Banlieue 13 Ultimatum

Banlieue 13 Ultimatum
It’s been three years since the events of “Banlieue 13”, and the more things change, the more they stay the same. Or gotten worst, actually. The wall that separates the slums of District 13 and the more civilized (i.e. less tattooed) populace of Paris has not been torn down as promised, and the alleyways are still choking with violent gangs, separated into different AK-toting factions. The residents of the slums have a ceasefire with the cops, but that’s about to change when a third party led by sleazy Government official Gassman (Daniel Duval) enters the picture, determined to instigate an all-out civil war designed to bring down District 13 once and for all.

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Tomorrow, When the War Began

Tomorrow, When the War Began
Seven teenagers from a small Australian country town called Wirrawee – Ellie, Corrie, Homer, Kevin, Lee, Robyn and Fiona – decide to pack a Landrover and go bush for the weekend. They don their packs and venture into the wild, little-visited, cliff-encircled gorge called Hell: flirting with members of the opposite sex, mucking about, and generally enjoying themselves so much that they think little of the fleet of planes that fly overhead one night.

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Father of Invention

Father of Invention
So there is this movie coming titled Father Of Invention, starring Kevin Spacey. It was recently announced that there were four new castings: Camille Belle (some random horror movie I can’t remember), Craig Robinson (“The Office”, Zack and Miri), Johnny Knoxville (“Jackass”), and most importantly, Heather Graham (lately of The Hangover).

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In the Bedroom

In the Bedroom
In the Bedroom is arguably one of the year's most anticipated independent releases - a movie whose incessant buzz at Sundance carried it at the crest of a wave to Toronto, then placed it in theaters before the end of the year. For those unable to catch it at a festival, the mainstream release is unquestionably worth the wait.

The feature debut of Todd Field, In the Bedroom deals with issues that are rarely approached with this degree of sensitivity on film. The movie, which transpires in Maine, stars Tom Wilkinson and Sissy Spacek as Matt and Ruth Fowler, a seemingly perfect middle-aged couple. Their only son, Frank (Nick Stahl), is spending the summer on a boat lobstering before going off to an Ivy League school in the fall. His latest girlfriend, Natalie Strout (Marisa Tomei), is a much older woman with two young children. These characters are bound together when a criminal act results in a tragedy.

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Love Happens

Love Happens
Is this a movie or a feature-length advertisement for Qwest? We're not just talking one product placement; this brand name is nearly omnipresent.

The title Love Happens is a play on the common phrase "shit happens." However, while the "shit" may have been removed from the title, it pollutes the screen. This is a maudlin romantic dramedy whose every frame reeks of artificiality. While that characteristic is kept somewhat in check during the film's first hour, it spirals out of control during the final third, rendering the climax and conclusion nearly unwatchable. On the way to the expected happy ending, Love Happens uses clichés and improbable occurrences to resolve everything so simply and cleanly that it threatens to trigger the gag reflex.

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Hellboy

Hellboy
Hellboy is director Guillermo del Toro's second venture behind the cameras for a comic-book themed motion picture. However, although the hyper-stylized setting and kinetic action sequences share a kinship with those in Blade 2, Hellboy showcases a lighter tone with a hero who doesn't take himself as seriously. In fact, while Hellboy doesn't quite cross the line into open comedy, it comes close. The film bears more of a resemblance to Ghostbusters and Men in Black (with a little of The Mummy thrown in for good measure) than to a traditional superhero motion picture. This isn't Batman or Superman.

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Scotland, Pa.

Scotland, Pa.
In high school, teachers spend a great deal of time guiding students through the rigors of Shakespeare's tragedies and histories, but what about the comedies? Much Ado About Nothing, The Merchant of Venice, The Taming of the Shrew, Macbeth... Yes, I said Macbeth - at least as envisioned by writer/director Billy Morrissette, whose low-budget, independent effort, Scotland, PA, depicts the story of the bloodthirsty Scottish lord in an entirely different light.

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Primary Colors

Primary Colors
It would be possible to write pages and pages comparing and contrasting the reality of Bill Clinton's 1992 Presidential campaign with the fictional one of Jack Stanton, the candidate in Primary Colors. Likewise, it would be equally possible to develop a lengthy piece about the similarities and differences between the movie and the best-selling novel upon which it is based. Since more qualified individuals than I will be penning articles of this sort over the next few days and weeks, I feel confident that I can narrow the scope of this review (mostly) to the movie itself, and let others worry about the divisions between fact and fiction.

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Blue Kite

Blue Kite
"I finished shooting The Blue Kite in 1992. But while I was involved in post-production, several official organizations involved with China's film industry screened the film. They decided that it had a problem concerning its political 'leanings,' and prevented its completion. The fact that it can appear today seems like a miracle... The stories in the film are real, and they are related with total sincerity. What worries me is that it is precisely a fear of reality and sincerity that has led to the ban on such stories being told."
- Tian Zhuangzhuang, director of The Blue Kite

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Dead Again

Dead Again
Of the eight movies committed to celluloid by director Kenneth Branagh, five of them have been either adapted from one of Shakespeare's plays (Henry V, Much Ado About Nothing, Hamlet, Love's Labour's Lost) or have made significant use of the Bard's words (A Midwinter's Tale). From the remaining group of three, only one is noteworthy. Dead Again, Branagh's second effort behind the camera, is an Alfred Hitchcock homage - and a very good one, at that. Unlike most modern nods to the master filmmaker (for example, the collected works of Brian DePalma), Dead Again does not come across as a Hitchcock knock-off, but as a motion picture that incorporates familiar themes and approaches while maintaining its own integrity and identity. Not once during the entire production is there an obviously stolen scene or camera angle replication.

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Rushmore

Rushmore
Rushmore is one of those films that's so inconsequential that its memory threatens to fade away before the end credits have finished rolling. The movie, co-written and directed by Bottle Rocket's Wes Anderson, is meant to be an offbeat comedy/drama about an unusual high school student who underachieves in classes because he spends all of his time on extracurricular activities. Max Fischer (Jason Schwartzman) is universally recognized as a brilliant 15 year-old. That's the reason he was given a full academic scholarship to Rushmore, an elite California prep school. But, when he neglects his studies in favor of starting after-school clubs and producing oddball plays, he finds himself on "sudden death academic probation" - fail one more test and he's gone.

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Panic
Henry Bromell's Panic, is a perfect example of what the average independent film has become in 2000. It features recognizable stars and has the kind of storyline with the potential to play reasonably well in the average American multiplex. Like Grosse Pointe Blank, Analyze This, and TV's "The Sopranos", Panic features a premise that's quickly growing tired - that of a gangster/bad guy who visits a shrink. In this case, the patient is Alex (William H. Macy). Ultimately, the film is less about his relationship with his doctor (played by John Ritter) than about the reasons he's seeing a psychologist in the first place.

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The Saint

The Saint

Based on the popular novels about that other suave, globe-trotting man of action, this genre picture from director Phillip Noyce mixed romance and character development with dangerous stunts, geopolitical intrigue, and a variety of elaborate disguises, resulting in an uneven stew of a spy thriller.

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Next Friday

Next Friday
The film reflects back to the ending of Friday, including the fight between Craig (Ice Cube) and Deebo (Lister Jr.). Rumor has spread to the neighborhood that Deebo has broken out of jail and will come looking for Craig. As a precaution, Craig's father (Witherspoon) decides to have him stay with Elroy (Curry), Craig's sex-crazed, lottery winning uncle, and his cousin Day-Day (Epps). Initially, life in Rancho Cucamonga seems to be ideal, however, trouble soon arises in many different areas.

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Winged Migration

Winged Migration
The cameras of Jacques Perrin fly with migratory birds geese, storks, cranes. The film begins with spring in North America and the migration to the Arctic the flight is a community event for each species. Once in the Arctic, its family time courtship, nests, eggs, fledglings, and first flight. Chicks must soon fly south. Bad weather, hunters, and pollution take their toll. Then, the cameras go south of the Equator Antarctica is the summer destination. The search for food, good weather, and a place to hatch young takes this annual cycle of stamina across continents and oceans. There is a spare narration and a few titles for the most part its visual, a birds eye view.

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Shogun Assassin

Shogun Assassin
Long ago there was a great samurai warrior who served his Shogun honorably. The Shogun however grew paranoid as he became more and more senile. The Shogun sought to destroy all those who might stand to oppose his rule, and so he sent his ninja spies to the samurais home. The ninjas failed to kill the samurai, but did kill his beloved wife. From then on, the samurai swore on his honor to seek out the Shogun and avenge the death of his love. The samurai roams the countryside with his toddler son taking on mercenary work for money until the final battle with the Shoguns three Masters of Death.

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