Author

Arion Berger

Two disciplined South Korean intelligence agents, romantic Ryu and music-hating Lee, are entrusted with tracking down a female super-assassin on the eve of a grand diplomatic dog-and-pony show. Directed by Kang Je-Gyu, Shiri,/b> is the big, gorgeous espionage thriller that catapulted sleek mainstream Korean cinema onto the world stage; it sparkles with sophisticated production values, frank political skepticism, and a finely wrought aquatic metaphor that threads through the propulsive plot like a silver river.

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Ah, women’s struggles – they’re just a bundle of sensitive cliches. Or so it goes in Showtime’s anthology series about upscale feminine relationships. Beautiful blondes express their narcissism through a lesbian dalliance (”It’s like talking to yourself, like kissing yourself,” observes a sympathetic officemate), a trio of bickering sisters reconcile after their mother dies, a wronged wife bonds with the other woman over the rottenness of male-kind: It’s all as tasteful as a Martha Stewart centerpiece, and about as insightful.

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For the superrich ninnies in Town & Country, a numbing-yet-frantic romantic rondelet, ”town” means a posh Manhattan pad and ”country” means a cabin in Sun Valley, a Hamptons beach spread, and a Mississippi plantation. Feeling empathy yet? Surely society architects like Porter Stoddard (Warren Beatty) have their love travails, but they can’t be as strenuously unfunny as the midlife crises of these two high-strung couples and the zanies who seduce them.

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With an unfortunate mullet haircut and sad-sack name thrust upon him, Spade’s humble janitor is less a cuddly loser than an underclass hero. The Dirtman may be mocked, but he won’t be beat – he cruises through America the Weird with a dogged adherence to his peckerwood tastes in a series of very funny and rather touching adventures, each proving that family is where you find it.

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David Spade, Jamie Pressley, ...

With an unfortunate mullet haircut and sad-sack name thrust upon him, Spade’s humble janitor Joe Dirt is less a cuddly loser than an underclass hero. The Dirtman may be mocked, but he won’t be beat – he cruises through America the Weird with a dogged adherence to his peckerwood tastes in a series of very funny and rather touching adventures, each proving that family is where you find it.

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Chris Klein, Heather Graham, ...

Despite the outrage they (purposely) incur, the Farrelly brothers’ successes – gaggingly funny, sick-joke romantic comedies – don’t cause actual brain damage or make viewers despise themselves for poor decision making. That facility belongs to the Farrellys’ bombs, none bombier than Say It Isn’t So, a mirthless, toneless, strangely dreary affair.

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The success of the crass Stuart Little proved that E.B. White’s children’s tales can withstand a cynical makeover. White’s fable about a trumpeter swan born with no voice proves less sturdy; it’s dragged down by cheap animation, lousy songs, and relentless vocal hamboning. Still, the message of individuality and the gentle pace may charm the wee ones.

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Director-screenwriter Giuseppe Tornatore (Cinema Paradiso) handsomely depicts Italy-in-transition through the eyes of young voyeurs, in this case little Renato (Sulfaro), who achieves sexual, social, and political awareness by spying on local beauty Malena (Bellucci). Her downfall from outcast widow to brazen tramp in a WWII-era Sicilian village is as bonkers as it is grotesque. Ickily, Tornatore magisterially concludes that Renato’s newfound maturity makes Malena’s humiliation worthwhile.

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English studlets Law and Miller swagger through this cockney gangster flick as if their mere chiseled presences will make up for the secondhand Guy Ritchie style and pretentious script of Love, Honor, & Obey. Jude plays ”Jude,” nephew of a crime boss; Jonny plays ”Jonny,” desperate to break into the business; Law’s real-life wife, Sadie Frost, plays ”Sadie”; and everybody sings karaoke and discusses their sex problems between casual acts of brutality.

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According to husband-and-wife writing team Morris and Denton in The Money and the Power, the gangster Bugsy Siegel created a Las Vegas style that endures to this day. In 1946, Siegel established ”the long tradition of the financing of modern Las Vegas by Mormons, regional and local banks, unions and corporations…” while amassing loans for his Flamingo Hotel.

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