Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Had it come out before Match Point, perhaps Woody Allen's British thriller Cassandra's Dream (Weinstein) might have been praised as a great return to form, instead of another trip to the well. It starts off strong, with a purposeful story involving two blue-collar brothers (Ewan McGregor and Colin Farrell) who covet a life of luxury, but are so anxious to get rich quick that they lose their moral bearings. But Allen doesn't really have a talent for genre, and the pacing flags right when it should be picking up steam…

The laughers laughed and the scoffers scoffed when crusty old Sylvester Stallone announced that he was resurrecting his iconic Rambo character after nearly two decades on the shelf, following the unexpected critical and commercial success of Rocky Balboa. But Rambo (Lionsgate), Stallone's latest exercise in extreme bloodletting, crawled its way to a worldwide gross of just over $100 million, thanks to a strangely satisfying, utterly barbaric combination of old-school stoic heroism and newfangled ultra-violence.

John Cusack's Iraq-war elegy Grace Is Gone (Weinstein Co.), is flawed, but his new Iraq-war satire War, Inc. makes its restraint look admirable by comparison. Cusack plays a conservative patriot whose soldier wife is killed in Iraq; he spends most of the movie taking his children on a manic, Vacation-like road trip as he avoids telling them the news, and tries to deal with it himself. It's awkward and sometimes maudlin, but intense performances from Cusack and from Shélan O'Keefe as his older daughter cover up a multitude of flaws…

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In his peculiar, non-thrilling thriller The Walker (ThinkFilm) director Paul Schrader dips deep into The Big Book Of Gay Stereotypes for his lead character—a vain, fussily groomed, impeccably attired font of bitchy one-liners and acerbic remarks with a tortured relationship with his father and serious self-hatred issues. As played by a miscast Woody Harrelson, he comes off like a watered-down version of the tragic-queen archetype, with a bizarre Blanche Dubois accent…

Raising awareness of a good cause—usually at the expense of compelling viewing—Darfur Now (Warner Bros.) follows attempts across the globe to address the humanitarian crisis in the Darfur region of Sudan. It emphasizes the possibility of change, sometimes soft-selling the extent of the violence, and the boosterism wears thin fairly quickly. Educate yourself and give generously, but don't consider this essential viewing.

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