It's Kind of a Funny Story

It's Kind of a Funny Story
Having spun two uncommonly smart, tough-minded dramas with "Half Nelson" and "Sugar," writing-directing duo Ryan Fleck and Anna Boden make a gently disarming segue into pure comedy with "It's Kind of a Funny Story." Adapting Ned Vizzini's novel about a suicidal teen's five-day stint in a psychiatric ward, the filmmakers fully retain their offbeat sensibility and attentiveness to character while providing perhaps the sharpest showcase yet for Zach Galifianakis' outsized talents. Result is easily their most commercial feature but in no way represents an artistic compromise, suggesting Focus could parlay warm reviews into kind of a decent specialty haul.

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12 Rounds

12 Rounds
Wrestler-turned-actor John Cena is back on the big screen with 12 Rounds, a cat-and-mouse action thriller from Die Hard 2 and Cliffhanger director Renny Harlin. The story follows New Orleans cop Danny Fisher (Cena), an ordinary patrolman whose path fatefully crosses with that of Irish terrorist-robber Miles Jackson (The Wire's Aidan Gillen).

After Danny's pursuit causes Aidan's capture and the loss of his lover, the villain swears revenge. Jump ahead a year: both Danny and his partner Hank (Brian J. White) have made detective after capturing Miles. Quicker than you can "jailbreak," Miles is free and setting his sights on getting even with Danny. Taking Danny's long-suffering girlfriend Molly (Jericho's Ashley Scott) hostage, Miles assigns Danny a series of puzzles and tasks to complete if he's to save her. This cat-and-mouse game will play out over the course of ... wait for it ... 12 rounds.

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Lang zai ji. / The Warrior and The Wolf

Lang zai ji. / The Warrior and The Wolf
Angrily asserting that men are no better than ferocious beasts, doomed to fall prey eventually to their own victims, celebrated Chinese Fifth Generation director Tian Zhuangzhuang launches into a series of metaphors leading to other metaphors and flashbacks within flashbacks with the Warrior and the Wolf, set in ancient times as the Chinese Empire takes on the rebellions tribes at its borders.

Tian is asking even his most faithful followers to work hard here to unravel the unwieldy knots of his story, based on a short piece by Japanese writer Yasushi Inoue but expanded with numerous brutal battles sequences and several torrid sex scenes. The directorís reputation could secure this arthouse and certainly festival play, but critical support is less than assured.

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The Open Road

The Open Road
The Open Road writer-director Mike Meredith must have pictures of Jeff Bridges, Justin Timberlake, Ted Danson, Mary Steenburgen, Harry Dean Stanton, and Lyle Lovett committing horrible crimes against small children or adorable woodland creatures. How else to explain their participation in a sleepy little nothing of a comedy-drama about an estranged father and son learning that itís all about the journey, not the destination, man, during a perversely uneventful road trip? A more likely explanation is that the rest of the cast was eager to work with the great Jeff Bridges, a dependable veteran who brings his trademark laid-back charisma to the role of a legendary retired ballplayer and half-assed father who tries mightily to bond with a petulant son immune to his cornball charm.

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Turtles Forever

Turtles Forever
It becomes ever so obvious that Turtles Forever, as it speeds forth to its climactic battle, is for the fans. Whether it's the bittersweet surprise appearances in the final moments of the movie, the setting for the climactic battle between the Turtles and Shredder, or the plethora of cameos that pop up at one moment in particular that will undoubtedly max out the pause button on many remotes, there is no doubt who the audience is for this movie. While it's so easy for a movie such as Turtles Forever to be nothing more than an excuse for fan cameos and baiting, there is a little more at work here, signifying something bigger. Brining together so many different aspects of these beloved characters, Turtles Forever seems to perfectly encapsulate the past 25 years of the franchise.

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Underworld: Evolution

Underworld: Evolution
While watching Underworld: Evolution, you get the sense that second time director Len Wiseman has no idea what it was that audiences liked so much about his original movie in the first place. Everything that was wrong with Underworld is back, missing are a lot of the things that were right.

Evolution begins shortly after Underworld ends. After a fantastically well done opening in which medieval vampire knights battle a horde of medieval werewolves in a poverty-stricken village, the sequel drifts into a connective credits sequence that catches the audience up on what happened in the last film, just in case unlike me, you didn't re-watch it before seeing this one. So far so good. Wiseman had me hooked.

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Nancy Drew

Nancy Drew
Nancy Drew is an effective translation of the source material, but that's not necessarily a good thing. The popular written series has been a staple for young female readers since the first books were published in the 1930s, and the movie will probably play well to its core niche audience. (As of 2006, there were 175 official Nancy Drew books in publication, plus a number of spin-offs including a popular Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew crossover series.) Unfortunately, for anyone who is not a girl between the ages of seven and 10, Nancy Drew will an unpalatable, dull, and predictable experience. The characters undergo nothing that could be remotely associated with development, the mystery is wafer-thin, and the slight plot is stretched to the breaking point in order to fill out 95 minutes.

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88 Minutes

88 Minutes
It's always a shock when a movie turns out to be this bad. It's an even bigger shock when it features an actor of the caliber and reputation of Al Pacino. 88 Minutes is one of the dumbest thrillers to arrive it theaters in a long time, so it's no surprise that it has been lingering on Columbia's shelves for more than a year. (It came out on DVD in Germany early in 2007.) The screenplay is credited to Gary Scott Thompson, but could have been written by a trained chimpanzee employing a "dial-a-cliché" computer program. Director Jon Avent gets into the general sense of badness by mangling continuity and Pacino does his part by sleepwalking his way through the role. The rest of the actors follow suit.

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Anastasia

Anastasia
Finally, there's a legitimate challenge to Disney. And, while it's unlikely that Twentieth Century Fox's Anastasia will break the Mouse's stranglehold on animated films, it's a good place to start. Anastasia is easily the best non-Disney animated movie in recent memory, and it is good enough to rival such titles as The Lion King and Aladdin. The key is enjoyability and appeal to both adults and children. This degree of magic and energy has been noticeably absent in movies like Pocahontas, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, and Hercules. Maybe with another studio to push them, Disney will get back on track.

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Beowulf & Grendel

Beowulf & Grendel
Beowulf and Grendel takes you into a world of fable and myth, a world where men, larger than life, stride along the border of light and dark, beset by evil dreams and dark vengeance.

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All Hat

All Hat
An ex-con returns to his rural Ontario roots and outwits a corrupt and wealthy thoroughbred owner trying to take over a slew of local farms. Ray Dokes, a charming ex-ballplayer, returns from jail to discover the rural landscape of his childhood transformed by urban development.

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My Name Is Modesty: A Modesty Blaise Adventure

My Name Is Modesty: A Modesty Blaise Adventure
The story of how Modesty got her name. !!! Swedish Subtitles!!!

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When Love Is Not Enough: The Lois Wilson Story

When Love Is Not Enough: The Lois Wilson Story
Lois Wilson was a woman of great inner strength and determination. Together, Lois and Bill Wilson started movements that have helped millions of people around the world. And together, theyve given the world an inspiring love story. The two met and fell in love, then married following Bills returm from WWI. Despite concerns over Bills drinking, Lois believed he was destined for greatness. She believed her love and support would eventually persuade Bill to quit drinking. When he finally attained sobriety, he poured his time and energy into helping other drunks, which led to the founding of Alcoholics Anonymous. Lois felt resentment that her patience and devotion were not acknowledged. When she discovered the wives of other alcoholics experienced the same anger and frustration, Lois learned her own experience could be invaluable in helping families of other problem drinkers. This was the beginning of Al-Anon. Learn more about Bill and Lois Wilson in the DVD, MY NAME IS BILL W.

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Elektra Luxx

Elektra Luxx
Pregnant porn star Elektra Luxx is trying to make a split from the adult film industry by making a living teaching sex classes to housewives. But her life is thrown into disarray when a flight attendant with ties to Elektras past approaches her for a favor. Chaos and hilarity ensue as fiancees, private investigators, a twin sister, best selling authors and even the Virgin Mary force her to face up to an unexpected series of decisions and revelations.

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Jungle 2 Jungle

Jungle 2 Jungle
A New York commodities broker who was married several years ago has been separated from his wife. Now he wants to marry his new girlfriend, so he has to divorce her first. So he goes to Venezuela, and is brought deep into the jungle and told that when they separated she was pregnant and chose not to tell him since he stated he was not really interested in becoming a father. Today, the boy has reached the age where he has to go on a quest, in New York, so his father reluctantly brings him along, and a culture clash follows. The boy has spent all of his life with the tribe he grew up with, and his father has a bit of problem so he cant spent as much as time with his son as his son likes.

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K-9: P.I.

K-9: P.I.
Dooley and his K-9 partner Jerry Lee are ready to retire from the police force. But before he can retire with his pension he must work as a P.I. to find a set of high tech computer chips.

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