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Sex Drive

Director: Sean Anders
Cast: Josh Zuckerman, Clark Duke, Amanda Crew, James Marsden, Seth Green

(Summit Entertainment; US theatrical: 17 Oct 2008; 2008)

Review [17.Oct.2008]
17 October The Main Speaker



Sex Drive


Someone once said that every generation needs its adolescent sex comedies. The ‘60s had the beach movies while the ‘70s celebrated the cheerleader. The ‘80s leered at bikinis and party girls, while the ‘90s ended on an all American Pie fight. Now comes this under the radar release from novice helmer Sean Anders. Using that ‘oh so hip’ happenstance of the online hookup, our hard up hero (played by Josh Zuckerman) travels across country to meet the WWWomen of his dreams. Naturally horndog hijinx ensue.





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Morning Light

Director: Mark Monroe

(Walt Disney Pictures; US theatrical: 17 Oct 2008; 2008)

17 October The Surrounding Din



Morning Light


Produced by Uncle Walt’s nephew Roy Disney, and directed by first timer Mark Monroe, this documentary centers on the story of the title sloop as it competes in the trying Transpac Yacht Race. With a crew consisting of young people ages 18 to 23, this is the kind of uplifting story that confirms hard work and self esteem can make the impossible seem simple. Of course, there’s always the chance it meanders over into maudlin pap, but that’s the risk we moviegoers frequently face.





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The Secret Life of Bees

Director: Gina Prince-Bythewood
Cast: Queen Latifah, Dakota Fanning, Paul Bettany, Alicia Keys, Sophie Okonedo

(Fox Searchlight; US theatrical: 17 Oct 2008; 2008)

Review [17.Oct.2008]
17 October The Surrounding Din



The Secret Life of Bees


Based on Sue Monk Kidd’s novel, this coming of age story set in the South during the early ‘60s sees Dakota Fanning running away from her abusive father to visit a small town important to her late mother’s past. With the help of Jennifer Hudson as her housekeeper accomplice, and the fiery Boatwright Sisters (essayed by Queen Latifah, Sophie Okonedo and Alicia Keys), our heroine learns of her family history and its cross cultural significance.





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Changeling

Director: Clint Eastwood
Cast: Angelina Jolie, John Malkovich, Amy Ryan, Geoff Pierson, Jeffrey Donovan, Jason Butler Harner, Colm Feore, Michael Kelly

(Universal Pictures; US theatrical: 24 Oct 2008; 2008)

Review [18.Feb.2009]
Review [24.Oct.2008]
24 October The Main Speaker



Changeling


Fresh off almost unanimous rave reviews at Cannes (it was a serious contender for the coveted Palm d’Or), the most recent in Clint Eastwood’s impressive late in life renaissance finds Angelina Jolie playing the mother of a kidnapped child. When her boy is finally returned to her, she slowly becomes convinced he is not her actual son. Set in the Los Angeles of the ‘20s, and loosely based on the real life Wineville Chicken Murders, the Oscar winning director has been widely praised for his maintenance of thriller conventions while expanding the visual language of the genre. It seems that the switch from the project’s original overseer (it was developed by Imagine for Ron Howard) did everyone good.





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High School Musical 3: Senior Year

Director: Kenny Ortega
Cast: Zac Efron, Vanessa Hudgens, Ashley Tisdale, Lucas Grabeel, Corbin Bleu, Monique Coleman

(Walt Disney Pictures; US theatrical: 17 Oct 2008; 2008)

24 October The Main Speaker



High School Musical 3: Senior Year


The House of Mouse knows which side of their bread the disposable income of post-millennial youth culture is buttered, so it’s back to East High for more pop song and modern dance dopiness. Let’s face it—there is a built in phenom simply agog for the moment this movie opens, and nothing we say here will dissuade said demo from lining Disney’s coffers with green. If Kenny Ortega’s lightweight franchise does anything, here’s hoping it turns tweeners onto the real musicals of the ‘30s, ‘40s, and ‘50s. This jukebox jive can’t hold a candle to the traditions established during the genre’s Golden Age.





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Synecdoche, New York

Director: Charlie Kaufman
Cast: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Catherine Keener, Michelle Williams, Samantha Morton, Hope Davis, Emily Watson, Dianne Weist, Tom Noonan

(Sony Classics; US theatrical: 24 Oct 2008; 2008)

Review [24.Oct.2008]
24 October The Main Speaker



Synecdoche, New York


Calling a Charlie Kaufman film quirky is like the pot calling the kettle ‘kitchenware’. But few who’ve seen the screenwriter turned director’s first cut of this film were ready for how abjectly bizarre it really is. The premise alone promises something truly surreal—a theater director decides to build a full scale replica of Manhattan in a warehouse for his latest production—and the clips recently unearthed on the Internet seem to support an outrageous, avant-garde head scratcher. Such overreach can be considered arrogance. Here’s hoping Kaufman can find the right balance between ego and entertainment.





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Saw V

Director: David Hackl
Cast: Tobin Bell, Julie Benz, Costas Mandylor, Scott Patterson, Betsy Russell

(Lionsgate; US theatrical: 24 Oct 2008; 2008)

24 October The Surrounding Din



Saw V


Like Hurricane Season and Rush Week binge drinking, it’s that time of the year again. Time for Jigsaw and his catlike nine(teen) lives to scare up fright franchise dollars with this fifth installment in the neverending scare series. With Darren Lynn Bousman out as director (he helmed Parts 2 through 4) we now get production designer David Hackl behind the lens. This could be the make or break movie for all things Saw.





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Passengers

Director: Rodrigo Garcia
Cast: Anne Hathaway, Patrick Wilson, Clea DuVall, David Morse, Dianne Wiest

(Columbia Pictures; US theatrical: 24 Oct 2008; 2008)

Review [12.May.2009]
24 October The Surrounding Din



Passengers


Anne Hathaway is back, this time as a grief counselor who must work through the conflicting accounts of some plane crash survivors. Just as she makes some manner of headway, her patients start disappearing. Little else is known about this production, except that director Rodrigo Garcia has a long list of credits in episodic television. Whether he can translate his talents to the big screen remains a compelling commercial question.





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Pride and Glory

Director: Gavin O’Connor
Cast: Edward Norton, Colin Farrell, Jon Voight, Noah Emmerich

(Warner Brothers; US theatrical: 24 Oct 2008; 2008)

Review [24.Oct.2008]
24 October The Surrounding Din



Pride and Glory


The trailer makes this movie featuring Edward Norton and Colin Farrell as competing cop brothers look like last year’s lame We Own the Night. Now comes word that this New Line leftover may actually be pushed to 2009. Sometimes, the cinematic omens really do predict a film’s financial future.





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Crossing Over

Director: Wayne Kramer
Cast: Harrison Ford, Jim Sturgess, Ray Liotta, Sean Penn, Ashley Judd, Alice Eve, Summer Bishil, Cliff Curtis

(The Weinstein Company; US theatrical: 24 Oct 2008; 2008)

Review [6.Mar.2009]
24 October The Surrounding Din



Crossing Over


Wayne Kramer, responsible for 2003’s sleeper The Cooler, retools one of his short films from 1998 into a feature length story of the immigrant experience in America. With a powerhouse cast consisting of Harrison Ford, Ray Liotta, Sean Penn, and Ashley Judd (among many others), there is a great deal of promise for this kind of multi-layered interlocking narrative. Some are suggesting that the film oversimplifies a very complex problem, while leaving out several segments of the populace that should be front and center. It awaits to be seen.





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Zack and Miri Make a Porno

Director: Kevin Smith
Cast: Seth Rogen, Elizabeth Banks, Craig Robinson, Jason Mewes, Katie Morgan, Traci Lords

(The Weinstein Company; US theatrical: 31 Oct 2008 (General release); UK theatrical: 14 Nov 2008 (General release); 2008)

Review [31.Oct.2008]
31 October The Main Speaker



Zack and Miri Make a Porno


Rumor has it that Kevin Smith sold The Weinstein Company’s head honcho Harvey on this project via a small scarp of paper with only the title scribbled on it. Now, several months (and a few MPAA battles later), the clever Clerks creator has everything in alignment for a major box office success. He’s got the red hot Seth Rogen and his equally omnipresent costar Elizabeth Banks. The premise suggests lots of scatology and smut, and Smith is known for his wonderful way with words. If it’s anything like Clerks II, we could be looking at one of 2008’s unlikeliest Year End champs.





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RocknRolla

Director: Guy Ritchie
Cast: Gerard Butler, Tom Wilkinson, Thandie Newton, Idris Elba, Chris Bridges, Jeremy Piven, Gemma Arterton

(Warner Brothers; US theatrical: 8 Oct 2008 (Limited release); UK theatrical: 5 Sep 2008 (General release); 2008)

Review [31.Oct.2008]
31 October The Main Speaker



RockNRolla


For a while, it looked like Madonna really did kill Guy Ritchie’s career. After Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels and the equally brilliant Snatch, the UK filmmaker gave audiences the godawful update of Swept Away and the equally abysmal Revolver. This time around, however, he seems back on his game, delivering a deft little gangster drama. With 300‘s Gerard Butler onboard, and a supposed superstar making turn by Toby Kebbell as drug addled musician Johnny Quid, we have proof that the Material Girl’s meddling was merely temporary. Thankfully, it looks like Ritchie has remembered what life was like pre-tabloid nuptials.





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The Haunting of Molly Hartley

Director: Mickey Liddell
Cast: Chace Crawford, AnnaLynne McCord, Haley Bennett, Josh Stewart, Marin Hinkle, Jake Weber

(Freestyle Releasing; US theatrical: 31 Oct 2008; 2008)

31 October The Surrounding Din



The Haunting of Holly Hartley


It’s been a while since we had a good ‘the Devil made me do it’ fright flick, and this intriguing release from Freestyle suggests a throwback to the days of Rosemary’s Baby and precarious post-modern Satanism. Our title character is truly disturbed by her mother’s actions when she was a child. After barely surviving a brutal knife attack, she tries to get her life back together at a new school. Still, the visions bring on fears of mental illness—and the notion that her murderous parent may have been working for (or perhaps against) the forces of unnatural evil.



Since deciding to employ his underdeveloped muse muscles over five years ago, Bill has been a significant staff member and writer for three of the Web's most influential websites: DVD Talk, DVD Verdict and, of course, PopMatters. He also has expanded his own web presence with Bill Gibron.com a place where he further explores creative options. It is here where you can learn of his love of Swindon's own XTC, skim a few chapters of his terrifying tome in the making, The Big Book of Evil, and hear samples from the cassette albums he created in his college music studio, The Scream Room.


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