Invictus

Invictus
In 1995, the South African Springbox entered the Rugby World Cup under the leadership of their captain, Francois Pienaar, and with the rousing support of President Nelson Mandela. As a country of blacks and whites cheered the team on toward their potentially historic victory – together, and in unison – it would have been impossible not to recall the previous year. Apartheid had ended. Nelson Mandela had been released from prison and in a landmark victory had been elected president. The blacks, now in the majority after years of oppression, had assumed governmental control to the fear of the white citizenry. The largely white Springboks, an athletic remnant of Apartheid, had played their worst-ever season of Rugby, dashing any hope that they might make that year's World Cup, which was to be hosted in their own backyard. Hated by the blacks and supported by the whites in a country that was headed in the opposite direction, the Springboks were on the verge of being dismantled and rebranded… until Mandela, possessing an incredible foresight, realized the potential of a rousing comeback to inspire unity amongst his divided people.

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Ong Bak 2

Ong Bak 2
Ong Bak 2 isn't a movie; it's a videogame. Lacking the elements which generally constitute a film – little things like story or character or performance – Tony Jaa's MMA follow-up is difficult to review in any kind of meaningful cinematic context. It is, one supposes, a performance piece, a wonderfully visual display of martial arts acumen that'll succeed at keeping your rapt attention while ultimately failing to entertain.

This is due in large part to the film's structure, a sequence of grand fights spread out over a number of dynamic locations in which Jaa takes on several waves of inconsequential bad-guys only to defeat the equivalent of that location's "boss." Put a controller in the hands of every theater-goer and you'd have the world's highest resolution action-platformer in place of a watchable action film.

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Knowing

Knowing
Back in the late ’90s, Alex Proyas was a director that had earned himself a lot of admirers. He had two dark and visually stunning cult hits under his belt with The Crow and Dark City (the latter of which Roger Ebert continues to sing the praises of to this day), before he threw everyone a curve ball and he went in a completely different direction with the rock n roll coming of age movie Garage Days. He followed that with the disappointing Will Smith action sci-fi blockbuster I, Robot. Suddenly no one knew what to think of the guy anymore.

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The Edge of Love

The Edge of Love
Booze and jealousy make a toxic cocktail, one that’s heavily imbibed with much self-lacerating gusto in the grim British drama “The Edge of Love.” A fiction inspired by fact and more than a little fancy, the film examines the relationship between the Welsh writer Dylan Thomas and Vera Phillips, a childhood friend whose husband, shortly after returning home from World War II, came close to shooting the poet, the poet’s wife and some others to smithereens with a machine gun, all while shouting, “You’re nothing but a lot of egoists!”

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Gangs of New York

Gangs of New York
GANGS OF NEW YORK,'' Martin Scorsese's brutal, flawed and indelible epic of 19th-century urban criminality, begins in a mud-walled, torchlighted cavern, where a group of warriors prepare for battle, arming themselves with clubs and blades and armoring themselves in motley leather and cloth. Though this is Lower Manhattan in 1846, it might as well be the Middle Ages or the time of Gilgamesh: these warlike rituals have an archaic, archetypal feeling.

And the participants are aware of this. As the members of various colorfully named Irish gangs emerge into the winter daylight of Paradise Square (a place long since given over to high-rises and resurrected here on the grounds of the vast Cinecittà studio complex in Rome), their native-born Protestant enemies greet them with an invocation of ''the ancient laws of combat.'' The ensuing melee turns the new-fallen snow pink with blood and claims the life of Priest Vallon (Liam Neeson), an Irish gang chieftain whose young son witnesses the carnage.

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Last House on the Left

Last House on the Left
In a graphic example of how creatively bankrupt Hollywood has become, it's no longer good enough merely to remake older films - now the studios have begun to remake remakes. 1972's The Last House on the Left, the first feature effort of Wes Craven, was a reworking of Ingmar Bergman's controversial 1960 picture, The Virgin Spring, which captured the 1961 Best Foreign Language Film Oscar. The third version of the story, which sticks more closely to the 1972 edition than its predecessor, is helmed by Greek filmmaker Dennis Illiadis, who has only one previous credit to his name. 2009's The Last House on the Left is a more accomplished movie than Craven's 1972 film - the technique exhibits sophistication, the screenplay is smoother, and the tone is less erratic. The wheels fall off toward the end but, until that point, Illiadis does an excellent job of generating and maintaining an intense sense of dread.

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Number 23

Number 23
Since this is a thriller, there must be a twist. One goes into a movie like The Number 23 with this expectation. However, not only is the twist telegraphed early but it is presented in a clumsy and unconvincing manner. Other films have employed a similar plot device to good effect. (I will refrain from naming titles since that would constitute unnecessary spoilerage.) The Number 23 shows how not to do it. The film has a few things going for it. Matthew Libatique's cinematography is evocative and there are isolated individual scenes that work when dissociated from the movie as a whole. But as a cohesive piece of entertainment, The Number 23 is largely a failure.

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Hottie and the Nottie

Hottie and the Nottie
Every February it seems there's something like The Hottie & the Nottie - a cinematic excursion so horrific that it's an insult to bad movies to call it a bad movie. One question that might cross the curious movie-goer's mind is who in his/her right mind would hire Paris Hilton, professional celebrity and amateur porn star, to headline a mainstream romantic comedy. Some insight to the answer can be found by perusing the credits, which list Ms. Hilton as an Executive Producer. Since Executive Producers are often responsible for providing the money, this explains a lot.

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Just My Luck

Just My Luck
With a title like Just My Luck, the urge to make puns is almost irresistible. However, in recognition of the fact that the film isn't that bad, I shall refrain from doing so.

It's tough for me to determine how 13-year old girls will respond to Just My Luck. Since I haven't been one, my ability to judge their view of this kind of juvenile romantic comedy fantasy is limited. Just My Luck is lightweight, and it's hard to imagine how it could be more predictable. The comedy frequently isn't funny, and the drama (to the extent that there is drama) lacks substance. The film's saving graces are the presence of a spark between the two leads and a winning performance from Chris Pine. Sadly, given Lindsay Lohan's lackluster work, one has to wonder if reverberations from her off-screen overexposure have impacted her acting.

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Governor's Wife, The aka Deadly Suspicion

Governor's Wife, The aka Deadly Suspicion
A manipulative mother increases her plotting to stay in control.

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K-19: The Widowmaker

K-19: The Widowmaker
In 1959, the Soviet Union launches its first ballistic missile nuclear submarine, the K-19 — nicknamed "The Widowmaker" due to the many deaths that occurred during its construction. The ship is led by Captain Alexei Vostrikov (Harrison Ford), aided by executive officer Mikhail Polenin (Liam Neeson). Polenin and the crew have served a number of years and missions together but Vostrikov's appointment is shown to be aided by his wife's political connections, her uncle is a member of the Politburo. During an early inspection, Vostrikov discovers the officer in charge of the sub's nuclear reactors to be drunk and asleep on-duty. Against Polenin's advice that the man is "the best reactor officer in the fleet", Vostrikov sacks the officer and orders Polenin to request a replacement. The new reactor officer arrives direct from the naval academy and has never been at sea. During the K-19's official launch, the bottle of champagne doesn't break when it strikes the bow; the sailors glance nervously at each other due to this renowned sign of bad luck.

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Cannibal

Cannibal
In 2002 German police arrested Armin Meiwes for posting an Internet message looking for a male who would allow Meiwes to eat him. To their horror authorities found a video tape showing that in 2001 Meiwes had found a willing victim in Bernd Brandes. Though the video showed the graphic killing of Brandes the German courts were faced with a quandary since Brandes had agreed to allow Meiwes to eat him. The subsequent trial and media attention brought up many questions ranging from freedom of speech on the Internet to debates about consensual homicide. In 2005 German filmmaker Marian Dora made a highly stylized dramatization of the case CANNIBAL.

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Jolene

Jolene
A teenage orphan spends ten years traveling cross-country experiencing life, love and heartbreak. Based on E.L. Doctorows story, Jolene A Life.

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Land of the Blind

Land of the Blind
A political drama about terrorism, revolution, and the power of memory. In an unnamed place and time, an idealistic soldier named Joe strikes up an illicit friendship with a political prisoner named Thorne, who eventually recruits him into a bloody coup detat. But in the post-revolutionary world, what Thorne asks of Joe leads the two men into bitter conflict, spiraling downward into madness until Joes co-conspirators conclude that they must erase him from history.

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Mask Maker aka Maskerade

Mask Maker aka Maskerade
A young couple purchases a 19th century plantation home and invites friends up for the weekend to celebrate. As they dig up the mystery surrounding the death of the former residents, it becomes apparent that the plantation homes former owners have not left, and the unlucky youths suddenly find themselves running for their lives!

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Moon 44

Moon 44
Year 2038 The mineral resources of the earth are drained, in space there are fights for the last deposits on other planets and satellites. This is the situation when one of the bigger mining corporations has lost all but one mineral moons and many of their fully automatic mining robots are disappearing on their flight home. Since nobody else wants the job, they send prisoners to defend the mining station. Among them undercover agent Stone, who shall clear the whereabouts of the expensive robots. In an atmosphere of corruption, fear and hatred he gets between the fronts of rivaling groups.

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