Black Book

Black Book
Paul Verhoeven is a filmmaker who takes no prisoners. He wants nothing more than to fracture reality through his particularly pulpy cinematic lens and to project this grotesque image in front of as many spectators as possible. He makes no excuses for his excesses and this is one of the reasons why he has been marginalized by much of the mainstream media. They have comfortably divided his career into two convenient phases: on the one hand, he is the Dutch art filmmaker who received worldwide acclaim for his “complex” films such as “Turkish Delight”, “Soldier of Orange” and “The Fourth Man”. On the other, he is the tabloid Hollywood sensationalist who glorified sleazy sex and extreme violence in such films as “RoboCop”, “Total Recall”, “Basic Instinct” and his American albatross, “Showgirls”. The division is merely convenient and nothing more than an illusion. All of the films mentioned, Dutch and American, are the work of a singular, brilliant filmmaker whose work has not changed at all from Holland to Hollywood and back.

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The Express

The Express
Ernie Davis was the first African-American to win the Heisman Trophy. His number is retired by the Cleveland Browns, and he’s a member of the College Football Hall Of Fame. Now, he’s the recipient of his very own aggressively passable biopic. You can go ahead and order those achievements in any way you see fit.

The latest in a long series of black people breaking down barriers in a new field films, The Express is a B-movie barbeque sauce of been-there-done-that retreads. It borrows from and binges on better motion pictures like Remember the Titans; then again, all that clichéd rehashing isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Just because I love a delicately-cooked, rare filet mignon doesn’t mean a bacon cheeseburger from Wendy’s can’t effectively seduce me at one in the morning on a Tuesday.

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Up and Down

Up and Down
Up and Down, from renowned Czech director Jan Hrebejk, is a mix of drama and black comedy, with a fair amount of social commentary stirred in. It targets racism and social injustice while developing characters we gradually come to sympathize with. The story arrives complete with a biting wit and several moments guaranteed to provoke laughter. But, as Variety scribe Eddie Cockrell points out, "Hrebejk wants us to laugh through the tears."

Up and Down tells a number of different stories, most of which connect tangentially. However, although there are at least ten significant characters, the film manages to find its rhythm and tell its tale in less than two hours. (Most ensemble pieces of this sort - Robert Altman's Nashville and Paul Thomas Anderson's Magnolia being prime examples - tend towards the three-hour mark.) Hrebejk also does not force his diverse stories to converge at the climax. Each reaches its own separate, natural conclusion, although editing helps tie things together, at least thematically.

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Must Love Dogs

Must Love Dogs
Must Love Dogs is a product - a pre-packaged, easily-digestible motion picture designed with one particular audience in mind. You know the kind of film. You have seen it before, usually with names like Nancy Myers or Nora & Delia Ephron involved. Those with ovaries have a better chance of appreciating Must Love Dogs than those with testicles. For some members of the latter group, sitting through this will be akin to having those organs trodden upon. Must Love Dogs is bland and forgettable - a romantic comedy with affable characters and some funny lines, but where love never really takes flight. It fizzles when it should sizzle.

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Shaun of the Dead

Shaun of the Dead
Shaun of the Dead is a spoof, but at the same time, it's a semi-serious horror movie. It's also an homage to George Romero's Dead series (Night of the Living Dead, Dawn of the Dead, Day of the Dead) and a societal commentary. Admittedly, with so many choices on the menu, director Edgar Wright cooks some of them better than others. But the bottom line is simple: Shaun of the Dead may not be consistently scary (in fact, it's almost never scary), but it is consistently funny (if you have a slightly warped sense of humor) and never loses its audience.

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Sea Inside

Sea Inside
At the age of 26, Ramon Sampedro misjudged the depth of water he was diving into and broke his neck. For the next 29 years, he lived the life of a quadriplegic - one that he considered not worth living. Despite having lost the use of his body below the neck, he still had a voice and a mind, and he put both of those to use, waging a one-man war for the right to die: his right to die. In one impassioned statement, he wrote the following: "I... think that living is a right, not an obligation. Nevertheless, I have been obligated to tolerate this pitiful situation…" He was a tireless soldier in this battle, but, because of the forces allied against him - religious leaders, conservative activists, and even his own brother - the conflict seemed hopeless. Since he could not accomplish the deed on his own, he needed the help of others. However, the law would prosecute accomplices for aiding him, and Ramon was unwilling to subject another to such a penalty, so he was trapped.

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I Am Sam

I Am Sam
Never trust a serious drama that uses a line from a Dr. Seuss book as its title. I Am Sam (inspired by a line from "Green Eggs and Ham"), despite boasting interesting character relationships, stumbles and falls because of a storyline that consistently overlooks real-life situations when it isn't pandering to the needs of those who want every screenplay to be constructed from cliches. Of course, there's also the problem of overt manipulation - subtlety is not one of this film's hallmarks - but that's to be expected from any motion picture that so obviously wants to be regarded as a tear-jerker.

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Game
Alfred Hitchcock used the term "refrigerator movie" to describe certain films. According to the great director, refrigerator movies are well-paced thrillers that work effectively while being watched, but fall apart upon later examination (while "standing in front of the refrigerator"). David Fincher's The Game is an obvious member of this class of motion pictures. As it's unspooling on screen, the film is hugely entertaining, but there are several significant plot holes that grow wider the more closely they're investigated.

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Fiddler on the Roof

Fiddler on the Roof
Norman Jewison's adaptation of the long-running Broadway musical is set in the Ukranian ghetto village of Anatevka (the film was actually lensed in Yugoslavia). Israeli actor Topol repeats his London stage role as Tevye the milkman, whose equilibrium is constantly being challenged by his poverty, the prejudicial attitudes of non-Jews, and the romantic entanglements of his five daughters. Whenever the weight of the world becomes too much for him, Tevye carries on lengthy conversations with God, who does not answer but is at least more willing to listen than the milkman's remonstrative wife Golde.

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Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle

Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle
The Angels, Dylan, Natalie, and Alex, are hired to locate a set of titanium rings stolen from the Department of Justice that, when put together in a special machine, will display a list of all individuals in the witness protection program. Having discovered that one person on the list has been killed, the Angels investigate the scene and discover evidence suggesting that the killer is a surfer with a scar on one leg.

Having tracked the killer to his next victim - who is subsequently sent to Bosley's house for protection - it is revealed that angel Dylan was once named Helen Zaas and is in the program herself for sending her former boyfriend Seamus - a member of the O'Grady mafia family - to jail.

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Iron Eagle II

Iron Eagle II
Chappy Sinclair is called to gather together a mixed SovietU.S. strike force that will perform a surgical strike on a massively defended nuclear missile site in the Middle East. Chappy finds that getting the Soviet and U.S. Pilots to cooperate is only the most minor of his problems as he discovers someone in the Pentagon is actively sabotaging his mission. As they begin their assault, Chappy finds that a nuclear strike has been ordered should they fail, which will catch his forces on the ground next to ground zero.

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A Passage to India

A Passage to India
Adela Quested, a young Englishwoman, travels to India in the late 1920s to visit her fianc

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Brother's Justice

Brother's Justice
Motivated by Box Office statistics, Dax Shepard has made a decision to leave comedy to pursue his dream of becoming an international Martial Arts action star.

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Jamie's Dream School - Season One

Jamie's Dream School - Season One
Jamies Dream School is a seven-part documentary UK TV series made by Fresh On Productions, first aired on Channel 4. In it, Jamie Oliver tries to get a group of children with fewer than five GCSEs into his Dream School - a school in which lessons are taught by celebrities who are specialists in particular subjects.

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Meet Monica Velour

Meet Monica Velour
When an awkward teen meets his favorite porn star, whose career peaked in the 80s, an unexpected friendship follows as the young man gets a glimpse inside Monica Velours current life as a single mom struggling to make ends meet.

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Maybe Baby

Maybe Baby
Sam and Lucy Bell are a married couple who seem to have it all good looks, successful careers and an enthusiastic love life. The only thing they lack is the one thing they want most - a baby. They try everything in their efforts to reproduce New Age chanting, acupuncture, creative lovemaking... but all this hectic schedule achieves is improvement in their cardiovascular systems. Ovulation charts soon replace spontaneity, when the couple reluctantly deliver themselves into the hands of medical professionals. At the same time, as Sam comes to find his job increasingly unfulfilling, he sets his sights on writing a screenplay, but writers block strikes. Encouraged to look within by his hippie friend Druscilla, Sam is inspired he will write a comedy about a couple trying for a baby! But Lucy is horrified at the idea, and forbids him to tell their story. Sam and Lucys love for each other, the most important thing they both have, will now truly be put to the test...with surprising results.

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