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Youth in Revolt
Based on the popular book by C. D. Payne, Youth in Revolt is awkwardly charming and subtly subversive, much like its young star, Michael Cera. In the dual role of Nick Twisp and his mischievous, imaginary alter ego Francois, Cera manages to expand on his usual on-screen persona – the sensitive, lovesick teen who finds himself out of his depth. Cera and his co-star, newcomer Portia Doubleday, are the best things about the film, which pushes the boundaries of the kinds of transgressions a protagonist can commit without losing the audience's sympathy.
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Law Abiding Citizen
Law Abiding Citizen is, for all intents and purposes, a cinematic pot-boiler – the equivalent of a James Patterson beach-read – literate enough to be smarter than one might expect, but seldom about anything greater than pure, unabashed entertainment. After all, the recipe is simple. Take two big personalities, put them on opposing sides of a conflict, add a dash of quasi-mystery that's neither brilliantly crafted nor entirely insubstantial, some gunfire, an explosion and an ending that erases any real sense of moral ambiguity. After all, the white-hat and the black-hat need a final showdown and the audience should know who to root for.
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The Girlfriend Experience
Steven Soderbergh makes two kinds of movies -- the Hollywood kind and the indie kind. Though let's be straight here: Even Soderbergh's indie films are essentially Hollywood. There's no risk involved with them from a financial perspective, and from the creative side they continue to lend the filmmaker the artsy street cred that allows him to go off and make big fluff films like Ocean's Whatever with impunity.
The Girlfriend Experience comes from the indie side of Soderbergh, a low-budget, quickly-made digital picture starring a cast of non-movie stars (though, in this case, not necessarily non-stars, depending on your knowledge of porn). It's far more enigmatic and challenging than any wide release multiplex picture you'll see these days, but does that automatically mean that it's better than those Hollywood types of movies?
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The Pink Panther 2
Steve Martin continues to be a revered comedy icon even 10 years after his last relevant comedy (that would be Bowfinger), but even he knew he needed some help to get anyone to accept a second remake of the classic Peter Sellers Pink Panther films. So for The Pink Panther 2, Martin stacks the deck with talented comedians and actors from across the globe. Emily Mortimer and Jean Reno are back, John Cleese has replaced Kevin Kline as Clouseau's nemesis Inspector Dreyfus, and Alfred Molina and Andy Garcia have joined as international investigators brought to France when, once again, the Pink Panther diamond is lifted. Add in Aishwarya Rai as a mysterious diamond expert, Lily Tomlin as an etiquette teacher and Jeremy Irons as a suspected culprit, and it's a cast that would make anything worth watching.
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Take the Lead
I miss the decades when dancing and singing were an integral part of Hollywood’s style. Those classy, elegant days of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers produced some wonderfully stylish and energetic films. The best we can hope for in the present age of cinema is the occasional adapted Broadway musical but even those films somehow fail to capture the magic of the music. Take the Lead is by no means a revival of that bygone era of the song and dance film but it has the same sort of sparkle and captures some of that long lost energy.
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30 Days of Night: Dark Days
Let me first start out this review by saying that the 30 Days of Night series and first film are held in high regard with me. The movie fascinated me and basically is what propelled me back into the world of comic books and graphic novels. The first 30 Days of Night movie was so different than what we had been getting fed at the time on the theme of vampires. Vampire novels and books at the time that the original 30 Days came out in theaters had been reduced to romantic sparkling figures who sulked through their eternal life regretting what they were. Gone was the frightening imagery of a rabid undead who didn't think about what it was doing. It just knew it needed to eat to survive.
That's what made me so fond of 30 Days of Night. It was scary and disturbing. It was also mysterious and didn't really give you all the answers to the questions I had. Basically, all you really got was that some vampires somehow found out about a town where it's dark for 30 days and decide to go to an all-you-can-buffet vacation. While sitting in the theater, I kept asking myself "Where did these vampires come from?" Thus, I picked up the graphic novel and read it and loved it. The movie was pretty loyal to the book, give or take a few things here and there. It answered all my questions I had about the original film.
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Mr. and Mrs. Smith
The problem with Mr. and Mrs. Smith is that it's really two movies in one. The first is a sly comedy/thriller worthy of Hitchcock, and the other is a big, noisy summer action flick. The marriage of these two, like that of the title characters, is tempestuous, with each side in a constant struggle for dominance. When Mr. and Mrs. Smith is smart and sassy, it's a lot of fun. But when it's loud and dumb (which is too often for my taste), it's mindless and a little tedious. This is mediocre, forgettable entertainment. It doesn't really satisfy, but you probably won't exit the theater feeling gypped.
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The Oscar buzz surrounding Peter O'Toole is deafening. Despite having been nominated seven times, he has never won an Academy Award (unless you consider the honorary statue presented to him a few years ago). Roger Michell's Venus, which may be O'Toole's final major screen appearance, could provide him with one last shot. The film, which has generated some minor controversy, centers on the relationship between a 73-year old actor and a 20-year old would-be model. The 50 year gap makes this a March/December romance that would impress even Charlie Chaplin and Tony Randall. This is tricky territory for a film, but Michell navigates it with sensitivity and class. Venus is not crass or exploitative. It deals seriously with the possibility that an old man might fall in love with a young woman, and that (at least on some level) those emotions might be reciprocated. There's a lot more going on here than a dirty old man ogling an attractive young thing.
The problem with X2 is essentially the same one that plagued X-Men: too many characters, resulting in too little screen time for each one. X2 may be the most ambitious superhero motion picture to date, but it doesn't work quite as well as Spider-Man or Superman, both of which are, in some ways, inferior. The reason is simple: in those movies, we get into the skin of the protagonist, whether it's nerdy Peter Parker or bumbling Clark Kent. In X-Men and its sequel, there are simply too many heroes running around. Unless you're a fan of the comic book series, you need a cheat sheet to keep them all straight – and that doesn't count the cameos (Colossus, Kitty Pride, Jubilee, etc.).
To be fair, X2 does a better job than X-Men, primarily because it isn't saddled with the baggage of having to introduce everyone. The only new major mutant is the blue-skinned teleporter Nightcrawler (Alan Cumming); everyone else is a returning player. Nevertheless, most of the X-Men come across as no more three-dimensional than their comic book counterparts. There are a few exceptions, with tough guy Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) and telepath Jean Grey (Famke Janssen) leading the way. And one could make a case for teenager Rogue (Anna Paquin) and arch-villain Magneto (Ian McKellan). But there's still a lot of underused talent. Patrick Stewart (as Professor X, who runs the show), for example, is completely wasted, as is Halle Berry (as weather-controlling Storm). James Marsden's Cyclops, with his laserbeam eyes, has about the same amount of paltry screen time as he had in X-Men. Shapeshifter Mystique (Rebecca Romjin-Stamos) gets more exposure, but her personality remains a black hole.
With Welcome to the Dollhouse and Happiness, Todd Solondz proved himself to be a daring filmmaker who will not shy away from provocative issues, even if they offend a large portion of his audience. Storytelling, Solondz's new film, is an inelegant combination of two unrelated shorts that falls far short of the director's previous work in terms of both thematic content and narrative strength.
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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Sweet Home Alabama
The film opens on an Alabama beach with two children chasing each other: Melanie Smooter and Jake Perry. The two discuss their future together. They kiss, and Jake says they will be married one day. The scene then moves to the present day. Melanie has changed her last name to Carmichael and is now a successful fashion designer in New York City. After becoming engaged to Andrew, the mayor's son, Melanie announces that she has to go back home alone to Alabama to tell her parents. She has not told Andrew that she is married to Jake.
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When a male birth-control pill accidentally sterilizes the male population, the birth rate drops to zero and the President of the U.S. orders the CIA to scour the globe for potent males. Five are found who have yet to take the pill - a Japanese doper, a Peruvian sheep herder, a Russian prisoner, a San Francisco drag queen, and an Afro-American anthropology student who is busy boiling fat gals for the local cannibals - each of whom is codenamed The Dicktator and promptly ordered to impregnate the horniest of the worlds women.
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End of the Line
In this unsettling and creepy thriller, Karen (Ilona Elkin), a young nurse who works in a psychiatric ward, boards the last subway train of the night only to have it stop suddenly in the middle of the tunnel. As those around her are brutally murdered, Karen and a handful of survivors must face supernatural forces, homicidal religious cult members, as well as their own fears and suspicions of Armageddon, in order to survive.
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What happens when 2 losers are given the power to make anything they hate disappear? meet david andrew roommates friends - nothing would make them happier than if the world of nasty neighbors callous bosses successful ex-girlfriends would just go away. This is their tale when their wish comes true.