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By the original title of Credo, our film “The Devil’s Curse” has all the creepiness of a cold breeze in the dark or the feeling of someone standing behind you. This latest thriller filmed entirely in London England is a surprise for the horror genre that bases much of its styles on visuals. Devils curse in many ways is a re-visit to the old ways of horror films with its low budget intensity without flair.
The ambitious, not to say hubristic, title Australia brings to mind the blockbuster novels of James A Michener that took a place (Hawaii, Poland, Texas) and gave us its history from the Stone Age to the present, incorporating in the later stages a romantic tale of the struggles of three or four generations. Baz Luhrmann does something vaguely like this by having a 12-year-old Aboriginal boy steeped in the lore of his people narrate the story, though the setting is confined to the Northern Territory and the time frame a mere three years from the outbreak of war in 1939 to the Japanese air raids on Darwin in 1942. But a condensed TV mini-series is nearer the mark.
Danny Boyle's Slumdog Millionaire is the film equivalent of Usain Bolt's performance at the Olympics: funny, shocking, spectacularly turbo-charged. It takes your breath away at the same time as it makes you want to holler with joy or to grab the person next to you: "Yes!"
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The Ten is a comedy about the unlikeliest of subjects: The Ten Commandments. When I use the term "comedy," I do so loosely. This is one of those films where the humor is of the hit-and-miss variety, and it misses more often than it hits. The jokes are transparent. It's not difficult to divine what's supposed to be funny. It's just that a lot of the time, I wasn't laughing. Like a bad Monty Python or Saturday Night Live skit, there's no absence of irreverence and the viewer can sort-of understand what the performers are aiming for, but they miss the target. Sometimes it's timing and/or execution and sometimes it's that the gag isn't as funny as the filmmakers think it is, or that it runs too long, or both.
Catch and Release
Catch and Release is a confused, disjointed motion picture that tries to be many things and succeeds in being none. In less than two hours (although it feels considerably longer), writer/director Susannah Grant cobbles together nearly every imaginable plot, element, and device except the kitchen sink (although she manages to get the bathtub in there). Despite possessing a few effective and affecting scenes, Catch and Release is a mess and the methods it uses to bring closure to its diverse storylines feel trite and contrived. Leaving the theater, I was struck with a sense that the movie not only could have been better, but it should have been so.
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Since they burst upon the motion picture scene with Dumb and Dumber, the Farrelly Brothers, Bobby and Peter, have been known as the Kings of Vulgar Comedy. So, given the Farrellys' reputation and a title with the word "shallow" in it, one might easily expect more of the same from the producing/writing/directing duo. In that respect, however, Shallow Hal surprises. Neither gross, nor obscene, nor perverse, this motion picture sets out to do something that no other Farrelly Brothers film has yet done: tell a story with a moral. Shallow Hal is a sweet, somewhat dumb romantic comedy that's almost impossible to actively dislike. It's also tame enough to earn a PG-13 rating from the MPAA (although, given the inconsistency of the Ratings Board, that doesn't mean much).
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In my review of Woody Allen's previous misfire, Melinda and Melinda, I wrote the following: "Lately, Allen's films have sunk into a state of heightened mediocrity - sporadically entertaining, but often disappointing, at least for those clinging to the hope that Allen will return to 'form.' I no longer expect great things from a Woody Allen movie…" Indeed, it has been over a decade since Allen has produced a memorable motion picture. Match Point puts an end to the drought, and does so in an impressive and unexpected fashion. Not only could one argue that this is the best "serious" work the director has ever attempted, but it's presented in a way that even the most seasoned Allen fan will have difficulty recognizing the iconic filmmaker's fingerprints.
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Owning Mahowny casts an unflinching gaze into a window of addiction of a sort not often portrayed in movies. Based on the true-life book "Stung" by Gary Stephen Ross, the film chronicles the facts of the case of a Toronto bank vice president who stole more than $10 million from his employer over a two-year period in the early 1980s. All of that money funded his expanding gambling addiction, ending up in the pockets of bookies and the vaults of casinos. In Owning Mahowny, by the time the lead character is caught, the concept of losing (or winning) $1,000,000 in one night is acceptable.
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Finally, there's a legitimate challenge to Disney. And, while it's unlikely that Twentieth Century Fox's Anastasia will break the Mouse's stranglehold on animated films, it's a good place to start. Anastasia is easily the best non-Disney animated movie in recent memory, and it is good enough to rival such titles as The Lion King and Aladdin. The key is enjoyability and appeal to both adults and children. This degree of magic and energy has been noticeably absent in movies like Pocahontas, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, and Hercules. Maybe with another studio to push them, Disney will get back on track.
Out of Sight
In the middle of the summer movie season, when most films are designed with the intelligence of a seven year-old for viewers with the attention span of someone even younger, it's refreshing to find a picture like Out of Sight, which is not only smart, but a great deal of fun, as well. I enjoyed watching this movie more than Deep Impact, Godzilla, and Armageddon put together. Directed by one-time wunderkind film maker Steven Soderbergh (whose sex, lies, and videotape put him on the map big-time), Out of Sight will inevitably turn out to be one of the best thrillers of the year.
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A reasonable enough kiddie-pic for the holidays: a German-made, eco-themed 3D animation that brings together a selection of the planet's fluffiest animals in a general assault on the most evil creature of all... man.
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If I Had Known I Was a Genius
Michael (Markus Redmond) is an African American boy with a genius I.Q. His family refuses to encourage him and tries to bring him down, and his mother (Whoopi Goldberg) nicknames him "Ugly". Michael enrolls in a high school drama class and finds encouragement from an eccentric teacher.
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A MYSTERIOUS SHOOTER RANDOMLY KILLS INNOCENT CITIZENS IN PUBLI ONE AFTER THE OTHER IN BROAD DAYLOGHT. ALL MURDERS HAPPEN NOT FAR FROM THE WHITE HOUSE NOT FAR FROM THE PRESIDENT.
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Crazy in Alabama
A backwoods Alabama boy named Peejoe -short for Peter Joseph- gets a quick education in grown-up matters like freedom in 1965. The catalyst is an unlikely source - his glamorous, eccentric Aunt Lucille, who escapes from her abusive husband and takes off for Hollywood to pursue her dreams of TV stardom.
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Dead Clever: The Life and Crimes of Julie Bottomley
When Julie Bottomley (Suranne Jones) discovers her husband of 10 years has been sleeping with her sister, her first instinct is to kill him. However, rather than risk life imprisonment herself, she devises a better plan to get revenge on Ian (Dean Lennox Kelly) by faking her own death and framing him for murder. But can she resist the temptation to let her jailed husband know just how ?Dead Clever? she?s been?
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Air traffic controller Max Fiedler is unhappy with his career and his second marriage. An exposure to toxic waste gives him the power of telekinesis. He comes to a crossroads at a beachhouse he shares with his wife, his ex, and a voodoo priestess.
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