When young Winnie Madikizela first set eyes on lawyer and anti-apartheid activist Nelson Mandela in 1957, it was love at first sight and it wasn't long before she became Mrs Winnie Mandela. However, their idyllic life was soon to be torn apart when he was arrested five years later and later charged with life imprisonment for conspiring to overthrow the state. Winnie did anything but give up though. She embarked on an activism campaign of her own, determined not to let her husband's voice be forgotten and tirelessly working on winning his freedom. Even in spite of numerous scandals that were thrust against her, her loyalty and fighting spirit never wavered.
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It may be style over substance, but Brandon Cronenberg cleverly blends his father David's love of medical yuckiness with an elusive Lynchian-style mystery to keep us unnerved all the way through this low-key thriller. And the film also works as a dark satire on today's celebrity-obsessive culture, in which fans will go to any lengths to be closer to their idols. So imagine if they had the chance to share a star's illness.
This is the work done by the gleaming, futuristic Lucas Clinic, where clinician Syd (Jones) works. He injects one patient (Smith) with an STD taken from mega-star Hanna Geist (Gadon). But Syd has secretly given himself a more powerful virus, which he learns is killing Hannah. Now everyone wants to get their hands on him, even as he realises that he needs to find a cure before it's too late. So he gets in touch with Hannah's assistant (McCarthy) and doctor (McDowell), and discovers that there's a conspiracy afoot involving his clinic's main rival.
The idea that fans would go to this kind of extreme isn't actually that unbelievable in a culture in which we watch their every move on reality TV and feel like their friends through Twitter. And Cronenberg's idea goes beyond sharing viruses, including cloned skin grafts and even a butcher (Pingue) who sells meat grown from celebrity cells. While the ideas echo some of David Cronenberg's films (mainly Videodrome and eXistenZ), this is also a strikingly original approach. The imagery looks amazing, with all-white surfaces and a spare use of colour, against which Syd's unravelling physicality looks increasingly garish.
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Goofy recording engineer Leo (Tatum) and adorable artist Paige (McAdams) had a cute romance, quirky wedding and four happy years together before a car crash changed everything. Leo only has minor injuries, but Paige has lost some five years of memories. Crucially, she has no idea who Leo is. And she doesn't remember turning her back on her law course, smirking fiance (Speedman) and wealthy parents (Lange and Neill). They're all she remembers now, so Leo tries to remind her of who she became after she left them behind. If they'll let him.
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Upon father investigation, we learn the MPAA rated The Covenant PG-13 for "intense sequences of violence and action, some disturbing images, sexual content, partial nudity and language." What more can you ask for in a guilty pleasure? With alleged intense action, sex appeal, and supernatural qualities, The Covenant just has to be a treat for the senses--right?
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Nobody knows why gay love stories have gone from being taboo to trendy, but the film industry is belatedly ready to exploit the new homophilia with Trick and Better Than Chocolate, a Canadian import by director Anne Wheeler. Gay love stories have momentarily joined the list of bankable film premises, along with Julia Roberts and dog-poop gags. Formerly alternative screenwriters and directors, probably concerned that the 15-minute stopwatch is ticking, are rushing in with product. So far, the results are mostly forgettable.
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Ever since Short Cuts won accolades, we get a yearly version of this movie, a sometimes thoughtful collection of stories, none large enough to stand alone as a feature film, some to slight to merit any attention at all. Between Strangers mitigates this problem by focusing on the stories of three women, all wrestling with past mistakes or old regrets.
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One simple thing a filmmaker can do to make a picture better is to clearly establish time and place. You'd think that such a thing would be a given, but it's surprising how many filmmakers disregard this simple concept.
For the new film "The Clearing," writer Justin Haythe and writer/director Pieter Jan Brugge (a producer on "Bulworth," The Insider" and other films, making his directorial debut) probably intended to play with time, to bend it and stretch it to serve their purposes. But in the end, they only serve to alienate us by deliberately confusing us.
The film begins like a standard-issue kidnapping story, similar to 2000's "Proof of Life" and a dozen others. The filmmakers cut back and forth between the kidnap victim and his fretting wife, trying to build an equal amount of suspense within each storyline.
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Robert Zemeckis' self-indulgent direction hangs like an albatross around the celluloid neck of "What Lies Beneath," a soft-peddled yuppie horror flick that could have been -- with some fine tuning -- a sharp and genuinely scary thriller.
Forty minutes longer than necessary and featuring a cry-scream-and-run climax so drawn out that every ounce of tension evaporates from the screen half an hour before the credits roll, it's a frustrating movie to watch because of all the wasted potential.
Anything but a standard teens-in-peril slasher movie, "What Lies Beneath" stars Michelle Pfeiffer as a New England mom with empty nest syndrome after packing her daughter off to college in the opening scenes. Now alone in the house a lot, she becomes a busy body, spying on the new next door neighbors and witnessing what she thinks is a murder.
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Underneath "The 6th Day's" Schwarzenegger schmaltz of expensive explosions, showpiece stunts and utterly extraneous jet-helicopter chases, there's an intelligent cautionary thriller about science run amuck which has been trampled to death.
Taking place in a future that is "sooner than you think" -- a high-gloss world of virtual girlfriends, self-driving cars and illegal cloning -- the plot is basically a rehash of "Total Recall" in which Arnold plays a seemingly average joe whose life is turned upside-down by the cogs of a giant conspiracy.
Schwarzenegger is Adam Gibson, an oh-so-suburban dad who owns a souped-up helicopter charter service. On the day he's been hired to drop a paranoid billionaire (Tony Goldwyn) on a mountain top for a day of skiing, Adam switches chopper duties with his business partner (Michael Rapaport) so he can go to the mall and get a RePet -- a genetic copy of the family dog -- before his daughter finds out the critter died.
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At least one of the seven credited writers of the sequel-for-sequel's-sake holiday kiddie flick "The Santa Clause 2" clearly felt obliged to try to remedy the picture's contemptibly contrived premise by writing some really funny dialogue. And at least for-hire director Michael Lembeck (a sitcom vet making his screen debut) managed to infuse the movie with a fun, touching, sweet spirit.
But these acts are akin to Christmas miracles, coming as they do under the burden of a plot -- scratch that, a gimmick -- that revolves around finding even more fine print on the calling card of a dead St. Nick, which turned divorced suburban dad Scott Calvin (Tim Allen) into Santa Claus in the original family comedy from 1994.
It seems the elves waited eight years to inform their new Santa that he has until this Christmas to find a Mrs. Claus -- or else. "The de-Santafication process has already begun," frets head elf Bernard (David Krumholtz) as he shoos Scott off to find a wife. Meanwhile cherubic techie-elf Curtis (played by Spencer Breslin, one of those child actors who runs all his lines together without taking a breath or showing a hint of inflection) clones a big, rubbery toy Santa automaton (played by Allen in heavy prosthetic makeup) to stand in for Scott (unconvincingly) so the other elves won't learn of his predicament and panic at his absence.
Continue reading: The Santa Clause 2 Review
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