Girl in progress
Friday, August 03, 2012

Director: Patricia Riggen; Cast: Eva Mendes, Russell Peters, Cierra Ramirez, Patricia Arquette

The strong, sexy presence of Eva Mendes and the girlish perkiness of Cierra Ramirez can only go so far to make the forced mother-daughter dramedy Girl in Progress tolerable. It’s a coming-of-age story that knows it’s a coming-of-age story — as in, our young heroine is well aware of the conventions of this kind of tale and goes out of her way to manufacture various rites of passage to expedite her transformation from innocence to womanhood. Ramirez’s character, the teenage Ansiedad, literally creates a flow chart in her bedroom and spells out her strategy with her only friend (the sweetly nerdy Raini Rodriguez) — whom she’ll soon cast aside, she declares, because it’s a necessary step in the process.

Director Patricia Riggen and screenwriter Hiram 
Martinez don’t go far enough, don’t dig deep enough with these characters. They play it too safe, which makes Girl in Progress feel like a slightly racier version of an ABC Family show — and the flat, overly bright lighting further makes it feel like forgettable television. Riggen cuts awkwardly and sometimes too quickly between potentially poignant moments and scenes of wacky humour, which undermines her attempts at emotional honesty.

Rated PG-13 for mature thematic elements, sexual content including crude references, and drinking. Running time: 84 minutes — AP



DVD reviews: New releases and classics in stores


Detention (2011) ®

The setting — Grizzly Lake High School — sounds perfect for a series of bizarre events to get unleashed. Add to that a dysfunctional lot of young adults, ranging from suicidal to self-absorbed, who are attending their final year at school. So when school authorities hear that a killer named Cinderella is on the loose, they figure out prom night could well be a bloodbath. The principal is convinced that the killer is one of the brood of high-schoolers, so a motley group of “suspects” are held in a 12-hour, all-day detention. Any guesses what happens after that?

Duration: 93 minutes

Genre: Horror/Comedy

What’s good: Detention serves its purpose as an 
entertaining fright fest; a spirited cast of characters add 
to its credibility 

What’s bad: Trying to infuse comic elements into a horror flick somehow leaves you fence-sitting

Cast: Josh Hutcherson, Shanley Caswell, Spencer Locke


Rating: ΗΗΗΗΗ


Reservoir Dogs (1992) ®

Quentin Tarantino’s mainstream directorial debut has acquired a cult following over the years — but when it released, a couple of decades ago, it did cause mild ripples for its excessive violence and profanities. Exploring the dynamics of a bunch of men who team up for a heist that goes badly wrong, Reservoir Dogs follows the (director’s) now-established non-linear format of storytelling. Compelling performances by an ensemble cast, slick production values and unconventional cinema at its best.  

Duration: 99 minutes

Genre: Crime thriller

What’s good: The immense swagger with which 
Tarantino conducts business

What’s bad: Definitely not for the weak-hearted; also, it may a tad confusing if you are not giving it 100 per cent attention. Romantics, steer clear please

Cast: Harvey Keitel, Tim Roth, Steve Buscemi, Michael Madsen, Chris Penn

Rating: ΗΗΗΗΗ




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