A Nightmare on Elm Street

A Nightmare on Elm Street
We're not usually ones to advocate for more skin in a non-'skin-flick' (well, okay— we are), but this is one of those rare instances where a film broaches the risky 'too-serious' shooting style for a premise as implausible and silly as they come. What would fix this? Surely taking a deep breath and letting go of the pretence, embracing the silliness and giving people as much titillation as possible. Heck—it worked for Wes Craven's original film back in 1984 and again most recently with 'Jennifer's Body'. Unfortunately, 'A Nightmare on Elm Street' is neither as enjoyably schlock as the original or as slickly produced (and marketed) as the successful Megan Fox creature feature.

For those unfamiliar with the dubiously "classic" original, A Nightmare on Elm Street is a slasher-film in the purest sense, revolving around the killing of teens – and lots of them. The villain is the iconic Freddy Krueger, a being who haunts his victims in their dreams, breaking through to their waking lives to tear them apart with his single finger-bladed glove.

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Gentlemen Broncos

Gentlemen Broncos
There's a fine line between whimsical and weird, between stupid and strange, and the uber-quirky Gentlemen Broncos unfortunately lives on the wrong side of it. Writer-director Jared Hess, best known for creating that over-hyped, though semi-charming cult favorite Napoleon Dynamite, returns with his third film -- a bizarre take on B-grade sci-fi literature that drowns in a sizeable pool of its own ridiculousness. Hess creates a relatively believable, lower-class, Mid-Western world and fills it with lifeless, unbelievable characters who, unlike Napoleon before them, can't be redeemed by their own personal oddities.

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Sea Beast

Sea Beast
Sea Beast. Wow. What a creative title. What's our movie about? A beast from the sea? Hmmm... What are we going to call it? Water Monster? Nah. Not snazzy enough. How about Sea Beast? Winner!

Would you believe that before Sea Beast came to be known as Sea Beast, the original title was... Troglodyte? But aren't troglodytes primitive cavemen-like hominids that have more in common physically with Sasquatch than the Creature from the Black Lagoon? Words I'm fairly certain that have never before been used to describe a troglodyte: aquatic, reptilian, fishy, webbed-fingers, gill-breathing, egg-laying, amphibious. Now if they wanted to get cheeky like with Mansquito and title the film Froglodyte, better believe I could have gotten behind that. Hell, title a movie Froglodyte, and I'll give it a rave review just based on the title alone.

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Lucky Ones

Lucky Ones
If one was to apply loose definitions, The Lucky Ones could be considered a "war movie." In reality, however, this is less about how the characters react under fire than how they react when removed from it. The Lucky Ones is a road movie and, in the tradition of the genre, it follows a small group of protagonists on a journey from Point A to Point B. Along the way, they encounter difficulties, meet "colorful" individuals, and find out a few things about themselves. There are times when the framework appears creaky and unwieldy, especially considering the story that director Neil Burger wants to tell, and events near the end of the movie take contrivance to the point of absurdity. However, the characters are likeable and well-developed, and this goes a long way toward mitigating problems that exist in tone and plotting.

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Oldboy

Oldboy
Oldboy could be considered a mystery. Or a bloody revenge picture. Or a twisted romance. Or a tale of extreme karma. Regardless of how you look at Oldboy, it's unlike anything you are likely to have seen before. Director Park Chan-wook starts with a great premise, and uses it as a springboard for a flawed-yet-compelling yarn of life-and-death, cat-and-mouse games between Oh Dae-su (Choi Min-sik) and his arch-enemy, Lee Wu-jin (Yu Ji-tae), with the beautiful, vulnerable Mido (Kang Hye-jeong) caught in the middle. And, just when you think you know where Oldboy is headed, the film takes a turn designed to foil all expectations.

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Abyss
James Cameron is widely viewed as being one of the most difficult and demanding directors, due in large part to the powerful streak of perfectionism that defines his filmmaking. Cameron's most difficult and contentious shoot to date has been The Abyss - a logistically nightmarish experience that frayed the nerves and tempers of cast and crew alike. Cameron completed The Abyss behind schedule and over budget, and the theatrical version is generally regarded as the weakest and most disappointing of the director's six major efforts (the other five: The Terminator, Aliens, T2, True Lies, Titanic). Had the 140-minute cut released into multiplexes on August 9, 1989 been the final word, The Abyss would be a mostly forgotten footnote on Cameron's resume. However, some three years after The Abyss made its debut, the director was provided with the wherewithal to produce an Extended Edition. Incorporating about a half-hour of deleted material, the Extended Edition repaired many (although not all) of the theatrical cut's glaring problems, resulting in a greatly enhanced viewing experience. Today, although both versions are available, I don't know anyone who would choose to watch the theatrical release over the expanded home video one.

Although the neutering of the climax played a part in the movie's initial lukewarm reception, that was not the only issue. Expectations were also a factor. Cameron's two previous features, The Terminator and Aliens, had been high octane thrillers with technologically advanced villains and rousing climaxes. Although there's plenty of action in The Abyss, coupled with a fair share of tension, the "bad guy" is nothing more frightening than a psychotic Navy SEAL (played by Michael Biehn). The aliens are largely decoupled with the action and, when they make an appearance at the end, it seems to be almost an afterthought, and their introduction recalls E.T. and Close Encounters. (This is fixed in the Extended Edition, but more about that later.) The film made about $54 million - a total that was ultimately profitable but disappointing (Star Trek V, released the same summer, made just a fraction less). Compared to Batman, The Abyss was the black hole its title implies.

The Abyss begins with the kind of opening scene guaranteed to capture an audience's attention. The nuclear sub USS Montana encounters unexpected trouble while patrolling near the Cayman Trough and becomes disabled. The military, facing rising tensions with the Soviet Union, are anxious to mount a search-and-rescue mission before the U.S.S.R. can go looking. The best and quickest option is to use Deepcore, a privately owned oil platform resting on the ocean floor near the abyssal trench, as the base for the operation. This is not well received by the captain of the platform, Bud Brigman (Ed Harris), but he is overruled by management. A team of Navy SEALS, commanded by Lt. Coffey (Michael Biehn), dive down to Deepcore, accompanied by Lindsey Brigman (Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio), the designer of the station and Bud's estranged wife.

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Insider

Insider
It has been four years since the events depicted in Michael Mann's The Insider occurred. Actually, to be precise, it has been four years since some of them occurred. In the interests of drama, a certain amount of "fictionalization" has taken place. The incidents related here represent CBS News' blackest hour - a time when greed and bad judgment overcame journalistic integrity. A story for 60 Minutes compiled by correspondent Mike Wallace (played in the film by Christopher Plummer) and producer Lowell Bergman (Al Pacino) was killed when a potential lawsuit by tobacco giant Brown & Williamson threatened a buyout of CBS that would make a number of high-placed corporate executives very rich. The story, an interview with Jeffrey Wigand (Russell Crowe), a fired B&W corporate V.P. who had decided to blow the whistle on his former boss' lies to congress, created such a behind-the-scenes furor at the newsmagazine that the segment was ordered shelved. When The New York Times printed an exposé about what had happened, CBS News had egg on its face and was forced to re-consider the decision.

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Brazil

Brazil
Terry Gilliam's Brazil is one of those films whose enduring reputation is based at least in part on events surrounding its stormy distribution history. Taken at face value, Brazil is a stinging, Strangelovian satire of the power of the bureaucracy in an Orwellian landscape. The vision is clearly Gilliam's; his penchant for striking visual flourishes and dark comedy have seeped into the fabric of the narrative, but it's not the strongest story he has worked with. Plot-wise, Brazil is rather hum-drum and derivative; its energy and appeal derive not from its thin characters or their actions but from the world they inhabit. Take away the controversy and the very public squabble that surrounded Brazil's U.S. release and it would likely have gone down as a middle-of-the-road title on Gilliam's eclectic filmography.

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Army of the Dead

Army of the Dead
Ash (Bruce Campbell) is a housewares salesman at an S-Mart department store before a venture to the house from The Evil Dead and The Evil Dead II sends him through a time tunnel into the Middle Ages. Suddenly, as the "Promised One" of prophesy, he is expected to save the locals from an upsurge in evil.

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The Man

The Man
A man named Andy Fiddler (Eugene Levy) is in his bathroom, preparing a speech. He works for a dental supply company, and lives in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He will soon be giving a speech to investors in Detroit, and is very nervous.

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Focus
In the waning months of World War II, a man and his wife are mistakenly identified as Jews by their anti-Semitic Brooklyn neighbors. Suddenly the victims of religious and racial persecution, they find themselves aligned with a local Jewish immigrant in a struggle for dignity and survival.

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Auto Focus

Auto Focus
Disc jockey turned actor Bob Crane develops a secret personal life, focusing on his relationship with John Henry Carpenter, an electronics expert involved with the nascent home video market.

Encouraged by Carpenter and enabled by his expertise, Crane — portrayed as a church-going, clean-cut family man (though he really never was) — becomes a sex addict obsessed with sleeping with as many women as possible and recording those encounters with video and photographic equipment, usually with Carpenter participating. Auto Focus depicts Crane's life from his sitcom success through his post-Hogan's Heroes efforts to sustain a viable career — mostly in dinner theatre — until his murder.

Crane's murder remains unsolved to this day. Although Carpenter was tried and acquitted of the crime, he remains the subject of suspicion even after his death in 1998.

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Jim Norton: Monster Rain

Jim Norton: Monster Rain
Jim Norton performs stand up comedy.

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East Is East

East Is East
In 1971 Salford fish-and-chip shop owner George Khan expects his family to follow his strict Pakistani Muslim ways. But his children, with an English mother and having been born and brought up in Britain, increasingly see themselves as British and start to reject their fathers rules on dress, food, religion, and living in general.

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Kill Theory

Kill Theory
A.M. the following morning, only one of them can remain alive. Whoever remains will be allowed to walk away with his or her life. However, if morning comes and more than one are still breathing, everyone dies. Friends and couples must test their trust, as the clock ticks away. Some will fight for love, some to survive but all will change, because deep down...were all killers.

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Nikita

Nikita
Convicted felon Nikita, instead of going to jail, is given a new identity and trained, stylishly, as a top secret spyassassin.

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