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Give 'em Hell, Malone

Give 'em Hell, Malone
Way back all those many days ago at the 2009 San Diego Comic Con, I got a chance to take an early look at Give Em Hell Malone, the noir thriller starring Thomas Jane and Ving Rhames. For all intents and purposes this is a review of the film, though Im not calling it as such because the film isnt finished. As we speak probably nothing is happening because Hollywood types generally nap around 3:30pm as I write this, but no doubt during business hours tomorrow people will be talking, wheeling, dealing and trying to weasel more money into or out of the project. Whats missing now is some time in the edit bay, color timing and correction, and a few more music cues. Other than that, the experience is probably pretty close to the final product unless of course some more money can be put into the film.

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A Christmas Carol

A Christmas Carol
The fear many of us had when it was announced Jim Carrey would play Ebenezer Scrooge and other parts in Robert Zemeckis' adaptation of A Christmas Carol was that Carrey's clowning would turn the story into a goofy farce. This fear turns out to have been unfounded. If anything, the opposite is true: The film has no personality at all, not Carrey's or anyone else's.

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Man of the Year

Man of the Year
Tom Dobbs, comedic host of a political talk show - a la Bill Maher and Jon Stewart - runs for President of the US as an independent candidate who, after an issues-oriented campaign and an explosive performance in the final debate, gets just enough votes to win. Trouble is he owes his victory to a computer glitch in the national touch-screen voting system marketed by Delacroy, a private company with a rising stock price. To protect their fortune, Delacroy executives want to keep the glitch a secret, but one programmer, Eleanor Green, wants Dobbs to know the truth. Can she get to him?

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Predicament

Predicament
Predicament is set in a small South Taranaki town of the 1930s.

The place might not be exactly author Ronald Hugh Morrieson's native Hawera, but it was probably close enough to enrage more than a few locals.

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Baby Mama

Baby Mama
It has become a time-honored tradition that stars of Saturday Night Live, upon graduating from the no-longer-funny late night show, elect to spread their wings and strive for cinematic greatness. With a few notable exceptions, most have crashed and burned in forgettable fashion to never be heard from again or to become the punch lines of jokes that are generally as funny as the ones they told during their SNL tenure. Baby Mama is the first SNL-inspired movie to star two female members of the ensemble: Tina Fey, who has been doing nicely for herself since leaving, and her gal-pal Amy Poehler, who's still on. While Baby Mama manages to avoid the pit of awfulness into which many of its predecessors have sunk, it achieves nothing more impressive than mediocrity. It's genial but stale, and neither side-splittingly hilarious nor painfully unfunny. In short, it's like a great many cinematic comedies that recycle comfortable plots and don't try anything daring.

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I Am Number Four

I Am Number Four
For someone who has never seen another movie, I Am Number Four might be an astounding experience, cobbling together bits and pieces of other, better productions as it does. It's very loud, very fast paced, and very derivative. Like a casserole made from leftovers, the storyline contains stringy, overcooked bits of teenage dramas (a.k.a. "afterschool specials"), superhero adventures (especially origin stories), romances, buddy movies, cheesy science fiction, monster flicks, and action/adventure stuff. The problem isn't just the lack of originality evident in I Am Number Four, but that it cherry-picks well-known material and presents it with the intelligence and elegance of a fifth grade drama production. This is a "greatest hits" album from a cover band so bad they couldn't even play a bar mitzvah. And, while the film is designed as the first installment of a hoped-for franchise, it feels more like a T.V. pilot circa 1990. The recycling goes as deep as the dialogue, which is a mangled and blended refrain of clichés.

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Dodgeball

Dodgeball
Of course, Dodgeball isn't a true underdog anything, but that's all part of the joke. A blistering satire of feel-good sports movies, this film makes its mark via the most direct route: it lampoons by adopting the tried-and-true "straight" formula and tweaking it a little. The approach works because many sports dramas are borderline unintentional parodies with less tension than a flaccid cable; all the filmmakers of Dodgeball had to do was to follow the plot-by-numbers approach, incorporate some obviously comedic material, and toss in a huge dose of over-the-top earnestness. The resulting product offers about 90 minutes of laughter (although the movie runs out of steam during its final third).

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Romulus, My Father

Romulus, My Father
Distilled to its essence, Romulus, My Father is a standard-order coming-of-age movie. Like most movies of this sort, it's based on someone's memoirs (in this case, those of Raimond Gaita) and includes moment of tragedy, sentimentality, and serenity. All the things one expects of a coming-of-age story can be found in Romulus, My Father. In fact, the movie is so familiar it's impossible to shake the pervasive sense of d?j? vu. It may be that the particulars of this story are new but the overall trajectory is well known to anyone with an understanding of the genre. That's not to say that Romulus, My Father is poorly made. Quite the contrary - this is a workmanlike motion picture with solid performances. It's just that the superior production values are used in service of a mediocre storyline.

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Soul Men

Soul Men
No one could accuse Soul Men of originality - it cribs liberally from countless buddy films and road movies - but it offers enough energy and humor to overcome its shortcomings. The hit-to-miss quotient of the film's frequently profane and raunchy jokes is surprisingly high and the movie benefits from some well-executed R&B numbers. There's nothing quite like watching Samuel L. Jackson and Bernie Mac performing at a hoedown and getting into it with the audience. While it might be a stretch to compare Soul Men with The Blues Brothers (and there are certainly fewer car crashes), there's a little bit of the flavor of John Landis' classic to be found during the course of this film's 103-minute running length.

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Meet Joe Black

Meet Joe Black
Meet Joe Black has the dubious distinction of being the longest film to date of 1998. It is also one of the most tedious and bombastic. At a hair under three hours, it's shorter than James Cameron's Titanic, yet, when it comes to pace, Joe Black is glacial. Director Martin Brest, who helmed the enjoyable-but-also-too-long Scent of a Woman, is at his absolute worst here. Brest transforms a seemingly foolproof idea into an overblown bore.

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Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil

Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil
One thing is certain about Clint Eastwood: he doesn't play it safe. Two years ago, he surprised just about everyone (and gave his fans a collective apoplexy) by directing and starring in an ultra-sensitive tearjerker called The Bridges of Madison County. Now, following a romp through more familiar territory in Absolute Power, Eastwood the director is back with this slow, moody adaptation of John Berendt's novel, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. It's a compelling but meandering tale of lust, murder, sex, voodoo, and betrayal. Despite the presence of so many titillating elements, the film's nearly somnambulant pace makes it easy for a viewer to lose his or her concentration.

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Robocop

Robocop
Robocop was among the biggest surprises of 1987 - a sci-fi action film with a silly title that turned out to be a biting satire of big business practices. A tribute to the perspicacity and skill of director Paul Verhoeven, Robocop is capable of satisfying audiences with diverse agendas and preferences. For those interested in films with substance, issues pertaining to "techno-ethics" are addressed. For those seeking laughter, the story is laced with dark humor and parody. And for those looking for a bloody revenge thriller, it doesn't get gorier or more violent. Robocop is like a Michael Bay extravaganza with a brain to go along with the testosterone and adrenaline.

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On the Line

On the Line
Kevin (Lance Bass) is an advertisement employee, who meets a girl named Abbey (Emmanuelle Chriqui) on Chicago's 'L' train and is too shy to ask for her phone number.

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The State Within

The State Within
Ambassador to Washington is the pinnacle of success in the Foreign Office and the position is offered to only the brightest and the best. But Ambassador Mark Brydon finds his skills tested to the limits when, following a major diplomatic incident, he is thrust into a web of tangled relationships and conflicting interests. In a world of high stakes, where manipulation of information means ultimate power, the question is who can he trust?

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Not Easily Broken

Not Easily Broken
After years of disagreeing on what true happiness, success, and love really are, Dave and Clarice Johnson have finally reached a breaking point in their marriage. When Clarice is hurt in a car accident, the obvious truth that more than just her injuries need immediate attention is exposed. Their odds of making it worsen as Clarice begins to see a physical therapist, and Dave develops a friendship with Julie and her teenage son Bryson. The acceptance and comfort he finds in them stirs his longing for a family and a passionate partner. As temptation tugs at Dave and Clarice pulls farther away, they must confront whether their vows are or are NOT EASILY BROKEN.

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The Band from Hell

The Band from Hell
When an aspiring rock musician TONY returns to his college town to make up with his estranged girlfriend ROSEMARY, he finds his life taking an unexpected turn to the dark side when he encounters a mysterious rock band NEOWOLF led by rocker VINCE and the alluring band girl PAULA. When Rosemarys best friend KEVIN turns up dead, Rosemary seeks out a Nursery owner MRS. BELAKOV who knows the secrets of an ancient evil.

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