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SIMON SAYS: Celebrate Chinese New Year with these blockbusters

This weekend is Chinese Lunar New Year, a cultural landmark that even some of my Chinese friends needed to be reminded is almost upon us. One way you can tell that the holiday is impending is to look for Chinese films at your local movie theater. In the same way that a crop of big budget Bollywood premieres are perennially released in time for autumn’s Diwali festivities, so too are a number of studio-produced would-be Chinese blockbusters released in time for the new year. But blink and you'll miss ‘em: there are only two Chinese films being released at AMC theater chains.
  • By Simon Abrams
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  • January 23, 2012 2:22 AM
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  • 0 Comments

SIMON SAYS: Top Five From the New Wave of French Horror

If you want to see better Gallic horror movies than The Divide (opening this weekend), try these on for size.
  • By Simon Abrams
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  • January 18, 2012 8:19 AM
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  • 3 Comments

SIMON SAYS: See 'Devil' if you must, but buy tickets for 'Darkest'

According to Box Office Mojo, The Devil Inside wasn't just this weekend's surprise box office leader. Having raked in approximately $33.7 million dollars in just three days' time, the maddeningly generic Exorcist rip-off-by-way-of-Paranormal Activity also holds the record for the third-highest grossing domestic release to debut in January. Funny thing about that success: as Box Office Mojo also points out, Devil was most successful on Friday night, raking in about half of its take in just one night. Word of mouth about this pile of doo, directed by the guy that brought us Stay Alive, spread faster than a stink bomb in a middle school bathroom. (Stories about spontaneous booing at the film's hilariously anti-climactic conclusion are personal favorites.) And yet, common sense did not ultimately prevail and a goodly portion of the American movie-going public collectively said, "Fuck it, I'm going to just give my money away."
  • By Simon Abrams
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  • January 12, 2012 5:34 PM
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  • 2 Comments

SIMON SAYS: As another year passes, Chris Gorak's RIGHT AT YOUR DOOR reminds us where we have been

Writer/director Chris Gorak's "The Darkest Hour" hit theaters on Christmas Day; to give you an idea of why you should be excited, here's an appreciation of Gorak's topical 2006 chiller, "Right at Your Door." “They don’t really know anything,” Rory Cochrane murmurs wonderingly at one point early on in Right at Your Door, writer/director Chris Gorak’s nightmarish horror parable about the "War on Terror" as it's imagined at home. That line of dialogue guilelessly gets to the heart of Gorak’s drama, which features the best and not-so-best aspects of George Romero’s trenchantly moralistic horror movies.
  • By Simon Abrams
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  • December 30, 2011 8:51 AM
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  • 3 Comments

SIMON SAYS: Tom Cruise in MISSION IMPOSSIBLE 4: "it is my destiny to be the king of vain."

In the recent Mission: Impossible movies, Tom Cruise has basically played a charismatic body under stress. While Mission: Impossible III is still the most satisfying film of the series because it takes the Ethan Hunt character and gives him personal stakes to fight for, Hunt’s main appeal has always been his charm as a humorless beast of burden. No film in the series makes this more apparent than the fourth and most recent entry in the film franchise, Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol. Here, Cruise, who gets a prominent producer credit in the film’s opening credits, shows his age; in fact, he flaunts it. Not in an “I’m getting too old for this shit” kind of way. More like a “My body has seen better days but I’m still pretty amazing, so shut the hell up and watch me scale the tallest building in the world...one-handed” kind of way.
  • By Simon Abrams
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  • December 19, 2011 6:03 AM
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  • 9 Comments

SIMON SAYS: THE SITTER, blah blah, balls on fire, Method Man cameo, blah blah, double-fisted punch to the balls, blah

This is it, folks: David Gordon Green isn’t the guy that made George Washington and All the Real Girls anymore. Now, he’s the guy that made Pineapple Express and Your Highness. Which is a transition that doesn’t really deserve an award or a hearty handshake or even much praise really. But for the sake of needlessly giving credit where credit is due, I have to say: this new David Gordon Green is ok.
  • By Simon Abrams
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  • December 12, 2011 12:33 PM
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  • 0 Comments

SIMON SAYS: Géla Babluani’s 13 is pure, bone-headed bliss

Géla Babluani’s 13, a remake of his own 13 Tzameti, is arty, self-serious macho bullshit, and it’s also a lot of fun. The director still takes his original premise too seriously, but it’s a problem that only really becomes apparent during 13’s last 20 minutes, so until then, you easily get lost watching Babluani cover the same ground again, only this time with a mesmeric ensemble cast.
  • By Simon Abrams
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  • November 23, 2011 3:44 AM
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  • 0 Comments

SIMON SAYS: Is Frank Henenlotter a horror genius or a sick man?

Somehow, it seems wrong to single out two of Frank Henenlotter's more "horror-comedy" films as examples of the writer/director's style — which, in a sense, is fitting. Henenlotter's a guy whose crew has abandoned him on two separate projects because they found what he was making to be in such poor taste that they refused to be a part of it. You can complain all you want about how his films are juvenile and gross and unpolished and what have you. But don't you want to see a penis-shaped monster suck the brains out of a woman through her mouth like he were a very evil boner and she were giving the world's worst blowy? Doesn't the thought of seeing something so uniquely low and disgusting intrigue you? Don't you want to see a man with no shame, no sense of good taste and no self-restraint at work?
  • By Simon Abrams
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  • November 10, 2011 11:40 PM
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  • 0 Comments

SIMON SAYS: Harold Camping's doomsday prophesies come and go, but DR. STRANGELOVE endures

By Simon Abrams Press Play Contributor
  • By Matthew Seitz
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  • October 19, 2011 6:04 AM
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  • 0 Comments

SIMON SAYS: Director Steve McQueen forces SHAME on his audience

By Simon Abrams Press Play Contributor
  • By Matthew Seitz
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  • October 14, 2011 4:46 AM
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  • 0 Comments

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