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Now in our eleventh calendar year!
PCR #553 (Vol. 11, No. 44). This edition is for the week of October 25--31, 2010.

This Week's PCR
Movie Review

Movie review by:
Michael A. Smith

Movies are rated 0 to 4 stars

theater seats

"Conviction"  by Mike Smith
Friday the 13th: The Legacy Part 2  by ED Tucker
Halloween Horror Nights 2010: Been There -- Glad It's Back  by Brandon Tomasello
October's Album of the Month, Swans-My Father Will Guide Me Up A Rope......  by Terence Nuzum
The Great Yokai War  by Jason Fetters
They're Dead .... They're The Walking Dead .... .... .... .... .... .... .... Mike's Record Shelf  by Mike Smith

Fox Searchlight     
Starring: Hilary Swank, Sam Rockwell and Minnie Driver
Directed by: Tony Goldwyn
Rated: R
Running Time: 1 hour 47 mins

Last week in my review of “Hereafter” I commented on the many ways Hollywood deals with the after-life and mentioned the unlucky co-star of “Ghost,” Tony Goldwyn. I mention this because the same Tony Goldwyn directed the new film “Conviction.” And while he’s not yet Clint Eastwood behind the camera, he proves himself to be on the right track.

Ayer, Massachusetts. 1980. As the camera moves its way through a small, quaint house we are met with a horrible sight. A woman lies dead on her bedroom floor, brutally murdered. A local man, Kenny Waters (Rockwell) is brought in for questioning but later released. There seem to be no clues to the crime and two years pass. While attending his grandfather’s funeral Kenny is surprised to find himself surrounded by the police and arrested for murder. Sent to prison for life, Kenny’s hopes rest in the hands of his sister, Betty Anne (Swank). Determined to free the brother she believes to be innocent, Betty Anne vows to go to law school and become a lawyer. Just as soon as she gets her GED.

Based on a true story of outrageous injustice, “Conviction” relies on the strong performances of Swank and Rockwell to raise it above the standard movie of the week. Long a memorable character actor (“The Green Mile,” this years’ “Iron Man 2”), Rockwell shines in a performance that often makes you think “yeah, he did it.” His Kenny is a magnet for trouble, even when he’s not looking for it. As single mom Betty Anne Waters, Swank is a marvel. The two-time Oscar winner has always excelled when
being guided by a strong director and her performance here is no different. When we look at Betty Anne’s life and upbringing, we can see that she is easily heading down the same road that “Million Dollar Baby’s” Maggie Fitzgerald would have ended up traveling if she hadn’t found boxing. It’s her love for Kenny and her genuine belief that he is innocent that keeps Betty Anne going. The rest of the cast are equally strong, including Driver as a law school classmate, Peter Gallagher as attorney Barry Scheck and Juliette Lewis, a meth addict with the nastiest set of teeth since Jeff Goldblum in “The Fly.” All of the characters are well developed with the exception of Drivers. The actress gives a fine performance but her character seems to exist only for the occasional comic relief necessary to break the tension of the story. The script, by Pamela Gray (she also wrote Goldwyn’s directorial debut, “A Walk On the Moon”), is well constructed, with enough devotion to each character that you begin to revel in each small triumph while feeling kicked in the stomach with each set back.

On a scale of zero to four I give “Conviction”  

To comment on this or any other PCR article, please visit The Message Board. This week's movie review of "Conviction" is ©2010 by Michael A. Smith.  All graphics this page are creations of Nolan B. Canova, ©2010, all rights reserved. All contents of "Nolan's Pop Culture Review" are ©2010 by Nolan B. Canova.