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James Ellroy, the self-described “demon dog” of American crime fiction, writes in a baroque, pulp prose style that hurtles along the page like a speed freak in a rocket, an image that I probably lifted from one of his books. In his fiction and nonfiction he rushes forward fast, fast, fast, pausing regularly to do a little scat singing (“a hypodermic full of hyper-hazy, health-hazarding” stuff, from a 1998 short story called “Hush-Hush”), or to blow a hole through the page. He’s a demon dog, all right, with a bite as sharp as his bark.
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Kung Fu Panda
Perhaps the best thing about Kung Fu Panda is that it's an action comedy that doesn't skimp on the action. Dreamworks Animation's latest effort may stick out a little on the Red Carpet at Cannes -- where it's screening out of competition -- but it's certainly a well-made kid's film that earns high points for how directors John Stevenson and Mark Osborne clearly crafted and contemplated its look and feel with ambition and style. Anyone can make a computer-animated cartoon with fuzzy animals doing kung fu; you have to be at least a little inspired to make a computer-animated cartoon featuring fuzzy animals doing kung fu in widescreen Cinemascope. ...
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Largo Winch (Tome 2)
Who would have thought there was a Belgian comic book hero out there to rival Tintin? I will come clean on this one right away and admit that I had never heard of Largo Winch before watching this film. However, a quick trip to Wikipedia exposes him as having a legacy spanning several decades, including numerous chronicled adventures, in both novel and comic book form, as well as a previous film incarnation and even a TV series to his name.
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Behind the Mask
Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon may be the best horror spoof no one has ever seen. Or at least, that was the case when Starz/Anchor Bay dumped the film into a small number of theaters during mid-March 2007 with little publicity and no advance screenings. That kind of release strategy screams "dog!" Perhaps the distributors didn't realize what they had - a smart, witty homage/parody of the slasher genre. Or maybe they knew exactly what Behind the Mask was and, recognizing the mainstream horror audience preference for mindless, repetitive gore, they shied away from promoting Behind the Mask, which offers considerably more. There are, for example, tangible payoffs for those with a sense of humor and an understanding of the genre's often-cheesy conventions. Like Scream, Behind the Mask isn't afraid to openly (and with tongue planted in cheek) reference classics of the past as templates for the present.
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Coco before Chanel
One could make a cogent, compelling argument that no individual had a bigger impact on the 20th century fashion industry than Coco Chanel. Larger than life in both image and influence, she shaped the way women dressed from the Flapper era until her death in 1971. Nevertheless, it is an unfortunate truth that it's not always the most influential individuals whose stories make for the most compelling drama. As brought to the screen by French director Anne Fontaine, Coco before Chanel's telling of the title character's formative years has its share of intriguing moments, but the story as a whole lacks tension and conflict and takes itself far too seriously. The film's central love triangle - which seems designed primarily to emphasize that Chanel could live without a man - is so solemn and emotionally dry that it will threaten to put even the most caffeinated viewer to sleep.
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A Beautiful Mind is a beautifully written, effectively acted, and meticulously crafted effort that is likely to remind many viewers of a simple axiom: a movie doesn't have to be groundbreaking to be compelling. Originality is a prized commodity because there is so little of it in Hollywood these days, but, when filmmakers do such a skillful job with familiar elements, their efforts should be acknowledged. Affecting without being overtly manipulative, A Beautiful Mind tells the life story of John Nash, a Nobel prize winner who struggled through most of his adult life with schizophrenia. As directed by Ron Howard, this becomes a tale not only of one man's battle to overcome his own disability, but of the overreaching power of love - a theme that has been embraced by films as diverse as It's a Wonderful Life and Rocky.
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The Perfect Score
Teens will enjoy The Perfect Score, but there's not a lot here for older audiences.
After having received poor scores on the SAT, five students panic before taking the retest. Kyle is desperate to get into his favorite college and attend architecture school, but his scores are well below the admission requirements. Anna is an overachiever who took the test and completely choked. Matty is trying to get a score high enough to join his girlfriend in college on the East Coast. Roy is the school stoner and though he's smart, he hasn't applied himself to his studies. Desmond is the star basketball player for the school and needs a minimum SAT score to get into St. Johns.
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Jane Austen Book Club
The Jane Austen Book Club is an example of how a movie can follow the general plot of a book yet fail to capture the spirit. The problem is a simple one to identify: much of the enjoyment derived from Karen Joy Fowler's novel comes from the way in which it is written, and the manner in which she interweaves subtle references and asides to Austen. Robin Swicord's adaptation is stripped-down and straightforward, and something has been lost in translation. The film comes across like a soap opera and there are too many characters and storylines for any one of them to grab the heart and imagination. The film isn't painful but it is disappointing.
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Pleasure of Your Company aka Wedding Daze
Against the advice of his best friend Ted (Michael Weston), Anderson (Jason Biggs) proposes to his girlfriend, Vanessa, publicly whilst dressed in a cupid costume. The shock of the proposal leads to her instantaneous death. Utterly devastated and distraught, Anderson quits his job and goes into mourning. Anderson is still obsessed with his perfect (and dead) former girlfriend and to help him move on, Ted persuades him to give romance one more try. To placate his friend, Anderson agrees. Right after, waitress Katie (Isla Fisher) comes over. On a whim, Anderson asks Katie to marry him, and to his utter astonishment, she accepts his proposal.
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During World War 1, and in the chaos of a charge across no man's land, a company of British soldiers is wiped-out by machine gun and artillery fire. The next morning, the survivors find themselves slowly advancing through a dense mist, which contrary to their fear is not a poison gas. As they emerge from it, the British come across a complex network of German trenches, where they find an apparently besieged handful of terrified German soldiers. Private Quinn shoots the first and attempts to shoot the second, but Private McNess stops him and the German stumbles down the trench. The third German is left, a young man named Friedrich. Convinced that they have broken through the enemy lines, the soldiers decide to secure the trenches. Doing so, they explore them and find ominous signs that something there has gone very wrong: they find rotting bodies everywhere, often wrapped in barbed wire. When detonating charges to close off some passages, they hear a demon like growl and as they walk away fail to notice vast amounts of blood pouring from the mud. Later, while Private Hawkstone is exploring more of the trench, he is called away by the other soldiers. But as he turns, he notices a body covered in mud and leaned against the wall of the trench. It turns out to be the second German who got away and as Hawkstone calls for help the German jumps at him with a shank and Hawkstone is forced to shoot him. This does not kill him and as they wrestle in the mud, Private Starinski runs up and shoots the German. He falls to his knees and Quinn finishes him with a shot to the head.
Dorian Shanley, is a heart surgeon who abuses alcohol and drugs. Dorian trades stolen pharmaceuticals for cocaine , provided by his best friend and enabler, Teddy. While Dorians life and career take a nosedive, Shanley numbs the pain of losing his father, William Shanley, to a form of Alzheimers common in prizefighters. To further complicate circumstances, Dorian falls in love with his girlfriends best friend from college, Anna. The film follows Shanley through a maze of pharmacies, clubs and binges and surgeries, into the heart of drug abuse.
Nothing But the Truth
Rachel Armstrong (Kate Beckinsale) is an ambitious reporter for the Capital Sun-Times. When she discovers fellow soccer mom Erica Van Doren (Vera Farmiga) is working as a covert operative for the CIA and recently returned from Venezuela, where she was investigating an assassination attempt on the President of the United States, she confronts her and requests confirmation. Erica refuses to cooperate, but Rachel has no doubts about the veracity of the report, and her story becomes front-page news with the support of editor Bonnie Benjamin (Angela Bassett) and Avril Aaronson (Noah Wyle), who serves as the newspaper's legal counselor.
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An American in Paris
Jerry Mulligan, a struggling American painter in Paris, is discovered by an influential heiress with an interest in more than Jerrys art. Jerry in turn falls for Lise, a young French girl already engaged to a cabaret singer. Jerry jokes, sings and dances with his best friend, an acerbic would-be concert pianist, while romantic complications abound.
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Last Man Standing
John Smith is an amoral gunslinger in the days of Prohibition. On the lam from his latest (unspecified) exploits, he happens upon the town of Jericho, Texas. Actually, calling Jericho a town would be too generous--it has become more like a ghost town, since two warring gangs have driven off all the decent folk. Smith sees this as an opportunity to play both sides off against each other, earning himself a nice piece of change as a hired gun. Despite his strictly avowed mercenary intentions, he finds himself risking his life for his, albeit skewed, sense of honor....
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Two sisters find their already strained relationship challenged as a mysterious new planet threatens to collide into the Earth.