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IFC Party celebrating the '2008 Film Independent's Spirit Awards' - Arrivals

Azura Skye Saturday 23rd February 2008 IFC Party celebrating the '2008 Film Independent's Spirit Awards' - Arrivals Santa Monica, California

One Missed Call Review


Unbearable
People are obsessed with cell phones. They talk while shopping for groceries, getting their hair done, even running on treadmills at the gym. Hell, I've seen a person talk on their cell phone while swimming in a pool. With this in mind, it isn't surprising that there's now a horror movie about ghosts traveling through cell phones. Want to witness the exorcism of a cell phone? Behold One Missed Call.

The cell phone-jumping ghost plays by unique rules. Sometimes, it's a physical creature and attacks people like the ghost from The Ring. Other times, it causes fatal freak accidents like the ghost in Final Destination. Often, it finds victims by searching through the former victim's cell phone address book. It gives a few days notice by leaving a post-dated voicemail of the victim's voice right before death. The ghost is kind enough to leave red candies in the deceased's mouth, too.

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Premiere of 'The Wendell Baker Story' at the Writers Guild Theatre

Azura Skye Thursday 10th May 2007 Premiere of 'The Wendell Baker Story' at the Writers Guild Theatre Beverly Hills, California

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Sexual Life Review


OK
Deja vu. I've now seen this movie three times: Only the first two times it was called Chain of Desire and Love in the Time of Money. Fortunately, Sexual Life is the marginal best of these three remarkably similar films: Each of which uses the new cliche of "six degrees of (sexual) separation" to tell its story. We start with one couple: Then she goes off to another guy, then he hooks up with another girl, and so on and so on until the movie comes full circle, of course. See, we're all screwing each other! Deep? Hardly, but a number of engaging performances here, most notably Elizabeth Banks and a less-crazy Anne Heche, elevate this into reasonable watchability.

Carolina Review


Weak
Just by looking at the cover you'll be able to figure out a fair amount of the content of Carolina. Sure, there will be a love triangle forming its central struggle, and a kindly old grandmother (Shirley MacLaine) will be on hand to dispense wisdom to young Carolina (Julia Stiles).

But will you guess that a major subplot will blatantly (and explicitly) rip off The Rocking Horse Winner? Or that MacLaine will spew a monologue about rubbing manure on her breasts? Wow. How could you?

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28 Days Review


Grim
Everyone knows that writers are drunks. I mean, I'm drunk right now. I'm surprised I can type, you know, since my hands are shaking so bad and my vision is so blurry.

If you're ready to buy in to the writer-as-alcoholic cliché, you should just love 28 Days, which pulls out every stereotype in the book. Sandra Bullock stars as Gwen, the aforementioned drunk writer (living, naturally, in New York City), who ruins her sister's wedding by insulting her during the toast, falling on the cake, and wrecking the "just married" car by crashing it into a house! Off to rehab for her, where she meets a cast of characters drawn so broadly they could populate a sitcom on UPN.

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The Salton Sea Review


Weak

A handsomely stylish, semi-punk, drug-culture updating of the wronged-man's-revenge film noir plot, "The Salton Sea" has one of the most enticingly, quintessentially film noir opening scenes I've ever seen.

Picture this: Val Kilmer, dressed as a hep cat who just finished a gig at a downtown jazz club, sits on the floor of his burning apartment. Leaning on a wall, silhouetted against the orange flames, he's playing his trumpet and bleeding -- possibly to death -- from a gunshot wound. A bag full of money lies beside him with wads of bills spilling out onto the floor beside him.

"My name is Tom Van Allen. Or Danny Parker. I honestly don't know any more," he breathes in a honeyed, genre-perfect voice-over. "You can decide -- yeah, maybe you can help me, friend. You can help me decide who I am. Avenging Angel? Judas Iscariot? Loving husband? Trumpet player? Speed freak?"

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Bandits Review


OK

There's a certain manifold, id-fueled whimsy to Barry Levinson's lighter movies that make them feel like carousel rides for grown-ups. From "Diner" to "Wag the Dog," his pictures are packed with enjoyably idiosyncratic characters, every one of them a frolicsome horse of a different color that from their opening scenes feel like friends (even the amoral ones).

In "Bandits" it's a pair of resourceful serial bank robbers and a maniacally disheartened housewife whom you can't wait to take for a ride.

Conspicuously charming, mannerly Joe Blake (Bruce Willis) and precariously nervous hypochondriac Terry Collins (Billy Bob Thornton) are amusingly winning jailbirds from the moment they spontaneously hijack an unexpectedly accessible cement mixer to bust out of the slammer. You cheer them on as they barrel the rig through back yard fences to evade the cops, and you grin when Joe says, "Ma'am, don't forget your purse" as they carjack a Subaru from a suburbanite.

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28 Days Review


OK

Director Betty Thomas' name in the opening credits of "28 Days" came as a big relief leading in to what looked like a soft-pedaled, politically corrected comedy about a happy-go-unlucky drunk -- played by button-cute Sandra Bullock -- wise-cracking her way through rehab.

It was reassuring to see that the woman holding the reins was a filmmaker who certainly knows how to turn a sow's ear into a silk purse. I mean, if she could make Howard Stern not only presentable but borderline sentimental (and without a hint of saccharine whitewash) in "Private Parts," surely a touchy subject like alcoholism is safe in her hands.

And so it is. Striking a sure-footed balance between its addiction woe and impudent humor, Thomas isn't afraid to scoff at twelve-steppers and include jests of questionable taste while still pulling off a story of a woman's difficult personal journey toward sobriety.

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