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Picks and Pans Main: Movies

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Broken City

Mark Wahlberg, Russell Crowe, Catherine Zeta-Jones | R |


If the first person a smart gumshoe checks out is his client, then Billy Taggart (Wahlberg) is a fool. He doesn’t think twice when garrulous New York City mayor Nicholas Hostetler (Crowe, charismatic and menacing) asks him to investigate the city’s First Lady, Cathleen (Zeta-Jones). Of course Hostetler has his own agenda; everyone does in this grim look at dirty politics and shady characters that wants to be smarter than it is. The plot takes such wild turns that the film fishtails, leaving a viewer barely hanging on. Still, the fine cast of underemployed actors, from the luminous Zeta-Jones to the crafty Jeffrey Wright (as police commissioner), works. It’d just be nice if they could do so more often-and in better projects.


Common, Danny Glover, Dennis Haysbert, Lonette McKee | R |


Eleven-year-old Woody (the promising Michael Rainey Jr.) gets the kind of education no kid should have in this hard knocks coming-of-age drama. Instead of dropping him off at school, Woody’s uncle Vincent (Common) takes him on a daylong tutorial in drinking, driving, drug dealing and murder. The kicker is that not only does Woody learn quickly (truly, his driving and dope-slinging skills are impeccable), the film suggests that we should be proud of him for it. Sorry, I can’t get there.