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Anita Schmaltz

  • Cold Mountain

      Cold Mountain is haunted by the earmarks of a TV mini-series, namely, a gooey romance set against the foggy and smoky backdrop of war. Jude Law and Nicole Kidman give strong performances, and of note is the acting debut of Detroit darling Jack White of the White Stripes. White composed a couple of songs he sings in the blockbuster flick. For his five minutes, he fares well. Overall, the film is good for what it is: a melodramatic epic.

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  • Young Adam

      In which the story of a dead young woman intersects with the story of a young man, played by Ewan McGregor, and his emotionally dead affairs. Central here is a particular affair with his co-worker’s wife, played by Tilda Swinton. A monotonous if beautiful film, rated NC-17 for its sexual explicitness
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  • Secret Things (Choses Secrètes)

      Fired (to put it mildly) from the club where they worked, a stripper and a bartender end up bound together against men as they dive into the world of sexual dares. Sort of a distaff answer to In the Company of Men with echoes of Mulholland Drive, Eyes Wide Shut and Secretary to boot. Unfortunately, writer-director Jean-Claude Brisseau stoops to contrivance toward the end.
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  • Bon Voyage

      If you’ve got a hankering for a bullet-flinging romantic film noir, Bon Voyage is the ticket. The film is set in 1940’s France, but filmed in present day full-color. Isabelle Adjani plays a stunning screen star, while Gérard Depardieu makes a characteristically strong showing in a film that questions the role of entertainment in matters of love and war. In French with subtitles.
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  • Wilbur Wants to Kill Himself

      A Vincent & Theo relationship told with the absurd humor of Harold and Maude. Lone Scherfig, the Danish director of Italian for Beginners, holds to the goal of pulling truth out of characters and settings, an approach at odds with an industry hooked on razzmatazz.
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  • Games People Play: New York

      Six attractive, *uninhibited* New Yorkers (three men, three women) perform soap opera-esque skits and take their clothes off, sing in make-shift trios and take their clothes off, seduce delivery boys and take their clothes off, ... and, you get the picture. Reality TV for the big screen.
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  • Ella Enchanted

      A babe is cursed at birth when bestowed with the gift of obedience, which may have been a quality applauded in Mother Goose days, but is today’s kiss of death for teen princesses. Ella has her own strong-minded, good-hearted ideas, but someone should tell the writers that updated doesn't have to mean dumbed-down.
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  • Latter Days

      There once was a young, blond, strapping Mormon missionary who ventured into the big city to spread the good word. He quickly catches the eye of a homosexual, sparking debauchery. The film displays male nudity like dime-store candy, yet Latter Days is funny, tragic, occasionally cheesy, endearing and, ultimately, heartwarming.
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  • Power Trip

      Leeka Basilaia is an investigative journalist for Rustavi-2 Television, and a resident of Georgia, a former Soviet Republic. Electricity used to be provided by the government, but in January 1999, an American corporation bought the system. Director, editor and producer Paul Devlin’s Power Trip documents the difficulties the American multi-national underwent in implementing their capitalist corporate ways within a society still clinging to its old-world socialist mentality.
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  • Addiction in Ann Arbor

    Madstone film series launches with NYC druggie flick.
      The gritty, cramped and closed-in-on-the-action-right-in-front-of-me filming of this indie flick mirrors a NYC junkie’s world, so realistic it seems autobiographical. Acts of Worship portrays addicts as a sea of agitated vultures haunting the streets. Successful cinematic elements are counteracted at times by predictable plot turns, when ex-addict Digna, now a sought after photographer, takes our young protagonist, Alix, under her wing. Yet the film leaves viewers with thoughts to chew on.
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  • Starsky and Hutch

      At the start, Hutch is robbing bookies and Starsky is by-the-book irritating. But once they get into the red machine, Starsky’s famous candy-apple-red Ford Gran Torino, their differences dwindle and the post-’70s-aware, tongue-in-cheek dialogue begins. Although he’s almost too cool for the role, Snoop Dogg wears Huggy Bear’s fur coats and back street poetics well — "Look fuzz, I got to buzz."
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  • Eurotrip

      From the producers of Road Trip and Old School comes a sexified comedy of delightful errors and running jokes that manage to stay funny all the way through. See American teens set free from high school and hungry for wild European sex! See full frontal (and rear-al) male nudity! And it's OK. Remember, they’re in Europe. With Scott Mechlowicz, Jacob Pitts.
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  • Welcome to Mooseport

      Mooseport is a harmless, fictitious place where an ex-president (Gene Hackman) can end up running against his plumber (Ray Romano) for mayor. Meanwhile, the plumber’s girlfriend catches the ex-president’s divorcee eye, and a double-headed crisis rears its fuzzy antlers. It’s all so inoffensive as to be barely there.
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  • Exquisite destiny

      Destino is a collaboration between Spanish surrealist Salvador Dali, and American animator Walt Disney, circa 1946. In 2001, Walt’s nephew, Roy Disney, resurrected the project. It’s seven minutes of glorious cinema. This is a taste of classic Disney, a vacation from rational thoughts. Like most vacations, it’s far too short.
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  • A Vermeer for our time

    A painting yields lessons on art and life.
      Set in 17th century Holland, the film follows the footsteps of Greit (Scarlett Johansson), a new housemaid in the Vermeer household. In this story of a great artist, Peter Webber and cinematographer Eduardo Serra make a film that’s like a gallery of 17th century Dutch paintings come to life. Thanks to Olivia Hetreed’s terse and visually motivated screenplay, we’re given the room to drink it all in, watching the intense, colorful birth of a great creation.
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  • Along Came Polly

      Hollywood needs a big Band-Aid for this sorry, forgettable story, which features shticks such as a guy getting the squirts in the bathroom of his girl-of-interest’s apartment or playing basketball with sweaty, hairy-backed men. It seems director/writer John Hamburg works better in collaborations — he had a hand in the scripts for Meet the Parents and Zoolander. This time, he must accept all the blame for Polly’s overflow of hackneyed crap, because you’d be hard-pressed to collect a more likable cast, including Ben Stiller, Jennifer Aniston, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Hank Azaria and Alec Baldwin. Do actors read scripts before accepting these parts?
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  • Michael's world, sans suits

    For adults who don't want to grow up.
      This is the best version ever of J.M. Barrie’s classic 1904 play, in which Peter Pan and Wendy Darling are living on the threshold of adolescence, sampling the fantastic fruits of both worlds simultaneously. Technical beauty and impeccable casting stand out in this wondrous ode to the adventures of childhood, where thimbles, acorns and kisses are the most powerful things. With webbed mermaids glistening under the moonlight, harpsichord-playing pirates and clouds of cotton candy blue and pink, Pan will delight you no matter what your wrinkle-count.
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  • House of Sand and Fog

      Behrani (Ben Kingsley) was a colonel back in his homeland on the Caspian Sea, but in America he’s reduced to selling cigarettes behind the counter of a gas station. He buys a bargain of a house, unaware that just days before, Kathy (Jennifer Connelly) was wrongfully evicted from the it. Desperation causes fingers to point at obvious differences — like race — and the assumptions fly. Unfortunately, what starts out as a "powerful drama" degenerates into an "eye-rolling melodrama."
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  • Cheaper by the Dozen

      A family with 12 kids comes off even wackier than it did in 1950, the first time this film was made. The Bakers are a loving, easy-going couple packing up their country herd and moving to the big city for dad’s dream job. What you get is a fast-food film that goes through the motions of a plot with milk-and-cupcake dialogue that leaves you dry and crusty. Steve Martin, Bonnie Hunt and Ashton Kutcher star in this faceless and tasteless kid-geared film with an addiction to messy catastrophes.
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  • Porn Theater (La Chatte à deux têtes)

      This is a down and dirty portrait of a day in the life of a Parisian pornographic film theater, which is to say that not all the action is on said theater’s screen. If nothing else, your curiosity should be sadly satisfied. Jacques Nolot wrote, directed and plays the lead role.
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