A Good Woman

A Good Woman

Tagline: Every saint has a past. Every sinner has a future.

Set in the 1930s on the beautiful Italian Riviera, A Good Woman is an elegant, witty, romantic comedy based on Oscar Wilde’s “Lady Windermere’s Fan.” A young couple’s marriage is put in jeopardy by high-society gossip of an affair blossoming. Robert Windermere (Mark Umbers) is accused with providing a secret allowance for Mrs. Erlynne (Helen Hunt), a vampish older woman of ill repute, whilst his wife Meg Windermere (Scarlett Johansson), courts the attention of Lord Darlington (Stephen Campbell Moore), a notorious playboy.

Set in the 1930s on the beautiful shores of the Italian Riviera, Lions Gate Films’ “A Good Woman” follows the seductive Mrs. Erlynne (Hunt), scorned by many as a ‘woman of ill repute,’ leaves New York for the Amalfi coast, where she hopes to find a new ‘patron’ among the vacationing aristocrats.

The mean-spirited gossip stirred up by Mrs. Erlynne’s arrival isn’t enough to dissuade the jovial, kind-hearted Lord Augustus (Wilkinson) from falling in love with her. But Mrs. Erlynne has already set her sights on the married Robert Windermere (Mark Umbers), a wealthy young American who falls quickly under her spell.
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A Good Year

A Good Year

Tagline: Everything matures… eventually.

Based on the novel by Peter Mayle, the film is about failed London banker Max Skinner (Russell Crowe) who moves to Provence to tend a vineyard he inherited from his uncle, played by Albert Finney. There he encounters Cotillard’s character, a beautiful California woman who says she is a long-lost cousin and lays claim to the property.

Oscar-winner Russell Crowe reunites with “Gladiator” director Ridley Scott in A Good Year, a Fox 2000 Pictures presentation of a Scott Free production. London-based investment expert Max Skinner (Russell Crowe) moves to Provence to sell a small vineyard he has inherited from his late uncle. Max reluctantly settles into what ultimately becomes an intoxicating new chapter in his life, as he comes to realize that life is meant to be savored.

A Good Year is based on the best-selling novel of the same name by Peter Mayle. (Mayle and Ridley Scott, who are longtime friends, came up with the idea for the novel.)

Scott produces from a screenplay by Marc Klein. The film also stars the esteemed Albert Finney as Max’s late Uncle Henry, who imparts wisdom to his young nephew; Marion Cotillard (“A Very Long Engagement”) as a café owner who catches Max’s eye; Abbie Cornish (“Sommersault”) as Max’s supposed long-lost cousin, who may hold the vineyard’s title rights; Tom Hollander (“Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest”) as his best friend; and Freddie Highmore (“Finding Neverland”) as the young Max.
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A Prairie Home Companion

A Prairie Home Companion

Tagline: Radio like you’ve never seen it before.

“A Prairie Home Companion” is a fictionalized account of Garrison Keillor’s award-winning show, which currently runs on more than 558 public radio stations.

The film follows the show’s cast of characters preparing for the final live broadcast on the eve of being shut down after 30 years. As passions erupt, secrets emerge and a mysterious stranger lurks in the shadows, the vigilant stage manager must hold it all together since the “show must go on.”

Meryl Streep and Lily Tomlin star as the Johnson Sisters, Yolanda and Rhonda, a country duet act that has survived the county-fair circuit, and Lindsay Lohan plays Meryl’s daughter, Lola, who gets her big chance to sing on the show and then forgets the words.

Kevin Kline is Guy Noir, a private eye down on his luck who works as a backstage doorkeeper, and Woody Harrelson and John C. Reilly are Dusty and Lefty, the Old Trailhands, a singing cowboy act. Add Virginia Madsen as an angel and Tommy Lee Jones as the Axeman and Maya Rudolph as a pregnant stagehand and Keillor in the role of hangdog emcee, and you have a playful story set on a rainy Saturday night in St. Paul, Minnesota, where fans file into the Fitzgerald Theater to see “A Prairie Home Companion,” a staple of radio station WLT, not knowing that WLT has been sold to a Texas conglomerate and that tonight’s show will be the last.

Shot entirely in the Fitzgerald, except for the opening and closing scenes which take place in a nearby diner, the picture combines Altman’s cinematic style and intelligence and love of improvisation and Keillor’s songs and storytelling to create a fictional counterpart to the “A Prairie Home Companion” radio show.
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A Scanner Darkly

A Scanner Darkly

Tagline: Everything is not going to be OK

Location: Suburban Orange County, California.
Time: The near future.

“A Scanner Darkly” is set in suburban Orange County, California in a future where America has lost the war on drugs. When one reluctant undercover cop is ordered to start spying on his friends, he is launched on a paranoid journey into the absurd, where identities and loyalties are impossible to decode. It is a tale of drug use based on the novel by Philip K. Dick and his own experiences.

Like a graphic novel come to life, “A Scanner Darkly” will use live action photography overlaid with an advanced animation process (interpolated rotoscoping) to create a haunting, highly stylized vision of the future. The technology, first employed in Richard Linklater’s 2001 film “Waking Life,” has evolved to produce even more emotional impact and detail.

America’s endless and futile war on drugs has become one and the same with its war on terror. Reluctant undercover cop Bob Arctor (Keanu Reeves) follows orders to start spying on his friends, Jim Barris (Robert Downey Jr.), Ernie Luckman (Woody Harrelson), Donna Hawthorne (Winona Ryder) and Charles Freck (Rory Cochrane). When he is directed to step up the surveillance on himself, he is launched on a paranoid journey into the absurd, where identities and loyalties are impossible to decode.
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An Inconvenient Truth

An Inconvenient Truth

Tagline: By far the most terrifying film you will ever see.

“What gets us into trouble is not what we don’t know, it’s what we know for sure that just ain’t so.” — Mark Twain

Humanity is sitting on a time bomb. If the vast majority of the world’s scientists are right, we have just ten years to avert a major catastrophe that could send our entire planet’s climate system into a tail-spin of epic destruction involving extreme weather, floods, droughts, epidemics and killer heat waves beyond anything we have ever experienced- a catastrophe of our own making.

If that sounds like a recipe for serious gloom and doom — think again. From director Davis Guggenheim comes the Sundance Film Festival hit, An Inconvenient Truth, which offers a passionate and inspirational look at one man’s commitment to expose the myths and misconceptions that surround global warming and inspire actions to prevent it. That man is former Vice President Al Gore, who, in the wake of defeat in the 2000 election, re-set the course of his life to focus on an all-out effort to help save the planet from irrevocable change.

In this eye-opening and poignant portrait of Gore and his “traveling global warming show,” Gore is funny, engaging, open and downright on fire about getting the surprisingly stirring truth about what he calls our “planetary emergency” out to ordinary citizens before it’s too late.

With 2005, the worst storm season ever experienced in America just behind us, it seems we may be reaching a tipping point – and Gore pulls no punches in explaining the dire situation. Interspersed with the bracing facts and future predictions is the story of Gore’s personal journey: from an idealistic college student who first saw a massive environmental crisis looming; to a young Senator facing a harrowing family tragedy that altered his perspective; to the man who almost became President but instead returned to the most impassioned cause of his life – convinced that there is still time to make a difference.

With wit, smarts and hope, AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH ultimately brings home Gore’s persuasive argument that we can no longer afford to view global warming as a political issue – rather, it is the biggest moral challenge facing our global civilization.
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An American Haunting

An American Haunting

Tagline: Possession knows no sounds.

Based on “The Bell Witch: An American Haunting” by Brent Monahan. Known throughout Tennessee as “Old Kate,” the Bell Witch took up residence with John Bell’s family in 1818. It was a cruel and noisy spirit, given to rapping and gnawing sounds before it found its voices. With these voices and its supernatural acts, the Bell Witch tormented the Bell family. This extraordinary book recounts the only documented case in U.S. history when a spirit actually caused a man’s death.

The local schoolteacher, Richard Powell, witnessed the strange events and recorded them for his daughter. Members of the Bell family have previously provided information on this fascinating case, but this book recounts the tale with novelistic vigor and verve. It is truly chilling.

Starring Academy Award winner Sissy Spacek (“Carrie”), Golden Globe winner Donald Sutherland (“Don’t Look Now”), Rachel Hurd-Wood (Wendy Darling in P.J. Hogan’s “Peter Pan” and the upcoming “Perfume: The Story of a Murderer”), and James D’Arcy (“Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World”), this story is based on true events validated by the State of Tennessee as the only case in U.S. history where a spirit or entity caused the death of a human being. With over 20 books written on the subject, and a town that still lives in fear of the return of the unseen spirit, the story of An American Haunting is terrifying.

Between the years 1818-1820, the Bell Family of Red River, Tennessee was visited by an unknown presence that haunted the family and eventually ended up causing the death of one its members.

Starting with small sounds around the farm, and the sighting of a strange creature with piercing yellow eyes, the sounds escalated into full brutal contact with certain family members, causing psychological and physical torment. The attacks grew in strength, with the spirit slapping, pulling, dragging, and beating the Bell’s youngest daughter, Betsy.

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Accepted

Accepted Movie

Tagline: Reject rejection.

High school senior Bartleby “B” Gaines (Justin Long) is on his way to scoring eight out of eight rejection letters from colleges-which isn’t going to go over big with Mom and Dad. At least he’s not alone in the exclusion. Several of his crew of outcast friends are in the same, college-less boat. So…how does a guy facing a bleak career please his parents and get noticed by dream girl Monica (Blake Lively)? Simple. Open his own university.

B and his band of misfit freshmen take “liberal” arts literally when they fool their parents and peers and create the esteemed South Harmon Institute of Technology. They clean up an abandoned psychiatric facility, employ a buddy’s brilliant-but subversive-uncle (Lewis Black) as the dean and create a fake web site as their campus calling card. Bam! South Harmon, the alternative school of higher learning, is born.

Just as they are settling in, B and company realize they’ve done their jobs too well. Dozens of other college rejects show up for classes at this less-than-lofty institute. Under the scornful eyes of the privileged students from the neighboring college, B and his friends forge ahead with maintaining a fake, functioning university. Their efforts to explore alternative education result in a battle between the South Harmon co-eds and the “sister” school snobs. With his future in the balance, it’s going to take more than just sleight of hand to keep B out of jail as he strives to get the girl, impress his parents and just become… Accepted.
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Akeelah and the Bee

Akeelah and the Bee

Tagline: Changing the world… one word at a time.

An inspirational drama, Akeelah and the Bee is the story of Akeelah Anderson (Keke Palmer), a precocious eleven-year-old girl from south Los Angeles with a gift for words. Despite the objections of her mother Tanya (Angela Bassett), Akeelah enters various spelling contests, for which she is tutored by the forthright Dr. Larabee (Laurence Fishburne); her principal Mr. Welch (Curtis Armstrong) and the proud residents of her neighborhood.

Akeelah’s aptitude earns her an opportunity to compete for a spot in the Scripps National Spelling Bee and in turn unites her neighborhood who witness the courage and inspiration of one amazing little girl. A Lionsgate Films and 2929 Entertainment production, Akeelah and the Bee was written and directed by Doug Atchison. The film’s producers are Sid Ganis, Nancy Hult Ganis, Michael Romersa, Danny Llewelyn and Laurence Fishburne; executive producers are Todd Wagner, Mark Cuban and Helen Sugland.

Review

We all fell in love with word crunchers through the 2002 documentary Spellbound. Watching little kids get put through self-induced and parental intellectual hell inspired awe, sympathy, and a new respect for a literate faction of population that doesn’t normally gain that much publicity. But spinning off a fictional story from this reality has its challenges. Now that we’ve all seen the real thing, a technical accuracy has to be met. There’s also the difficult balance between maintaining realism and building an entertaining enough story to keep you focused.
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Alex Rider: Operation Stormbreaker

Alex Rider: Operation Stormbroker

Tagline: You’re Never Too Young To Die.

Based on the first novel by Anthony Horowitz about a 14-year-old orphan named Alex Rider secretly trained to take on dangerous missions for the British secret service. Based on the best selling young adult adventure series of books by Anthony Horowitz, this story concerns Alex Rider (Alex Pettyfer), a 14-year-old orphan who has been unwittingly trained all his life by his uncle with the skills to become a secret agent – scuba diving, mountaineering, martial arts and so on.

When his uncle (Ewan McGregor), an MI6 agent, is killed, Rider learns the truth and finds himself forced against his will to take on a dangerous mission for the British secret service. Using the tools and gadgets of the trade, in the vein of 007, Alex must infiltrate the lair of billionaire and evil mastermind Darrius Sayle (Mickey Rourke) in order to stop him from releasing a biological weapon upon all of England via his brand new, high tech Stormbreaker computers.

What’s the Next Stormbreaker?

Stormbreaker, for those who have not stumbled on the four-page ads, or do not have children, arrives in cinemas tomorrow. It introduces quad-biking, scuba-diving, mountaineering, teenage superspy Alex Rider. It is the first in what the makers obviously hope will be a franchise: Anthony Horowitz, who created Rider, has written six novels about him and sold 10m copies.
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All the King’s Men

All the King's Men

Tagline: Time brings all things to light.

Absolute power corrupts absolutely in writer – director Steven Zaillian’s (“Schindler’s List”) adaptation of Robert Penn Warren’s classic novel “All the King’s Men” featuring an all-star cast led by Sean Penn, Jude Law, Kate Winslet, Patricia Clarkson, Mark Ruffalo, Anthony Hopkins.

“All the King’s Men” charts the spectacular rise and fall of a charismatic Southern politician, “Boss” Willie Stark (Sean Penn). Law co-stars as Jack Burden, the once idealistic, now embittered ex-reporter who unwittingly fuels Stark’s corrupt political ambitions.

Based on Robert Penn Warren’s 1946 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, All the King’s Men tells the story of an idealist’s rise to power in the world of Louisiana politics and the corruption that leads to his ultimate downfall. All the King’s Men is a complex saga of human nature, power, corruption, idealism, romance and betrayal. Using politics as a framework to delve into the more profound dilemmas of human existence – sin, guilt and redemption.

Warren’s acclaimed exploration of morality was inspired by the career of Louisiana governor Huey P. Long and other political demagogues, and has had a profound effect on contemporary literature. Zaillian’s stylized treatment captures the essence of Warren’s novel, infusing it with classic noir elements.
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