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The Pagan Queen
A controversial film about the end of the old pagan world in central Europe, THE PAGAN QUEEN is based on the Czech legend of Libuse, the Slavic queen of 8th century Bohemia. Gifted with supernatural powers, a visionary and a seer, this extraordinary woman was able to see the future and in a turbulent time of cultural change founded the modern city of Prague. Libuse ruled as a woman over the tribes of the region with her two beautiful sisters Kazi and Teta and an army of women under the command of her best friend, the Amazon Vlasta. When the peaceful community of farmers is under attack by raiders and split into different parties of power hungry landowners, Libuse is forced into marriage by her own people.
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In Drillbit Taylor, a failing-grade comedy about the wishful triumph of high school dorks over high school bullies, the star victims — a fat, mouthy clown; a skinny, precocious geek; and a shrimpy, flouncy nerd — decide to hire some protection from their two most persistent tormentors. The budget-conscious clients settle on Drillbit (Owen Wilson) as a bodyguard. They don't know, as the audience does, that the nicknamed scammer is actually a homeless Army deserter who squats near the Santa Monica shoreline, panhandles on the freeway off-ramp, and hangs with a like-minded fraternity of cynical bums in the SoCal sunshine. (The sunshine explains Drillbit's most excellent blond hair and even tan.) Nevertheless, the adult shirker goes on to inspire self-confidence in his charges, the kids bring about redemption for their unreliable guardian, and there's even time for a little bonus smoochiness between Drillbit and a smitten fellow educator (Leslie Mann) at the boys' high school because, did I forget to mention, at one point Drillbit passes himself off as a substitute teacher, unchallenged by the principal (Stephen Root), who, in the great comedy tradition of school principals, is a tool.
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The Eleventh Hour
If you can forgive John Lyde and Matthew Reese their lack of resources, then “The Eleventh Hour” is not a bad way to spend 90 minutes. It’s actually a very good action film, and had the duo been in possession of, say, 10% of your average Hollywood budget, they could have produced something special. Alas, the (lack of) budget is a major source of constraint for the duo, and so instead of a globe-hopping thriller about an ex-Navy SEAL who returns home shattered and broken, only to have his past come back to grab him by the throat and send him off on an assassination run, we instead have a film set in an unnamed Midwestern town where, it would appear, running gunfights that last the better part of the day don’t get reported.
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Ask the Dust
For Ask the Dust, director Robert Towne, adapting the novel by John Fante, has returned to the time and place of his greatest cinematic endeavor: Los Angeles in the 1930s. The setting, however, is the only similarity between Ask the Dust and Chinatown (which Towne wrote for director Roman Polanski). Despite a "noir" feel to the proceedings, this picture is a love story. There are other things going on, some of which get short shrift in the screenplay, but at the center of the narrative are a man and a woman who are destined for each other. Take away the graphic nudity (full-frontal shots of both stars) and one could almost consider Ask the Dust to be old-fashioned movie making.
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Prepare to feel really old—Uma Thurman is playing a “Mrs. Robinson” character. While not yet middle-aged, she is considerably more mature than her would-be suitor. She is not exactly trying to seduce him, either. She is too busy trying to get married in writer-director Max Winkler’s Ceremony, which opens this Friday in New York.
Just because Sam Davis writes wish-fulfillment children’s book to make his meager living does not necessarily mean he is a mild state of arrested development. That just happens to be true in his case as well. During a rough patch with her fiancé, the tall, 30-something Zoe moved back to the City and had a fling with Davis. After she returned to her soon-to-be husband’s Long Island estate, Davis started writing to her. She made the huge mistake of replying.
Five minutes into The Wedding Planner, I suspected the film was in trouble. Ten minutes later, I knew it was in trouble. There's only one thing that can sink a movie so fast - bad writing. Even excruciating acting takes longer. Romantic comedies shouldn't be difficult to make, since all but the very best of them follow a tried-and-true formula. All that is required is to get a pair of likable, attractive leads and plop them down in the midst of a narrative that allows them to generate some romantic friction before being split apart by complications then brought back together at the end. Yet, despite having a clear roadmap to use for navigation, director Adam Shankman and his co-conspirators, screenwriters Pamela Falk & Michael Ellis, manage to screw things up. The end result is occasionally so inept and embarrassing that it's almost physically painful to sit through.
On the surface, the selection of actress/singer Jennifer Lopez and one-time heartthrob Matthew McConaughey seems to be good casting. In the past, both have had some success with romantic pairings (Lopez opposite George Clooney in the steamy thriller Out of Sight and McConaughey opposite Jenna Elfman in EdTV), so it's reasonable to expect them to strike a few sparks. Unfortunately, although Lopez is competent, McConaughey looks lost. A city slicker with two sticks would have a better chance of generating heat than these two. The chemistry so crucial to the success of any screen romance is absent. But the central flaw isn't the actors, or even the film's generic premise - it's the script. The Wedding Planner is a perfect example of what happens when the appeal of the two leads cannot overcome the obstacle presented by an irredeemably stupid screenplay.
Mary Fiore (Lopez) is one of the best wedding planners in the state of California. Whenever anyone needs to arrange a lavish wedding, they come to her. Despite her profession, however, she leads an unromantic life, using the motto, "those who can't wed, plan". Things change for her one afternoon when she is saved from being stuck by a runaway garbage dumpster by a handsome doctor named Steve Edison (McConaughey). The two spend a romantic evening together and Mary thinks she may have found Mr. Right - until Steve turns out to be the fiancé of her latest client, Fran Donolly (Bridgette Wilson-Sampras). But, as the planning of the wedding becomes more involved, Mary and Steve's attraction represents a growing impediment.
When I watch a romantic comedy, I do not demand a great deal in the way of originality or inventiveness. This is, after all, a highly derivative genre in which the unexpected is often frowned upon. Romantic tension, not narrative tension, should be the director's goal. However, I do require that the primary characteristics of the characters not be evidence of frontal lobotomies. Throughout The Wedding Planner, people consistently do and say stupid things. It's an epidemic, and no one is spared the ruthless butchering of the screenwriters' witless pens. So Jennifer Lopez gets to crawl around on her knees to avoid an old flame and Matthew McConaughey if offered the opportunity to see what it's like to have a statue's stone genitals crazy glued to his hand. Can comedy get any funnier than that? Meanwhile, the dialogue features more platitudes than can be found in a rack of Hallmark greeting cards. When characters are this dumb, it's impossible to care about their fates; consequently, we have no investment in Mary and Steve's eventual and inevitable union.
Typically, no matter how uninspired a romantic comedy may be, it has the capacity to generate a moment's bliss when the two lovers finally set aside their differences and come together. Not here, though. The Wedding Planner can't even offer such a basic payoff, and that makes the chore of watching it completely thankless. Even the superficial pleasure of gazing at Lopez and McConaughey can't justify this film's existence.
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The Express is the latest movie to join an ever-expanding subgenre of the "sports movie" category: fact-based films that explore the impacts of integration into various contests during the latter half of the 20th century. We have already seen productions like Remember the Titans , Glory Road, Pride, and The Great Debaters approach the subject matter in ways not dissimilar to those found in The Express. Although this film is more about an individual than a team, it emphasizes the difficulties encountered by early athletes of color as they broke barriers and blazed trails. (It's interesting that the best-known representative of this group, Jackie Robinson, only has a 1950 B-movie to tell his story, although there is a new project on the drawing boards.)
Lords of Dogtown
Watching Lords of Dogtown, I momentarily became nostalgic for the summer of 1977, when I would ride my skateboard down my inclined driveway, then see if I could make the sharp turn onto the sidewalk without wiping out. But nostalgia is hardly a reason to recommend a movie. A narrative re-telling of events previously chronicled in the documentary Dogtown and the Z-Boys (which was directed by the writer of this film, original Z-boy Stacy Peralta), Lords of Dogtown will have limited interest for those who exist outside of the skateboarding community.
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The Princess & the Marine
Based on a true story, American Marine Jason Johnson (Goselaar) is sent on assignment to the Emirate of Bahrain. While there, he meets and falls in love with a spirited, lovely young woman, Meriam (Nichols), without realizing she is really a member of the Bahraini Royal Family.
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On the front lines of Americas drug war, one family is living in the crossfire.
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The film opens with Mr. McFarland (Timothy Bottoms) driving erratically down a residential street on the way to drop off his son, John (John Robinson). John notices damage to the car and realizes that his father is drunk, so John instructs him to move to the passenger seat and let him drive.
The camera then follows students as they walk down the hallways, talk to friends, and go to class. Many characters are shown in long tracking shots that do not turn away. Alex (Alex Frost) and Eric (Eric Deulen) are shown being bullied at school by the so-called jocks, one of whom diverts a teacher and then throws a spitball at Alex during science class. Later, Alex and Eric are shown at home ordering weapons from a website and receiving a rifle in the mail. While Alex is taking a shower, Eric gets in with him. He claims that he has never kissed anyone before, and the two kiss. The two are later shown formulating an attack plan. The next day, Alex and Eric prepare for the shooting, then make their way to school in silence in Alex's car.
In 1947, noted Satanist Aleister Crowley dies. In Cambridge, 43 years later, with the help of a computer, Crowleys spirit takes over the body of Haddo, a mild-mannered, stuttering don. Over four days, as Crowley prepares for an occult extravaganza, bodies pile up, Crowleys elect engage in rites of passage, and Lia, a red-headed campus reporter, sniffs out a story that puts her in grave danger. Mathers, a scientist recently arrived from Cal Tech, may hold the key to her destiny.
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Jessica Riggs (Rebecca Harrell), an 8-year-old girl whose mother recently died from a fatal illness, is being raised with her older brother Steve (John Duda) by their father John (Sam Elliott), whose farm has fallen on hard times. She loves everything to do with Christmas and listens to annual records all year. She continues to remember her mother, and comforts herself with the thought that she is in heaven. John is being temporarily helped with the kids by his sister-in-law Sarah (Rutanya Alda).
King of the Streets
Rey is a small time drug dealer waiting for a chance to make it in a big way. He is in love with a prostitute, together they share their ups and downs expecting to one day get out of their miserable lives. They continue to struggle until one day they come across an opportunity of a lifetime.
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After leaving the prison, the dwarf criminal Calvin Sims joins to his moron brother Percy to steal an expensive huge diamond in a jewelry for the mobster Walken. They are chased by the police, and Calvin hides the stone in the purse of the executive Vanessa Edwards, whose husband Darryl Edwards wants to have a baby. Percy convinces Calvin to dress like a baby and be left in front of the Edwardss house to get inside the house and retrieve the diamond. Darryl and Vanessa keep Calvin for the weekend and decide to adopt him, while Walken threatens Darryl to get the stone back.
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Man of the West
On his way to hire a schoolteacher, a homesteader is left a hundred miles from anywhere when the train he is on is robbed. With him are an attractive dancehall girl and an untrustworthy gambler and he decides to get shelter nearby from outlaw relatives he used to run with. They dont trust him and he loathes them but they decide he can help them with one last bank job.
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