Review: '2 Guns' slick, but Washington and Wahlberg grate

August 1, 2013, 1:55 p.m.
The only thing simple and direct about "2 Guns" is its title. This self-consciously nihilistic action movie is one slick piece of business as well as something of a double-edged sword.
On one hand, it can be briefly diverting to see Icelandic director Baltasar Kormakur and stars Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg use style and attitude to put a different spin on traditional genre plot dynamics in a story of misplaced drug money and mistaken identity.
But it's also true that the plot of "2 Guns" — filled as it is with multiple feints, dodges and mystifications — is so tricky that events all but evaporate as soon as they happen. Though individual set pieces are well done, the film inevitably leaves an empty taste behind it once it's done.
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Written by Blake Masters and based on Steven Grant's series of five graphic novels, "2 Guns" throws us into the middle of a story, then almost immediately tells us that everything we think we know about that story is completely wrong.
We're introduced to Robert "Bobby" Trench (Washington) and Michael "Stig" Stigman (Wahlberg), a pair of wise-cracking hard guys whose glib patter is more irritating than amusing.
Seated in a diner in a small Texas town, they're directly across the street from the Tres Cruces Savings & Loan, a fiduciary establishment with ties to a Mexican drug cartel that they are fixing to rob.
Just a week earlier, however, both men were south of the border trying to do a deal with the cartel's leader, ruthless Manny "Papi" Greco (Edward James Olmos).
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Nothing about Trench and Stigman, as it turns out, is as it seems, including.

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Even more baffling is the fact that this small-town savings & loan turns out to have more money in its vaults than either man anticipated. A whopping $40 million more, which scares the pants off everyone involved, including Trench's DEA boss Deb Rees (Paula Patton) and Stigman's superior officer Lt. Cmdr. Quince (James Marsden).
Not amused one little bit by the robbery is Earl (a nasty Bill Paxton), who shows up representing the owner of all that money, an entity whose identity the film keeps secret for as long as it can. A man so scary he is known as "God's S.O.B.," Earl is beside himself when it turns out that no one, including Trench and Stigman, seems to know where that money they stole has disappeared to.
Though they are both arrogant and antisocial, these two guns are forced to cooperate in the face of Earl's machinations if they want to stay alive in a world where you never know where you stand.
It can be fun initially to see how director Kormakur, who first came to international attention with expert Icelandic films such as "101 Reykjavik" and "Jar City," doles out this information to us with cinematic elan (helped by energetic, persuasive editing by Michael Tronick). But this is not enough for the long haul, particularly when Trench and Stigman's non-winning personalities and the film's exploitative attitude toward women and violence are added into the mix. Slickness can apuestas deportivas take you only so far.
kenneth.turan@latimes.com
"2 Guns"
MPAA rating: R for violence throughout, language and brief nudity
Running time: 1 hour, 49 minutes
Playing: In general release

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I beg to dissagree with this review. I just watched 2 Guns and found the movie entertaining  , fast paced, well acted and suspensful. Mark could have 'toned it down ' a notch but all in all a good movie. Go see it.
Mark Wahlberg is a racist piece of crap.
http://www.thesmokinggun.com/documents/crime/back-day-marky-marks-rap-sheet-0
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Review: 'Computer Chess' a few moves away from great satire

Patrick Riester as Peter Bishton in "Computer Chess." (Kino Lorber / July 31, 2013)
August 1, 2013, 3:21 p.m.
You need no particular knowledge or affection for the game of kings to appreciate the whimsy of "Computer Chess."
The genius of this indie is its cleverness in capturing the driest of times and the dullest of people in a faux documentary about the early days of man versus machine at the chessboard.
"Computer Chess" does not reach the heights of the grand master of faux, Christopher Guest, whose "Best in Show" and "Waiting For Guffman" are brilliant studies in satire. But director Andrew Bujalski makes a serious play for his own place in the pantheon of hysterically pretentious pretend.
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Bujalski, who also wrote the film, takes us to the early 1980s, when computer nerds were not high-tech, high-rolling whiz kids with stock options in the millions. Instead, he's populated the. Sports activities betting is an action of predicting sports activities benefits by creating a wager on the outcome of a sporting event. Possibly much more than other varieties of gambling, the legality and general acceptance of these sports activities betting varies from nation to nation. The pioneer in gambling of all varieties, particularly horses, greyhounds and sports has been the United kingdom. Even so, due to the fact 2002 is becoming carried out all the growth of virtual betting houses, focusing on sports betting, which is coming to all European and American nations. A sample of this development can be observed in the detail of that sports betting is the existing sponsor of Real Madrid.

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place with the pocket-protector bunch complete with Coke-bottle glasses, bad haircuts and a perpetual state of social unease.
A few of the brightest — MIT and Caltech sensations among them — have gathered for a regional weekend conference to pit their programming skills and their latest chess software against one another. The winner will take on a chess master, an old-school conventional type portrayed by Gerald Peary.
As Henderson, sporting the requisite department-store suit, white shirt and dark tie, he is also the convention's host, making the bold prediction that it will be 1984 before a computer will best him.
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In real life, it would be the late 1980s before machine would beat man at this particular game and another decade before the famed 1997 face-off between world champ Garry Kasparov and Deep Blue. The win went to Blue.
Bujalski is not interested in such high-profile doings. His film is very much on computer chess in the trench warfare stage. The hard drives are still gigantic, waist-high and require a couple of guys to push into place. The "play" itself is spit out in computer code with a person moving the indicated piece on an actual board.
Lurking around the edges is a cameraman (Kevin Bewersdorf) with a first-generation camcorder recording "history in the making." The film extends the effect — grainy black-and-white, hand-held shake and dizzying pans. Instead of a distraction, the found-footage feel only adds to a sense we've been taken to a place out of time. Helping is director of photography Matthias Grunsky, costume designer Colin Wilkes and production designer Michael Bricker's keen attention to detail.
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The chess match is not the only game in town; the competition is sharing hotel space with a couples-therapy group. And much is made of the lone female programmer, a convention first. But Shelly (Robin Schwartz) is barely audible — this is still a boys' club.
The focus soon narrows to one team — a more conventional group anchored by Peter (Patrick Riester) and Martin (Wiley Wiggins) — and one rogue programmer named Michael Papageorge (Myles Paige). Things are not going well for either.
The actors have to walk a fine line between playing it straight while getting as close as possible to absurd. For the most part, they do a good job of it.
Scheduling issues provide additional complications in the plot. But these threads and the couples-therapy scenes feel more of an afterthought. When a couple try to recruit one of the nerds for sex games, it threatens to destroy the illusion.
But I guess it is only fitting that a film about computers would have a few glitches.
betsy.sharkey@latimes.com
----------------------------
'Computer Chess'
MPAA rating: Not rated
Running time: 1 hour, 32 minutes
Playing: At Nuart Theatre, West Los Angeles

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I got to see this piece of work Thursday night. Totally loved it! The film was unlike anything I've ever seen and I couldn't agree more with this review. The whole irony in the humor is that there aren't any punchlines, it's the whole feel of the movie that provides the laughs. Bujalski did an amazing job on this film, I completely respect him and have developed a new found admiration for him. I'm definitely going to have to check out some of his other films.
I have to applaud Andrew Bujalski for completing a project so experimental and esoteric that it's refrshing and inspirational to watch--to an extent. This is absolutely nothing like what Christopher Guest does. This film is too spot on (he used real computer programers and friends to play characters) to draw out the satire. There is no wit in the dialogue in this film. I do hope Bujaiski pursues mockumentaries but the beauty is in the wit and editing. Coming out of this film, was there one remerable line? I know 99 percent was improv, but this is percisely why you need charaters who can pull that off iike Eugene Levy, Michael KcKean or Jennifer Coolidge. I'm sure there are some excellent unknown improv actors out there he could Tap into. A cat walking out of the elevator is not funny. I became interested when the film turned fantastical at the end, but it was disjointed. Bujalski has something different to offer and just that is exciting for those of us who love a great mockumentry. But get more irony, sarcasm, ridicule and wit into the film to expose the vice of your choice--which is the definition of satire.
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Review: 'The Spectacular Now' is an intoxicating brew of teen angst

August 1, 2013, 2:04 p.m.
In the opening moments of "The Spectacular Now," 17-year-old Sutter is trying to bluff his way through the infamous personal essay on a college application. He is fortified by drink as he tries out charm, wit, cynicism and insult — everything but honesty.
It's a perfect start for this culturally astute drama, spiked with enough comedy to make it splendidly intoxicating to watch.
In movies, coming-of-age has become convenient shorthand for the crush of stories about the high school crowd — sci-fi, drama, comedy, horror, take your pick. That's made it far too easy to lose touch with how complicated the sorting out of impending adulthood can be.
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Until something like "The Spectacular Now" comes along to remind us.
Miles Teller and Shailene Woodley, as high school seniors Sutter and Aimee, bring such an authentic face of confidence and questioning, indifference and need, pain and denial, friendship and first love, that it will take you back to that time if you're no longer there, and light a path if you are.
This particular path is a treacherous one. Sutter and Aimee are forced to navigate the not-so-spectacular now — when teen alcoholism is as much a fact of life as broken and blended families are the norm. They are ordinary kids, bruised in ordinary ways, growing up in an ordinary suburb.
Essentially they represent the mean of the teenage experience that Tim Tharp's novel captured so smartly. Screenwriters Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber, who brought a buoyancy and pique to "(500) Days of Summer," have done fine work in adapting for the screen, reverent of the source, unafraid to make it their own.
The topic was a natural for director James Ponsoldt. The ways in which overindulgence frames a downfall, defines a relationship, resists a rescue, is a specialty of his. In 2006, the issue was aging alcoholics in "Off the Black" with Nick Nolte. In 2012, he tackled a apuestas de futbol married couple united by spirits, then divided by sobriety in the excellent "Smashed."
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As good as the earlier films are, Ponsoldt was only doing spadework for his best yet, his tenderest.
Sutter is heading toward graduation conflicted about the future. He's got a sarcastic take on growing up, an effortless charm that gets him around most scrapes and a flask full of whiskey to help him live in the "now." His preferred state of existence is buzzed.
He's a popular kid with a reputation for being the life of the party; by the time we meet Sutter the apuestas deportivas whiskey is starting to get in the way. The film will ease through a series of typical teenage issues that hound him. The teachers who see his intelligence squandered. Mom (Jennifer Jason Leigh) even more frustrated that her smart son is failing at everything. Their fights always get back to her refusal to give Sutter a number for his idolized absentee dad (Kyle Chandler). His girlfriend Cassidy (Brie Larson) is beautiful but with ever-higher expectations. His best friend Ricky (Masam Holden) is his anchor and Aimee is a new project on the horizon.
Aimee is her own pack of problems. A straight-A student, sweet and pretty enough, but not in a way that anyone notices. She's got a habit of thinking she's not worth much and a tendency to let the world run over her. Sutter intends to change that.
They meet — officially — about 5:30 one morning when Aimee finds Sutter passed out in the front yard of a house on her paper route. Aimee thinks he's dead. When he's not, they finish the route together. She drives; he throws. Both talk, through and around things large and small, as teenagers are wont to do.
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It begins an unlikely friendship that might be mistaken for the first chapter of a possible love story. There are a lot of "ifs" in Sutter's world.
Beyond the girls, grades and graduation, "The Spectacular Now" is interested in the idea of Sutter's acceptance — by college, peers, parents, bosses and most significantly and hardest to come by, himself. The turning point will be the teen's reconnection with his dad. A darker-than-usual turn for Chandler, the "Friday Night Lights" perfect father figure dives deep to make the most of the disappointments he delivers.
Woodley, whose breakout came in 2011 as the rebellious teenage daughter holding her own opposite George Clooney in "The Descendants," shows a very different — diffident — side in Aimee. The actress finds the right balance between the insecurities and pragmatism of a kid.

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But this is Teller's film. The actor, so badly used in spring's miserable "21 & Over," has a breakout performance in his teen at a crossroads. The actor infuses Sutter with such charisma that it's difficult not to forgive his many stumbles even when no one else — except Aimee — does.
Teller allows Sutter's decline, like the booze, to sink in slowly so we can see all that is buried beneath the swigs and shots.
betsy.sharkey@latimes.com
Twitter: @BetsySharkey
-------------------------------
'The Spectacular Now'
MPAA rating: R for alcohol use, language and some sexuality, all involving teens
Running time: 1 hour, 35 minutes
Playing: At ArcLight Hollywood; the Landmark, West Los Angeles

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Review: 'The Gardener' digs into the Bahai faith

Eona the gardner reflects Paula, the canadian who teaches children in the film, in his mirror in the movie "The Gardner." (Handout / July 31, 2013)
July 31, 2013, 6:04 p.m.
The free-form documentary "The Gardener" takes acclaimed, exiled Iranian filmmaker Mohsen Makhmalbaf ("Kandahar") and son Maysam to Israel to investigate the 170-year-old Bahai faith, which — although based in Haifa —has its roots in Persia. Unfortunately, the elder Makhmalbaf, who wrote and directed, puts many spins on this ethereal mood piece — it is by turns poetic, impressionistic, metaphorical and even a bit trippy — without satisfying such genre basics as structure, depth and resolution.
Makhmalbaf, the first Iranian filmmaker in decades to shoot a movie in Israel, has a noble aim: to better understand why so many Iranians have been vilified for following the Bahai religion, despite its teachings of peace and harmony (unlike Islam and Christianity, which have at times been associated with violence).
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That said, Makhmalbaf, a self-described agnostic (though onetime Islamic militant), skims the loaded topic via earnest chats with several beatific Bahai adherents, including the film's Papua New Guinea-born title character, who tends Haifa's stunning Bahai gardens, where much of the picture was shot. More attention, however, is paid to random musings, quasi-symbolic visuals (birds are of special fascination) and stagey beats than to effective probing.
Only when Mohsen and Maysam argue the merits and debits of religion does the film gain steam; Maysam's side trip to Jerusalem to survey the seemingly paradoxical coexistence of its three chief religions — Judaism, Christianity and Islam — adds heft, even as it echoes a kind of snark-free version of Bill Maher's "Religulous."
-----------------------
"The Gardener"
MPAA Rating: None
Running time: 1 hour, 22 minutes. In English and Farsi with English subtitles
Playing at: Laemmle's Music Hall, Beverly Hills.
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Try this again. A link to my review: http://www.examiner.com/review/the-gardener-puts-the-baha-i-faith-blurry-focus
First, I truly feel that someone needs to check your photo caption. You misspelled "gardener" and forgot to capitalize the first letter of the word "Canadian." The credits list the full name of the man as: Ririva Eona Mabi. The full name of the woman is Paula Asadi. 
Next, if you check in your AP Stylebook, the correct way to write Baha'i includes an apostrophe. 
I could quibble about the use of Persia and.

The sports betting strategies are situations applied by gamblers, which is a mixture of psychological, motivational, biological, and so on. preceding performances. An instance of a tactic utilizing situational and biological aspects is to bet on the reduced divisions and take into account the distance in kilometers between two teams enjoying, considering long trips have a tendency to be dangerous to these decrease division teams. Other strategies seek productive use of available statistics, in order casas de apuestas to enhance income. The value strategy compares probabilities (percentages) of the effects with the latest odds a bookmaker. Decimal probability can be merely converted into percentage by dividing one by the probability (for instance, 1 / 1.5 = .666 => 67%). For illustration, if a party Zaragoza - Celtic has a probability of 74%, the charge is 1.75 for Zaragoza (one: 1.75 = .571 => 57%), this provides a distinction of 74% - 57% = 17%. This 17% lse comes into play in accordance to the Kelly approach: budget multiplied by 1/ten of the estimated values ​​(in this case 17%, ie, .17) divided by the odds minus 1 (ie in this case from 1.75 to one = .75).

Iran, but that is a minor point. 
I think there is also some subtext that this reviewer missed, too. 
 
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Here's a link to my review: http://www.examiner.com/review/the-gardener-puts-the-baha-i-faith-blurry-focus
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