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Layer Cake (2004)
Filmmaker(s): Matthew Vaughn

When a seemingly straight-forward drug deal goes awry, XXXX has to break his die-hard rules and turn up the heat, not only to outwit the old regime and come out on top, but to save his own skin...

Taking the Drugs One narrative form is the con story. All of these folding tricks are there to engage the viewer, to trick him or her into investing in the story. The idea is that some important things you understand about the story, your platform for...

Published February 23, 2024
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The White Diamond (2004)
Filmmaker(s): Werner Herzog

This 2004 documentary by Werner Herzog diaries the struggle of a passionate English inventor to design and test a unique airship during its maiden flight above the jungle canopy.

Flows, Roosters Watching a Herzog documentary is first a mystery about why it was made. About halfway through you understand why: an obsessed man made a flying balloon, mostly by making stuff up and killed his cinematographer. Now he wants to do it again, in a...

Published February 23, 2024
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The Machinist (2004)
How do you wake up from a nightmare if you’re not asleep?
Filmmaker(s): Brad Anderson

Trevor, an insomniac lathe operator, experiences unusual occurrences at work and home. A strange man follows him everywhere, but no one else seems to notice him.

One and a Half One can hope for good films. When preparing for the journey, one communicates with one‘s self about what to expect. If the construction is like this, a ‘puzzle film,‘ then the conversation continues through the film as it sustains two souls watching....

Published February 16, 2024
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Cha no aji (2004)
We were all watching the sunset, at the edge of the universe.
Filmmaker(s): Katsuhito Ishii

A spell of time in the life of a family in rural Tochigi prefecture. Yoshiko is not an ordinary housewife, instead working on an animated film project. Uncle Ayano, a successful music producer, is looking to get his head together after living in Tokyo. Meanwhile, Sachiko is concerned with why she seems to be followed by a giant version of herself. As the lazy days pass by, each member of the family is followed in a series of episodic vignettes.

Running Toward Touch It must be me. It seems that only Japanese filmmakers are able to find that light world where everything seems incidental, but every motion has cosmic force. So very many of these succeed. And again, we have a simple family who we observe, but...

Published February 15, 2024
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Innocence (2004)
The end of innocence...the beginning of life.
Filmmaker(s): Lucile Hadzihalilovic

At an unusual private school for girls, new students, including young Iris, show up in coffins. The establishment's teachers, Mademoiselle Eva and Mademoiselle Edith, introduce Iris and her fellow pupils to the school's curriculum, which includes fairy-like dances through a nearby forest. When night falls, the older girls, who are on the threshold of womanhood, are then given mysterious, life-changing lessons.

Moving Into “Institute Benjamenta” folded into “Picnic at Hanging Rock” “Maladolescenza” folded into “Stalker” “Yume“ folded into “Drowning with numbers” “Au revoir les enfants” folded into “Suspiria“ “Sex and Lucia” folded into “Dracula: Pages from a Virgin's Diary” These movements formed into a star. That star subtracted from the lid of...

Published February 7, 2024
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Bleed (2004)
Kill to get in. Die to get out.

A naïve young girl desperate to fit in with her new boyfriend's tightly knit crew learns that membership may be deadly. Upon arriving at a party with her new boyfriend, Shawn, desperate-to-fit-in newcomer Debbie learns that the friends have formed a mysterious brotherhood nicknamed "The Murder Club." As Debbie accepts her invitation to join the mysterious club, a murderer who seems to take the group's name to heart begins killing off members one by one.

Braided Slash Another cheap slasher. Usually, what fans look for is excess or cleverness in the killings. Here, there is something else of interest: at least until the final two scenes, the story is put together with some craft. What we often get is a mystery killer...

Published January 20, 2024
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Blade Trinity (2004)
The final hunt begins.
Filmmaker(s): David S. Goyer

For years, Blade has fought against the vampires in the cover of the night. But now, after falling into the crosshairs of the FBI, he is forced out into the daylight, where he is driven to join forces with a clan of human vampire hunters he never knew existed—The Nightstalkers. Together with Abigail and Hannibal, two deftly trained Nightstalkers, Blade follows a trail of blood to the ancient creature that is also hunting him—the original vampire, Dracula.

Misplaced Zombies These kinds of movies are very easy to evaluate. They need to be merely competent in terms of action, motion and noise. Where they need to excel is in the engineering of a unique style and the concurrent weaving of the mystical or occult...

Published January 19, 2024
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Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004)
Something wicked this way comes.
Filmmaker(s): Alfonso Cuarón

Year three at Hogwarts means new fun and challenges as Harry learns the delicate art of approaching a Hippogriff, transforming shape-shifting Boggarts into hilarity and even turning back time. But the term also brings danger: soul-sucking Dementors hover over the school, an ally of the accursed He-Who-Cannot-Be-Named lurks within the castle walls, and fearsome wizard Sirius Black escapes Azkaban. And Harry will confront them all.

Spaniard in the Works This franchise is being managed extremely well, better than any other. The “Lord of the Rings” films were all of a single whole, while these Harry Potter movies are each cognisant of what went before, changing and maturing just as would an...

Published January 19, 2024
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Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle (2004)
Fast food. High times.
Filmmaker(s): Danny Leiner

Nerdy accountant Harold and his irrepressible friend, Kumar, get stoned watching television and find themselves utterly bewitched by a commercial for White Castle. Convinced there must be one nearby, the two set out on a late-night odyssey that takes them deep into New Jersey. Somehow, the boys manage to run afoul of rednecks, cops and even a car-stealing Neil Patrick Harris before getting anywhere near their beloved sliders.

Fast Times at Ellis Island Once a genre takes hold it “comes alive” and does what it needs to do to adapt and selfishly survive. It happens in horror, especially in zombie and vampire films. And it is happening in the high school film. High school movies...

Published January 18, 2024
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Birth (2004)
Careful what you wish for.
Filmmaker(s): Jonathan Glazer

It took Anna 10 years to recover from the death of her husband, Sean, but now she's on the verge of marrying her boyfriend, Joseph, and finally moving on. However, on the night of her engagement party, a young boy named Sean turns up, saying he is her dead husband reincarnated. At first she ignores the child, but his knowledge of her former husband's life is uncanny, leading her to believe that he might be telling the truth.

Operatic There’s a scene in this that will be a feature of film school classes for a long time to come. Nicole is an uneven actress, only sometimes rising to the world class of Kate and Cate and the young Julianne. The smallest part of this...

Published September 11, 2023
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