Hardwired

Hardwired
Hardwired kicks off promisingly enough with the depiction of some serious futuristic ad creep (the process whereby advertisements keep popping up in places they have never been before - go read Naomi Klein's No Logo). Trojan corporate logos painted on the Washington monument, MasterCard logos on Mount Rushmore and (perhaps most galling) a Microsoft hologram looming above Stonehenge . . .

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Control

Control
In essence, Control is a standard order biopic of a tormented artist. What makes the film interesting, if not unique, is the style in which director Anton Corbijn has elected to present it. Rather than approaching the picture with the vivid psychedelic hues one might anticipate from a movie taking place in the drug-hazed world of late 1970s rock and roll, Corbijn has turned the clock back literally as well as figuratively and filmed Control in grainy black-and-white. The style makes it easier to represent Manchester as one of the world's most depressing places. The black-and-white not only makes it seem as if Control was made many years ago but gives audiences a dose of grimness of a place where it always seems to be gray and gloomy. (It is said that the climate of Manchester gives rise, at least in part, to the dark nature of the music that has its genesis there.)

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The Last Templar

The Last Templar
Midway through “The Last Templar,” a camel and rider pass right by F.B.I. agent Sean Daley (Scott Foley), who’s been stranded in the middle of a Turkish desert. Man and beast continue ambling toward the horizon without even registering our hero’s presence. While viewing the made-for-TV action/adventure film, I found that I could identify with Sean in that moment: I felt lost, exhausted and like a significant part of the plot had just passed me by and was heading who knows where.

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Marie Antoinette

Marie Antoinette
Three adjectives spring to mind when describing Marie Antoinette: odd, irritating, and tedious. (The last in that list could be replaced by "boring.") This is a movie that never gets to the point, perhaps because it doesn't recognize what the point is. As anyone knows who has spent any time studying 18th century France, Marie-Antoinette's story is an interesting one, provided one concentrates primarily on her post-Revolutionary life. Everything that happens before July 14, 1789 (the day of the storming of the Bastille) is a prologue; the real meat comes after. Unfortunately, for reasons known only to her, Sofia Coppola has chosen to focus on the prologue. What could have been adequately captured in 15-20 minutes of screen time drags on forever and, to further exacerbate matters, both leads are miscast. The film was booed at Cannes before apologists got to work saying it wasn't that bad. The initial reaction is more indicative of the reaction Marie Antoinette deserves.

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Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life

Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life
Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life arrives stillborn, the misbegotten offspring of filmmakers who are so greedy that they probably wouldn't hesitate to plunder a grave or two. I would be tempted to recommend this movie as being entertainment of the "so bad you won't believe your eyes" variety if it wasn't so deadly boring. As impressive as Angelina Jolie's many physical feats may be, it takes even more stamina and fortitude to stay awake during the movie's seemingly endless two-hour running length.

Once more, I feel I must make this plea: please do not throw things at the projectionist or attempt to kill the ushers. All ire should be directed at the men and women at Paramount Pictures.

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This Is England

This Is England
This Is England, the semi-autobiographical tale of writer/director Shaun Meadows, turns back the clock a quarter century and looks at the slow progression of a boy from a lonely outsider to a member of a racist gang. Despite a somewhat rushed ending, the movie does an excellent job not only illustrating how easily hatred can be fostered in the young but chronicling the transformation of skinheads from a reggae-loving nationalistic cult to the military arm of neo-Nazi groups.

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Circle of Friends

Circle of Friends
Circle of Friends is the motion picture equivalent of a dime store romance novel. It has all the requisite elements -- it's a period piece (the bulk of the story takes place in the late 1950s); boasts women with heaving bosoms and a young, virile man; and throws numerous contrived complications in the way of the star-crossed lovers. Frankly, though, if I wanted to watch a soap opera, I'd turn on the TV.

Taking place in a small village in Ireland, where "people have long memories", Circle of Friends starts out as a story of three girlhood companions -- Benny (Minnie Driver), Eve (Geraldine O'Rawe), and Nan (Saffron Burrows). For a short while, this film seems like it might be a pleasant, relaxed examination of friendship, until the trio head off to college in Dublin and meet dashing rugby star Jack Foley (Chris O'Donnell). From that point on, the movie becomes distressingly predictable, with nary a surprise to be found.

Of course, Benny and Jack are attracted to each other, but it takes a while -- and a tearful scene with Benny sitting alone at a dance -- before either is willing to

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Piano
The Piano is about passion, the most basic and primal element of human nature. No matter how thick the veneer of civilization is, or how deeply-buried beneath layers of social repression those latent emotions are, passion ultimately cannot be denied. This is something that the three principals of this movie learn in various, often unpleasant, ways.

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Jude
One hallmark of great cinema is that, even when the story is tragic, a viewer can leave the theater both reflective and satisfied. Jude, Michael Winterbottom's ambitious, big-screen adaptation of Thomas Hardy's heartbreaking classic, Jude the Obscure, fits perfectly into that category. This is a film of tremendous scope and emotional depth that uncovers the soul of a novel and brings it to life on the screen.

In every way that matters, Jude is faithful to its print inspiration. The rhythm of some of the dialogue has been changed to make it sound more natural to contemporary viewers, and a number of minor characters have been deleted, but the story arc is rigorously true to Hardy's vision. One of the great strengths of the novel is that it centers on two believable, sympathetic characters. Jude effectively captures not only their humanity, but their uniqueness, fashioning a delicate rapport between them and the audience.

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Fallen

Fallen
Call it Touched by a Demon. Gregory Hoblit's Fallen is a serial killer movie with an unusual, horrific twist. If marketed properly, this film could have crossover appeal for both those who appreciate supernatural tales like The Prophecy and those who crave grim, dark thrillers like Silence of the Lambs andSeven. In fact, there's even a little Twin Peaks to be found here, albeit with the lion's share of the weirdness distilled out. (Remember BOB?) The biggest failing of Fallen is that, although it's consistently interesting, it's not always as edgy and suspenseful as one might hope.

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Rob Roy

Rob Roy
Ultimately, it's of minor import how much of Rob Roy is based upon historical fact and how much has been embellished by the pen of screenwriter Alan Sharp. As a hero of 18th century Scotland, Robert Roy MacGregor is known to have walked through the mists of the Highlands, living by the code that made his name a legend. This film takes the skeletal myth and builds a real person around those bones. As embodied by Liam Neeson, Rob Roy is a tremendous protagonist -- a naive man whose belief in honor and whose love for a woman, family, and clan make him a figure to cheer for.

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No Man's Land

No Man's Land
Two wounded soldiers, a Bosniak (Čiki, portrayed by Branko Đurić) and a Bosnian Serb (Nino, portrayed by Rene Bitorajac) are caught between their lines in the no man's land, in a struggle for survival. The two soldiers confront each other in a trench, where they wait for dark. They trade insults and even find some common ground. Confounding the situation is another wounded Bosniak soldier (Cera, portrayed by Filip Šovagović) who wakes from unconsciousness. A land mine had been buried beneath him by the Bosnian Serbs; should he make any move, it would be fatal.

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Brother's War

Brother's War
The story is set in the latter days of World War 2, against the backdrop of fierce combat on the eastern front. Brothers War is based on real events. The western Allies push into Germany and the Red Army is fights its way towards Berlin. Churchill is worried about Russias post-war plans for Europe but most not endanger the increasingly threatened alliance between the west and Russian A British military attached to the Red Army discovers a Russian war crime against the Polish government in exile and is seized by Stalins feared intelligence service. He finds unexpected help from an enemy and fellow prisoner a German Captain. They discover a common bond in freemasonry and are bound by honor, oath and secrets. They are joined by Anna, a beautiful Polish nurse cast adrift on the tides of war. The three are pursued by A Ruthless Russian commander through Germany caring a secret that can change the outcome of the world and the fate of millions. Brothers War was produced with strict attention to historic accuracy and military detail and portrays the horrors and heroism of desperate battles. The film also opens the door into the ancient order of the freemasons and presents unmatched insight on the real histories of these men, brothers all, who have fought in every war for hundreds of years.

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DOA: Dead or Alive

DOA: Dead or Alive
The film opens at temple of princess Kasumi (Devon Aoki). Hayabusa informs her of the death of her brother. Not wanting to believe, she leaves the temple and becomes an outcast shinobi. Before leaving she is confronted by Ayane (Natassia Malthe) who states that if Kasumi leaves, she is honor-bound to kill her. Jumping the wall of the temple Kasumi catches a flying shuriken on which the words "You are invited to DOA" appear.

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Battleground aka Skeleton Lake

Battleground aka Skeleton Lake
Skeleton Lakes plot synopsis Six ruthless bank robbers encounter someone far worse. Six bank robbers become stranded in a off the grid forest when their vehicle goes missing during the planning of their escape from the police...

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Murdercycle

Murdercycle
A meteor falls to earth near a secret CIA military hideout and merges with a motorcycle and its rider to create an alien soldier bent on recovering an alien artifact. Military soldiers with the help of a female doctor that can read minds try to figure out what is going on and how to stop it before it kills them. They are also hindered by the CIA agent in charge of the base who refuses to divulge the hideouts secrets which could help them.

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