This Is It

This Is It
It took an early, dramatic death to end Michael Jackson’s decades-long professional and personal freefall. Jackson’s passing transformed the hours of rehearsal footage that form the basis of This Is It from special-features fodder for a concert DVD into possibly the most anticipated performance film of all time. Sony paid an astonishing $60 million for the footage, hoping to cash in on a public salivating for anything Jackson-related. High School Musical film-series director Kenny Ortega cobbled the footage together into a strange beast that alternately suggests Outtakes: The Movie! and D.A. Pennebaker’s Original Cast Album: Company, another intriguing behind-the-scenes look at the agony and the ecstasy of the creative process.

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Hairspray

Hairspray
Nikki Blonsky. The name doesn't exactly sing. It's at least as flat -- and, if you'll pardon the expression, as "ethnic" -- as Tracy Turnblad, the dance-crazy Baltimore teenager Ms. Blonsky plays in "Hairspray."

But Blonsky does sing, and like this giddy, refreshing movie, her voice rings loud and clear.

Tracy is an outsider who dreams of being with the In crowd, and innocent enough to believe she'll get her chance. And so she does -- this is America, after all. But she's the wrong body shape to get a fair shake from TV producer Velma Von Tussle (Michelle Pfeiffer), and, anyway, as someone cuttingly remarks, "The Corny Collins Show" isn't shot in CinemaScope.

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DON'T LOOK BACK

DON'T LOOK BACK
Jeanne's reality is bending. The successful journalistic author is loosing her hold on reality - her family becoming literally unrecognizable, her belongings changing and moving without being touched and without any recognition of the changes from anyone else, even her own face is shifting in the mirror. Is Jeanne going mad or is something else at play here, something connected to the strange girl only she seems to see and the book she is trying to write about the lost years of her childhood - the years before she turned eight, of which she can remember nothing? This is the world of Marina De Van's Ne Te Retourne Pas.

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Fired Up!

Fired Up!
They might as well have called this Cheer Movie. About the only thing to differentiate this dud of a comedy from the likes of Date Movie, Epic Movie, and Disaster Movie is the absence of the names Aaron Seltzer and Jason Friedberg on the credits. Instead, the director is a first-timer named Will Gluck. Based on the evidence here, one hopes he will do what Seltzer and Friedberg didn't and stop making movies.

Regardless of how low your expectations are regarding Fired Up!, it will still surprise you, and not in a good way. I don't approach a movie like this with a greater hope than that it will make me laugh a few times. Even with the bar set so low, Fired Up! can't deliver. This a morass of failed humor. Every joke is tired, obvious, and telegraphed. It's like going to a family reunion and hearing Uncle Bob tell the same gags he has told at every family reunion for the past twenty years. At one point, they might have been worth a chuckle or two but now you'll do just about anything, including actions that would be considered illegal in all 50 states, to get him to shut up.

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Eat Drink Man Woman

Eat Drink Man Woman
"Everything is much different in Eat Drink Man Woman than the other films I've made. It has a bigger cast and a lot more complex story line... I started thinking about families and how they communicate. Sometimes the things children need to hear most are often the things that parents find hardest to say, and vice versa. When that happens, we resort to ritual. For the Chu family, the ritual is the Sunday dinner... At each dinner the family comes together and then something happens that pushes them farther apart."
- Ang Lee, writer/director of Eat Drink Man Woman

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Rosewood

Rosewood
Rosewood, central Florida, 1923. The town's population numbered about 120, mostly black. It was a prosperous, happy community until a January day when one woman's lie set off a chain of events that would have devastating results. That woman was Fanny Taylor, and her false claim to have been assaulted by a black man resulted in the formation of a lynch mob that headed for Rosewood with arson and murder on their minds. Before the week was over, blood was shed and the town was in ashes.

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The Man Who Would Be King

The Man Who Would Be King
This adaptation of the famous short story by Rudyard Kipling tells the story of Daniel Dravot and Peachy Carnahan, two ex-soldiers in India when it was under British rule. They decide that the country is too small for them, so they head off to Kafiristan in order to become Kings in their own right. Kipling is seen as a character that was there at the beginning, and at the end of this glorious tale.

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Expecting Mary

Expecting Mary
Expecting Mary is the story of pregnant young Mary, who's had all the trappings of an upscale life, but it's only when she finds herself in a small New Mexico town, in a down-trodden trailer park, that she learns the real meaning of love, sacrifice and family.

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Quigley Down Under

Quigley Down Under
Tom Selleck stars as American cowboy archetype Matthew Quigley in Simon Wincer's outback western Quigley Down Under. Answering an advertisement placed by Australian cattle baron Elliot Marston (Alan Rickman) to come to the rugged and uncivilized Australian countryside and shoot dingoes, Quigley finds himself halfway around the world, only to find that Marston wants to exploit his talents as a sharpshooter in order to wipe out the Aborigine population.

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Cactus

Cactus
A man is kidnapped from his city home in the quiet hours of the night and, the kidnapper, John Kelly, embarks on a journey into the Australian Outback towards the place where his hostage is due for delivery. As time and distance roll by, the strength and endurance of both men will be tested to the very end.

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Intermission

Intermission
Lehiff (Colin Farrell) is a petty criminal always involved in trouble. Lehiff’s nemesis, Garda Detective Jerry Lynch (Colm Meaney) presents himself as a savior who fights the "scumbags" on Dublin’s streets, and enlists the help of Ben Campion (Tomas O'Suilleabhain), an ambitious film-maker and the bane of his "go-softer" boss, who considers Lynch too nasty a subject to be shown on a mainstream “docusoap” series on Irish terrestrial TV.

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Eden Log

Eden Log
In an underground cave, Tolbiac (Cornillac) wakes up disoriented, not knowing how he got there. A dead man lies next to him.

As he stumbles around in the limited light, cold, and darkness, he comes upon a dilapidated area with damaged pieces of technology all around him. While he is trying to get a damaged panel to work, suddenly, digital phantoms appear and inform him of a paradise known as Eden Log. They play a generic welcome message for the workers, where Tolbiac learns that workers are volunteers making sacrifices with the hope of gaining citizenship, presumably for the society above ground, and that Eden Log can offer a passport. Tolbiac passes through the main entryway, but remembers nothing, even after examining several crude maps and some damaged equipment.

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Bringing Ashley Home

Bringing Ashley Home
When her wild younger sister Ashley, who suffers from bipolar disorder and drug addiction, goes missing, Libba Phillips pours all her time and energy into finding Ashley and bringing her home. As the years go by, Libba refuses to give up hope, and, at the expense of her marriage and career, Libba finds her calling in life creating a much-needed resource center for other families whose missing loved ones have fallen through the cracks.

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Mindsight

Mindsight
When Tom loses his son in a car accident, he goes to his friends for help. His wife no longer wants him and he will do anything to make his family whole again. As time passes Tom finds that he can no longer tell reality from fiction and that every action he takes results in dire consequences. When Tom loses everything, what will he do to get it back?

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My Life as McDull

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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Night Junkies

Night Junkies
Against riverfront Londons sordid backdrop of seedy nightclubs, winding streets and dark alleyways, a modern-day Jack the Ripper stalks his preymeanwhile, troubled, newly turned exotic dancer Ruby and her brooding vampire lover Vincent struggle to resist their overpowering addiction to the drug that both sustains and shatters them. BLOOD.

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