50 Cent

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Director Scott Walker‘s The Frozen Ground is the kind of thriller your conservative grandmother loves. It’s all around safe and plain, simple and to the point, and all very, very by-the-numbers. It’s like an episode of Law & Order expanded to two hours with an occasional polish or two. That idea may entice some older viewers, but after two hours of a “been there done that” on television, it’s not exactly attention grabbing. And this is a movie that conceptually should work. Alaskan State Trooper Jack Halcombe, played by a determined Nicolas Cage, attempting to bring killer Robert Hansen, played by a finicky John Cusack, should be a joy to watch. Not because of its violent content, but because we’re seeing two notable actors facing off. It’s a cat and mouse game approached with smarts, not guns. There’s no scene of Halcombe confronting Hansen at his job or physically accosting him, but instead he’s simply trying to catch him with good old fashioned police work.

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For a documentary to get noticed these days, it helps to have a fresh angle. But being creative with the form doesn’t necessarily result in an effective film, especially when it’s tackling a serious issue. Stunts occasionally work (see Super Size Me), as do innovative narrative devices (see 1965 Oscar-winner The War Game), but most docs with a gimmick unfortunately seem to hold that stylistic choice in front of the subject at hand. There’s no denying that How to Make Money Selling Drugs is a clever work of nonfiction, but we’re left thinking about the structure more than the film’s point. The real problem, however, might be that the film’s point is not even too clear anyway. Written, directed and heavily narrated by Matthew Cooke, the doc takes the form of, as the title suggests, an actual How-To guide to making money selling drugs. For a while it seems like an amusing piece of ironic satire, as former dealers including rapper 50 Cent and legendary trafficker “Freeway” Rick Ross favorably talk of making big money at very young ages. Then Cooke’s focus veers towards the problems of the Drug War and the prison industrial system and NYC’s Rockefeller laws, and it’s apparent that he may in fact be endorsing the occupation.

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Before it had even filled out a single supporting role, the upcoming prison break actioner The Tomb was already blowing my mind with its casting, because it managed to become the movie that finally fulfilled my childhood fantasy of having Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger team up as a duo of badasses. The film intrigued further, however, when it cast Jim Caviezel, an actor with some serious chops, as the evil prison warden that Sly and Arnie would be running afoul of. Maybe this movie would have even more to offer than just the chance to watch the two most preeminent ass-kickers of the 80s do their thing in tandem? Well now a big casting update from Variety all but confirms that this one has more than one trick up its sleeve. Four new names have been added to, or are in talks to join the cast, and whether it’s because of talent, notoriety, or a combination of the two, each name is rather newsworthy in their own right. Perhaps the most exciting of the bunch is Amy Ryan, who has signed on to play the Stallone character’s business partner and potential love interest. Whether it’s performing comedy on something like The Office, or doing drama in something like The Wire, Ryan has proven that she’s a great hand whatever the situation, so her inclusion should go a long way in classing this big, dumb action movie up.

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What is Movie News After Dark? It’s a nightly movie news column that will soon be shot almost exclusively in IMAX. What this means for you is that you’ll need to get a bigger monitor, as this column will only appear to those whose monitors are at least 70 feet tall. We feel that’s the only way to read it. We promise to make it worth your while. According to a handy press release from Warner Bros., we can now confirm that production has begun on Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises. For those who have not heard of this project, it’s the third in Nolan’s somewhat popular series of Batman movies. But wait, there’s more: “Christopher Nolan is utilizing IMAX® cameras even more extensively than he did on The Dark Knight, which had marked the first time ever that a major feature film was partially shot with IMAX® cameras.” Oh yes!

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The awesome, exciting, and truly interesting casting news coming out of Sylvester Stallone’s The Expendables had to come to an end sometime.

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How do we fix a film that is too French? We can start with less turtlenecks…and 50 Cent.

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Hurricane Katrina

Val Kilmer, 50 Cent and Sharon Stone will star in a film about two policemen battling the chaos that reigned in New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, according to Variety.

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The Daily Grind: The News We Missed

50 Cent has regret, Errol Morris has a sense of humor and Jake Gyllenhaal might be playing in the Sands of Time. That, and a cool visual guide to this crazy George Bush Biopic from Oliver Stone.

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The news of using illegal steroids and performance-enhancing drugs is nothing special. We see that every day… in the sports pages.

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