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Capsule reviews of `Alex Cross,' other new films

The Associated Press, Wednesday, October 17, 2012, 11:24am (PDT)

"Alex Cross" — James Patterson titled his 12th Alex Cross crime novel simply "Cross." The filmmakers who adapted it expanded the title to "Alex Cross." They might as well have gone for broke and called it "Tyler Perry's Madea's Stab at Expanding Her-His Hollywood Marketability as James Patterson's Alex Cross." Perry's name will draw his fans in. Patterson's name will draw his fans in. There's no trace of Madea in director Rob Cohen's adaptation, yet the spirit of the sassy grandma inevitably hangs over the project for viewers curious to see Perry playing it straight and dramatic. Alex Cross the man and "Alex Cross" the movie wind up suffering for it. It's perfectly reasonable for Perry to try to broaden his enormous popularity beyond the Madea lineage in his own raucous portraits of family life. It's also perfectly reasonable to say that casting Perry as Cross was a bad idea, though it's not necessarily the worst in a movie built on bad ideas. Perry looks the part of Patterson's big, athletic hero, but he's low-key-bordering-on -sleepwalker dull, and the standard-issue cop-vs.-serial-kille r story presents Cross as more of a dopey psycho-babbler than a guy whose incisive mind cuts right to the heart of the case. With Edward Burns, Matthew Fox and Cicely Tyson. PG-13 for violence including disturbing images, sexual content, language, drug references and nudity. 102 minutes. One and a half stars out of four.

— David Germain, AP Movie Writer

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"Nobody Walks" — Artfully constructed but hollow at its core, "Nobody Walks" makes it impossible to stop watching while simultaneously making it impossible to care about what's happening. It's a frustrating little paradox. This languid slice of Los Angeles life features an appealing cast of actors playing characters who are all surface and impulse — someone is constantly coming onto someone else — but their actions seem to carry low stakes. It's a sensory experience, featuring an intriguing use of sound design, but any tension that arises ultimately feels like it's in the service of nothing. This is especially true of its central character, who is also its biggest weakness. Olivia Thirlby stars as Martine, a 23-year-old experimental filmmaker visiting from New York to finish a project for a gallery installation. That the young woman who's the catalyst for the movie's domestic upheaval is such an enigma is baffling, given that "Nobody Walks" comes from two young women who've established voices of their own: director Ry Russo-Young and her co-writer, the acclaimed "Girls" creator Lena Dunham. John Krasinski and Rosemarie DeWitt co-star as the married couple who host her. R for sexuality, language and some drug use. 82 minutes. Two stars out of four.

— Christy Lemire, AP Movie Critic

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"The Sessions" — Given that it's based on the true story of a man with polio who spends most of his time in an iron lung, this is not as painfully heavy-handed as it might sound. And given that it's about this man's nervous attempts to lose his virginity at age 38, it's also not as obnoxiously wacky as it might sound. Instead, "The Sessions" occupies a safe gray area in the middle. It has some difficult and heartfelt performances and moments of uncomfortable honesty, but ultimately writer-director Ben Lewin's film feels too slight, too pat, and too wildly overhyped out of its festival showings. Still, the hugely versatile John Hawkes gives a funny, impressive performance which must have been a massive physical challenge: He acts almost entirely with his face and voice, while frequently having to keep his torso still in a contorted posture. Hawkes stars as Mark O'Brien, the poet and journalist whose 1990 article, "On Seeing a Sex Surrogate," inspired the script. Lewin — who also contracted polio as a child — delicately, helpfully lays out the details of Mark's daily existence, including the fact that he can breathe on his own for a few hours at a time and that, while he can't move anything from the neck down, he can feel sensation. Hence, his interest in visiting a sex therapist, played with decency (and a great deal of nudity) by Helen Hunt. R for strong sexuality including graphic nudity and frank dialogue. 95 minutes. Two and a half stars out of four.

— Christy Lemire, AP Movie Writer

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