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Despite its shortcomings, ‘Tree of Life’ grows potentially classic roots

The specific subject of Terrence Malick’s new film The Tree of Life is a mid-century, middle-class, middle-American family—dysfunction and tragedy played out in Norman Rockwell light. Malick isn’t big on specificity, though, and it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that what he’s really taking on with this movie is no less than the Meaning […]

‘Meek’s Cutoff’ a beautifully crafted survival tale, but ending falls short

If you’ve ever had any romantic notions of being a covered-wagon pioneer on the American frontier, Meek’s Cutoff will be happy to disabuse you of them. Set in the 1840s, Kelly Reichardt’s film concerns a small party of families led by a hired guide named Stephen Meek (Bruce Greenwood), who has promised to take them […]

Holy bird smugglers! Where’s Batman when we need him?

The computer-animated kids’ movie Rio begins in the title city, where we see a baby parrot captured for the exotic bird trade. Somehow he ends up stranded in Minnesota, where he grows up (into the voice of Jesse Eisenberg) as the pet of Linda (Leslie Mann), a nice young woman who runs a bookstore. She’s […]

‘Hop’ may be silly but still provides plenty of flop-eared hijinks

Much of last month I spent in China, where the Year of the Rabbit is in full swing. Cute little bunnies were in evidence everywhere—on billboards, buses, restaurants, shop windows and calendars. And it appears that we’re in for a taste of the same stateside, with the release of Universal’s Hop. One of the heroes […]

‘Due Date’ chaotic but still boasts worthy acting

An uptight guy is forced to travel across America with an obnoxious guy. That’s the simple, and by no means original, premise of the new road comedy Due Date, a 21st-Century spin on the 1987 John Hughes comedy Planes, Trains and Automobiles—it’s like Planes, Trains and Automobiles, jacked up on crack. Directed by Todd Phillips […]

Original ‘Invasion’ still a good scare

If you’re looking for a scary classic DVD for this month of ghouls and goblins, you might consider the original Invasion of the Body Snatchers. In this 1956 classic, big parasitical seed pods from outer space hatch out duplicates identical to their human hosts, but devoid of emotion or passion. Our hero, Dr. Miles Bennell […]

Former Mayor Giuliano aiming to galvanize support for Prop. 401

Tempe residents would be less safe and fire-response times longer if voters fail to approve a two-tenths of one percent increase in Tempe’s sales tax on May 18. That warning came from Rich Woerth, president of Tempe Fire Fighters, and Jeff McHenry, president of Tempe Police Officers Assn., during a news conference held April 13 […]

Alice in Wonderland

Tim Burton’s version of Lewis Carroll’s classic Alice in Wonderland is a dazzling 3-D visual spectacle that defines the word “fantastic.” From the moment Alice (played by Mia Wasikowska) descends into the rabbit hole, all things that are the stuff of children’s imaginations and deepest fears are made possible, including talking flowers with human heads, […]

Schools seek feedback for 7th, 8th grade sex-ed program

Due to what are said to be increased rates of sexual activity, pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections among Arizona’s teens, members of the Kyrene School District’s Health Steering Committee have concluded that a new approach to the district’s sex-education curriculum for seventh- and eighth-graders is necessary. Citing a published report, committee members refer to the […]

No changes in AIMS scores following 3-year experiment

More than 100 audience members at a Jan. 29 report session, predominately Kyrene administrators and teachers, heard an Arizona State University professor report that there has been no measurable increase or decrease in Kyrene AIMS scores as a result of a class-schedule restructuring program. Dr.  David Garcia presented the results of a three-year study to […]

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