Hairspray

Hairspray
Nikki Blonsky. The name doesn't exactly sing. It's at least as flat -- and, if you'll pardon the expression, as "ethnic" -- as Tracy Turnblad, the dance-crazy Baltimore teenager Ms. Blonsky plays in "Hairspray."

But Blonsky does sing, and like this giddy, refreshing movie, her voice rings loud and clear.

Tracy is an outsider who dreams of being with the In crowd, and innocent enough to believe she'll get her chance. And so she does -- this is America, after all. But she's the wrong body shape to get a fair shake from TV producer Velma Von Tussle (Michelle Pfeiffer), and, anyway, as someone cuttingly remarks, "The Corny Collins Show" isn't shot in CinemaScope.

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Grindhouse

Grindhouse
The term "grindhouse" refers to a specific type of '60s and '70s exploitation film: the sex-and-gore soaked fare that played in run-down urban cinemas and drive-in theaters. With their consistently poor production values and often horrifically bad direction and acting, grindhouse movies developed a cult following that reveled in such guilty pleasures and accepted them for what they were. Filmmakers Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino were among the charter members of this fan club and their previous work has been informed to one degree or another by their love of these movies. With Grindhouse, a valentine to exploitation films, it's all out in the open. Depending on your point-of-view, this is either a nostalgic stroll through a cheesy slice of American pop culture or an attempt to provide a tongue-in-cheek reinvigoration of it. Most likely, it's a little of both.

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All Good Things

All Good Things
On paper, the story of Robert Durst makes for fascinating drama, even though it's missing an ending and several parts of the middle. When someone is writing a nonfiction book or making a documentary, such things have limited importance. But when it comes to a feature film, leaving an audience with an incomplete feeling is not always the best approach. Director Andrew Jarecki, best known for his documentary, Capturing the Friedmans, deserves credit for sticking as much to the facts as he reasonably can. However, by not resorting to invention, his dramatization of Durst's life and alleged crimes, All Good Things, feels unfinished.

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Matador

Matador
It's not hard to be enthusiastic about The Matador, an uncommon buddy film starring Pierce Brosnan and Greg Kinnear. The movie has a nicely modulated mix of comedy and pathos, but succeeds as much because of the two lead performances as Richard Shepard's writing and directing. This is an audience-pleaser through-and-through, but one wonders whether the title (which is appropriate but not catchy) may fail to entice viewers. In fact, it may keep some sensitive animal-lovers away.

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Invincible

Invincible
One corner of the genre of sports clichés is devoted to true stories of overachieving underdogs. In recent years, Disney has repeatedly raided this area, creating one inspiring story after another, most of which (like Remember the Titans and The Rookie) have been rousing and crowd-pleasing. With Invincible, however, hero-worship and unimaginative storytelling have caused the project to strike a sour note. I'm sure there's a lot to cheer about in the real-life story of pro football player Vince Papale, but there's nothing to laud in this lifeless white-wash of a motion picture. Disney's decision to move the release date to the dead-end dog days of late August is justified. Aside from die-hard Philadelphia Eagles fans, it's hard to see the film appealing to a theatrical audience. From the poor set design to the mediocre acting to the paint-by-numbers screenplay, this is TV fare at best. Anyone paying $10 to see this in a multiplex should request a refund.

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World Is Not Enough

World Is Not Enough
Ten years ago, when the second and final Timothy Dalton Bond movie, Licence to Kill, tanked at the box office, it looked like the venerable secret agent had finally run out of gas, driven into the ground by the likes of The Terminator and Rambo. A six year hiatus followed, and, when Bond finally returned in 1995's Goldeneye, Dalton had been replaced by Pierce Brosnan and the series was said to have been given a complete overhaul. Actually, as Goldeneye and its sequel, Tomorrow Never Dies, illustrated, the changes were more cosmetic than anything else. Bond still drinks his martinis shaken not stirred, still utters his signature "Bond, James Bond," and still sleeps with any gorgeous woman who crosses his path. The only differences are that he has traded in his Aston Martin for a BMW and "M" has experienced a sex change. With Brosnan in the lead role, the Bond series has undergone an unprecedented revival. Both Goldeneye and Tomorrow Never Dies exceeded the magical $100 million mark (the latter doing so while in direct competition with Titanic), and the latest movie (the 19th overall), The World Is Not Enough, stands poised to join them.

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Braveheart

Braveheart
The crown jewel of 1995's summer blockbusters appears to have arrived early. It's hard to imagine any motion picture released between now and August matching Mel Gibson's Braveheart for spectacle. With its clashing armies, heartstopping action, and grand sense of romance, this is the sort of film it's a pleasure to see and review.

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Show Stoppers

Show Stoppers
Show Stoppers is a comedy-drama set in the world of Greek stepping on a historically black university in Virginia where Greek steppers get as much attention as star athletes.

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The Christmas Shoes

The Christmas Shoes
Two separate stories mesh - in the first, a young music teacher, Maggie Andrews, begins dying of a heart condition and her son Nathan tries to get a pair of Christmas shoes for her before she dies. In the second, lawyer Robert Layton and his wife Kate are slowly drifting apart and the matter comes to a head during Christmas when Kate takes over for Maggie for the school choir and declines a job in Roberts firm. When Roberts mother passes away, he begins to reconsider things and his and Nathans paths cross on Christmas Eve as Nathan tries to raise the money for the shoes and Robert tries to get a present for his daughter.

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Tooth
Tooth (Yasmin Paige) is a fairy from the mysterious Fairytopia land, and she is bored of her hard everyday duties in this family-friendly adventure movie. Tooths job is to collect the teeth and to leave coins, and she suddenly leaves a big sum of money in the house of the two youngsters Tolly (Maisie Preston) and Tom (Rory Copus). Their dad and mom know nothing about the fortune and, meanwhile, Tooth finds out Fairytopia lacks Christmas money funds due to her loss. Persecuted by the evil money-craving Plug (Phyllida Law), they can save the holidays on their way to Fairyland only together.

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Jim Norton: Monster Rain

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

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The Dicktator

The Dicktator
When a male birth-control pill accidentally sterilizes the male population, the birth rate drops to zero and the President of the U.S. orders the CIA to scour the globe for potent males. Five are found who have yet to take the pill - a Japanese doper, a Peruvian sheep herder, a Russian prisoner, a San Francisco drag queen, and an Afro-American anthropology student who is busy boiling fat gals for the local cannibals - each of whom is codenamed The Dicktator and promptly ordered to impregnate the horniest of the worlds women.

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Gilmore Girls - Season Four

Gilmore Girls - Season Four
The series explores issues of family, friendship and romance, as well as generational divides and social class. Ambition, education and work also form part of the series central concerns, telling Lorelais story from pregnant teen runaway and high school dropout to co-owner and manager of the Dragonfly Inn. Rorys transition from public school to the prestigious preparatory school, Chilton, is similarly followed by the series, exploring her ambition to study at an Ivy League college and to become a foreign correspondent. The shows social commentary manifests most clearly in Lorelais difficult relationship with her wealthy upper-class parents, Emily and Richard Gilmore, and in the interactions between the students at Chilton, and later, Yale University.

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Hobby Farm aka Chained

Hobby Farm aka Chained
Jules is put in charge of the Hobby Farm, operating as a hive of illegal gambling, drugs and sex slavery. Jules must overcome the demons of his own past and turn against the only life he has ever known, to save the girls and himself.

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Loved Up

Loved Up
The first time Sarah tries drugs is the first time she goes out with Tim, who was a customer of hers in the Dew Drop Inn Cafe. Tom is sweet and cool and after one night, she moves in with him leaving behind her alcoholic mother and younger sister, Karen. For a while life is great and drugs are just part of the deal and most of the fun. But then things start getting complicated and shes not sure if she can handle it - theres one rave too many, a bad trip and she gets roughed up while doing a drop off for their dealer. Also, events at home mean that she cant block it out any longer her mum needs her and Karen needs her. In turn, Sarah needs Tom, but will he - or can he- be there for Sarah?

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