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David Vaughn Posted: Feb 13, 2011 0 comments
Director Davis Guggenheim (An Inconvenient Truth) takes a close look at the public-education system in the United States by following five students as they apply to charter schools. The film depicts the moving and poignant struggles of real-life students and their families and the efforts of educators and reformers who are working to find viable solutions within a dysfunctional system.

Growing up, I had the benefit of attending both public and private schools and was fortunate enough to receive a decent education. But without parental support at home, I doubt I would have gotten good grades and been pushed to go to college. I'm sure most teachers will agree that it all starts at home, and they can only do so much during the time they spend with our kids.

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David Vaughn Posted: Feb 11, 2011 4 comments
When a young couple bring a newborn baby home, someone or something begins terrorizing the family. In order to gain some piece of mind, the father (Brian Boland) installs some security cameras in and around the house in order to catch the hooligans in the act but the "real life" footage shows there's much more going on than meets the eye.

This isn't a genre of film that I particularly enjoy, so I never caught the first Paranormal Activity but I knew the general premise due to its popularity. My expectations weren't high and while I've seen far worse, I felt the screenplay took too long to introduce the characters and build up the tension (or lack thereof).

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David Vaughn Posted: Feb 09, 2011 0 comments
Craig (Keir Gilchrist) is a stressed-out teenager who checks himself into a mental health clinic after having fantasies of committing suicide. What he finds on the inside is an unlikely mentor in Bobby (Zach Galifianakis), a potential girlfriend in Noel (Emma Roberts), and the opportunity to discover who he truly is.

Sometimes seeing a film you have never heard of can be a blessing, and such is the case here. This is a human interest story about the stresses of being a teenager and fitting into the tidy little boxes from the perspective of your friends and parents, despite what you own wishes and dreams. Gilchrist does an outstanding job in the lead role, but it's Galifianakis who steals the show as the quirky mentor.

David Vaughn Posted: Feb 08, 2011 3 comments

Price: $1,200 At A Glance: THX Ultra2 Plus certification • Seven HDMI inputs • Dual HDMI outputs • Home network and Internet audio streaming

Four years ago, Integra rocked the A/V world when it released its well-reviewed DTC-9.8 surround processor (HT, May 2008) for an unprecedented price of $1,600. It boasted a bevy of cutting-edge features and was one of the first processors on the market that could decode Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio. Since that time, the company hasn’t rested on its laurels. It’s offered yearly upgrades with the DHC-9.9 (HT, July 2009) for $2,000 and DHC-80.1 (HT, May 2010) for $2,300. Each subsequent year, the processor has offered additional improvements to justify the price increase. However, those seeking out separates on a budget were being left behind.

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David Vaughn Posted: Feb 07, 2011 0 comments
High school can be the best of times or the worst of times, depending on your experience. For Marnie (Kristen Bell), it was the latter. Teased throughout her years because of her acne and not being part of the "in" crowd, her memories are anything but fond. Years after graduation, she heads home to see her brother tie the knot and discovers he's marrying her nemesis (Odette Yustman) from high school.

With a cast that includes Bell, Jamie Lee Curtis, Sigourney Weaver, and Betty White, one would assume these stars wouldn't attach their names to anything but a surefire hit. Wrong! The laughs are hard to come by, the slapstick is anything but funny, and the ending is vomit educing.

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David Vaughn Posted: Feb 06, 2011 0 comments
A remarkable story about one of America's great entertainers, Ray Charles (Jamie Foxx). From his humble beginnings in the South through his meteoric rise to the top of the American music charts, Charles overcame many obstacles to become a music icon.

I'd always had been a fan of Charles' music throughout the years, but it wasn't until I saw this biopic in 2004 that I realized how high a mountain he had climbed to become a success. He never wanted any special treatment because of his blindness, but his stubbornness led him to drug addiction like so many other entertainers.

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David Vaughn Posted: Feb 04, 2011 0 comments
An ordinary businessman (Luke Wilson) becomes embroiled in a dark and dangerous world of questionable morals and organized crime during the early days of the Internet. The family man has a successful career and idyllic live until he gets involved with two troubled geniuses who need business advice on getting their Internet scheme off the ground.

One would think a story about the birth of Internet porn would sizzle with excitement, but that's far from the case here. The screenplay lacks direction with silly subplots and then suddenly takes a bizarre turn in the third act. It can be funny at times, but mostly it's boring and uninteresting.

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David Vaughn Posted: Feb 02, 2011 2 comments
Video: 4/5
Audio: 3.5/5
Extras: 2/5
Puppy mayhem turns the lives of newlywed Chihuahua parents Papi and Chloe upside down when their rambunctious, mischievous puppies present one challenge after another. But when their human owners end up in trouble, the tiny pups will stop at nothing to save them, because in good times and hard times, the family always sticks together. So Papi, Chloe, and the puppies embark on a heroic adventure, proving once again that bug heroes come in small packages.
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David Vaughn Posted: Feb 02, 2011 0 comments
Holly (Katherine Heigl) and Messer (Josh Duhamel) can't stand each other but share a love for their goddaughter Sophie. When tragedy strikes and takes the young girl's parents away, the pair is forced to raise the child under the same roof and must learn to set aside their differences. Well, it's easier said than done.

There's definitely a female slant to this story and my wife enjoyed this much more than I did, but watching nearly two hours of Heigl in high-definition certainly makes up for the far-fetched story. Even though I wasn't the target demographic, I did find myself laughing-out-loud a few times, especially when the novice new guardians had to change a diaper for the first time and had the joy of baby proofing the house!

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David Vaughn Posted: Jan 31, 2011 0 comments
While dozing off, young Alice dreams about falling down a rabbit hole that is populated by a peculiar series of misadventures. The always sensible Alice whirls through a world of contradictions, imagination, and surprises where she encounters amazing creatures including a pocket watch-toting White Rabbit, the imperious Queen of Hearts and her army of playing cards, and a Cheshire Cat with a lingering smile.

Walt Disney was one of the most influential movie makers of the 20th Century and had considered adapting Lewis Carroll's famous story in 1933, but shelved the idea after Paramount released its version. He later had artist David Hall create some concept art for the project, but WWII intervened and his animated version didn't hit the screen until 1951. On a recent visit to the Walt Disney Museum in San Francisco, I discovered that Walt wasn't too keen on the results of the film and complained that it had no "heart." I tend to agree with him and as a kid this was one of my least favorite Disney productions.