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An Education is set in that sexy, beguiling moment when England was about to start swinging but still had both feet firmly on the ground. It’s 1961: the Beatles don’t have a manager; Terence Stamp and Julie Christie are unknown hopefuls; smart young men sport suits and ties; smart young girls wear calf-length skirts. Generations of granite social stricture will soon be overthrown forever; the signs are clear. But the impending avalanche is all but invisible even to those who stand on the verge of it.
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A year from now when it’s finally on DVD, someone I know will ask me if I’ve seen Four Christmases. “Four what?” I’ll ask. “Four Christmases,” they’ll say. “The holiday movie with Reese Witherspoon and Vince Vaughn.” And I’ll respond, “no never heard of it.” As far as I’ll know that will be the truth, because by then I’ll have forgotten this movie exists. Its cliché collection of bland, formula gags will have long since been replaced in my brain by more worthy memories. Reese Witherspoon and Vince Vaughn’s empty, uninteresting characters will have long since vanished from my consciousness.
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La Vie En Rose
The singer Edith Piaf (1915-1963) was a unique soul, as beloved in France as much as, say, Elvis Presley was in the U.S. She had an unusual stage presence, almost mousy and withdrawn, but forceful in her voice; the effect was one of breaking out of her shell, and audiences connected with her. Her haunting voice is probably familiar to many Americans, as her songs continue to turn up as atmosphere in American movies, everything from Bull Durham (1988) to Saving Private Ryan (1998), Bernardo Bertolucci's The Dreamers (2003) to 2005's Valiant. She appeared in person in a few movies as well, notably Jean Renoir's French Cancan (1954). My favorite Edith Piaf moment comes in Babe: Pig in the City (1998), when Babe accidentally destroys Mickey Rooney's magic show, setting the stage aflame in slow motion to the tune of "Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien."
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The key to making a successful formula motion picture is to infuse it with energy and add a few original elements. The overall product might seem familiar but that doesn't mean it can't be an enjoyable viewing experience. This is true regardless of the formula: underdog sports hero, boy meets girl, or unconventional teacher who makes a difference. Freedom Writers falls into the latter category and, as often seems to be the case with movies of this genre, it is based on a true story. Writer/director Richard LaGravenese (whose previous screenplays include The Fisher King and The Bridges of Madison County) does what competent filmmakers do with these Dangerous Minds tales - he takes the basic facts and massages them until they are suitably cinematic. The MTV imprimatur indicates the movie is being targeted at teenagers.
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If you were unfortunate enough to see DARKNESS in U.S. theatres in late 2004 or UK theatres in 2005, you didn't see it, simple as that. No, you instead saw what Dimension thought they could get the most cash for. Meaning, the film was edited heavily for both objectionable content and to fit in more snugly to a short attention span running time. In all, Dimension cut nearly fifteen minutes from the original running time. With Dimension's way, they over-dubbed any foul language, toned down some of the more frightening scenes and threw out some sequences altogether. This way, the film was cleared with a "PG-13" rating and fit nicely into a two hour running time, when you consider the half hour of trailers and soda commercials theatre patrons are forced to sit through, that is. So, much as everyone trashed the film on its U.S. release, your judgments are not for DARKNESS, sorry to say. You can't judge a film that has been chopped up to this extent. Two minutes of excised gore won't save a turkey like , but fifteen minutes makes a world of difference. You may have some harsh words to say about Dimension's butchery, but the original cut is another story.
Margaret Cho: Assassin
Apparently, I approached this production with a misapprehension. I was under the impression that Margaret Cho: Assassin was intended to be a filmed comedic performance. What I got instead was an 85-minute political rant from a liberal Asian American woman who abandoned comedy in her desire to advocate a number of causes. I have no problem with comedians who use politics as the backbone of comedy; the problem comes when nastiness supplants humor. Even those who agree with every one of Cho's positions (and I agree more often than I disagree) may find this motion picture tough going.
I'm neither a liberal nor a conservative, but, after watching Assassin, I can understand why this country is so polarized. The divisions between the far right and the far left are so deep and wide as to be unbridgeable. Cho's monologue radiates hatred and bitterness towards those who do not share her convictions. She gets applause, ovations, and laughs, but it's important to remember that those in the audience share her views. (In fairness, I should mention that it's just as offensive to watch an arch conservative give a lengthy speech. I can't endure more than about 10 minutes of Rush Limbaugh's pontificating before I have to change the station.)
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In the immortal words of Strother Martin, "What we've got here is… failure to communicate." The truth of that statement lies at the heart of Ira Sachs' Married Life, a movie about how people in a marriage communicate or, just as often, fail to do so. Or, as the narrator puts it: When you go to bed at night, how much do you know about what the person lying next to you is thinking? A good question to be pondered by all, especially those who live in a state of certainty that they know their spouse. The film may be set in 1948 but these issues are not period constrained.
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Age of Innocence
It's New York City in the 1870s, a society ruled by expectations and propriety, where a hint of immorality can bring scandal and ruin. This is an America every bit as Victorian as her contemporary England. Into this world arrives Countess Ellen Olenska (Michelle Pfeiffer), a woman who has spent much of her life in Europe and is now escaping from a disastrous marriage. Her initial adult meeting with Newland Archer (Daniel Day-Lewis) is sedate - he is engaged to her cousin May (Winona Ryder) - but there is a subtle fire smouldering from the first glance. From that point on, Archer's dilemma becomes painfully clear - proceed with what society deems proper and marry the rather vapid May, or allow his heart and passions to carry him far from the realm of what is conventionally acceptable.
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"All the best people have bad chests and bone diseases. It's all frightfully romantic."
- Juliet Hulme, Heavenly Creatures
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Love Lies Bleeding
Duke (Brian Geraghty) and Amber (Jenna Dewan) are a financially strapped young couple, both working menial jobs to survive, while their gangster neighbors continue to steal Duke and Amber's things. One day Amber gets home and finds the neighbors in the house, stealing a few things. They beat her up and leave. Duke gets home and finds her, and is so angered he goes out and purchases a gun. Meanwhile, a corrupt DEA Agent named Pollen (Christian Slater) is after a cache of dirty money that belongs to him. He tracks it back to the house Duke's neighbors live in and gets there before Duke does. There is a shootout, and Pollen is injured. Duke arrives and finds the aftermath, and the money. Duke takes the money, believing that it will mean a better life for himself and Amber. Pollen tries to stop him, but passes out due to his injuries.
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Bulldog Drummond's Peril
Though John Barrymore is top-billed in Bulldog Drummond's Peril, the aging matinee idol is consigned to the supporting role of Inspector Nielsen. Drummond is portrayed by John Howard; once more, he is on the verge of marrying the ever-patient Phyllis Clavering (Louise Campbell).
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Devil's Island: Journey Into Jungle Alcatraz
Imagine the prison of Alcatraz, only 10 times worse, built on tropical, hellish and deadly islands, lost to the rest of the world. Three tiny castaway islands rise away from the coast of French Guyana, in South America The Devils Islands. Now buried under an impenetrable jungle, lay the lost remains of what had been for a hundred years the most storied convict prison in history. There, while most of the prisoners faded into oblivion, a few became legends. Some because they were innocent, as in the scandalous Dreyfus Affair, some because they somehow escaped the islands of nightmare, as did the butterfly, Henry Charrire, immortalized by Steve McQueen in Papillon. Now 50 years after the prison doors slammed shut for the last time, we explore whats left of the Devils Islands unbelievably dark and oppressive realm. Follow Jean-Christophe Jeauffre and his crew as he reveals the secrets of another lost world...
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One Way to Valhalla
Bo Durant, a volatile, working-class gearhead, sees himself trapped in a world with few possibilities but when he falls off his stepdaughters bike, suffers a concussion, stops eating, and smashes up the backyard with a sledgehammer, he begins to feel free for the first time in his life.
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The vacationers at a winter wonderland struggle to survive after an avalanche of snow crashes into their ski resort. Their holiday then turns into a game of survival.
When someone is murdered on New Years Eve, the prime suspect is Valerie Maas, a church-going home-maker whose life unravels when she discovers that her husband of many years has been leading a double life. Her strength of character and faith keep her going as the revelation of her husbands betrayal threatens to destroy all that they have known
In the near future, oil reserves are nearly depleted and Europe is connected by series of underground tunnels. While navigating these tunnels, Roger hears voices, one in particular. Seeking a way to rid himself of the voice only leads Roger deeper into a bizarre conspiracy of control - mind and body.