Inception

Inception
Let's not talk about The Dark Knight – for it has no bearing on Inception beyond its directorial association; instead, let's hop in the way-back machine to one of director Christopher Nolan's earliest films, Memento. With it, Nolan showed audiences the power of a compellingly structured narrative: in Memento's case, the disorientation of amnesia and how to translate this befuddlement to the audience.

Memento is, of all of Nolan's work, the film most structurally similar to Inception; it's a cyclical narrative that aims very directly to evoke that feeling of being lost – lost amongst the lingo of fantastical terms and impossible physics, lost in a story that is layered and folded upon itself four times over. Indeed, Hollywood's obsession with 3D has extended to the storytelling process, and with Inception, it also reminds us that story and characterization still rule in the land of a thousand digital vistas.

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A Nightmare on Elm Street

A Nightmare on Elm Street
We're not usually ones to advocate for more skin in a non-'skin-flick' (well, okay— we are), but this is one of those rare instances where a film broaches the risky 'too-serious' shooting style for a premise as implausible and silly as they come. What would fix this? Surely taking a deep breath and letting go of the pretence, embracing the silliness and giving people as much titillation as possible. Heck—it worked for Wes Craven's original film back in 1984 and again most recently with 'Jennifer's Body'. Unfortunately, 'A Nightmare on Elm Street' is neither as enjoyably schlock as the original or as slickly produced (and marketed) as the successful Megan Fox creature feature.

For those unfamiliar with the dubiously "classic" original, A Nightmare on Elm Street is a slasher-film in the purest sense, revolving around the killing of teens – and lots of them. The villain is the iconic Freddy Krueger, a being who haunts his victims in their dreams, breaking through to their waking lives to tear them apart with his single finger-bladed glove.

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Cop Out

Cop Out
Kevin Smith has had a bit of a dry spell lately, hasn't he? We all loved the guy when he first emerged with the indie hit Clerks, and the unique voice exhibited in his films that followed was a welcome break from the usual Hollywood dreck. But in recent years his acting credits have provided more amusement than his directing and writing work. So what's been the problem?

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The Spiderwick Chronicles

The Spiderwick Chronicles
The Spiderwick Chronicles has all the elements that make up great kids' movies: a haunted house, a family secret, an ordinary child granted an extraordinary skill, and an emotional subplot that anchors the fantasy within real human experience. Though it doesn’t match the immortal greats like E.T., it comes remarkably close, and provides a genuinely thrilling adventure story that never panders or condescends. It’s hard to come by good kids' entertainment these days, as Alvin and the Chipmunks demonstrates, so weary parents should be especially grateful for this fantasy romp.

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B.O.B.'s Big Break

B.O.B.'s Big Break
This Two-DVD gift set includes two previously released DVDs, B.O.B.'s Big Break and Shrek 3D. To call these previously released is an understatement. Shrek 3D appears to have been released a half a dozen times over the years in various giftsets. However, on the positive side, since I've reviewed one of them before, this review will be a lot easier to do.

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Blood Simple

Blood Simple
All things considered, a new version of the Coen Brothers’ 1984 dusty film noir “Blood Simple” by an acclaimed Fifth Generation Chinese director was never going to be particularly high on the list of most obvious remakes. Still, with the director in question being Zhang Yimou, whose fascinating career has seen him shift from works of humanism and social relevance to grandiose martial arts epics, the proposition is certainly an interesting one. Having spent a considerable amount of time working on the opening ceremony of the 2008 Beijing Olympics, and given that he is in the middle of a vague phase of reinvention, the film does mark a change of direction for Zhang, not least since it had a considerably lower budget than most of his previous outings. As well as enjoying a positive response international festivals, being nominated for the prestigious Golden Bear at Berlin, it was a big hit with domestic audiences, pulling in over 250 million yuan at the Mainland box office, where it was released under the wackier though not inaccurate title of “A Woman, A Gun and a Noodle Shop”.

The film actually sticks pretty closely to “Blood Simple”, revolving around a small noodle shop in the remote desert of the Gansu province, run by the aging Wang (Ni Dahong, “The Message”), whose unhappy wife (Yan Ni, “Cow”) is having an affair with young restaurant employee Li (up and coming comedy star Xiao Shenyang). Things come to a head when his wife buys a gun from a travelling foreign merchant, attracting the attentions of the police, including a ruthless officer called Zhang (Sun Honglei), who Wang hires to find proof of her infidelities. Zhang has his own plans, though his scheme to rob the restaurant is complicated by a couple of other restaurant employees who are also trying to get their hands on Wang’s hidden safe.

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Melinda, Melinda

Melinda, Melinda
Figuring out where Woody Allen's career began its downward spiral requires little more than a glance at his filmography: 1992, with Shadows and Fog. It may be coincidental that his ugly breakup with Mia Farrow occurred shortly thereafter, but Allen hasn't made a truly great or memorable motion picture since the early 1990s. Lately, Allen's films have sunk into a state of heightened mediocrity - sporadically entertaining, but often disappointing, at least for those clinging to the hope that Allen will return to "form." I no longer expect great things from a Woody Allen movie, so something like Melinda and Melinda doesn't leave me despondent. This is the Allen we have come to recognize over the past decade.

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Wonder Boys

Wonder Boys
Back in mid-'90s, director Curtis Hanson was known as a B-list filmmaker - someone who could cull a fair amount of tension out of workmanlike stories such as The Hand That Rocks the Cradle and The River Wild. All of that changed in 1997, however, when Hanson helmed L.A. Confidential. The film became an instant critical success, and Hanson was elevated to the level of a director whose next effort was anticipated. Now, three years later, that "next effort" has arrived, and it's a far different creature than its moody, atmospheric predecessor. Due in large part to the contribution of veteran cinematographer Dante Spinotti, Wonder Boys looks as good as L.A. Confidential (the winterscapes in this film are breathtakingly beautiful), but there's nothing noir-ish about this genial dramatic comedy.

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Rocker

Rocker
What if they made a Jack Black movie and Jack Black didn't show up? That's sort of the feeling I get with The Rocker although, truth be told, Rainn Wilson does an admirable Black impersonation. This warmed-over, recycled stew brings the "comeback" concept so favored by sports movies into the rock-and-roll arena. It's pure formula, devoid of any creative impulses and, perhaps most damningly, the moments of genuine humor are too few and far between to be worth mentioning. For every clever line or amusing sight gag, there are fifteen minutes of lame dialogue and lamer plotting. The Rocker is more disappointing than it is outright bad. One expects something a little fresher from Wilson.

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Home Alone 2: Lost in New York

Home Alone 2: Lost in New York
The McCallister family prepares to spend Christmas in Florida. Kevin McCallister, Peter and Kate's youngest son, sees Florida as contradictory to what he believes to be an appropriate Christmas environment, particularly noting the lack of Christmas trees. During the school Christmas concert, Kevin's older brother Buzz humiliates him during his solo, causing Kevin to retaliate. Kevin refuses to apologize for his actions, and, still angry with the family's decision to go to Florida, he storms up to the third floor bedroom of the house, where he wishes that he had his own money so he could go on his own vacation by himself. During the night, the family's alarm clock is reset and causes them to oversleep. The family hastily departs to the airport. In the confusion, Kevin loses sight of his family while loading his Talkboy with new batteries from Peter's bag, and ends up following a man wearing the same coat as his father onto a flight bound for New York City.

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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 Chumscrubber

The Chumscrubber
One day in the fictional town Hillside in Southern California, the supplier of prescription medication to the students at the local high school, Troy Johnson (Josh Janowicz), commits suicide. Troy's friend Dean Stiffle (Jamie Bell), who found the body, is prescribed more antidepressants by his father Bill (William Fichtner), a psychiatrist. When Dean returns to school, he is antagonized by drug dealers Billy (Justin Chatwin) and Lee (Lou Taylor Pucci), who were supplied by Troy. Their friend, Crystal Falls (Camilla Belle), flirts with Dean, but he soon realizes that her true intentions are for Dean to retrieve the remaining drugs in Troy's home and give them to her, Billy and Lee, and he refuses to cooperate. To force Dean to procure the drugs, Billy and Lee plan to kidnap Dean's brother, Charlie (Rory Culkin), as a ransom, but they end up kidnapping Charlie Bratley (Thomas Curtis) instead of Charlie Stiffle.

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Gosford Park

Gosford Park
Constance, Countess of Trentham (Maggie Smith), and her lady's maid, Mary Maceachran (Kelly Macdonald) travel to Gosford Park for the weekend. On the way, they encounter actor Ivor Novello (Jeremy Northam), American film producer Morris Weissman (Bob Balaban) and Weissman's valet, Henry Denton (Ryan Phillippe). At the house, they are greeted by Sir William McCordle (Michael Gambon), Lady Sylvia McCordle (Kristin Scott Thomas) and their daughter, Isobel (Camilla Rutherford). The other guests include Lady Sylvia's sisters, Louisa, Lady Stockbridge (Geraldine Somerville) and Lady Lavinia Meredith (Natasha Wightman) and their husbands, Raymond, Lord Stockbridge (Charles Dance) and Commander Anthony Meredith (Tom Hollander). Also in attendance are the Honourable Freddie Nesbitt (James Wilby) and his wife, Mabel (Claudie Blakley); Isobel's suitor, Lord Rupert Standish (Laurence Fox) and his friend Jeremy Blond (Trent Ford).

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Tornado and the Kalahari Horse Whisperer

Tornado and the Kalahari Horse Whisperer
Riding Tornado is a true life story of patience endurance and passion.It tells the story of two soulsPierre,a disheartened young man and Tornado an emotionally tormented horse.

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Apollo 18

Apollo 18
In December, 1974, the crew of the previously-cancelled Apollo 18 mission is informed that the mission is a go, though it has now been deemed a top secret Department of Defense mission. Commander Nathan Walker, Lieutenant Colonel John Grey and Captain Benjamin Anderson are launched towards the Moon to place detectors to alert the United States of any impending ICBM attacks from the USSR.

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Love Ranch

Love Ranch
A drama centered around a married couple who opened the first legal brothel in Nevada. Based on real events.

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