Vertige

Vertige
As is the case with many a generic horror flick, you quickly realise at the start of High Lane (or Vertige, its original French title) that there's fun to be had guessing which of the universally aggravating youths will survive the inevitable ordeal. It's an old habit but not without value - a personal insurance policy against losing interest half way through, if things get a little too generic.

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Blood and Bone

Blood and Bone
For some unknown reason, like snake-themed pictures, underground street fighting films have become a staple of the direct-to-video market. Each year, we see at least two or three titles released, with just a scant few actually seeing a theatrical run (Universal's Fighting is the only one this year, and it really should have gone DTV). Sony provides the latest round with Blood and Bone, a knuckle-buster featuring the ever-capable, underrated action star, Michael Jai White (best known as the title character in Spawn).

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Reign Over Me

Reign Over Me
I took a class in graduate school devoted to melodrama in film. I'm not sure what that says about higher education or my own education, but it enabled me to label Reign Over Me concisely as male melodrama, a type of dramatic movie we don't see very often since many people equate "melodrama" with "women's film." Many people also wrongly equate melodrama with hackneyed filmmaking that manipulates an audience to wring tears out of them (thus the term "tearjerker"). The stories are often overwrought and unbelievable, but the point is the effect of the film as a whole. For the most part, Reign Over Me succeeds on a melodramatic level, offering an emotional ride without excess artificiality.

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Midnight Bayou

Midnight Bayou
In all honesty, “Nora Roberts’ Midnight Bayou” is not all that easy to describe, but I’ll give it a shot…

Jerry O’Connell is Declan Fitzpatrick, a Boston attorney who broke up with his fiance and moved to New Orleans to buy Manet Hall, a haunted antebellum mansion that Declan felt a connection to when he visited eight years before.

But soon, Declan is feeling another connection to Lena Simone (Lauren Stamile). But Lena has a stormy past that she can’t seem to shake and even with her grandmother’s (Faye Dunaway) urging, she’s hesitant to start something with Declan.

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88 Minutes

88 Minutes
It's always a shock when a movie turns out to be this bad. It's an even bigger shock when it features an actor of the caliber and reputation of Al Pacino. 88 Minutes is one of the dumbest thrillers to arrive it theaters in a long time, so it's no surprise that it has been lingering on Columbia's shelves for more than a year. (It came out on DVD in Germany early in 2007.) The screenplay is credited to Gary Scott Thompson, but could have been written by a trained chimpanzee employing a "dial-a-cliché" computer program. Director Jon Avent gets into the general sense of badness by mangling continuity and Pacino does his part by sleepwalking his way through the role. The rest of the actors follow suit.

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Raise Your Voice

Raise Your Voice
Critique:
Hilary Duff is cashing in on her star power and has had five movies released over the last 18 months. This time out, Hilary stars as Terri Fletcher, a 16 year old small town aspiring musician and dedicated daughter. Her big dream is to head off to Los Angeles for a summer at the foremost music conservatory in the United States. Unfortunately for her, her father (David Keith) is against the idea.

Raise Your Voice starts off with a music video. A choppy, truncated, and frenetic montage of clips, foreshadowing the majority of the rest of the movie. The first third of the film is setting up for Terri's inevitable trip to LA, and it is excruciatingly slow. There is a good plot twist that comes on unexpectedly which sets up for some good conflict later in the film. It is the turning point in the glacial pace of the movie, but you still must endure the incomplete songs and MTV video edits.

It is understandable that a movie about a girl going to a music school would have plenty of music in it. However, other than a couple well handled performances at the end of the movie, the majority of the music takes the viewer outside of the film and terribly disrupts the pacing. To add to the music problems, most of the songs are cut and pasted in an incomplete fashion and are abandoned just as they start to become interesting on their own.

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Invincible

Invincible
One corner of the genre of sports clichés is devoted to true stories of overachieving underdogs. In recent years, Disney has repeatedly raided this area, creating one inspiring story after another, most of which (like Remember the Titans and The Rookie) have been rousing and crowd-pleasing. With Invincible, however, hero-worship and unimaginative storytelling have caused the project to strike a sour note. I'm sure there's a lot to cheer about in the real-life story of pro football player Vince Papale, but there's nothing to laud in this lifeless white-wash of a motion picture. Disney's decision to move the release date to the dead-end dog days of late August is justified. Aside from die-hard Philadelphia Eagles fans, it's hard to see the film appealing to a theatrical audience. From the poor set design to the mediocre acting to the paint-by-numbers screenplay, this is TV fare at best. Anyone paying $10 to see this in a multiplex should request a refund.

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Devil's Advocate,

Devil's Advocate,
Taylor Hackford's The Devil's Advocate has many laudable qualities, but subtlety is not among them. The story, which postulates that the devil is walking among us today, gives Satan's human alter-ego a truly obvious name: John Milton (for those who don't know, he wrote the landmark poem about man's expulsion from the Garden of Eden, "Paradise Lost"). And, in what is arguably the most believable aspect of the movie, The Devil's Advocate takes lawyer-bashing to its logical extreme by making Lucifer the head of a prestigious law firm. Of course, since it's fashionable to attack attorneys these days, the zeal with which the movie launches into its barrage on the profession (law is referred to as Satan's "new priesthood") is guaranteed to strike a responsive chord with audiences. See what I mean -- no subtlety.

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Mad Love

Mad Love
Mad Love is a flawed movie that can't decide whether it wants to be a drama about mental illness, a tale of teen romance and rebellion, or a road picture. It's not that these three are necessarily mutually exclusive, but Mad Love's agenda makes them so. Because the movie is so concerned about not alienating its youthful target audience, it doesn't take risks. Everything has been watered down to maintain the PG-13 rating that will allow 15 and 16-year olds into theaters without their parents.

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Avenging Angelo

Avenging Angelo
Years ago, a mob boss named Lucio Malatesta (George Touliatos) pinned the murder of rival Sammy Carboni (Gino Marrocco) on another rival named Angelo Allieghieri (Anthony Quinn), which led to Sammy's son Gianni vowing revenge.

Frankie Delano (Sylvester Stallone) has spent his life safeguarding Angelo as well as Angelo's daughter, Jennifer Barrett (Madeleine Stowe), whose unsavory husband Kip Barrett (Harry Van Gorkum) has had their young son Rawley (Ezra Perlman) placed in a boarding school against Jennifer's wishes.

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The Oxford Murders

The Oxford Murders
Wood plays Martin, an American student at the University of Oxford who wants Arthur Seldom (Hurt) as his thesis supervisor. He idolises Seldom and has learned all about him. He takes rooms in Oxford at the house of an old lady, Mrs. Eagleton (Anna Massey), who is an old friend of Seldom. Also in the house is the old lady's daughter, Beth (Julie Cox), who is her full time caregiver — which she resents bitterly — and a musician by occupation.

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The Pledge

The Pledge
The film begins with a flashback to an inebriated Police Detective Jerry Black, mumbling incoherently at an unknown location. The scene then switches to events that precede the opening scene. Jerry is ice fishing, then driving to work. After work, he goes to a restaurant, where the Department has thrown him a retirement party. Police Captain Eric Pollack (Sam Shepard) gives Jerry a gift, a trip to go fishing in Mexico. The party is interrupted by the discovery of a murdered young girl named Ginny. Jerry decides to go with another Detective, Stan Krolak (Aaron Eckhart) to the scene of the crime.

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The Sum of All Fears

The Sum of All Fears
The film begins with a sequence inspired by the novel's prologue set during the 1973 Yom Kippur War, in which a single Israeli A-4 jet carrying a nuclear weapon is shot down over the Syrian desert. The bomb, over time, is consumed by the sand and disappears.

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The Battle of Shaker Heights

The Battle of Shaker Heights
The plot revolves around Kelly Ernswiler (Shia La Beouf), a young war reenactment enthusiast, who works at his local store with love interest Sarah (Shiri Appleby) and his friend, Bart Bowland (Elden Henson) as they use military strategy against high school bully Lance (Billy Kay). Kelly's father, Abe (William Sadler), works with drug addicts, being clean himself for over 5 years, which is scorned by an angry Kelly, who, when told this, replies, "So what? I've been clean the whole time." His mother, Eve (Kathleen Quinlan), is a commercial artist who works out of their garage and is desperate for Kelly to forgive his father. When confronted as to when he is going to forgive him, Kelly replies, "I'll forgive him when I can go to college. But I can't, can I, because he used all my college fund to buy Mexican Black Tar." Kelly is furious at his father for the torture he put him through.

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Chain of Command

Chain of Command
When Merrill Ross (Michael Dudikoff) is thought to be a C.I.A. agent gone bad and teaming with some other alphabet named agency to take over the oil rich country of Qumir, he finds hes in the middle of a very explosive situation. Not knowing who he can trust, hes forced to use a process of elimination thru the chain of operatives he encounters.

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Night Of The Demons

Night Of The Demons
A group of kids go to a Halloween party, only to have to face down a group of demons.

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