Finding Amanda

Finding Amanda
Oh boy. Let me preface this review by saying that I truly go into all films (festival or otherwise) hoping to love what I see on the big screen. During the movie, I will always try my damnedest to find something worthwhile; something positive to say afterwards. But then you get to a film like Finding Amanda and there's really nowhere to go. Aside from a few cute one-liners, this film was a complete disaster -- to the point where I would strongly advise the creators not to screen this anywhere else until more work was done to it. I hate to be that guy, and I seriously have nothing against the filmmakers, but watching this flick felt like slowing down to check out an accident on the freeway. At first, it doesn't look so bad ... but then you get up close and everything is completely demolished.

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Shutter

Shutter
I think I could forgive the endless remaking J-horror flicks if any of them were made decently. Genre fans keep telling me how “this movie” is so good and the remake has a lot of potential. Few of them live up to that potential. Even with decent acting and an interesting, if not overdone, concept, Shutter is another remake that fails to live up to what I’ve heard about the original, and has a good chance of leaving the audience yawning throughout.

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Kill Me Please

Kill Me Please
Dr Kruger is a medical pioneer who seeks to break the taboo surrounding suicide. His government funded clinic exists to ensure that suicide is no longer a tragedy but a medically assisted way out for those whose lives have become unbearable. By studying his suicidal patients, Kruger hopes to understand the self-destructive impulse so that he can develop a medical treatment that will overcome it. The one thing he has not allowed for in his prescribed perfect suicide is that no one controls the impulse to die except death itself...

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Made in Dagenham

Made in Dagenham
Made in Dagenham is a fact-based "social conscience film," meaning that it explores an historical struggle against a societal ill. In this case, it's gender inequality - unequal pay for equal work. By chronicling one of the key events that led to the U.K.'s landmark 1970 Equal Pay Act, director Nigel Cole is able to reflect on how different the work environment was as recently as a generation ago. In 2010, it's hard to imagine anyone taking a stance against equal pay for men and women. Despite that, however, the United States has not yet achieved parity. So, although Made in Dagenham may seem like a history lesson with little contemporary relevance, that's not precisely true. The playing field has not been as leveled as we might like to believe.

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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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Kings and Queen

Kings and Queen
Kings and Queen, the 2004 film by French director Arnaud Desplechin, is wending its way slowly across North America, making its way into select art houses. The movie is quintessentially French, focusing on drama instead of melodrama and character instead of plot. The action here is internalized - quite a refreshing change from the brainless excess of too many teen-oriented summer blockbusters. That's not to say Kings and Queen is a perfect movie. Its length is a drawback - some scenes run too long and others have no obvious reason for inclusion beyond adding a little color. Kings and Queen is at times compelling, at times devastating, and at times long-winded.

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Layer Cake

Layer Cake
Layer Cake is the latest in the recent cluster of British gangster/caper films begun by Guy Ritchie's Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels. Matthew Vaughn, the director and co-producer of Layer Cake, held the producing credit for Lock and Ritchie's follow-up, Snatch. As such, it's no surprise that Layer Cake borrows aspects of the "feel" of those films. There's the same morbid sense of black humor, although Layer Cake is more character driven and less gruesome than the earlier productions. And, for pure shock value, it contains a "didn't see that one coming" moment unlike anything in either of Ritchie's ventures into this genre.

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Tsotsi

Tsotsi
When a director can take a reprehensible monster and, over the course of a scant 90 minutes, turn audience reaction from distaste to sympathy, that's the mark of an adept filmmaker. This occurs in Tsotsi, an emotionally honest tale of redemption that never forgets there are consequences for bad acts, even when those acts are committed before the arrival of salvation. The film uses a degree of manipulation to make its point, but it is refreshingly light on sentimentality. While aspects of Tsotsi don't ring true, we are nevertheless left with an affecting character study that offers jolts to the system.

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The Center of the World

The Center of the World
A couple checks into a suite in Las Vegas. In flashbacks we see that he's a computer whiz on the verge of becoming a dot.com millionaire (Peter Sarsgaard), she's a lap dancer at a club (Molly Parker). He's depressed, withdrawing from work, missing meetings with investors. He wants a connection, so he offers her $10,000 to spend three nights with him in Vegas, and she accepts with conditions: four hours per night of erotic play, and no penetration. During the days in Vegas, they get to know each other, have fun, meet a friend of hers, casino dealer Jerri (Carla Gugino); at night, at least after the first night, things seem to get complicated. When the three days are over, the stripper makes it clear that she was only there for the money and that the man she spent the time with was just a client. Upset that the feelings he had weren't mutual he then violently rapes her. She then masturbates for him to achieve orgasm. The next day he returns home heartbroken. The movie ends with his return to the strip club to see the woman he fell in love with again. She greets him fondly and says that she is glad to see him again. Because the movie is shown in a non-linear format, it is left to the viewer's interpretation of when this event occurred.

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Blood Crime

Blood Crime
For burned-out Seattle cop Daniel Pruitt, a camping trip turns hellish when his wife, Jessica, is savagely attacked in the forest. En route to the hospital, the Pruitts collide with a semi, and Jessica identifies the driver as her assailant. Enraged, Pruitt pummels the man. Once at the ER, however, she changes her mind and names a male nurse as her attacker. But before Pruitt can make amends, he learns that his victim, the son of Sheriff Morgan McKenna, is dead.

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Permanent Midnight

Permanent Midnight
Comedy writer Jerry Stahl (Ben Stiller), whose 6000-a-week heroin habit had him taking his infant daughter along on his drug runs and doing smack during TV script conferences. Departing detox, Stahl explores memories with survivor Kitty, who listens patiently to Stahls flashback. Other women in Stahls life are his British wife Sandra (Elizabeth Hurley) and his agent Vola. For the TV series Mr. Chompers (inspired by ALF), Stahl meets with sitcom exec Craig Ziffer and puppeteer Allen. For freaky freebasing, Stahl hangs with mumbler Nicky and druggie Gus.

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Wild at Heart

Wild at Heart
Sailor and Lula are two rebelious kids. Lulas mother hates Sailor, and pays a man to attack him. Sailor kills the attacker, and ends up in jail. Lula waits for him to be released, teams up with him, and they both cross the country trying to stay one step ahead of the mother...

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A Safe Place

A Safe Place
A young woman named Noah lives alone in New York. She is a disturbed flower child, who retreats into her past, yearning for lost innocence. She recalls her childhood, searching for a safe place. As a child she met a magician in Central Park who presented her with magical objects a levitating silver ball, a star ring, and a Noahs ark. She is romantically involved with two totally different men. Fred is practical but dull. Mitch is dynamic and sexy, her ideal fantasy partner. Neither man is able to totally fulfill her needs.

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Avalanche

Avalanche
The vacationers at a winter wonderland struggle to survive after an avalanche of snow crashes into their ski resort. Their holiday then turns into a game of survival.

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Mother Night

Mother Night
Howard W. Campbell, Jr., an American expatriate playwright, Nazi radio propagandist, and Allied spy, writes his memoirs during his pre-trial confinement in 1961 Haifa and learns that people are what they pretend to be.

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Memoirs of an Invisible Man

Memoirs of an Invisible Man
Nick Halloway is accidentally made invisible during an accident. When Jenkins finds out about Nick, he set out to recruit him into the world of espionage, seeing the potential for an invisible CIA agent. When Alice Monroe falls in love with Nick, they are forced to flee the attentions of Jenkins. Nick also has the problem of living invisibly whilst trying to find a cure.

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