smart young women, director Vicky Jenson's "Post Grad" is the first movie since John Hughes' death to make cinematically real the passing of his era of sharply observed youthful anxiety. Alexis Bledel stars as a headstrong university student who collapses into a directionless funk after graduation when she doesn't nail the entry-level publishing house gig she assumed was hers.

She's forced to move home, where we then meet her lovable misfit family, whose only real claim to oddball-dom is that it includes three great performers -- Michael Keaton (dad), Jane Lynch (mother) and Carol Burnett (grandma) -- who can barely muster any laughs from Kelly Fremon's screenplay, which is long on pointlessly wacky incidents and short on sense.

Most irksome is that it wastes Bledel's effortless screen intelligence and flinty charm in a movie that considers her character's love of literature and desire to be a book editor no match for the passive-aggressive hunky best friend (Zach Gilford) who pines for her.

"Post Grad's" pre-feminist ending is a sop to dippy romantics at the expense of an honestly happy resolution, and that it comes from a female writer and director is a real head-scratcher.

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Robert Abele --

"Post Grad." MPAA rating: PG-13 for sexual situations and brief strong language. Running time: 1 hour, 29 minutes. In general release.

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Action sports

as a 3-D movie

As a repackaging of last year's Summer X Games using the latest in 3-D camera technology, Disney's limited-run extreme sports documentary "X Games 3D: The Movie" is an uneven thrill-circus display that too often feels like TV writ large and loud rather than the kind of cinematic reimagining that defined the surf-flick genre.

Thanks to an abundance of camera rigs, action sports die-hards may burst with excitement over the stereoscopic visuals that give the tense, injury-ridden showdown between megaramp skateboard superstars Danny Way and Bob Burnquist a big-screen renewal after all that YouTube repetition. But do we really have to hear the insipid, shticky ESPN-announcer voice-overs as well? ("I'm in shock dot-com! Log on!")

Director Steve Lawrence ventured outside the arena too to capture the training regimens of his subjects -- who include motocross greats Ricky Carmichael, Travis Pastrana and Kyle Loza, and skate-and-snowboard master Shaun White -- but these downtime scenes/interviews mostly act as insight-deficient setups for the event footage. It features calmer but still-purply narration (read by Emile Hirsch).

Although the competitions are undoubtedly impressive achievements in the daredevil arts, as a record of what these mentally tough participants do, it too often feels like a warmed-over energy drink.

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Robert Abele --

"X Games 3D: The Movie." MPAA rating: PG for extreme sports action and accidents. Running time: 1 hour, 35 minutes. In selected theaters.

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