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Dead at 17
Itís a sad fact that most of us have lost or will lose a close friend while we are still young. My first childhood casualty happened when I was in sixth grade. A good friend succumbed after a long battle with leukemia and he was gone forever.
That was a bitter medicine when I was a child and it didnít get any easier to swallow as I got older. Within the first year of my high school graduation I had lost another friend, and then another. Honestly, I donít even like to think of how many young lives ended too soon, each as tragic and unnecessary as the first. Yet somehow you find the strength to carry on with your own existence, even if you are never quite the same person you were before.
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You know there's a problem when the most interesting character in a film called Oliver Twist is a supporting woman named Nancy. Technically sound and surprisingly faithful to its source material, Roman Polanski's version of Oliver Twist comes across as uninspired and flat. Only two performances - that of Leanne Rowe as Nancy Sikes and Jamie Foreman as Bill Sikes - have energy. The biggest deficiency is Barney Clark, whose performance as the title character vacillates between befuddlement and artificial weepiness (rarely have I seen more crocodile tears). For the story to work, sympathy with Oliver is mandatory, but Clark's acting and Polanski's direction keep the character at arm's length. I cared about Nancy and wanted Bill to get his comeuppance, but Oliver seems inconsequential.
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XXX: State of the Union
Where's the Kryptonite?
What many movie producers fail to realize is that one of the keys to making a superhero interesting is to give him an Achilles heel - Kryptonite, so to speak. And one of the big problems with XXX: State of the Union is that the protagonist is essentially invincible. He has no weaknesses. During those rare moments when he finds himself in a tight scrape, we have no doubt he will come out blasting. This isn't Indiana Jones, with his numerous too-human failings. This is The Terminator, only without the snappy one-liners and the weird accent. How can there possibly be suspense when the outcome is never in doubt?
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Note: I suppose the official title of the movie is Tim Burton's Corpse Bride, presumably to distinguish it from William Shakepeare's Corpse Bride or Jane Austen's Corpse Bride. The wordiness seems silly so, for the purposes of this review, the film will be referred to simply as Corpse Bride.
When it comes to animation these days, it's all digital. So leave it to Tim Burton to buck the trend. Since the release of his popular collaboration with Henry Selick, The Nightmare Before Christmas, fans have been clamoring for a sequel. Although Corpse Bride doesn't precisely fill that need, it scratches the itch. Selick was not involved in the production (Mike Johnson, who previously worked on the animation teams of both The Nightmare Before Christmas and James and the Giant Peach, fills the gap), which supposedly took ten years to complete, but you would never know it. And the animation, which is stop-motion rather than computer generated, looks wonderful. The story is off the beaten path, but it's not as bizarre as Burton sometimes gets (despite indications to the contrary, there's no actual necrophilia). It is suitable for all but the youngest viewers.
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The Condemned is the latest action film from director Scott Wiper. It is also a noun describing those poor viewers who end up stuck in a theater showing this film. In principle, I'm all for balls-to-the-wall action films that serve up a fifth of graphic violence with an adrenaline chaser. There's an audience for them and they fill a niche. If well crafted, they can also be a lot of fun. "Well crafted," however, is not an accurate descriptor for The Condemned. Nor are "well written," "well acted," or (perhaps surprisingly) "well paced." In fact, while one might reasonably expect the script to be half-baked and the performances slathered in cheese, the thing that kills The Condemned is that there are stretches when it becomes tedious and insufferably self important. There's even a late scene in which the movie turns preachy.
As Shaun of the Dead illustrated, it is possible to make a horror comedy that is both funny and scary. Severance, while not nearly as successful as Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg's zombie movie, manages to mix in a few good gags with the requisite gore. The movie takes aim at one of the easiest real-world scenarios to mock: the so-called "team building" corporate exercise. Many employees working in the corporate culture have suffered through this sort of thing at one time or another (I have, back around 1993) and will recognize how silly the excursions are. Severance takes advantage of the ridiculousness of the situation to provide a satire that, while not as black or edgy as one might expect, nevertheless represents passable entertainment.
With only one franchise superhero making a motion appearance in 2009 (Wolverine), Push might be among the best available options for fans of the burgeoning movie genre. An original concept that isn't directly based on any comic books or graphic novels, Push nevertheless feels like an adaptation and concept similarities between the movie and the TV series Heroes are hard to miss. Push is clearly designed to be the first chapter of a multi-part saga but, unlike last year's Jumper, it hedges its bets enough so that if there are no future installments, at least there's a degree of closure.
Babe: Pig in the City
The 1995 release, Babe, scored big with audiences and critics alike, proving that a movie doesn't have to be marked with Disney's imprimatur to succeed with families. During its theatrical run, the film made almost $70 million domestically, and went on to be a popular title on video. Babe also earned a surprising seven Oscar nominations, including Best Picture, Best Director (Chris Noonan), and Best Supporting Actor (James Cromwell). With so much to laud in the original, a sequel was virtually inevitable. It has taken three years for that second installment, Babe: Pig in the City to reach screens (and, due to some late difficulties with special effects, it nearly didn't make its Thanksgiving weekend opening date). Fortunately, the result justifies the wait.
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Love comes in many forms -- platonic, romantic, and sexual -- and this is the issue at the heart of Carrington, a cinematic biography of artist Dora Carrington and her near-lover, writer Lytton Strachey. Though Dora, a heterosexual woman who didn't lose her virginity until she was in her twenties, and Strachey, an avowed homosexual, each had an assortment of male bed partners, they were intensely devoted to each other with a passion that was "all absorbing" and "self-abasing". Even without a sexual element, their love was transcendent, majestic, and ultimately tragic, for one could not live without the other.
Nil by Mouth
There is a scene in Nil by Mouth, actor Gary Oldman's directorial debut, that is excruciatingly difficult to watch. It's not especially graphic, since the gruesome details take place out of frame, but anyone with an imagination can conjure up an image to chill the blood. The sequence depicts a particularly brutal instance of spousal abuse, and is perhaps only recently rivaled in intensity by a similar occurrence in Once Were Warriors. One might think that movie-goers, inured to explicit on-screen violence, would not flinch at what Oldman presents, but there's a major difference between the decapitations and eviscerations of a Starship Troopers and the savageness of Nil by Mouth Ė the former plays like a comic book come to life; the latter is shockingly real.
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Ron Howard directed this thriller which stars Mel Gibson as Tom Mullen, a former fighter pilot who built a ramshackle one-plane airline into a major multinational service fleet. Mullen has a multi-million dollar fortune, a beautiful wife, Kate (Rene Russo) and a nine-year-old son, Sean (Brawley Nolte) that he dotes on. However, Mullen's life comes crashing down around him when Sean is kidnapped. The FBI are called in, but Mullen is wary -- he was the recent target of an FBI investigation in which he was found to have bribed union officials while negotiating a contract. FBI Agent Hawkins (Delroy Lindo) advises Mullen to make the $2 million dollar drop to pay the kidnappers, which will make it easier to track the criminals, but when the tradeoff goes wrong,
Wayne Hayes (Redford), and his wife Eileen (Mirren) are living the American dream in a wealthy Pittsburgh suburb, having raised two children and built up a successful business from scratch. He is looking forward to a peaceful retirement with Eileen. However, everything changes when Wayne is kidnapped in broad daylight by a former employee, Arnold Mack (Dafoe). While Wayne tries negotiating with the kidnapper, Eileen works with the FBI to try to secure her husband's release. During the investigation, Eileen learns that Wayne has continued an extramarital affair that he promised to end months previously.
Eileen is eventually instructed to deliver the ransom to the kidnapper, but Arnold takes the money without returning her husband. As it turns out, Wayne had been murdered by Arnold the day of the kidnapping. Although Eileen's ordeal takes place over the course of a week, the film is edited to show Wayne's kidnapping as if was happening at the same time.
Mack is eventually caught when he begins to spend the ransom money in the neighborhood where he lives. At a local grocery store, he uses a $100 bill to make a purchase. The store manager calls authorities and verifies the serial number on the $100 bill is on a watch list the FBI distributed to local businesses. In the end, Eileen receives a loving note written by Wayne before his death.
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Wish on a Spell
On locations through historical sites of early Egypt, Europe and the British Isles, bewitching host Deborah Gray, reveals the true history of white witchery and spellbinding ancient formulas and magic charms for love and success in todays world. Also featuring Revealing footage of city witches Interviews with leading teachers and genuine followers of the Craft plus exclusive footage of a candid interview with world famous astrologer Athena Starwoman
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Look Who's Talking
Mollie Jensen (Kirstie Alley) is an accountant living and working in New York City. The latest client she has been assigned by her firm is a charmingly handsome but shallow, womanizing executive named Albert (George Segal). He seduces her, and although he is married, he embarks on an affair with her, promising to leave his wife for her.
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Jerry and Tom
Tom and Jerry are two hit men, they work by day at a third-rate second-hand car dealership. Tom is a veteran and Jerry is a novice in their business, and their attitude toward their profession differs a lot. It shows when Tom is required to kill his old friend Karl.
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Scarlet Frys Junkfood Horrorfest starring Calico Cooper (Alice Coopers daughter) is a sick and demented horror anthology featuring six twisted tales hosted by the ghoulish Scarlet Fry that will turn your stomach and send you crying for your mommy. See blood thirsty cannibals, satanic zombies, demented nurses, junkie serial killers, freaky perverts and more as scarlet fry takes you on the thrill ride of your life. This blood drenched film is not for the weak at heart.
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