My Soul to Take

My Soul to Take
Wes Craven is a revered name in the horror industry. One cannot run down a list of the greatest horror films of all time without at least mentioning A Nightmare on Elm Street. But the nasty little secret about Wes Craven is that, apart from that spark of competence, he is one of the most overrated directors of our time. The man has no grasp of performance, storytelling or cinematography and has limped along since A Nightmare on Elm Street traded upon his own name. The only other rays of light in his otherwise bleak filmography are A New Nightmare and Scream. But the appeal of both of those films is how self-aware and referential they are, not only to other, better horror films but, again, Craven’s own work!

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The Da Vinci Code

The Da Vinci Code
CANNES, France, May 17 — It seems you can't open a movie these days without provoking some kind of culture war skirmish, at least in the conflict-hungry media. Recent history — "The Passion of the Christ," "The Chronicles of Narnia" — suggests that such controversy, especially if religion is involved, can be very good business. "The Da Vinci Code," Ron Howard's adaptation of Dan Brown's best-selling primer on how not to write an English sentence, arrives trailing more than its share of theological and historical disputation.

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Under the Same Moon

Under the Same Moon
It would be easy to get hung up on the illegal immigration issue when discussing Under the Same Moon. Indeed, the filmmakers don't make a secret of their feelings about it; they believe the current policy to be repressive and biased. However, there's more to this movie than that, and dwelling on the subject makes it possible for the viewer to lose sight of the film's successful aspect: the effort of a mother and son to be reunited. When all is said and done, that's what Under the Same Moon is about - the love of a woman for her child and the need for that child to search for his mother. There's a universality to this theme - one that crosses borders and trumps positions. As the movie develops, political issues fade into the background as the story focuses on the familial bond and the courage of the nine-year old boy in undertaking a journey that many adults would find daunting.

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Dreamer

Dreamer
While many movies claim to be based on true stories, Dreamer takes it one step further. The film's official name is Dreamer: Inspired by a True Story. The word "inspired" allows a lot of creative license. In fact, very little of what happens in Dreamer bears a relationship to something that happened in real life, so the "true story" part of the equation is a red herring. Ultimately, the question is not whether Dreamer is "true" but whether it's entertaining. The answer to that question likely depends on your age. Dreamer is a kids' movie. It offers the simple black-and-whites of innocence, with no grays to add complexity. From the first frame, you will know not only how the movie is going to end, but roughly the path it's going to take to get there. Children enjoy watching their favorite films repeatedly, since there's comfort in the known. That's what Dreamer offers - the assurance that anything bad that happens to the characters will be temporary and there will be a happily-ever-after, fairytale ending.

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Kids Are All Right

Kids Are All Right
The kids may be all right, but the adults aren't. That's the underlying premise of Lisa Cholodenko's unconventional family drama - a motion picture that uses wry humor and uncommon sensitivity to underscore some of the difficulties inherent in any family, regardless of how unusual the structure may be. However, although many of the ideas and emotions expressed in The Kids Are All Right have universal implications, Cholodenko resists the urge to close things out in an artificially clean manner. When the 104-minute running time has expired, there's a sense of satisfaction that the story has been told, but by no means are all the loose ends neatly knotted. In fact, the untidiness of the ending hints at greater honesty than one might uncover when catharsis is achieved for all characters by squelching ambiguity.

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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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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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Crumb
Upon viewing the completed version of this film, cartoonist Robert Crumb, whose story it tells, informed director Terry Zwigoff, "After I saw it I had to go for a walk in the woods, just to clear my head. I took my favorite hat off, this hat that I've had for 25 years, and I threw it off a cliff. I don't want to be R. Crumb anymore." Considering the material, the reaction is understandable. This is the sort of movie capable of prompting a viewer to question and evaluate a great deal more than the inner workings of a single man. In addition to presenting one of the most compelling filmed documentary character studies of all time, Crumb asks a lot of pointed questions about life and art that no one can possibly answer, least of all the misanthropic genius at the center of the portrait.

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Heavenly Creatures

Heavenly Creatures
"All the best people have bad chests and bone diseases. It's all frightfully romantic."
- Juliet Hulme, Heavenly Creatures

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Mr. 3000

Mr. 3000
Stan Ross (Bernie Mac) was a Milwaukee Brewers baseball star. After recording his 3,000th hit the selfish, narcissistic Ross immediately retired, leaving the team without one of its star players in the middle of the 1995 playoff race. During the next nine years Ross used his nickname as a business tool, owning several profitable properties under the name "Mr. 3000" that made him a rich man.

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Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl

Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl
As Governor Weatherby Swann (Jonathan Pryce) and his 12-year-old daughter, Elizabeth, sail to Port Royal, Jamaica, their vessel encounters a shipwreck with a sole survivor, the young Will Turner (Orlando Bloom). Elizabeth hides a gold medallion that the unconscious Will is wearing, fearing it will identify him as a pirate. She glimpses a ghostly pirate ship, later identified as the Black Pearl.

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Tomboy

Tomboy
Its not just a mans world anymore.

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A Perfect World

A Perfect World
After escaping from a Huntsville prison, convict Butch Haynes and his partner Terry Pugh kidnap a young boy, Philip Perry, and flee across Texas. As they travel together, Butch and Philip discover common bonds and suffer the abuses of the outside Perfect World. In pursuit is Texas Ranger Red Garnett and criminologist Sally Gerber.

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Dumbstruck

Dumbstruck
At the annual Vent Haven Convention in Ft. Mitchell, Kentucky, ventriloquism capital of the world, director Mark Goffman discovers five extraordinary characters straight out of a Christopher Guest mockumentary. But in this delightful, its-all-true documentary, the characters are real, and so are the emotional attachments that they have with their dummies.

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I Can Do Bad All by Myself

I Can Do Bad All by Myself
When Madea catches sixteen-year-old Jennifer and her two younger brothers looting her home, she decides to take matters into her own hands and delivers the young delinquents to the only relative they have their aunt April. A heavy-drinking nightclub singer who lives off of Raymond, her married boyfriend, April wants nothing to do with the kids. But her attitude begins to change when Sandino, a handsome Columbian immigrant looking for work, moves into Aprils basement room. Making amends for his own troubled past, Sandino challenges April to open her heart. And April soon realizes she must make the biggest choice of her life between her old ways with Raymond and the new possibilities of family, faith ... and even true love.

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Nanny McPhee and the Big Bang

Nanny McPhee and the Big Bang
Nanny McPhee (Thompson) arrives to help a harried young mother (Gyllenhaal) who is trying to run the family farm while her husband is away at war, though she uses her magic to teach the womans children and their two spoiled cousins five new lessons.

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