The Silent House

The Silent House
Third act plot twists are a funny thing. They can either completely alter everything you’ve just watched in a manner that’s both satisfying and thought-provoking or, alternatively, systematically destroy the entire experience. Anyone who’s watched an M. Night Shyamalan can testify to the effectiveness of this gimmick, for better or worse. Some directors know precisely how to use it, while others simply employ the device because they think that’s what modern-day movie-goers expect from their post-”Sixth Sense” horror/thrillers. I’m not opposed to such tactics when it fits the style of the movie, but when the twist comes out of absolutely nowhere in a film that doesn’t necessarily require this sort of last-minute revelation, it immediately pulls me out of the movie.

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Human Planet

Human Planet
After missing out on BBC’s “Planet Earth” and “Life” I was ecstatic when I was offered the opportunity to watch their latest nature documentary, “Human Planet,” and in gorgeous Blu-Ray no less. When I received the package I quickly unwrapped it and popped the first disc in my PS3 and sat back to get my documentary on, and I was not disappointed. “Human Planet” is an eight episode documentary narrated by John Hurt (“Hellboy”) that takes viewers around the globe and shows us why we are the most successfully adaptable species on the planet. Where “Planet Earth” was about nature as a habitat, and “Life” was about the wildlife that lives in those habitats, “Human Planet” is about how humans have adapted to those same environments and in some cases created new ones.

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Nativity Story

Nativity Story
There are two ways in which one can consider The Nativity Story. As a piece of religious instruction or an animated version of a crèche, it accomplishes its aims. As a movie, however, it's slow, plodding, and not terribly interesting. There's also an unmistakable whiff of exploitation to be found. Although I'm sure the people directly involved with the making of the movie came to it with the best intentions, one can scent what smells suspiciously like greed coming from the corporate level. (Keep in mind that New Line Cinema is best known for its horror franchises - it owns both Freddy and Jason.) The desire to ride The Passion of the Christ's coattails is understandable - that movie was a bona fide blockbuster. However, The Nativity Story isn't in the same league. It's an uninspired re-telling of a Bible story that every Christian knows by heart.

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Epic Movie

Epic Movie
When did this sort of movie stop being funny? Parodies with so-called "saturation humor" used to be reliable - rarely memorable but typically good for 90 minutes of enjoyable, disposable cinema. At some point, however, the jokes lost their zing, and the writing team of Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer were right in the middle. These two scripted Scary Movie (along with Shawn and Marlon Wayans), which was amusing, and Date Movie, which was anything but that. Epic Movie (with which these two make their directorial debut) is the third entry in the "trilogy" and it fails to reverse the downward spiral. If you thought it was impossible for a film to contain less effective comedy than Date Movie, here's evidence to the contrary.

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Wristcutters: A Love Story

Wristcutters: A Love Story
Is there romance in the afterlife? Does the heart still burn with yearning after it no longer beats? Wristcutters: A Love Story, with a title that easily passes the "truth in advertising" test, would like us to believe so. While the landscape may be reminiscent of a bleak Southern California desertscape with most of the meaningful color desaturated (a cinematographic technique that is becoming clichéd), there are still things to "live" for (so to speak). The slice of the afterlife we're seeing isn't the whole picture, just the part reserved for those who have taken their own lives. Those seeking other compartments of the Great Hereafter must rely on movies such as What Dreams May Come and Corpse Bride, neither of which remotely resembles the low-budget alternative presented here by director Goran Dukic (who is adapting from the short story "Kneller's Happy Campers" by Etgar Keret).

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Mummy Returns

Mummy Returns
The 1999 remake of the horror classic The Mummy surprised Universal Pictures with its box office success. The studio had expected it to be profitable, but not that profitable. However, long before the worldwide gross crept close to $400 million, Universal had already put two additional Mummy films into the hopper, awarding the series the "franchise" label. The Mummy Returns, which re-unites nearly the entire cast from the 1999 movie, is the first of these two productions. The other, a prequel called The Scorpion King, will be released either later this year or next year, depending on how Universal arranges its release schedule.

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Prophet

Prophet
A Prophet (Un prophète in its home tongue) is director Jacques Audiard's gangster-themed twist on the rags-to-riches story. Although it's a genre staple to present the story of an innocent corrupted by the criminal world and rising to a position of power, Audiard adds a unique spin to the tale: his anti-hero, Malik El Djebena (Tahar Rahim), does all this while behind bars. A Prophet is as gripping as any recent film about crime and criminals, although its ill-focused attempts to incorporate elements of the supernatural (prophetic visions and ghostly apparitions) are bizarre and ineffective. The movie was a huge success in its native France, where it dominated the César Awards, and it was one of the five finalists for the 2010 Best Foreign Language Film Oscar.

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Still Walking

Still Walking
Still Walking, the seventh feature from Japanese director Hirokazu Kore-eda, is a sublime experience. By "sublime," I don't mean "boring." Although the events depicted in the film cover the 24-hour span of an ordinary family gathering, there's a subtlety to the evoked emotions that involves the viewer rather than distancing him. The familiarity of the rhythms offer not a sense of banality or tedium, but one of comfort. Kore-eda establishes circumstances that embody a universality of experience. Everything is understated and naturalistic, and he avoids melodrama and false catharsis. As a result, there's comedy of the sort that evolves from the details of everyday life, and a sense of poignancy at the end, when Kore-eda emphasizes one of his recurring themes: the ephemeral nature of existence. The tone is perfect; this is one of those rare films that, despite being rooted firmly in the world around us, is utterly absorbing and capable of reducing the immediacies of life into abstract thoughts in the back of one's mind.

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One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
Arguably, some of the issues addressed by One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest are not as relevant in 2006 as they were in the mid-1970s, but that realization in no way diminishes the film's dramatic impact. This was the second English language film for Czech-born filmmaker Milos Forman, who would go on to win two Oscars (one for this movie and one for Amadeus), and was the picture that catapulted him onto the A-list for directors. The negative aspects of mental health care impugned by One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest are largely no longer in place today (electroconvulsive therapy is rarely used, frontal lobotomies are not performed), but the film's other themes are germane. On the surface, the movie is about the struggle of wills between patient R.P. McMurphy (Jack Nicholson) and Nurse Ratched (Louise Fletcher). Beneath the surface, it's about the attempts of an autocratic force to squash the individual.

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The Man

The Man
A man named Andy Fiddler (Eugene Levy) is in his bathroom, preparing a speech. He works for a dental supply company, and lives in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He will soon be giving a speech to investors in Detroit, and is very nervous.

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Already Dead

Already Dead
When Thomas Archers happy successful life is all but ruined following a horrific attack he is presented with a perfect opportunity to exact physical revenge upon the man who caused all his grief. However the immediate consequences of his actions and inactions are much more complicated than he imagined. Who will survive ?

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The Curiosity of Chance

The Curiosity of Chance
In Europe in the 1980s, flamboyant and gay 16-year-old Chance Marquis (Tad Hilgenbrink) shows up at an international high school in a top hat and tails, immediately attracting the attention of the "queer-hating" resident bully, among others. Through his involvement in the school newspaper, he meets an introverted photographer with a mysterious briefcase, and while practicing tennis, he befriends a catty fashionista, both of whom act as his wingmen in his new high school. He also meets the jock-next-door, with whom he forms a tentative friendship, despite the jock's cacophonous group of friends. The film follows Chance through a year of high school, with its attendant drama, successes, and hijinks—including sneaking into a drag bar, where Chance begins to explore his true self.

Themes underscored throughout the movie include facing your fears as you grow into adulthood, and the barriers that people put up in order to cope with life. Chance claims to be strong with his nonchalant attitude, but when photos of him in drag show up all over school, Chance must face his own preachings of staying true to yourself.

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Dial: Help

Dial: Help
A psychic finds herself tapping into the energy of a deceased phone operator. She also finds that her friends soon begin dying mysteriously. An investigator determines to track down the cause.

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Green Eyed Monster

Green Eyed Monster
David convinces his friends that there is money-for-the-taking buried at his uncles Ranch and that he can lead them to it. His cousin Ashley warns them that the place has a grim history, but the promise of riches is all too enticing. In trying to find the money, they uncover something buried within us all and one by one they mysteriously disappear.

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Danny Bhoy: Live at Sydney Opera House

Danny Bhoy: Live at Sydney Opera House
Danny Bhoy recently spent six months touring Australia and New Zealand and charmed the sell-out crowds with his effortless talent for storytelling and mischievous wit. As his popularity continues to grow internationally (Bhoy recently toured India), it was inevitable that a DVD recording of his sell-out show was on the horizon and thankfully this anticipated DVD release from Madman Laughs does not disappoint.The shows at the Sydney Opera House would mark the final leg of the Australian tour for the comedian, and as such all he has learned and observed about Australia is the main subject of the show. From confessing to his love of watching Parliament Question Time, to recalling his shocking discovery of just who is Humphrey B. Bear and detailing his eventful night in a Brisbane bar at closing time, Bhoy appears in command of the prestigious stage. Amongst the observational humour there is also Bhoys classic routines about the different Breakfast cuisines, his admiration of Scottish culture and the religious joke which resulted in a death threat.

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Laure
At an institute in Manila, researchers and eco-tourists trade stories about the Mara tribe, who live on a remote island and have an annual festival of rebirth in which some of the tribe forget who they are and begin again. Laure is the daughter of the institutes director shes a free spirit who has captured the fancy of Nicola, a European photographer. After a courtship in which the voyeuristic Nick indulges Laures exhibitionism and sexual freedom, they set off for Mara land with Gualtier, an anthropologist, and his philosophical lover, Myrte. As they approach the Mara on the night of rebirth, who of the group will actually join the tribe to begin life anew?

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