The Dark Lurking

The Dark Lurking
That statement may well be true, but The Dark Lurking takes place underground. Beats me what they were thinking, but that's just one of many confusing aspects of this slapdash sci-fi/horror entry. It is a conglomeration of imagery co-opted from better films and one of the most poorly written scripts I've seen in a long while.

Outpost 320, located deep under the surface of an unnamed planet, is a scientific bunker that performs mysterious experiments on human subjects. Something has gone drastically wrong, and bizarre monsters have emerged to massacre most of the people inside. The government has locked the place down and the survivors, along with a rescue team sent down to investigate, must maneuver through level after level of mayhem to have a chance at escape.

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Reservation Road

Reservation Road
It would be interesting to get a psychologist's perspective about why revenge/vigilante (two sides of the same coin) motion pictures are suddenly so popular. From The Brave One to Death Sentence to Before the Devil Knows You're Dead to Reservation Road, they are moving into and out of multiplexes with regularity. Maybe it has something to do with a growing sense in society that criminals are going free and victims aren't getting justice. Perhaps there's a feeling of impotence when it comes to protecting our families and property not only from killers, robbers, and rapists but from terrorists. The revenge film provides the fantasy of control, that one person can make a difference and dole out justice when the system fails. But why is there a sudden preponderance of these movies? Is it just a coincidence or is there something more to it than that?

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Family Stone

Family Stone
It's a tough thing for a dysfunctional-family-at-Christmas movie to avoid doses of melodrama, and it's fair to say that The Family Stone contains its share. But the nice thing about the movie is that it avoids overt manipulation. There's some - it's virtually impossible for a movie of this sort to generate an emotional response without any - but it's kept to a minimum and doesn't come at the viewer like a sledgehammer. Instead of having to sit through a Terms of Endearment scene, we are offered something more tasteful.

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Death Race

Death Race
Whether by coincidence or design, the three week period from August 20 through September 10 has been dominated over the last five years by Jason Statham. In 2004, there was Cellular. In 2005, there was Transporter 2. The 2006 entry was Crank, followed by War in 2007. Now, for 2008, Statham has Death Race, which delivers pretty much what one might expect from a movie of that name: cars and carnage. Statham's films never promise to be something they're not or offer something they don't provide. Death Race is not an exception. Paul W.S. Anderson's (the Alien vs. Predator guy) creation is weak when it comes to things like plot, character, and acting, but it's very good at provoking visceral reactions, and that's largely what the picture's audience will be in multiplexes for.

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Idlewild

Idlewild
For today's audiences, for whom the 1980s are ancient history, how is it possible to generate interest in a Prohibition-era period piece set in the town of Idlewild, Georgia? First-time director Bryan Barber has what he hopes is the answer: gather a cast of dynamic performers and develop a soundtrack that relies not upon blues and jazz standards of the day, but on hip-hop music (not unlike the approach used by Baz Luhrmann in Moulin Rouge). Unfortunately, while Barber has assembled some of these pieces, he has ignored a critical one. His script is a shaky affair - not really the kind of material that provides a solid foundation. It is riddled with clichés and includes a number of jarring transitions. Despite the best efforts of Barber the director, he never quite overcomes the shortcomings of Barber the writer.

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Micmacs

Micmacs
The latest would-be art-house sensation from French auteur Jean-Pierre Jeunet bears the title Micmacs, and has nothing to do with any entrée available at a certain high-profile fast food restaurant. It is, however, an unusual concoction that would have found favor during the '90s, when foreign films of this sort were prized by those seeking something more filling than the fare served by cinema's junk food purveyors, the multiplexes. But can such a film succeed in North America 15 years later?

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Advocate

Advocate
"A few years ago, a friend sent me a book about the prosecution of animals in the Middle Ages... These trials read like modern courtroom dramas. Since the animals were given a full defense counsel and were prosecuted with the whole rigor of the law, it had all the kind of little tricks that lawyers play to get their clients off. What really intrigued me was reading up about [the] people - the renegade priests, the philosophers, the lawyers, people who actually had very modern ideas."
- Leslie Magahey, writer/director of The Advocate

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Minus Man

Minus Man
Hampton Fancher's The Minus Man is a methodical, chilling excursion into the mind of a serial killer. And, like Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer, it seeks to explore, not to exploit. Those on a quest for complete understanding won't find it here. The purpose of The Minus Man is not to answer questions and tie up everything into a neat package. This is a character study, not a psychological profile. Yet, based on everything I have read about serial killers ranging from Jack the Ripper to the Son of Sam, Fancher's portrayal is on target.

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Ready to Wear

Ready to Wear
"[Ready to Wear/Pret-a-Porter] is just a silly little movie, it's not a serious epic. So just enjoy, laugh with it, have a good time. It's no big deal."
- Robert Altman, director of Ready to Wear

One wonders whether Robert Altman arrived at that conclusion before or after the much-anticipated Ready to Wear was complete. Despite some delicious moments, this sluggish, overlong, halfhearted satire feels like a movie that wanted to go somewhere but never got there. With punches pulled and fangs capped, this look at high fashion is not at all what was expected from the director of The Player, one of the most vicious and biting sendups of the last two decades.

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Street Revenge

Street Revenge
A law student becomes possessed by the spirit of a gangster who died in 1942 when he was mistaken for the murderer of his sister. He proceeds to exact revenge on the real murderer and the man who killed him.

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Bad Company

Bad Company
When a CIA agent is killed during a nuclear arms purchase, his partner Oakes, recruits his twin brother, Jake Hayes. Jake had no idea he had a twin brother, let alone that he worked for the CIA. Jake, a.k.a. Michael Turner, has nine days to fill his brothers place. However, the enemy terrorists learn of his secret identity and kidnap his girlfriendfiancee. He has to rescue them and save New York city from an imminent nuclear terrorist act.

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The Darkroom

The Darkroom
A teenage boy befriends an escapee from a mental institution who sees visions of horrible murders being committed.

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Country Blue aka On the Run

Country Blue aka On the Run
Young and in love, she broke the law... the law broke her.

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Cut Off

Cut Off
Cut off by her wealthy father, a young woman talks her boyfriend into robbing a check cashing spot. Things dont quite work out for the couple, however, who are now being pursued by the cops.

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In Search of Mike

In Search of Mike
A mans face is visible in his bubble bath. Hes Brian, thinking back to when he was five and his Chatty Cathy Halloween doll disappeared. The reverie becomes a meditation on his relationship with his mother, an acerbic, unhappy, wickedly profane character, abandoned by the lads father. After dad leaves, mom chain smokes and develops emphysema. At 16, Brian sets out to lose his virginity at his return at 4 a.m., mom confronts him. Once an adult, Brian calls her on rare occasions, and she sometimes calls him. Sons and mothers is it love despite the spite?

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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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