The Host (2013) – Oh, Stephenie Meyer, you’ve done it again. You’ve created a novel that has spawned another corny film (in the worst way), filled with abusive relationships that your impressionable audience will undoubtedly fawn over. I thought the love triangle in Twilight was bad, but this film has Melanie/Wanderer falling first for a guy who forced a smooch on her the first time they met, and then falling for another who tried to kill her! On top of the corn and problematic romances, I think this film just doesn’t know what it wants to be. It lightly touches on about 20 types of symbolism that the sci-fi story could have (environmentalism, diversity, etc.) but doesn’t fully follow through on any of those things, which stops the film from having any true significance. * plus an extra half for corn factor — it was fun to laugh at

The Alphabet Killer (2008) – I have a bit of a nostalgic soft spot for Eliza Dushku because her television show “Tru Calling” was one of my favorites when it aired, and remains a favorite. My sister and I decided to watch this one night when we were having trouble choosing a film on Netflix, and after the first few minutes, we were thinking “Hey, maybe this will be like Tru Calling: The Movie since she’s talking to dead people again!” Wrong we were. This film is pretty awful. It’s incredibly slowly paced and doesn’t have much suspense to speak of, and on top of that the ending is a complete letdown. *

The Imposter (2012) – Fascinating tale of impersonation and an exploration of a missing person’s case. I hope that Nicholas’ case truly finds a resolution some day. ****

Kumare (2011) – Another great documentary! This one explores the idea of religion and religious figures. A guy from New Jersey poses as “Kumare,” a guru from India. It’s kind of crazy to watch so many people fall for his act, and its criticism of organized religion is likely to tick a lot of people off. Some of the people who begin to follow him are unbelievably delusional, so much so that the film almost seems staged. The film is obviously very one-sided and edited to show how weak people are when it comes to falling for stuff like this, and the filmmaker’s ethics are questionable, but it’s still an extremely fascinating film. *****

Hiding Out (1987) – Jon Cryer stars in this ’80s comedy where “the only thing more frightening than murder… is HIGH SCHOOL.” Jon’s character is a stock broker who poses as a high school student in order to protect himself from angry mobsters who have threatened his life. In a kind of Hannah Montana-esque way, the man is sure he’ll be completely unrecognizable if he changes clothes, dyes his hair blonde and shaves his beard. Suspense of belief is required… but this is a pretty fun film, offering up a comedic take on teenage life and how it is seen through the eyes of adults (with a little bit of crime mixed in too). *** and a half

The Place Beyond the Pines (2013) – Beautiful camera work, solid performances, interesting plot. This film’s got it all. The story brings forth a lot of issues (corruption, familial relations, crime, etc) and the film makes a good effort to tackle them all without becoming overcomplicated. There were a few plot points that I really wasn’t expecting based on the trailer or what little I’d read about the film, which is always a bonus, too. ****

Beneath the Darkness (2011) – Man oh man, this film is a mess. With performances ranging from dull to overzealous and a story that can’t decide whether it wants to be paranormal or serial killer-based, the film just doesn’t know what to make of itself and as a result the audience doesn’t know what to make of it. If there is one bright point here, it is the completely corny performance of Dennis Quaid, who seems to have taken a couple of pages out of the N. Cage Manual of Film Acting. *

Curtain Call (1999) – Interesting little ghostly comedy. It’s got some snappy dialogue and a number of funny scenes. Michael Caine and Maggie Smith are really fun to watch as the ghosts haunting James Spader’s house. The pace is pretty slow, but overall it’s a good watch. ***

Cruel Intentions (1999) – This is one of those movies I’ve heard about for years but had never got around to watching it. When I was in middle school, the kids who wanted to seem like bad asses would cite it as their favorite film because none of our parents wanted us to watch it. It’s pretty much exactly what I expected it to be: Gossip Girl on crack, with incredibly rich teenagers doing incredibly bad things. It’s a pretty solid dark comedy full of exaggerated acting. *** and a half

In the Loop (2009) – My mom and sister loooooved this one, but I wasn’t as excited about it as they were. It has a number of very funny moments but overall reminded me too much of the brand of workplace sitcom that tries too hard to be unique and outrageous (minus the network TV censorship.) ***