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Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief
It's surprising how under-utilized the legends of Greek mythology have been in modern Hollywood movie-making, considering their potential in terms of whiz-bang visual effects and action-adventure histrionics. Yeah, there's the upcoming Clash of the Titans, which if its anything like its namesake will be very liberal when it comes to fidelity to the original myths, and then there was Troy a few years backů which really wasn't doing Homer (or anyone else) any favors. But beyond that, the big screen has been pretty light on the ancient myths lately. 20th Century Fox, however, is hoping to change that with its new kid's-lit fantasy, Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief. But is the new film a golden-egg laying goose, or a Pandora's box full of awfulness?
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Eduardo Sanchez, should his name not ring a bell, is 50% of the success behind The Blair Witch Project. Altered, his second full-length feature, proved to be a tremendous flop (and rightfully so), which left him stranded as a failed talent. At the same time it relieved some of the pressure Sanchez must have felt after the success of Blair Witch. Seventh Moon is his third film, and a reassuring poke in the right direction.
Seventh Moon is based on the Chinese tradition of the Hungry Ghost Month, a familiar subject for those who dabble in the realms of Chinese and HK horror films from time to time. It looks like this tradition is catching on in the West, as They Wait (a Canadian film from 2007) based its story on that same tradition. A somewhat remarkable fact, as Western horror films aren't usually very prone to pick up on Asian influences.
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It's still an open question whether in this day of increased concerns about alcoholism and health you can do a remake of 1981's Arthur, a comedy about a lovable drunk, because the new Arthur, with Russell Brand playing the Dudley Moore role, is a mere burlesque riffing off the old Arthur rather than an actual remake that has reconceived or rethought the original film.
A film like Up makes it clear that Pixar has moved beyond the point where it feels the need to pander to children. Unlike its main animation competitor, Dreamworks, Pixar allows sophisticated themes and ideas to seep into its movies. Everything does not have to be simplified so that a seven-year old can understand what's going on. That's not to say that Pixar films should be seen as family unfriendly art films. Up, for example, includes plenty of jokes that kids will get and several unremarkable action scenes have been included with younger viewers in mind, but there's material of real substance - something increasingly lacking in animated films not tagged with the "Disney" label. Up is not as transcendent as last year's WALL-E, and doesn't rank near the top of Pixar's pantheon of great features, but it's a solid (and in some ways innovative) fantasy adventure that mixes comedy, action, and drama into a satisfying whole that is likely to please all but the most cantankerous curmudgeons.
42 Up is the latest, and perhaps final, installment in Michael Apted's long-running Up series. When the filmmaker began this project in 1964, he came armed with a simple concept: interview 14 British children, all age seven, representing a wide range of classes and backgrounds. Then, every seven years for the remainder of the century, he would seek out those same 14 people and spend a day catching up with them. Those who have seen the other Up movies will recognize that the series really starts to get interesting with 21 Up, the 1978 entry (the two preceding it are fairly "standard" interview documentaries). Each succeeding segment has grown progressively more engrossing as we see Apted's subjects mature before our eyes. 42 Up represents the best of the movies to date.
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An underdog team gets an infusion of outside talent (either a player or a coach) and goes from the bottom to the top, winning the championship in a game whose result is never in doubt. This is the plot of dozens of sports-related motion pictures, including Hoosiers, one of the best basketball films. It is not, however, the plot of Blue Chips, a rare example of an entry into this genre that attempts to be honest and unique.
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Consider this situation: two people approach an intersection from different vantage points. When an accident occurs, they both observe the same facts, yet afterwards their versions of events differ considerably. Neither is lying; rather, it is the subjective rather than the objective element of their account which is unique to each witness. This sort of difference of perspectives (albeit in other circumstances) is one theme explored by writer/director David Mamet in Oleanna.
Pulp (pulp) n. 1. A soft, moist, shapeless mass of matter. 2. A book containing lurid subject matter, and being characteristically printed on rough, unfinished paper.
"The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the inequities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men. Blessed is he who in the name of charity and goodwill shepherds the weak through the valley of darkness, for he is truly his brother's keeper and a finder of lost children. And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who attempt to poison and destroy my brothers. And you will know my name is the Lord when I lay my vengeance upon thee." - Jules' version of Ezekiel 25:17
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Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
Despite arriving during the era when this kind of movie was beginning a slow but inexorable fall from public favor, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid remains one of the best crafted and most beloved of all the Westerns. In addition to launching Robert Redford's career into orbit and polishing Paul Newman's reputation as a leading man, Butch Cassidy also solidified screenwriter William Goldman's position in Hollywood. (Goldman would later claim that, of all the movies he was involved in scripting, he was only fully satisfied with two: The Princess Bride and Butch Cassidy.) Despite early negative reviews from a brigade of curmudgeon critics, the public flooded theaters exhibiting this film, making it one of the most popular tickets of 1969. Butch Cassidy went on to gross nearly $100 million at the box office (an astounding total at that time) and earned seven Academy Award nominations (including Best Picture), of which it won four (Cinematography, Score, Song, and Original Screenplay).
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Rushmore is one of those films that's so inconsequential that its memory threatens to fade away before the end credits have finished rolling. The movie, co-written and directed by Bottle Rocket's Wes Anderson, is meant to be an offbeat comedy/drama about an unusual high school student who underachieves in classes because he spends all of his time on extracurricular activities. Max Fischer (Jason Schwartzman) is universally recognized as a brilliant 15 year-old. That's the reason he was given a full academic scholarship to Rushmore, an elite California prep school. But, when he neglects his studies in favor of starting after-school clubs and producing oddball plays, he finds himself on "sudden death academic probation" - fail one more test and he's gone.
Falang: Behind Bangkok's Smile
Bangkok Girl is a remarkably accomplished, beautifully photographed and intimate debut documentary that puts a human face on the devastating social issue that, sadly, is the fate of too many impoverished girls. The documentary provides a glimpse of Thailands sex tourism told through the experiences of a 19-year-old bar girl named Pla.
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Unable to convince the ruling council of Krypton that their world will destroy itself soon, scientist Jor-El takes drastic measures to preserve the Kryptonian race He sends his infant son Kal-El to Earth. There, gaining great powers under Earths yellow sun, he will become a champion of truth and justice. Raised by the Kents, an elderly farm couple, Clark Kent learns that his abilities must be used for good. The adult Clark travels to Metropolis, where he becomes a mild-mannered reporter for the Daily Planet...and a caped wonder whose amazing feats stun the city Superman! Meanwhile, Lex Luthor, the worlds greatest criminal mind, is plotting the greatest real estate swindle of all time. Cant even the Man of Steel stop this nefarious scheme? HD 1080p PC, Mac, PS3 and XBOX 360 COMPATIBLE
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Dead and Gone
A struggling actor moves his comatose wife to their isolated cabin, where he begins to have disturbing interactions with the unconscious woman.
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It Could Happen to You
Charlie Lang, a New York cop with a heart of gold, wins a share of the lottery. However, the day before, having been caught without enough money to tip waitress (Yvonne), Charlie offers her half the winnings. Charlies wife, Muriel, is the complete opposite of her husband. She wants more and more money, and shes not impressed by Charlies honest and kind nature. As Charlie and Muriel grow apart, Charlie and Yvonne grow together.
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When a drug deal turns into a bloodbath, a junkie-gangster crosses paths with an illegal alien. The illegal alien ends up with the gangsters ID and uses it to create a new successful life as a US citizen. A near death experience causes the gangster to re-evaluate his life, and when he leaves prison three years later, he is clean, sober, and ready to put his life back together. But both men are haunted by their pasts and they are soon set on a collision course that may destroy them and the women they love.
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Misfits of Science
Drs. Hayes and Lincoln are researchers in biological oddities for the Humanidyne company. When they find a man still alive after being frozen for 50 years, their greedy boss fires them and takes the Iceman to use for military experiments. Left without jobs, Hayes and Lincoln decide to get a group of freaks (including a telekinetic 17-year-old and a rock guitarist who shoots lightning from his hands) together to rescue the Iceman and stop their boss reckless experiments.
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