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Cameraman: The Life and Work of Jack Cardiff (NR)

Strand Releasing

Jack Cardiff was the first director of photography to earn an honorary Oscar, but that says more about the Academy's penchant for rewarding the pretty and vacuous than about Cardiff himself. The son of performers, Cardiff was thrust into the movie business as a child actor, and continued working as a cameraman well into his 90s. (He died in 2009.) It was Cardiff's painterly use of color that became the hallmark of his career, especially his award-winning work with Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger (Black Narcissus, The Red Shoes). But besides a few scattered highlights, most notably The African Queen, Cardiff spent the next 50-some years composing beautiful shots for movies utterly unworthy of his talents. It's appropriate, then, that the most arresting moments of this perfunctory documentary are shots from Cardiff's films, while the man remains in the shadows. — Daniel Barnes

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The Clinic (NR)

Image Entertainment

This Australian cat-and-mouser actually has quite a terrifying premise: A pregnant woman, on vacation in the Outback with her fiancé, wakes up in a bathtub in the middle of a dirty abattoir with her baby missing — the one that was inside her. She meets up with some other women in a similar predicament, searching all over for their babies and a way out. Meanwhile, two figures watch the events play out on closed-circuit television. While I agree this sounds like the setup for another Saw movie, the truth is actually more disturbing and creepy and, even worse, more realistic than anything ol' Jigsaw could ever muster. One of the finest paranoid thrillers to come along since Kurt Russell's Breakdown, The Clinic is a tight, taut movie that was, according to the DVD box, inspired by true events. If that's true, this movie is scarier than I thought. — Louis Fowler

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Meet Monica Velour (R)

Anchor Bay Home Entertainment

Even though Kim Cattrall has become something of a one-note dirty joke thanks to that Sex and the City dreck, there are times when she's capable of surprising audiences. Of course, I'm referring to Mannequin. A close second, however, is this Napoleon Dynamite-meets-Boogie Nights coming-of-age comedy. A recent high school graduate (and awkward geek) is obsessed with 1980s porn star Monica Velour. When he discovers that she's stripping in a seedy dive somewhere in Ohio, he loads up his Wienermobile (quirky!) and sets out to prove his love to her. As the aged, haggard and defeated ex-adult film actress trying to make a few bucks here and there, Cattrall delivers a bravura performance, gaining weight and going all "methy" to capture the true essence of used-up masturbatorial material. Oscar nomination? Probably not, but she at least deserves an AVN. — Louis Fowler

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