The Lovely Bones

The Lovely Bones
Alice Sebold's The Lovely Bones, the touching story of a murdered 14 year old girl whose soul doesn't move on to heaven and instead is stuck in an in-between state, makes its way into theaters in an uneven, visually dazzling adaptation. The Lovely Bones is not quite the movie fans of the book have been anticipating, although it's not from lack of trying.
Writer/director Peter Jackson throws every visual effects trick in the book into The Lovely Bones, but the sleek style and otherworldly production doesn't completely capture Sebold's heart-wrenching tale. It's a mighty effort and Jackson does deserve credit for trying to pull it off, and for remaining faithful in spirit to Sebold's work.

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The Poughkeepsie tapes

The Poughkeepsie tapes
Shot in a strict documentary style, The Poughkeepsie Tapes recounts the story of the Water Street Butcher, a serial killer who terrorized Poughkeepsie, NY for over ten years starting in the early 90s. Eventually the butcher made a minor slip-up and several battalions of SWAT came calling, but he was already long gone when they arrived. Instead, what they found in his abandoned house was an enormous, meticulously cataloged library of VHS tapes in which he had documented his entire career in murdering. The Poughkeepsie Tapes winds its way through the killer's story by giving us interviews with cops, FBI agents and the friends and family members of the victims, and also includes extended clips from the actual video library, so we can see exactly what happened to the victims, not just leave it to imagination. Needless to say, this is all bullcrap. The Poughkeepsie Tapes is the new Blair Witch, a carefully constructed piece of faux realism -- the longer it goes on, the more obvious it becomes, but I'm happy to say that doesn't detract from the fun.

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The Boxer

The Boxer
Serious filmgoers have learned to take special notice of the week between Christmas and New Year's. It's the time for especially distinguished year-end sleepers (''The Madness of King George,'' ''In the Name of the Father''), and this year it brings two beauties: an exotic Australian romance steeped in religion and gambling (''Oscar and Lucinda,'' reviewed on page 5), and ''The Boxer,'' Jim Sheridan's tender, wrenching Belfast drama.

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Leatherheads

Leatherheads
In the good old days, around 1925, according to “Leatherheads,” professional football was a lot more fun, a rough, ragged enterprise, untrammeled by corporate influence and unconstrained by rules and regulations. And in the slightly more recent old days — the ’30s and ’40s, more or less — movies were also more fun. They had zip, pep, moxie, trains, hats and double-entendres.

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Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith

Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith
The saga is complete. What George Lucas began in 1977 as a little movie that took the box office by storm, he has completed in 2005 with the most heralded motion picture of the year. With the arrival of Revenge of the Sith, Lucas places the missing piece of the six-film arc that tells of the rise, fall, and redemption of Darth Vader. It's a rousing and tragic sendoff to a beloved franchise, and the best installment in the Star Wars series since 1980's The Empire Strikes Back. If this is to be the last big-screen installment of the space opera, Revenge of the Sith ushers things out on a high note. Those who have disparaged the previous two prequels (1999's The Phantom Menace and 2002's Attack of the Clones) will find few things to complain about this time around. Lucas has delivered the film that Star Wars fans have been yearning for.

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Remember the Titans

Remember the Titans
With a movie like Remember the Titans, your overall opinion will be largely dependent upon how you look at the finished product. If viewed as a crowd-pleasing, feel-good sports movie, the film is an unqualified success, following the accepted formula to the expected conclusion while delivering some nice moments along the way. However, if seen as a socially conscious retrospective on race relations in the South during the early 1970s, Remember the Titans can best be described as timid and unexceptional. In soft-peddling the theme of intolerance, the picture refuses to take even the smallest chance.

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Dogville

Dogville
Warning: Significant spoilers starting in Paragraph #4. (But, in a case like this, do plot details really matter?)

Danish filmmaker Lars von Trier has gone from Dogma to Dogville. The director's latest, a three-hour political allegory, has fueled controversy world-wide. This is, of course, von Trier's intention, since his ego needs this kind of attention to remain in its bloated state. Nevertheless, although the movie's self-importance causes the project to take on water, it fails to sink it. Dogville isn't for everyone, but there's some intellectually stimulating conversation fodder for those with the patience to navigate the film's rough terrain.

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Prom Night

Prom Night
Sony is releasing Prom Night under their "Screen Gems" imprint. Gems? More like turds. By its nature, the slasher film is not a terribly deep or complicated effort. To be successful, all such a movie needs is a sympathetic victim/protagonist, an implacable killer, a suspenseful buildup, and (most importantly) a cornucopia of blood and gore. The 2008 version of Prom Night misses on all four counts, making it virtually worthless by any measure of the genre. Despite having the same title and a similar premise to a 1980 Jamie Lee Curtis flick (kids getting slaughtered on prom night), this is not a remake. In fact, it really doesn't have much of a plot. It's basically The O.C. with a body count.

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Memoirs of a Geisha

Memoirs of a Geisha
It's a recognized fact that many epic love stories of literature and cinema transpire around or during a war. Consider, for example, Casablanca (World War II), Gone with the Wind (the American Civil War), Dr. Zhivago (the Russian Revolution), and Pearl Harbor (just kidding). Memoirs of a Geisha falls into this category. At its heart, this is a romance that transpires against the background of an ever-changing Japan during the 1930s and 1940s. Although the film is less concerned with the war than with the impact it has upon the characters, much of the final act could not have occurred without the influence of the postwar American occupation of Japan.

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Good Burger

Good Burger
Kenan Thompson and Kel Mitchell, stars of the popular Nickelodeon series All That, confront the ogre of faceless corporate tyranny and have fun doing it in this comedy for young people. Ed (Mitchell) is a teenager who lives for his job at Good Burger, a small but friendly neighborhood hamburger stand, while his buddy Dexter (Thompson) also works there, but lack Ed's single-minded devotion to his job -- he's there because he accidentally destroyed the car of his teacher Mr. Wheat (Sinbad) and has to raise money to pay the damages.

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Brothers at War

Brothers at War
BROTHERS AT WAR is an intimate portrait of an American family during a turbulent time. Jake Rademacher sets out to understand the experience, sacrifice, and motivation of his two brothers serving in Iraq.

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The One

The One
A superhuman criminal named Gabriel YuLaw, once a member of the "Multiverse Authority" (MVA) that polices interdimensional travel (via detecting wormhole openings, which can be predicted like the weather), seeks to hunt down and kill all other variations of himself in alternate universes. By killing all of his other selves, (and thus becoming the last version of himself) and absorbing their life energies into himself, he believes he will become "The One", a godlike being. YuLaw is briefly captured by MVA agents Rodecker (Delroy Lindo) and Evan Funsch (Jason Statham), only for YuLaw to escape from captivity during the final phase of his sentence to life in a penal colony.

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Love and a Bullet

Love and a Bullet
While staking out his next assignment--the innocent girlfriend of his notorious boss--contract killer Malik reflects on the dark path hes chosen but cannot escape. Torn between his sense of duty and his newfound sense of humanity, he finds that the only way out is a perilous showdown with men who are every bit as cold-blooded as he is.

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The Wendell Baker Story

The Wendell Baker Story
Owen, Luke, and Andrew Wilson combine their fraternal filmmaking talents to tell the character-driven tale of a small-time con man who gets a fortuitous shot at redemption while working in a run down retirement community. Wendell Baker (Luke Wilson) is a con man whose large heart betrays his criminal mind. Confident to a fault and consistently cool-headed, Baker is the kind of grifter who's always quick with a comeback and never lets the law get in the way of making a quick buck. When Wendell is busted for selling counterfeit Texas driver's licenses to undocumented Mexican migrant workers, he coasts through his prison sentence with the same unflappable attitude that made him the perfect swindler in the outside world. In order to pass the time behind bars without causing waves, mellow convict Wendell buries his nose in books about hotel management checked out from the prison library. Upon release the optimistic ex-con is distraught to discover his girlfriend Dorren (Eva Mendes) has taken up with a quick-tempered grocer (Will Ferrell) and his former partner Reyes (Jacob Vargas) has been forced into retirement by his law-abiding wife. Looking to put his hotel management know-how to good use and determined to win Doreen back, Wendell soon takes a job at the Shady Grove retirement hotel. Little does Wendell realize that scheming Shady Grove head nurse Neil King (Owen Wilson) has been dabbling in fraudulent Medicare payments and forced labor, and has no qualms about pinning his crimes on the carefree ex-convict. Now, if benevolent knave Wendell has any hope of turning the tables on his unscrupulous nemesis and proving that nice guys don't always finish last, he'll have to enlist the aid of fed-up Shady Grove residents Boyd (Seymour Cassel), Skip (Harry Dean Stanton), and Nasher (Kris Kristofferson), who are all more than willing to strike back at their casually cruel caretaker

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The Dead Outside

The Dead Outside
A neurological pandemic has consumed the population. Drug-resistance has mutated the virus into a ravaging psychological plague, rendering the the dying desperate, paranoid and violent. Two survivors come together on an isolated farmhouse in desperate circumstances- April, a young mysterious girl with a dark past has survived alone for months, and Daniel, a man desperate and bereaved, clings desperately onto hope in the outside world. When a mysterious stranger turns up, they are confronted with a new enemy even deadlier than the one beyond the perimeter.

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Vampire Ecstasy aka The Devil's Plaything

Vampire Ecstasy aka The Devil's Plaything
In this sleasy erotic horror movie, a young pretty virgin, Helga (Marie Fors

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