Death at a Funeral

Death at a Funeral
Death at a Funeral, the 2007 British comedy centering around horrible albeit hilarious hijinx at a funeral, gets the remake treatment as an American comedy loaded with well-known comic actors. Chris Rock produces and stars as the son of the deceased, playing straight man to Martin Lawrence, Tracy Morgan, Regina Hall, Danny Glover, and Loretta Devine among others. And it was Rock's idea to redo the British film, move it to LA, and have it center around an African-American family.

Rock saw the original film in a nearly empty theater and thought he could take the set-up, twist it, and deliver laughs to a wider audience. It must have seemed like a good idea at the time, as the first Death at a Funeral was very funny but never caught on. But Rock's take on a family enduring a funeral that's gone drastically wrong only pays off in scattered laughs.

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Wackness

Wackness
The Wackness is a period piece drama that takes viewers back to the summer of 1994 in New York City. It's three months in the life of a drug dealer as he traverses the road from high school graduation to the start of college. This is basically a coming-of-age story with the narrative concentrating almost exclusively on the boy's friendship with his aging hippy psychiatrist and his flirtation with the shrink's step-daughter. Movies about drug dealers are often dark and, while The Wackness is shot using techniques that desaturate color, this is as much a black comedy as it is a drama, and there's no hint of the violence that often permeates films about drugs.

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Charlie Bartlett

Charlie Bartlett
It's a given that most comedies centered around kids and high schools will involve, to one degree or another, the subject of popularity. For the average teenager, few things are more important than being liked. The ultimate high is being recognized and respected by the entire student body. Of course, looking back from the perspective of years (or decades), it all seems so superficial, but that's not how it feels "in the moment." Despite a maddeningly inconsistent tone, Charlie Bartlett takes viewers back into the classrooms and hallways of high school as it follows the improbable climb of one student from outcast to icon, and observes the consequences of his popularity.

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Cashback

Cashback
The way Cashback gently plays with reality tickles the memory with distant echoes of Big Fish and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. For his feature debut, Sean Ellis has crafted a delightful romantic comedy that provides insight into the heart of a painter and the minds of those trapped working the graveyard shift at a 24-hour supermarket. Along the way, women get naked, couples fall in love, and teams lose pickup soccer games 26-to-nothing. Cashback isn't daring or ambitious but, despite its uneven tone and occasional tendencies to meander, it is endearing.

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Black Bread

Black Bread
“Black Bread” starts of with a scene of such stunning violence—without giving too much away, it involves a sledgehammer and a horse, among a slew of other very nasty things—that it casts a shadow over the rest of the movie. Set in post-Spanish Civil War Catalonia, the film creates an atmosphere where the potential for death and hostility to erupt exists around every corner, in every situation. From the outset you learn that no place is safe; not the family hearth, government offices, and certainly not the multitude of caves, woods, and fields where the 11-year-old Andreu (Francesc Colomer) grows up.

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Fun with Dick and Jane

Fun with Dick and Jane
Have you ever gone through the painful experience of watching someone who was once good at something try to recapture their past glory? It can be in sports, acting, writing, or any number of vocations. That's the dubious opportunity Fun with Dick and Jane offers viewers. Jim Carrey tries to turn back the clock and venture into Ace Ventura mode, without realizing that he's no longer the comedian he was a dozen years ago. In the interim, he has matured to the point where we no longer accept him in this kind of role. (Even Adam Sandler, Carrey's heir apparent, has moved into more serious pictures.) Stranger still, the film contains dark undercurrents and elements of melodrama that clash with Carrey's attempts to resurrect the zaniness and physicality of his past. Much of the film's comedy feels muted; Fun with Dick and Jane isn't a lot of fun.

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Happily N'Ever After

Happily N'Ever After
The familiar fairy tales we were weaned on aren't good enough any more. First, Shrek playfully toyed with some of our old friends by having them interact in atypical ways with a big, green ogre. Then along came last year's Hoodwinked, which refused to leave poor Red Riding Hood alone. Now, Happily N'Ever After wants us to consider what might happen if a legion of bad guys were to band together in Fairytaleland to abolish happy endings. While I have no problem with a movie fracturing fairy tales, the results need to show more evidence of creativity and wit than what is on display in Happily N'Ever After. This movie is the worst kind of offender: it thinks its funny and clever, but it is neither. The filmmakers have mistaken banality for wit and silliness for humor, and that doesn't begin to address how visually clunky this motion picture is.

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Live Flesh

Live Flesh
Almodovar. To those familiar with his body of work, that name is more than just a way to identify one of today's premiere directors -- it offers valuable insight into the scope and intent of a movie. Since his debut in 1980 with Pepi, Luci, Bom, Almodovar has been the "bad boy" of Spanish cinema. His films have been offbeat, energetic, and wildly stylistic (often to the point of garishness). With titles like Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!, and Kika, Almodovar has constantly challenged his audience about some of the essential themes of life: sex, love, and violence. He pushes the envelope in a way that many film makers are uncomfortable even attempting. Watch Tie Me Up! if you doubt this statement.

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Hilary and Jackie

Hilary and Jackie
The story of celebrated cellist Jacqueline du Pré is too good not to have been made into a movie. However, the most gratifying thing about director Anand Tucker's Hilary and Jackie is that it not only does it tell the tale, but does it so a uniquely compelling fashion. This is as rich and powerful a film as has been released in 1998. Every subject that it touches on, from the love/rivalry relationship of sisters to the line between genius and madness to the price of celebrity, is handled flawlessly. Add the best female performance of the year, a glorious soundtrack, and effective cinematography, and Hilary and Jackie stands as a towering achievement for Tucker.

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The Last Castle

The Last Castle
ieutenant General Eugene Irwin (Robert Redford) is brought to a maximum security military prison to begin a ten-year sentence for his decision (in violation of a presidential order) to send U.S. troops on a mission in Burundi, Africa, resulting in the deaths of eight soldiers. Colonel Winter (James Gandolfini), the prison's commandant, is a great admirer of the general but is offended by a comment by Irwin that he overhears. Irwin criticizes Winter's much-prized military artifacts collection, saying that the used bullets from the Civil War it includes is something no combat veteran - such as Irwin - would ever have. Colonel Winter, who has never seen combat in his career, quickly resents what he perceives as Irwin's attempt to change the attitude of the prisoners, and his admiration and respect of Irwin fades fast.

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Surfer, Dude

Surfer, Dude
Surfer, Dude is the story of Steve Addington, a soul-searching surfer who experiences an existential crisis when no waves come for over a month, whilst at the same time a virtual reality game is created emulating surfing, that completely freaks him out, and he refuses sponsorship.

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The Tattooist

The Tattooist
American tattoo artist Jake Sawyer wanders the world, exploring and exploiting ethnic themes in his tattoo designs. At a tattoo expo in Singapore, he gets his first glimpse at the exotic world of traditional Samoan tattoo (tatau), and, in a thoughtless act, unwittingly unleashes a powerful angry spirit. In his devastating journey into Pacific mysticism, Jake must find a way to save his new love, Sina and recover his own soul.

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Straw Dogs

Straw Dogs
Dustin Hoffman plays a regular American mathematician, who gets into some trouble with local bullies. He is made fun of and then his wife is raped. When they attack his home, he fights back. His outbreak of violence is extreme.

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Beverly Hills Cop II

Beverly Hills Cop II
Detroit cop Axel Foley is watching the news on TV when the reporter tells a story that Axels friend, Beverly Hills police Captain Andrew Bogomil, has been shot by a tall woman. Axel heads out to Beverly Hills to visit Bogomil in the hospital, and this is where Axel is reunited with Bogomils daughter Jan Bogomil. Axel is also reunited with Detective Billy Rosewood and Sergeant John Taggart. Billy and Taggart decide to let Axel help them find the woman who tried to kill Bogomil, even though abusive police chief Harold Lutz has been deliberately trying to find a reason to fire Billy and Taggart. Axel, Billy, and Taggart soon discover that the alphabet robberies, a series of robberies that have been going on in the area, are masterminded by weapons kingpin Maxwell Dent, and Dent had sent his fiancee Karla Fry to try to kill Bogomil because Bogomil had been after Dent. With this information, Axel, Billy, and Taggart try to find Dent and Karla.

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Jack Goes Boating

Jack Goes Boating
A limo drivers blind date sparks a tale of love, betrayal, friendship, and grace centered around two working-class New York City couples.

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Kicking & Screaming

Kicking & Screaming
Family man Phil Weston, a lifelong victim of his fathers competitive nature, takes on the coaching duties of a kids soccer team, and soon finds that hes also taking on his fathers dysfunctional way of relating...

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