Paranormal Activity

Paranormal Activity
I'll admit it – I was shaken. Generally, I view most horror films these days with a certain clinical detachment that comes with an overdose of gore and a clockwork metering of shock-tactic thrills – most of them recycled and clichéd. Suspense is often forgone for easy scares at the expense of a jumpy audience. Not so with Paranormal Activity – or not entirely, at the very least.

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The Ruins

The Ruins
More disgusting than scary, “The Ruins” is the latest in a long line of horror films about upper-middle-class travelers being terrorized in unfamiliar environments. It is also, unfortunately, a movie that is nowhere near as original as its monster, a strain of malevolent, seemingly intelligent jungle vine with a taste for human flesh.

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Dirty Shame

Dirty Shame
It can be convincingly argued that John Waters' oeuvre is an acquired taste. If that's the case, I haven't yet acquired it. I view Waters as a pre-adolescent male in a state of arrested development. He is obsessed with what kids snickeringly refer to as "potty humor," and his movies reek of it. Rather than being incisive or challenging, they're merely vulgar and offensive. (And it takes a lot to offend me…) There's nothing in Waters' latest, A Dirty Shame, to rival his most infamous cinematic moment (Divine eating a turd in Pink Flamingos), but there's some pretty gross stuff. The title is apropos.

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All the King's Men

All the King's Men
With remakes the likes of Poseidon, The Pink Panther, and The Wicker Man already dotting 2006's cinematic landscape, why not provide a new take on the 1949 political thriller, All the King's Men? In actuality, writer/director Steven Zaillian claims not to have based this on the earlier movie, preferring instead to return to the original source material. Robert Penn Warren's Pulitzer Prize winning novel All the King's Men is a loosely fictionalized account of the rise and fall of Louisiana governor Huey Long. Regardless of what inspired the screenplay, it's a bad fit. All the King's Men is a patchwork of poor choices and uneven results, the most obvious of which is its pacing. With inappropriate flash-forwards and badly placed flashbacks, All the King's Men lurches unsteadily forward amidst variable performances and impressive cinematography.

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Blood Work

Blood Work
Once, in seemingly another lifetime, the name "Clint Eastwood" was synonymous with Spaghetti Westerns and the Man With No Name. In the '70s and '80s, he was Dirty Harry, the tough cop with a quotable one-liner for seemingly any situation. More recently, Eastwood has softened his image and turned into a one-man movie crew, often producing, directing, and starring in his own films. For the most part, we have come to expect a fairly high level of quality from Eastwood, whether he's an investigative reporter or a space cowboy. Eastwood's latest, an adaptation of Michael Connelly's Blood Work, is a major misstep and a disappointment of significant proportions. It may not be a failure for Eastwood the actor, but it's a big one for Eastwood the director.

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Things We Lost in the Fire

Things We Lost in the Fire
Things We Lost in the Fire represents Danish-born Susanne Bier's first foray into studio-funded American cinema. The transition is seamless - Bier's signature style of simple shots and frequent close-ups remains intact and her choice of material focuses on the interaction between damaged and grieving people. Those who saw Bier's previous feature, After the Wedding, will recognize similar rhythms in this one. (Literal as well as figurative - Bier has "imported" composer Johan Söderqvist with her.) Although the subject matter is serious and the tone is predominantly somber, Bier includes enough moments of subdued levity to keep this movie from falling into the "feel bad" category. Nonetheless, this is not a good choice if you're looking for a lighthearted night at the movies.

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Open Range

Open Range
Whatever his faults as a filmmaker may be, Kevin Costner certainly understands the Western. Although Open Range is not on the same level as Dances with Wolves, it's a respectable effort that is only slightly marred by the unnecessarily protracted denouement. This is a great two-hour motion picture. Unfortunately, it runs 20 minutes longer than that.

Like most recent Westerns (not that there are an abundance to choose from), Open Range belongs to the "revisionist" category, which is to say that it turns some of the Western conventions upside down. In this film, it's pretty clear who the protagonists are, but they're not morally upright gunslingers wearing white hats. They have pasts that haunt them, and aren't beyond killing for a less-than-pure motive like revenge. Also, the centerpiece gunfight is as chaotic, unpleasant, and gritty as anything ever committed to film. This isn't two people facing each other on a deserted street with tumbleweeds blowing around. It's quick, brutal, and bloody.

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High Fidelity

High Fidelity
Even in his early roles, like a supporting part in John Hughes' Sixteen Candles and the male lead in Rob Reiner's delightful The Sure Thing, there was something idiosyncratic about John Cusack's work. Recently, however, this quality has become more pronounced, with eccentric interpretations of characters in Grosse Pointe Blank, This Is My Father (a memorable cameo), Pushing Tin, and Being John Malkovich. One of the things that makes Cusack interesting is that his characters always seem to have overdosed on caffeine. Rob Gordon, the protagonist of High Fidelity, is no exception. If there's such a thing as a prototypical "Cusack character", Rob fits the mold.

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Natural Born Killers

Natural Born Killers
Despite his reputation as one of America's foremost "serious" filmmakers, Oliver Stone's name under the "director" caption does not guarantee a good movie. I learned that lesson while enduring the seemingly-endless tedium of The Doors, and was reminded of it during some of the long, drawn-out portions of JFK. However, nothing that Stone has directed - or misdirected -- prepared me for the grotesque mess that is Natural Born Killers.

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Wonderland

Wonderland
John Holmes and Dawn Schiller

We are first introduced to the underage girlfriend of John Holmes - Dawn Schiller (Kate Bosworth). She is on the streets and is picked up by a holy roller (Carrie Fisher) after she and Holmes break up. She eventually calls Holmes to come and get her. Holmes arrives at the apartment and they have sex and snort cocaine in the bathroom. While in a motel room, Dawn sees a newscast that states four people were murdered at a rowhouse on Wonderland Avenue, the same one she had been to with Holmes before. The story eventually moves onto two city detectives (Ted Levine and Franky G) investigating the crime and their contact with Holmes. Another officer (M.C. Gainey) intervenes with the investigation, himself being a colleague of Holmes.

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End of Days

End of Days
On December 28th, 1999, the citizens of New York City are getting ready for the turn of the millennium. However, the Devil decides to crash the party by coming to the city, inhabiting a mans body, and searching for his chosen bride, a 20-year-old woman named Christine York. If he bears her child between 1100 PM and midnight on New Years Eve, the world will end, and the only hope lies within an atheist ex-cop named Jericho Cane, who no longer believes in God because of the murder of his wife and daughter.

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Every Day

Every Day
A comedy about a New York City couple (Schreiber and Hunt) in romantic crisis.

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Hi-5: Five Alive

Hi-5: Five Alive
Get moving, get grooving and feel great with HI-5 FIVE ALIVE.Take a deep breath and get ready to move cause the gang from Hi-5 bring you their most energetic video ever. Its an action-packed romp through the world of movement, dance and activities. So join Kellie, Kathleen, Charli, Tim and Nathan - and gear up for a high impact imagination workout where..........

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In from the Night

In from the Night
After ten years without contact, Bobby Miller (16) shows up famished, exhausted and nightmare-ridden at would be-author Victoria Vicki Millers home. He ran away from his wicked, selfish mother Priscilla and spineless dad, Vickys brother Rob. Their late dad took Bobby away as a neglected baby to be raised with Vickys sister Ruth, her husband and their kids, until dads death allowed his Bobbys dad Rob to file successfully to regain custody. Soon after, Victoria has to choose between concentrating on her novelist career, aided by brilliant publishing adviser Aiden Byrnes, or help doing the right thing for Bobby, and blood proves strong enough to engage lawyer-friend Ned Alvarez to fight for emancipation. But gaining that doesnt solve everything for the uneducated though bright knave, who soon makes makes dubious punker friends and harbors a dark trauma.

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Love Shack

Love Shack
A dysfunctional family of adult film stars reunites for a memorial porn shoot following the death of legendary producer Mo Saltzman. Along the way, the films hapless director must contend with dueling divas, bickering couples, emotionally-scarred tag-team brothers, and a dominatrix with low self-esteem. Given its all-star cast and lofty pedigree, the film should be the greatest porno of all time.

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Magic Journey to Africa

Magic Journey to Africa
A young girl named Jana takes a magical journey to Africa.

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