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Picks and Pans Main: Movies

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Mars Needs Moms

Seth Green, Joan Cusack, Dan Fogler | PG |


Berkeley Breathed’s 2007 kids’ book Mars Needs Moms had a sweet but sharp point: Love your mother-or aliens will. But between page and screen some nasty gender politics entered this story. In this version, Martian robots raise the kids-based on data sucked by a giant needle out of human moms’ brains before it kills them. Luckily for Milo (Green), he hitches a ride when his mom (Cusack) gets abducted. Coming to his aid: Gribble (Fogler), an earthling who’s on the red planet for his own reasons. What’s offensive is that the twisted dictator behind the deadly brain-sucking plot is the Supervisor, a vicious caricature of a feminist who thinks men are stupid and raising kids is a waste of a woman’s time. Between the violence and the vitriol, what Mars really needs is a spanking.

Kill the Irishman

Ray Stevenson, Vincent D’Onofrio, Val Kilmer, Christopher Walken| R |


In real life, crime bosses are despicable, but slap ’em on a movie screen and they’re folk heroes. So it is with Danny Greene, an all too real union heavy who turned 1970s Cleveland into a mortician’s paradise. Stevenson (nearly unrecognizable from his toga-clad days on HBO’s Rome, with a gloriously thick ’70s ‘stache) imbues Greene with so much Irish pride and pathos, one can’t help but cheer when he dodges car bombs and his enemies get theirs. As strong as the rest of the cast is, with D’Onofrio playing his mobbed-up partner and Kilmer as the cop who narrates the action, it’s really Stevenson’s show, and he commands it. His performance and the archival news footage of Greene’s exploits make Irishman a gripping (if not particularly ambitious) criminal enterprise.

Jane Eyre

Mia Wasikowska, Michael Fassbender, Judi Dench, Jamie Bell | PG-13 |


Brit-Lit heresy: I’ve always found Jane Eyre’s love, Mr. Rochester, creepy. It seems the auteurs behind this take on Charlotte Bronte’s classic agreed, since they snipped the freaky bits to let Fassbender be his sexy best. That’s key, because it’s easy to like feisty governess Jane (Wasikowska, full of bite), who blossoms after a horrid childhood. Judicious editing gives Dench a meatier role as housekeeper Mrs. Fairfax and unbottles Rochester’s fierce passion for Jane.