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Based on the book The Rite: The Making of a Modern Exorcist by journalist Matt Baglio, the film follows young priest-in-training Michael Kovak (Colin O’Donoghue), who flees a depressing life working at home in his father’s (Rutger Hauer) mortuary business by enrolling in seminary school. However, Michael is not the stalwart man of faith his priest collar would suggest: events of his past have put him at odds with his beliefs, and his theological training has done little to resolve that conflict.
After one seemingly fated moment of divine intervention, Father Matthew (Toby Jones) comes to believe in Michael’s potential to serve God, and so he sends his student off to Rome to enter a new program on exorcism at a school attached to the Vatican.
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It's Kind of a Funny Story
Having spun two uncommonly smart, tough-minded dramas with "Half Nelson" and "Sugar," writing-directing duo Ryan Fleck and Anna Boden make a gently disarming segue into pure comedy with "It's Kind of a Funny Story." Adapting Ned Vizzini's novel about a suicidal teen's five-day stint in a psychiatric ward, the filmmakers fully retain their offbeat sensibility and attentiveness to character while providing perhaps the sharpest showcase yet for Zach Galifianakis' outsized talents. Result is easily their most commercial feature but in no way represents an artistic compromise, suggesting Focus could parlay warm reviews into kind of a decent specialty haul.
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An Italian family drama is as warm and familiar as taking a walk in the sun. It’s something that everyone can appreciate in some capacity and (for the most part) can come home having somewhat benefited from it. Ferzan Ozpetek’s latest offering is no exception, exploring themes of homosexuality and social norms as he’s known to do (2003’s Facing Windows an example). With a fluid and comedic style comes a film that understands its place in Italian society and doesn’t expect any less than complete competency from its audience.
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When the leaves turn from vibrant green to shades of red, yellow, and brown you know that fall along with Halloween is well on it’s way. Some people like to stroll thru the park, others like to carve up their pumpkins and eat their toasted salty seeds. But then there are others like myself who want to go sample some of the spooky haunted houses that are set up for about a month or two of fun.
La princesse de Montpensier
(La Princesse de Montpensier, 2010) In his long career, Bertrand Tavernier has worked as a film publicist, an assistant director to Jean-Pierre Melville and has dabbled in the past and in the future as film settings with an equally deft touch, informed by his tendencies as a cineaste who still quaffs the work of others, but also shows his accomplished craft as a filmmaker in his own right. Among his earlier films is the Jim Thompson adaptation with the lightest touch, 1981′s “Coup de Torchon.”
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With Mystic River, Clint Eastwood has rebounded nicely from the failure of his mediocre previous effort, Blood Work. Absent from the screen but behind the camera for the first time since Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, Eastwood concentrates all of his efforts on producing and directing, and the result is the Hollywood icon's best effort in nearly a decade. The script, written by Brian Helgeland, remains reasonably faithful to Dennis Lehane's novel. This is a powerful tale of crime, guilt, and punishment - a drama that incorporates elements of whodunit mystery/thrillers and police procedurals with a richly textured three-character play.
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Hitch is a pleasant, if slightly overlong, romantic comedy from two men who have forged reputations in the genre. Director Andy Tennant is no stranger to love stories, having previously helmed Fools Rush In, Ever After, and Sweet Home Alabama. And, although Will Smith has had some success as an action hero and a dramatic leading man, he is at his most appealing in this kind of movie, when he makes us laugh and gets the girl.
It requires only four words to describe Earth: glorious photography, annoying narration. Essentially, Earth is a blown up (for the big screen), dumbed-down (for a young audience) version of the spectacular TV mini-series, Planet Earth. There's no question that, given the option, Planet Earth is the way to go. This movie will do in a pinch, however, and it is impressive - provided you find a way to block out the voiceovers. The stentorian tones of James Earl Jones (who provides the narration for the North American release; Patrick Stewart does the honors for the U.K. version) lend a degree of gravitas to the verbiage that the words don't deserve. Disney seems determined to transform an epic of nature into a live-action cartoon.
Santa Clause 3
You get what you expect with The Santa Clause 3. The two previous movies in the franchise have adequately prepared potential viewers for the experience of sitting through the third. The bland sameness of these films disallows the possibility of differentiating between them. They're lazy, live-action cartoons (think of the Rankin-Bass Christmas specials come to life), full of juvenile comedy, overt sentimentality, and holiday good cheer. In short, they're perfect entertainment for five-year olds and sheer torture for the unlucky parent(s) accompanying them to the theater.
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Hunchback of Notre Dame
Out of respect for the stunning visuals and family entertainment value of Disney's 34th animated feature, I can do no less than recommend The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Sadly, however, this is the least-enjoyable animated feature to come from the studio since its 1989 rebirth. The Hunchback of Notre Dame is a notch below last year's Pocahontas, which, in turn, was a drop from the previous year's The Lion King. Apparently, Disney's new wave of animation peaked early; their releases have been in a slow-but-steady decline since the delightful Beauty and the Beast.
Still, all things considered, The Hunchback of Notre Dame isn't bad, it's just a little disappointing. Despite the over-hyped and overexaggerated "darkness" of the production, kids will love it, so a box office success is assured. And those who carefully review the family entertainment competition this summer will rightfully conclude that Hunchback is the surest bet.
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Next Day Air
Smoke weed, not crack, and use FedEx, not "Next Day Air." Such are the lessons of this low-grade entertainment about a bumbling courier who mistakenly delivers a large stash of coke to two bumbling criminals, angering a bumbling drug dealer and yielding predictably dire consequences in an altogether bumbling excuse for an action-comedy.
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"Bobby Scott" (Val Kilmer) is a former Force Recon Master Gunnery Sergeant, acting as a selection cadre member for 1st SFOD-D. While observing a "stress phase" exercise designed to evaluate Delta candidates, Scott meets recruit Curtis (Derek Luke) and Sergeant Jacqueline Black (Tia Texada), an edged-weapons ("knife-fighting") instructor. Sergeant Black and Curtis each demonstrate their competence, and make plain to Scott their ambitions to serve on future missions.
K2: The Ultimate High
Taylor and Harold are good friends and avid climbers. While climbing one day, they meet a man who it seems might be attempting to climb K2, the worlds second-highest peak. Always pushy, Taylor bugs the man for a spot on the team, claiming that he and Harold are good enough. They may be very good, but K2 is a very tough mountain.
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Motive is an edgy thriller that centers around Emery Simms, a highly educated and successful business tycoon who happens to be married to the quintessential wife Constance. Things go dangerously awry when the thrill seeking Emery engages in an adulterous fling with the wildly free-spirited and exotic Allanah. Timing couldnt be any worse when the politics of high society, shady business deals, bad press, and a violent murder collide, they threaten to destroy more than just his shaky marriage. As police probe into his situation, they uncover a labyrinth of deception, agendas and motives, where the stakes are enormous and nothing is what it seems.
My Life as McDull
Surprise winner of the FIPRESCI prize at the 26th Hong Kong International Film Festival (2002). Based on characters from a successful series of comic books by co-creators Alice Mak and Brian Tse, the film is told in voice-over by the mature McDull, a piglet in a world populated by both cute animals and humans. The narrative is constructed from several intertitled set pieces involving McDulls birth, education, and training as would-be Olympian, with excursions to his mothers TV cooking show, the Maldives, and other bits of whimsy. Musical accompaniment is provided by a series of adorably jovial nonsense songs set to ruminatively elegiac classical piano pieces by Schubert and Schumann. The photo-realistically animated cityscapes, saturated with remarkable detail, are dazzling. Whats beautiful in the film, is the depth of creativity the filmmakers joyfully deploy in the play of different kinds of images. As the adult McDulls perspective begins to dominate the narrative, the animation gives way to live action. McDull isnt a piglet at all, but a normal, if somewhat intellectually limited, little boy, whose typically ambitious mother pushes him into fabricating a dream world as compensation for her relentless pressure for success. He uses this world to exercise his own creativity in comfort, but ends up disgruntled by what he terms, in a striking closing monologue, this sordid world, this is not so dreamy, not so funny a world. Thankfully, the film doesnt leave him alone facing disillusionment. Moving from fantasy to reality, from a childhood saturated with freely self-deceiving invention to sober self-recognition, McDulls life is, by extension, Hong Kongs. The film, however, proposes that the task of maturity is to start anew, and to use disappointment as a springboard to a fresh beginning. (Excerpts from the review by Shelly Kraicer). The movie is in Chinese, with optional English or Chinese subtitles.
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