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I Love You, Beth Cooper (PG-13)

20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

If this were made in, say, 1988, it might have been a B-level teen classic along the lines of other lesser flicks like Loverboy or License to Drive. Today, it's just kinda sad. The main problem I have with I Love You, Beth Cooper is that we're all supposed to be not only entranced and enamored with the title character, but also with the actress who plays her, Hayden Panettiere. Too bad Beth is a clueless, flaky, aloof airhead who is positively grating, and Panettiere herself comes across as utterly charisma-free and wholly unlikable. The fact that the nerd hero of the movie would spend his whole life pining after her — and continue to, even after discovering the "real her," which is even worse — sends this into science-fiction territory. Mark this love letter "Return to Sender" and take Panettiere's movie career with you. — Louis Fowler

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Say Anything... (20th Anniversary Edition) (PG-13)

20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

Say Anything... is regarded as one of the best coming-of-age romantic movies ever. Its depiction of true love is sweet and quirky. But when I watched it for the first time in 20 years, via this DVD, I found it a little simplistic and pretentious. Worse, I discovered myself siding with the damnified father character, played with subtle zeal by John Mahoney. Sure, he makes a mistake or two, cheating the elderly and all, but he loves his daughter (Ione Skye) and cares about her future. So for her to abandon him for this dude (John Cusack) ... well, the couple look like jerks. Still, with commentary from Cusack, Skye and director Cameron Crowe, plus alternate, deleted and extended scenes, Say Anything... remains a decent addition to any DVD collection. — Louis Fowler

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Not Forgotten (R)

Anchor Bay Home Entertainment

Despite its generic title, Not Forgotten is a pleasantly surprising thriller, kind of a South-of-the-Border take on A History of Violence, with scads of dark Mexican Catholic superstitions thrown in for shock value. Simon Baker, TV's Mentalist, is a perfect dad and husband in the nice little Texas border town of Del Rio. When his daughter (Chloe Moretz) is kidnapped, however, his past floats to the surface, exposing tales of violence, perversion and the dark practice of a mysterious, Catholic-based form of black magic called La Santa Muerte, which is used to protect drug dealers, hitmen and prostitutes. Revenge, retribution and plot twists abound that — even given the film's low-budget production values — make for an extremely engrossing and sometimes spooky little mystery with a jaw-dropping, out-of-nowhere ending. — Louis Fowler

Night of Death! (NR)

Synapse Films

Synapse has unearthed a rare, subtle, creepy French horror flick from 1980 that literally left me so unsettled I was looking over my shoulder for elderly cannibals in the shadows. Night of Death! is so sly, so well-paced and so atmospheric, that the film's one big, gory murder is less disturbing than images of the denizens of this twisted retirement community peering through windows or shuffling en masse in the hallways. A young girl takes a job at an elderly care facility, only to discover the residents have found the secret of immortality and it happens to be the devouring of human flesh. While the main murder is quite graphic, the rest of the film is a chilling descent into the mad abyss of this community's lifestyle, with a bizarre ending that makes the most of the nihilistic title. — Louis Fowler

Born of Fire (R)

Mondo Macabro

I'm still trying to figure out what exactly to make of Born of Fire. I was expecting, per the press release, a religious odyssey in the style of Alejandro Jodorowsky, but it was a little too linear to really reach those heights. There are plenty of spiritual elements, mostly of the Muslim variety, but the film doesn't successfully jell, at least upon first viewing. A concert flautist finds himself embroiled in a battle between good and evil as visions of destruction assault him. He heads to Turkey to take on the "Master Musician," the embodiment of Satan, in a battle of flute vs. flute for the realignment of the Earth and Heavens. Striking visuals and a deep spiritual thread make you want to find the meaning in this, and honestly, it's going to take at least four or five viewings to find it. I'm on No. 2. — Louis Fowler

  • I Love You, Beth Cooper; Say Anything...; Not Forgotten; Born of Fire and more.

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