Gran Torino

Gran Torino
Everyone has at least one friend with a racist grandparent. They’ll scream and shout about how the Mexicans are moving into the neighborhood or bitch about the white devils down the street. They’re not out there actively wearing clan hoods or marching in hate demonstrations, but they’re not above dropping the occasional racial slur. Many people tend to excuse racism among the elderly as a product of the way they were raised. “My granny’s from a different time,” your friend will tell you after spending twenty minutes trapped in her kitchen while she blames the Jews for 9/11. “She’s not a hate-monger, she just doesn’t know any better,” your friend will say. Until now, that’s an excuse I’ve never really bought into. But Eastwood makes a rather compelling case for it in his new grandpa gets revenge flick Gran Torino.

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Far Cry

Far Cry
Uwe Boll (which is German for “Appalling Filmmaker”) has made a living over recent years (and has angered a great deal of people) by transforming beloved video game properties into epically awful movies. As a result, the cultural landscape has become tragically cluttered with unwatchable motion pictures such as House of the Dead, BloodRayne, Alone in the Dark and In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale. Boll’s latest video game adaptation-turned-sign-of-the-Apocalypse is 2008’s Far Cry, which was adapted from the PC shooter of the same name. The lush tropical island setting of the game has been replaced with the Pacific Northwest, and silently sneaking through the forest picking off soldiers has been replaced with abysmal dialogue and brainless, unexciting action scenes. Never thought it would happen, but Boll has reached yet another new low. After showing evidence that he may be improving in 1968 Tunnel Rats, Boll’s work is firmly back in the doldrums.

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Girl Next Door

Girl Next Door
The Girl Next Door builds up enough good will during its successful first half that we're willing to forgive some of the strange and disappointing convolutions the plot takes us through during the final 45 minutes. There are two primary reasons why it's not hard to recommend this likeable (albeit raunchy) romantic comedy: director Luke Greenfield and his screenwriters have a genuine feel of what it's like to be a high school outsider, and it's been a long time since there has been as appealing a young couple as Emile Hirsch and Elisha Cuthbert. (He's 18 and she's 21, and they play characters who match their real-life ages.)

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Semi-Pro

Semi-Pro
When it comes to comedy, Will Ferrell is a Jeckyl & Hyde. When he's "on," he can be hilarious, but when he's off, he's like a drunk at a bar yelling loud, unfunny jokes at his equally inebriated buddies. And, while those guys might laugh at him, they're the only ones. Unfortunately, for Semi-Pro, Ferrell is that guy at the bar. This movie struggles for laughs, in part because the writing is lazy with too much of the humor being obvious and easily telegraphed, and in part because Semi-Pro is obsessed with being a sports film rather than merely parodying one. Admittedly, both approaches have been done so often that it's difficult to find a fresh angle, but there would seem to be more unplowed territor in the latter category than the former. Nevertheless, that's not where first-time director Kent Alterman and screenwriter Scot Armstrong take this movie. Instead of a satire, they give us a tired, tedious victory-for-the-underdog story, and the unevenness of Ferrell's comedy makes it less appealing.

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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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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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Can't Hardly Wait

Can't Hardly Wait
With Can't Hardly Wait, I suppose first time directors Deborah Kaplan and Harry Elfont (whose previous credits include writing the script for A Very Brady Sequel) were trying to recapture the mood of a John Hughes '80s teen comedy. Unfortunately, while perhaps aiming for the level of The Breakfast Club and Fast Times at Ridgemont High, they have come a lot closer to the likes of Revenge of the Nerds. Can't Hardly Wait is a painfully predictable account of that ultimate teenage bacchanalia -- the post-graduation party. Yet, instead of bringing intriguing characters with real problems and interesting dialogue to the bash, Kaplan and Elfont take the lazy approach of pulling generic stereotypes off the shelf and throwing them into a formulaic plot that doesn't offer one genuine surprise or meaningful moment.

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Street Revenge

Street Revenge
A law student becomes possessed by the spirit of a gangster who died in 1942 when he was mistaken for the murderer of his sister. He proceeds to exact revenge on the real murderer and the man who killed him.

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Surviving the Game

Surviving the Game
What are Ice-T and F. Murray Abraham doing in the same movie? Remaking The Most Dangerous Game for the umpteenth time, as it turns out. Remade every 10 or so years, this 1932 classic pit a megalomaniacal hunter on a remote island against his quarry of human prey. The basic conflict, with its elements of the chase and the mano-a-mano showdown, must be a natural for the movie screen or so it would seem by the frequency with which we return to it. With last year's Hard Target, and now this, it appears that the frequency quotient of this hunter vs. human hunted narrative form has just been upped.

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In the Cut

In the Cut
Following the gruesome murder of a young woman in her neighborhood, a self-determined woman living in New York City--as if to test the limits of her own safety--propels herself into an impossibly risky sexual liaison. Soon she grows increasingly wary about the motives of every man with whom she has contact--and about her own.

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Dawn of the Dead

Dawn of the Dead
After finishing a long shift as a nurse, Ana (Sarah Polley), returns to her suburban Milwaukee, Wisconsin neighborhood and her husband, Luis (Louis Ferreira). Caught up in a scheduled date night, the two miss an emergency news bulletin on television. The next morning, a neighborhood child enters their bedroom and kills Luis who immediately reanimates as a zombie and attacks Ana. She flees in her car, but eventually crashes and passes out. A montage of news footage (set to Johnny Cash's When the Man Comes Around) depicts zombies overwhelming civilization around the world.

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Hair
This movie, based on the cult Broadway musical of the 60s, tells a story about Claude, a young man from Oklahoma who comes to New York City. There he strikes up a friendship with a group of hippies, led by Berger, and falls in love with Sheila, a girl from a rich family. However, their happiness is short because Claude must go to the Vietnam war.

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Lifted

Lifted
Henry Matthews is an exceptionally talented young RB singer whose happy family life is disrupted when his father, a marine, is re-deployed to Afghanistan. Despite all the obstacles including losing the family home and being forced to move in with his grandfather who hates his music, Henry is inspired to enter a teen singing competition in the hopes of winning and escaping a world that is falling apart.

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Monogamy

Monogamy
The strained relationship of an engaged Brooklyn couple, Theo (Chris Messina) and Nat (Rashida Jones). Theo is bored with his job as a wedding photographer-the generic backgrounds, the artificial posing, the stilted newlyweds-so he develops an unconventional side business, called Gumshoot, a service where clients hire him to stalk them with his camera. Becoming infatuated with one of his clients, a mystery woman who goes by the name Subgirl (Meital Dohan), Theo develops a voyeuristic obsession that forces him to confront uncomfortable truths about himself and his impending marriage.

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Minuteman aka Universal Squadrons

Minuteman aka Universal Squadrons
After returning to civilian life as a Texas rancher, Captain Lance Deakin fends off attacks from former members of his unit as he struggles to uncover the truth of what he did as a soldier in Iraq. The military performed experiments on Lance and his men to turn them into super-soldiers and brainwashed them to remember their top secret missions as the hyper-violent content of a video game called MINUTEMAN. Lance must uncover the truth in time to save the woman he loves.

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Motives

Motives
Motive is an edgy thriller that centers around Emery Simms, a highly educated and successful business tycoon who happens to be married to the quintessential wife Constance. Things go dangerously awry when the thrill seeking Emery engages in an adulterous fling with the wildly free-spirited and exotic Allanah. Timing couldnt be any worse when the politics of high society, shady business deals, bad press, and a violent murder collide, they threaten to destroy more than just his shaky marriage. As police probe into his situation, they uncover a labyrinth of deception, agendas and motives, where the stakes are enormous and nothing is what it seems.

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