3 Big Movies

Cooper cooks in 'Burnt,' Bullock's 'Crisis' suffers identity crisis

“Burnt” — Too many cooks spoil the broth, as the old saw goes. The same is true of too much spice. “Burnt” casts Bradley Cooper as an elite chef brought down by his own weaknesses. He’s ready to resume his career with his own London-based restaurant, but can he keep his demons at bay long enough to complete his redemption story?

Director John Wells of “ER” fame sprinkles too many clichés into his stew, from the ex-girlfriend who got away, to the single mom (Sienna Miller) who can’t help being drawn to Cooper’s cad of a character. It’s all too neatly arranged, and too familiar. And yet the sequences set in the kitchen, where elegantly prepared food is prepared from scratch, are mesmerizing.

So, too, is Cooper, proving again his “Hangover” breakthrough shared only a glimpse of his talents. Too bad his character is a chore to believe, veering from Gordon Ramsay on a cocaine bender to an artist who simple wants to make food to dazzle your senses.

Foodies will devour every bloated calorie in “Burnt,” but those seeking a more filling character study should look elsewhere.

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“Our Brand Is Crisis”  It’s a wacky political satire! No, it’s a sobering look at the modern politics, as examined from a foreign land. Actually, it’s a Sandra Bullock vehicle with a severe identity crisis.

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Bullock plays a political strategist lured out of retirement to help a Bolivian candidate (Joaquim de Almeida) win the presidency. Said pol is down, down, down in the polls, and that’s not the worst news. His main opponent is being managed by Bullock’s old rival, played to oily perfectly by Billy Bob Thornton.

If only the film focused on the Bullock-Thornton pairing, it might have made for a memorable romp. Instead, it’s a thinly written comedy that doesn’t know when to pull back on the slapstick. The final act takes a maudlin turn, the kind wholly unsupported by the movie preceding it.

“Crisis” coasts on a general progressive undercurrent, but it’s not developed enough to register as annoying to conservative crowds. It, like the rest of this “Crisis,” is more often just dull.

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“The Armor of Light” Hollywood’s latest attempt to push for more gun control legislation takes an admittedly original turn. Documentary filmmaker Abigail Disney (Walt Disney’s grand niece) questions if one can be both pro-life but against more gun control laws. So she teams an evangelical minister and anti-abortion activist with the parent of a child killed by gun violence to question why pro-lifers are often Second Amendment supporters.

The film has earned mostly glowing reviews, while the marketing team behind the documentary are trying to rally NRA members into theaters by offering them free tickets on opening weekend.

The Rev. Rob Schenck, the focus of the film, doesn’t think Christians should own a gun for defense purposes, according to The Washington Post.

“I’m not saying self-defense is never an option for a Christian. I think it is. But there’s an impulse toward lethal self-defense that’s contrary to Christian thinking and teaching,” he says.

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