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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

VIDEO ESSAY: MAGIC AND LIGHT THE FILMS OF STEVEN SPIELBERG Chapter 2: Blood & Pulp

When you think of the films of Steven Spielberg, violence may not be the first thing that comes to mind. But Spielberg’s films wouldn’t be Spielberg’s films if he didn’t show and imply violent actions. Violence is just another color on Spielberg’s palette and he’s not shy about using it, either to excess or with moderation. And the presentation of the violence reveals a lot about Spielberg’s sense of what the audience can handle, and how far he can go as a director. In fact, you can tell what kind of Spielberg film you’re watching based solely on the way he shows violence. As a child, Spielberg used to worship the violent Grand Guignol violence of EC Comics – specifically such lurid titles as Shock Suspense Stories and Weird Science. But he also gorged himself on 1950s network television and old Hollywood movies, which for the most part had a much more circumspect attitude toward violence.
  • By Simon Abrams & Richard Seitz
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  • December 17, 2011 1:41 PM
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  • 1 Comment

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

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