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Veronica Santiago and Neil Estep review Flags of our Fathers in this episode of FilmCrunch:

It is the most memorable photograph of World War II, among the greatest pictures ever taken. The winner of the Pulitzer Prize for photography and one of the most-reproduced images in the history of photography, the picture has inspired postage stamps, posters, the covers of countless magazines and newspapers, and even the Marine Corps War Memorial in Arlington, Virginia. “Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima,” a picture taken by Associated Press photographer Joe Rosenthal on February 23, 1945 depicts five Marines and one Navy Corpsman raising the U.S. flag on Mount Suribachi. The image served as a counterpoint for one of the most vicious battles of the war: the fight to take Iwo Jima, a desolate island of black sand barely eight square miles that would prove a tipping point in the Pacific campaign. Lasting more than a month, the fight was a bloody, drawn-out conflict that might have turned the American public against the war entirely, had it not been for the photo, which was taken and published five days into the battle. The photograph made heroes of the men in the picture as the three surviving flag-raisers were returned to the U.S. and made into props in the government’s Seventh War Bond Tour. Uncomfortable with their new celebrity, the flag-raisers considered the real heroes to be the men who died on Iwo Jima; still, the American public held them up as the best America had to offer, the supermen who conquered the Japanese—and then, just as quickly as it had arrived, the glory faded. For two of the surviving flag-raisers, life became a series of compromises and disappointments; for the third, happiness came only by shutting off his war experiences and rarely speaking of them ever again.

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Veronica Santiago and Neil Estep review Sherrybaby on DVD in this episode of FilmCrunch:

Three years after entering prison for robbery as a 19-year-old heroin addict, Sherry Swanson begins her first day of freedom, clean and sober. A model prisoner who has undergone personal transformation, she immediately sets out to regain custody of her young daughter Alexis, who has been cared for in her absence by her brother Bobby and his wife Lynn. Unprepared for the demands of the world she’s stepped back into, Sherry’s hopes of staying clean, getting a job, and becoming a responsible mother are challenged by the realities of unemployment, halfway houses, and parole restrictions. Bobby and Lynn’s concerns about Sherry’s ability to care for Alexis, and her inability to prove them wrong, threaten to destroy the already delicate relationship she has with her daughter, as well as her newfound sobriety. Disillusioned and haunted by wounds from her childhood, Sherry is eventually confronted with life-altering questions about her own survival and what it means to be a good mother. Ultimately she learns that as the harsh realities of life often get in the way of her best intentions, sometimes it’s best to take life one small step at a time.

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The ReapingAcademy Award-winning actress Hilary Swank decided to show her acting chops in the dark, spiritually-toned thriller The Reaping. And, according to critics, it’s highly unlikely she’ll get the Oscar nod for this newest flick of hers. As Katherine Winter, Hilary struts her stuff as an ex-minister-turned-professor debunking miracles. This occupation actually exists, though generally it’s not considered film fodder. A river of blood in a Louisiana town leads Katherine through her cynic’s journey of disproving the event, finding the “rational” reason behind it all. Fans will get to see Swank parade around in the river while they watch cool special effects make all 10 biblical plagues sweep Louisiana lands. In the end, will Katherine find her belief system again, and battle these religious happenings with her now-strong faith? The bigger question is, will fans even stick around the theatre long enough to find out? Early reviews are, in a word, bad. And, apparently, so is Swank’s newest movie.

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Veronica Santiago and Neil Estep review Smokin’ Aces in this episode of FilmCrunch:

In these interlocking tales of high stakes and low lifes, Mob boss Primo Sparazza has taken out a hefty contract on Buddy “Aces” Israel—a sleazy magician who has agreed to turn state’s evidence against the Vegas mob. The FBI, sensing a chance to use this small-time con to bring down big-target Sparazza, places Aces into protective custody-under the supervision of two agents dispatched to Aces’ Lake Tahoe hideout. When word of the price on Aces’ head spreads into the community of ex-cons and cons-to-be, it entices bounty hunters, thugs-for-hire, smokin’ hot vixens and double-crossing mobsters to join in the hunt. With all eyes on Tahoe, this rogues’ gallery collides in a comic race to hit the jackpot and rub out Aces.

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Veronica Santiago and Neil Estep report back with their review of the Academy Award-winning Dreamgirls:

Set in the turbulent early 1960s to mid-70s, the tale follows the rise of a trio of women—Effie, Deena and Lorrell—who have formed a promising girl group called The Dreamettes. At a talent competition, they are discovered by an ambitious manager named Curtis Taylor, Jr., who offers them the opportunity of a lifetime: to become the back-up singers for headliner James “Thunder” Early. Curtis gradually takes control of the girls’ look and sound, eventually giving them their own shot in the spotlight as The Dreams. That spotlight, however, begins to narrow in on Deena, finally pushing the less attractive Effie out altogether. Though the Dreams become a cross-over phenomenon, they soon realize that the cost of fame and fortune may be higher than they ever imagined.

Now we want to hear from you - hit the forums and let us know what you think, what you want us to watch next, and any other recommendations you have for the show.

Blades of Glory

It really shouldn’t have been hard to predict that a Will Ferrell movie—or frankly a better movie—would take the top spot away from those fightin’ turtles.  Audiences simply love watching him mock their beloved sports.  It’s also worth nothing that TMNT sunk so low…it was even surpassed by the old fave, 300Cowabunga?#$%!

Here’s how the rest of the weekend broke down:

1. Blades of Glory, Paramount, $33,014,202
2. Meet the Robinsons, Disney, $25,123,781
3. 300, Warner Bros., $11,434,437
4. TMNT, Warner Bros., $9,232,362
5. Wild Hogs, Disney, $8,662,893
6. Shooter, Paramount, $8,364,413
7. Premonition, Sony, $5,213,264
8. The Hills Have Eyes II, Fox Atomic
9. Reign Over Me, Sony, $3,835,022
10. The Last Mimzy, New Line, $3,815,600

Veronica Santiago and Neil Estep are back with a full episode of FilmCrunch. In this show, expect a review of Clint Eastwood‘s Letters from Iwo Jima, along with a DVD review of This Film is Not Yet rated.

Now we want to hear from you - hit the forums and let us know what you think, what you want us to watch next, and any other recommendations you have for the show.

Cate BlanchettCate Blanchet (Notes on a Scandal, The Aviator) was recently in negotiations for a starring role in the fourth installment of Indiana Jones, according to her publicist.  The role will place Blanchett in the oft-occupied female space next to Indy, hopefully allowing her to exude a strong, supporting presence that is typical of her performances.  Much remains unknown about the long-awaited film, but keep checking back for all updates right here on FilmCrunch.

The fourth installment of the Indiana Jones series will be directed by Steven Spielberg, produced by George Lucas, and will star – as always – Harrison Ford.

Read More | CNN


And Xerses thought 300 warriors looked pathetic.  Apparently a handful of shells was all it took to take down that clump of shielded warriors.  The latest Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles offering, TMNT, took the top spot away this weekend from powerhouse 300.

Also of note—two movies starring a Wahlberg opened up this week:  Shooter with Mark and Dead Silence with Donnie.  While neither movie did spectacular, both movies managed to crack the Top 10.  Here’s the breakdown for the rest of the contenders:

1. TMNT, Warner Bros., $24,255,205
2. 300, Warner Bros., $19,862,491
3. Shooter, Paramount, $14,523,571
4. Wild Hogs, Disney, $13,850,542
5. The Last Mimzy, New Line, $10,024,819
6. The Hills Have Eyes II, Fox Atomic, $9,686,362
7. Premonition, Sony, $9,562,739
8. Reign Over Me, Sony, $7,460,690
9. Pride, Lionsgate, $3,533,300
10. Dead Silence, Universal, $3,440,415

The Holiday

In the newly released DVD, The Holiday, women all over the world are unlucky in love (shocker!).  In LA, Amanda (Cameron Diaz) discovers that her boyfriend is cheating on her.  Meanwhile in England, Iris (Kate Winslet) learns that her pseudo-boyfriend is actually marrying someone else.  Both in desperate need of a getaway, they exchange homes via the internet for the Christmas holiday.  But whether they can successfully detox during their man-sabbatical remains to be seen.

The Holiday is directed by Nancy Meyers (Something’s Gotta Give) and stars Kate Winslet, Cameron Diaz, Jude Law, Jack Black and Rufus Sewell.  Rated PG-13.

Click to continue reading The Holiday DVD Review