District 9

District 9
In the three weeks since the film's US release, this sci-fi from the team who tried and failed to make Halo (producer Peter Jackson and director Neill Blomkamp) has received rapturous critical acclaim and made a fairly remarkable opening bow at the US box office ($37m in the first weekend).

Now that the flick has almost made its way to British cinema screens (it opens this Friday), we have come to the conclusion the film almost deserves all the praise that came its way.

District 9 may not be the masterpiece some have feted it to be, but is nonetheless a highly admirable film that crackles with wit, invention, imagination and ingenuity.

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The Prestige

The Prestige
"The secret impresses no one," Michael Caine's character reminds his proteges in The Prestige. In other words, you better have something else up your sleeve besides actual "magic" because magic is lousy entertainment. It's cold and impersonal and usually has no dramatic heft. Most magic tricks are performed at a quick pace because the whole thing depends on a moment's misdirection and because if it didn't go by quickly, no one would ever sit for it. Even when it's successful, a magic trick earns nothing but a polite clap. Christopher Nolan should have thought harder about this, because his film has the same deficiencies. All of its energy goes into structure and the concealment of hollow secrets. The film's backbone is an elaborate timeline that moves backwards, splits into two threads and then wobbles forward again, leaving the actors without a leg to stand on. Nolan's much-enjoyed puzzleboard picture Memento had a reason for its structural acrobatics, but The Prestige just wants to challenge the memory and attention of the audience. This isn't a movie, it's a game of Concentration.

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The Combination

The Combination
I have a confession to make. When I first saw the promotional material for The Combination - featuring tough looking gangster kids looking all broody and punchy - I groaned inwardly. My first impression was that it was going to be a film that tried to “turn a mirror on Australian society”, but ended up inducing cultural cringe instead.

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The Lodger

The Lodger
The modern serial killer thriller, as established in 1991 by Jonathan Demme's expert The Silence of the Lambs and then further in 1995 by David Fincher's superb Se7en, has deteriorated into an uninventive collection of familiar tricks, tropes and tiresomely murky cinematography. If regurgitation has become the genre's guiding principle, there are far worse sources to plagiarize than the canon of Alfred Hitchcock, which is more or less what first-time writer-director David Ondaatje does with The Lodger, a modern update of the 1913 Marie Belloc Lowndes-penned mystery that was the basis for Hitch's 1927 silent film The Lodger: A Story of the London Fog. Predictably, the results aren't nearly as inspired when viewed in direct comparison. Worse still, they're also not inspired when viewed through the prism of the past two decades' worth of likeminded cinema (and the network-TV behemoth C.S.I.). Stolidly including every cliché in sight while failing to keep things tense or intriguing, it's a film that deviates not an inch from its rickety template and, consequently, disallows its sturdy cast from maneuvering in ways that might bring some novelty to the cat-and-mouse tale.

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Nine
Nine represents director Rob Marshall's second big-screen musical spectacle. His previous effort, Chicago, won an Oscar; although Nine is likely to win its share of praise, it probably won't come close to achieving the same level of acclaim. Although the production numbers are equally impressive, this film is neither as inspired nor as rousing. Part of the problem may be that there are too many high profile actresses vying for the spotlight and each has to be given her moment to shine. Also, despite following its stage inspiration and bringing structure to Fellini's 8 1/2 (the ultimate source material), Nine still suffers at times from a lack of narrative drive and it doesn't have the surreal, dreamlike quality of 8 1/2 to fall back upon.

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Breach

Breach
No matter how compelling and intriguing a real-life story may be, it doesn't necessarily translate into an equally compelling and intriguing motion picture. Breach is a case in point. Based on the widely publicized case of turncoat FBI agent Robert Hanssen, which dominated headlines in late February 2001, the movie succeeds at being a thriller with few thrills. With an end that is predetermined (and revealed to anyone who might be in the dark in the opening scene, a news clip of John Ashcroft announcing Hanssen's arrest), there's little room for suspense. Billy Ray's chronicling of Hanssen's capture has its high points, but it's a little on the dry side. Thank god for Chris Cooper.

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We Are Marshall

We Are Marshall
We Are Marshall is precisely what one expects from a true sports story: it's uplifting and inspiring. Although the film does not ascend to the pinnacle of its genre (arguably occupied by Hoosiers), it's not too far down the mountain and the added ingredient of a town's grief allows director McG to explore some issues not normally tackled in this sort of motion picture. We Are Marshall stays surprisingly true to the facts, keeping embellishments to the minimum necessary to make the story cinematic. (The opening caption states "This is a true story" not "This is based on a true story" or "This is inspired by a true story.") As feel-good stories go, this is more successful than some of its higher profile multiplex competition.

On November 14, 1970, a chartered plane crashed just short of an airport in West Virginia. On board were 37 players and six coaches from the Marshall Thundering Herd varsity football team, as well as the school's athletic director and various influential supporters. While many individual high-profile athletes have died over the years as a result of plane crashes (Roberto Clemente, Thurman Munson, Payne Stewart…) , the November 1970 incident marks one of the few times when an accident has wiped out an entire organization. (This has happened to several soccer teams as well as the 1961 U.S. Figure Skating team.)

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Miracle

Miracle
February 22, 1980. For hockey fans, that day will be forever remembered. "The Miracle on Ice," as it became commonly known, was to some a battle in the Cold War and to others the greatest upset in sports history. But to those who played in the game, it was validation and an opportunity to move on to win an Olympic gold medal. In the United States, hockey has always been the runt of the major sports litter, trailing football, baseball, and basketball in popularity. But, for a few days in Lake Placid 24 years ago, it was suddenly, briefly bigger than all of its siblings.

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American Buffalo

American Buffalo
It opens with images of a late-night poker game: cards, chips, sweaty palms, concerned faces, and a woman's fingernails. Then, as night turns to day, the camera moves into the streets of New York, and, with the first bit of dialogue, we know we've slipped into the world of David Mamet. No one else writes lines quite like him: profane, staccato, and ending when you think there's more coming. This isn't just a Mamet-scripted movie, either. It's a Mamet-scripted movie based on a Mamet play. Like Glengarry Glen Ross and Oleanna, it's clear that American Buffalo started life on the stage.

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Lion King

Lion King
"Hamlet" meets The Jungle Book - that's what The Lion King is - adding, of course, a few special touches all its own. Disney's 32nd animated feature film is its darkest since The Black Cauldron, and, in many ways, a departure from the light-heartedness of The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, and Aladdin. There are moments of fun and humor, to be sure, but the undercurrent is of a far more serious, "adult" nature.

The Lion King is primarily about guilt and redemption. Simba, a young lion cub and heir to his father's throne, is led to believe that he was the cause of the king's death. The trauma caused by this is so great that Simba goes into exile, attempting to find peace-of-mind through anonymity in the company of a warthog and a meerkat. But it's never that easy to escape the past...

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Love Lies Bleeding

Love Lies Bleeding
Duke (Brian Geraghty) and Amber (Jenna Dewan) are a financially strapped young couple, both working menial jobs to survive, while their gangster neighbors continue to steal Duke and Amber's things. One day Amber gets home and finds the neighbors in the house, stealing a few things. They beat her up and leave. Duke gets home and finds her, and is so angered he goes out and purchases a gun. Meanwhile, a corrupt DEA Agent named Pollen (Christian Slater) is after a cache of dirty money that belongs to him. He tracks it back to the house Duke's neighbors live in and gets there before Duke does. There is a shootout, and Pollen is injured. Duke arrives and finds the aftermath, and the money. Duke takes the money, believing that it will mean a better life for himself and Amber. Pollen tries to stop him, but passes out due to his injuries.

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Laugh Out Loud

Laugh Out Loud
In the 90s, our mobile phones were the size of bricks, our mullets were something we wore with pride and we were glued to some of Australias best comedy. Laugh Out Loud - Classic Comedy features some memorable sketches from news, sport, movies, commercials, music television. See classic send-ups of some of your favourite movies, everything from The Terminator to Jurassic Park or hilarious TV send-ups of 90s classics like Baywatch and 90210 - see them like never before! And dont forget those classic characters. Who could forget Poida or Wee Mary MacGregor? Laugh Out Loud - Classic Comedy features some of the finest comedians this country has ever produced like Eric Bana, Magda Szubanski, Kym Gyngell, Michael Veitch Glenn Robbins and Jane Turner - before Kath Kim. There are even guest appearances from Jimeoin Jamie Durie before he cut his hair - but youll have to keep your eyes peeled! So get ready to sit-back, relax and Laugh Out Loud - with some of your favourite Classic Comedy.

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George Lopez: America's Mexican

George Lopez: America's Mexican
Superstar comedianactor George Lopez, one of the premiercomedic talents in the entertainment industry...

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A Brush with Death

A Brush with Death
Five high school cheerleaders drive out to a rural mansion to spend the weekend. They hear a thirty year-old urban legend about a young boy who killed his family and used their blood in his juvenile artwork. While exploring an old farmhouse on the property they discover that the boy never left his home and has grown into a sick and twisted man.

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The White Buffalo

The White Buffalo
In this strange western version of JAWS, Wild Bill Hickok hunts a white buffalo he has seen in a dream. Hickok moves through a variety of uniquely authentic western locations - dim, filthy, makeshift taverns freezing, slaughterhouse-like frontier towns and beautifully desolate high country - before improbably teaming up with a young Crazy Horse to pursue the creature.

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Cut Off

Cut Off
Cut off by her wealthy father, a young woman talks her boyfriend into robbing a check cashing spot. Things dont quite work out for the couple, however, who are now being pursued by the cops.

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