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Mildred Pierce (NR)

HBO Home Video

Count Todd Haynes' HBO-produced Mildred Pierce among the bad films made with such noble artistic ambitions that I feel like a jerk for hating their guts. A solid but ultimately miscast Kate Winslet stars as the title character, a Depression-era mother juggling her domestic-based business with her obsessive need to please her snooty daughter. This isn't a remake of the 1945 Joan Crawford film noir, but rather a page-for-page adaptation of the original James M. Cain novel. Haynes is one of the most original and intellectually probing filmmakers of his generation, but he barely attempts to engage cinematically, stretching a couple of episodes' worth of story into an excruciating five-hour folly. The result is just as pedantic and uninspired as it sounds, although TV critics trained to respond like Pavlov's dogs to any attempt at "seriousness" lapped it right up. — Daniel Barnes

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Apollo 18 (PG-13)

Anchor Bay Home Entertainment

Apollo 18 should be commended for trying to do something different in the burgeoning "found footage" horror sub-genre. Instead of video cameras catching ghosts and other assorted spooks, here director Gonzalo López-Gallego crafts a very Alex Jonesian conspiracy theory into a pretty compelling feat of storytelling, though a long-winded one. According to the film, NASA stopped manned moon missions with Apollo 17. However, in 1974, it commissioned Apollo 18 to secretly land on the moon and plant a couple of motion-sensor cameras. This easy-enough plan goes awry when the astronauts are attacked by something. Filmed completely via surveillance equipment such as chest-cameras and on-board cameras, it's clever and original, and takes the format to its logical extremes. And for perusers of abovetopsecret.com, it's a total validation of your beliefs. — Louis Fowler

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In the Name of the King 2: Two Worlds (R)

20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

German filmmaker Uwe Boll's latest tax shelter — um, I mean "film" — is a sequel to his 2007 crapsterpiece In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale, which actually managed to snag Jason Statham for the lead role. It was a feat of casting that even seduced this critic into renting it, thinking, rather stupidly, that this was going to be the Uwe Boll movie to prove the world wrong and show us what a quiet genius the man really is. I like a good underdog story, so I continue to believe in the power of the filmmaker who brought us the BloodRayne series. And, of course, each time, I am let down. It should be a joke for me by now, but instead it simply remains a sad constant. King 2 replaces Statham with the equally cool Dolph Lundgren, and turns the thing into a time-travel story that will be forgotten 10 minutes after the credits roll. I guess it wouldn't be a Boll movie otherwise. — Louis Fowler


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