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It may seem like something of an obvious statement to say that every country, every nation, every people has its own cultural view of cinema, but it's a point about which we too rarely remind ourselves. It's the very reason why American genre films, having become too tired or too familiar, so often look overseas for inspiration. Take horror, for example. The American horror story is fueled by a fear of impermanence – that what we've earned and what we love can be taken away in an instant. It stabs at the very heart of our imperialist, by-the-boostraps, 200-year history. It's why ghost stories and serial killer flicks are distinctly American horror experiences. Then we look to Japan – a centuries-old culture with thousands of years of superstition and mythology – to find stories like The Ring or The Grudge, where the patina of ancient curses is collided with the rise of a modern world. Or France, perhaps, traditionally considered a rather passive country, but whose emerging horror tradition has become a venting of ultra-violence.
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After burning down a farmhouse, Kristen (Amber Heard) is institutionalised, but she is far from safe, as a ghost appears to be hunting down her ward-mates and brutally murdering them.
After a string of disappointments (his last decent film being the gleefully-schlocky Sam Neill starrer In The Mouth of Madness), horror genius John Carpenter went back to the drawing board. Or rather, to TV, to Mick Garris' Masters of Horror series, where he proved he can still scare the crap out of us with his best work in ten years, particularly the superb Cigarette Burns episode. So it's only right that he should return to the silver screen where he made his name with low-budget, nerve-racking thrillers and trail-blazing horror.
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I like urban fantasy, a lot. But it appears to be a difficult genre to translate to the silver screen. It seems that creating an elaborate modern fantasy world is just too much trouble for a mere 90 minutes adventure. Ink is one of the rare few that dares to tackle the genre full on, and does a marvelous job at that. All hail to director Winans for taking the leap.
Jane Eyre is like Hamlet: a version arrives every few years without regard to whether a new adaptation is wanted or needed. It's not only a classic, but a staple as well, and many serious directors are itching to put their imprint upon it. The 2011 edition, a workmanlike effort in which the good choices outnumber the mistakes, is neither the best Jane Eyre nor the worst. It's somewhere in the middle of the pack, alongside its immediate cinematic predecessor, Zeffirelli's 1996 production. A better barometer for the necessity of Cary Fukunaga's film, however, might be its less-than-literate box office competition. Applying that consideration, maybe we do need this Jane Eyre after all.
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Be Cool, the belated sequel to 1995's Get Shorty, has moments when we think it's going to work. It occasionally tantalizes with witty dialogue and sharp supporting performances. Alas, those are only teases - the film is priming us for something that never happens. Be Cool lacks both a focus and an edge, making it an amorphous mess. It's not as ugly as some of the films I have endured of late, but that's damning with faint praise. Most disappointed will be fans of the first movie, who are left with something that is less a sequel and more an afterthought.
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49 Up continues Michael Apted's extraordinary Up Series, which began 42 years ago in 1964 with Seven Up and has continued every seven years since. The latest (and hopefully not the last) installment progresses as expected, with updates on the lives of those interview subjects who are still participating. Seeing each new segment of the Up Series is like spending time with old friends. We're interested to see what has happened to them in the past seven years. There's an element of voyeurism to this, but it's more than that. Whether we actually "know" these individuals or not is beside the point; we feel we do, and this enriches the experience of watching the most ambitious documentary project ever committed to celluloid.
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You, Me and Dupree
You, Me and Dupree represents the second high-profile movie of the summer of 2006 to be mis-marketed as a comedy. As with The Break Up, this stars one of the featured actors from last year's surprise hit, Wedding Crashers. However, Owen Wilson isn't able to add more comedic pizzazz to You, Me and Dupree than Vince Vaughn was capable of providing to his anti-romance picture. In actuality, this is a flaccid drama with occasional "humorous" interludes. Unfortunately, most of the humor isn't any more amusing than the serious stuff is dramatic. You, Me and Dupree is a mess of conflicting tones and missed opportunities. The only one to emerge unscathed is Kate Hudson, who exhibits qualities she has rarely shown since her breakthrough role in Almost Famous.
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When I first heard the title of this movie, I thought it was a great ploy to release it around Christmas. Then I realized it was "Tenenbaums", not "Tannenbaums"... so much for that idea. Actually, Touchstone has elected a year-end release because they believe this movie, the third feature from critics' darling Wes Anderson (Rushmore), might have a shot at an Oscar or two. Despite the high profile cast, which features Gene Hackman, Anjelica Huston, Ben Stiller, Gwyneth Paltrow, Owen & Luke Wilson, Danny Glover, and Bill Murray, the movie probably has limited box office potential - it's a little too quirky for mainstream America. But the mercurial Academy may feel differently about the production than the multiplex masses - at least that's the distributor's hope.
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In Good Company
Universal Pictures is touting In Good Company as being "from the producers of About a Boy." While that's a true enough statement, let's not forget that the team of Chris and Paul Weitz were also responsible for the popular American Pie series. Their latest, In Good Company, is more in line with the tamer, PG-13 rated Hugh Grant movie. There are no naked women and the sex/gross-out quotient is way down. In fact, the only ribald moment comes when Dennis Quaid's Dan Foreman expresses his feelings about a surprise birthday party his wife throws for him.
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"Riders" is that rare thing - a bad movie that has nothing at all to recommend it. Oh sure, there are some neat (but unoriginal) stunts, and the people are cute to look at. But that's all. Really.
The film's French tagline - "Bank robbery is an extreme sport" - says where the film is coming from: it's the equivalent of that endless sports channel footage of skaters and snowboarders, but done as a heist movie. Unfortunately, it has about the same attention to character and scenario development as the sports channel footage.
Grace (Diana Glenn), her younger sister Lee (Maeve Dermody), and husband Adam (Andy Rodoreda) are going on the Blackwater Barry tour out into the Mangrove swamps for fishing. After leaving Grace's mother's home, Lee convinces the three to go to a crocodile exhibit. They learn that male crocodiles can grow to massive sizes and are extremely dangerous. Later that day the trio go to a bar where Lee suspects that Grace is pregnant when she refuses having a drink.
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Merlin, Excalibur and all things supernatural are out of this picture, as King Arthur, aged and war-weary is forced to go to battle one last time against the traitor Prince Malagant, whilst in the meantime his new bride Guinevere and new knight Sir Lancelot betray the king in their own way.
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Shayla Stonefeather, a Native American attorney prosecuting a Lakota teen in a controversial murder trial, returns to the reservation to say goodbye to her dying father. After the teen is killed, she hears ghostly voices and sees strange visions that cause her to re-examine beliefs she thought she left behind.
L.E.T.H.A.L. Ladies: Return to Savage Beach
A stolen computer disk contains the location of a hidden tresaure trove. Its up to the sexy ladies of LETHAL (Legion to Ensure Total Harmony and Law) to find the treasure before the bad guys do. Will the forces of evil be able to overcome LETHALs powerful combination of bullets, brains, and boobs?
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Liberty Stands Still
A gunman ties up an actor and locks him in his dressing room just before a performance. He also puts a bomb with a 90-minute timer next to the actor. Then, he goes to a room above an LA plaza and draws a bead on the actors lover, international arms dealer, Liberty Wallace. Calling himself Joe, he calls her cell phone, demonstrates that a rifle is pointed at her, and tells her to cuff herself to a hot-dog cart nearby (the cuffs are there). Over the next 90 minutes, the story unfolds as a result of his daughters death, he wants a public debate on the Second Amendment. As Liberty begins to bond with Joe on the phone, he gets some truths from her - and his revenge.
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L: Change the World
A spin-off of the popular Death Note films, L Change The World focuses on the legendary detective L as he uses his final 23 days to solve crimes all over the world. When a young girl and boy come to him for aid, L is soon faced with what may be his most difficult case yet stopping a group of corrupted scientists from spreading a lethal virus throughout the earth.
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