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Why do bad movies happen to good people? Eddie Murphy gives a very warm, very funny performance as a stressed-out financial executive trying to be a better parent to his seven-year-old daughter in Imagine That, which opened wide today. Evan Danielson is a gentler variation on the wholesome paternal figures he's previously played in Doctor Dolittle, Daddy Day Care, and The Haunted Mansion. In those roles, he's portrayed successful workaholics who've neglected their families to varying degrees.
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The Forbidden Kingdom
The Forbidden Kingdom features the first ever on screen pairing of cinema’s two greatest living martial arts legends: Jet Li and Jackie Chan. That alone makes this movie a must see for anyone and everyone, but screenwriter John Fusco and director Rob Minkoff have done more than simply throw two of kung fu’s most famous faces together in the same picture. They’ve crafted a magical film using both Chan and Li’s legendary reputations as the lynchpins in telling an entertaining, crowd-pleasin
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"The secret impresses no one," Michael Caine's character reminds his proteges in The Prestige. In other words, you better have something else up your sleeve besides actual "magic" because magic is lousy entertainment. It's cold and impersonal and usually has no dramatic heft. Most magic tricks are performed at a quick pace because the whole thing depends on a moment's misdirection and because if it didn't go by quickly, no one would ever sit for it. Even when it's successful, a magic trick earns nothing but a polite clap. Christopher Nolan should have thought harder about this, because his film has the same deficiencies. All of its energy goes into structure and the concealment of hollow secrets. The film's backbone is an elaborate timeline that moves backwards, splits into two threads and then wobbles forward again, leaving the actors without a leg to stand on. Nolan's much-enjoyed puzzleboard picture Memento had a reason for its structural acrobatics, but The Prestige just wants to challenge the memory and attention of the audience. This isn't a movie, it's a game of Concentration.
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War of the worlds
There's a longstanding movie riddle that asks the following question: Is it better to have a mediocre director and a great screenplay, or a great director and a mediocre screenplay? War of the Worlds, Steven Spielberg's entry into the 2005 summer box office derby, can be used as an argument for the latter scenario. To call the script (credited to Josh Friedman and David Koepp) "flawed" might be charitable. The original novel, penned in 1898 by H.G. Wells, seems almost quant by today's standards. Although the changes employed by Friedman and Koepp to modernize the story are adequate in displacing many of the book's events to a contemporary time frame, they result in a tale that is rife with logical errors. War of the Worlds is not watertight; in fact, it leaks like a sieve. But, with Spielberg at the helm, we hardly notice the chop in the water as we're taken on a smooth and somewhat breathless ride.
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Freedomland is one of an increasingly endangered species: the adult movie that's about something. By "something," I mean a serious issue - the kind of thing films shy away from for fear of alienating viewers. Underneath the trappings of a police procedural, Freedomland opens a gateway to the simmering cauldron of racial/social inequality that exists across the urban landscape of this country, where people are treated differently because of the color of their skin or their lack of spending clout. Events in the movie are as fictional as the locale in which they transpire (Dempsey, NJ), but they bear an uncanny resemblance to recent news stories. It's unclear whether writer Richard Price drew from the headlines in drafting his story, or whether Freedomland shows prescience.
"[The Last Seduction] is a roller coaster of twists and turns. It is the classic film noir thriller, but it turns everything on its head. Just when you think you know what's going to happen, it does a twist into the unexpected. I'm a fan of the [noir] genre. I like atmosphere and I'm fascinated by the psychology of the characters -- the deceit, the betrayal and the desperation."
- John Dahl, director of The Last Seduction
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Note to readers: this review contains spoilers. While I do not believe the revelation of certain plot points will in any way compromise the viewing experience, those who wish to see The War Zone without having previous knowledge of a key element would do well to bail out now and return after they have seen the film.
The title of The War Zone conjures up images of devastation and disaster, of broken lives and rotting corpses. And, while this stunningly accomplished feature debut from Tim Roth has nothing to do with traditional battlefields, it is every bit as harrowing as the first 30 minutes of Saving Private Ryan or the whole of Schindler's List. The destruction presented in this film is as graphic and shocking as anything depicted in the most unsparing war movie, except that the victims are not soldiers trained for combat, but children placed in harm's way.
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Hunchback of Notre Dame
Out of respect for the stunning visuals and family entertainment value of Disney's 34th animated feature, I can do no less than recommend The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Sadly, however, this is the least-enjoyable animated feature to come from the studio since its 1989 rebirth. The Hunchback of Notre Dame is a notch below last year's Pocahontas, which, in turn, was a drop from the previous year's The Lion King. Apparently, Disney's new wave of animation peaked early; their releases have been in a slow-but-steady decline since the delightful Beauty and the Beast.
Still, all things considered, The Hunchback of Notre Dame isn't bad, it's just a little disappointing. Despite the over-hyped and overexaggerated "darkness" of the production, kids will love it, so a box office success is assured. And those who carefully review the family entertainment competition this summer will rightfully conclude that Hunchback is the surest bet.
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One of the best of the latter is Gore Verbinski’s “Mouse Hunt,” starring Nathan Lane and Lee Evans as two brothers who try to remove a crafty mouse from their newly inherited house. You may not know Verbinski, but you’re probably familiar with his work. He’s the guy who directed the first Budweiser frog commercial. Verbinski has a unique style, which translates well on the big screen.
The Good Thief
Set against the glitzy backdrop of the French Riviera, aging gambler Bob Montagnet is about to gamble it all on the casino heist of a lifetime a spectatcular sleight of hand--two heists, one real, one not, but which is which? Under the watchful eye of Roger, a policeman who would as soon save his longtime opponent as arrest him, Montagnet assembles a team that consists of partners Paulo and Raoul, technical mastermind Vladimer, former-drug-dealer-turned-informant Said, Anne, a young Eastern girl Montagnet rescued from prostitution, and the perfect complement to a double theft--identical twins Albert and Bertram.
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The film follows the story of Daniel Balint, a brilliant but troublesome student at a Jewish Yeshiva who has become a fanatically violent Neo-Nazi in New York by his early 20s. The film plots his rise through the ranks of a fascist party while he attempts to reconcile his religious past and ethnic heritage with his anti-Semitism.
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¡Tintorera! aka Tintorera: Killer Shark
Two shark hunters flirt with an attractive British lady while hunting down a large tiger shark terrorizing the Mexican East coast.
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Dead Clever: The Life and Crimes of Julie Bottomley
When Julie Bottomley (Suranne Jones) discovers her husband of 10 years has been sleeping with her sister, her first instinct is to kill him. However, rather than risk life imprisonment herself, she devises a better plan to get revenge on Ian (Dean Lennox Kelly) by faking her own death and framing him for murder. But can she resist the temptation to let her jailed husband know just how ?Dead Clever? she?s been?
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Gentle Ben: The Movie
Dean Cain and two-time Golden Globe nominee Corbin Bensen star in thei family adventure featuring everyones favorite bear, the mighty and lovable Gentle Ben.
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Cynthia comes forward to talk to detective John about the murder of her best friends husband. The story is told as a series of flashbacks... James was a bullying, verbally and physically abusive husband. His wife Joyce has, on a number of occasions, expressed her intention to kill him. One night when all three are at the fair, Joyce has a row with James, and Cynthia helps James back to the van. But later he was found dead...
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My Name Is Bruce
Four teenage kids from the tiny mining town of Gold Lick vandalize a nineteen-century cemetery of Chinese laborers when one of them disturbs a demon whos been guarding the souls of 100 workers killed in a cave-in. Jeff, the surviving teen, goes in search of his hero, over-the-hill B-movie star, Bruce Campbell. Jeff kidnaps the actor and brings him to Gold Lick to save the town. Bruce thinks its a birthday treat engineered by his agent, so he plays along, humoring the townsfolk and chatting up Jeffs unimpressed mom. Bodies pile up as the demon slashes. What will the sorry, boozy Bruce do when he realizes that Guan-Di, the demon, is for real?
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