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Review: 'Come Out And Play' Is A Xeroxed Horror Remake Disguising A New Director's Vanity Plate

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • March 19, 2013 2:01 PM
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  • 1 Comment
Who in the hell is Makinov? The single-named director, who has appeared online in masked garb speaking power to his vague filmmaking manifesto, has placed his name all over “Come Out And Play,” an overly respectful remake of the infamous '70s cult chiller “Who Can Kill A Child?” The film opens with a smash cut not unlike a Michael Mann film, before eventually ignoring all credits and spotlighting the film’s title across the screen in huge font: “Makinov’s Come Out And Play.” When the film closes on a would-be shocker ending, the screen-filling credit is an offhanded “Made By” and then, in bulleted lettering, “M-A-K-I-N-O-V.”

Review: 'Admission' With Tina Fey & Paul Rudd A Low-Stakes Drama Mixed With Toothless Social Satire

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • March 19, 2013 9:57 AM
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  • 1 Comment
Some people don’t seem to realize that the type of stories being told in film needs to change. Small-scale tales of middlebrow intimacy and minor dramatic conflict used to have a home in the cinemas, where they would play to audiences who didn’t have a surplus of entertainment options. Today, the problem isn’t that these stories are no longer relevant commercially or creatively -- they still are -- but that they lack the incisive filmmakers necessary to guide them properly to the big screen. Case in point: Paul Weitz’s toothless, sleepy “Admission,” which portrays the topsy-turvy life of a Princeton admissions officer who has to cope with widening standards and new methods of evaluation in regards to new students.

SXSW Review: 'Cheap Thrills' Is Like 'The Hangover' Taken To An Absurdly Nihilistic Degree

  • By Drew Taylor
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  • March 18, 2013 8:00 PM
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  • 1 Comment
It was only a matter of time before the recent hyper-raunchy comedy style exemplified by "The Hangover," would take a dark, seedily indie-movie turn. And that's what "Cheap Thrills," which was one of the few movies to acquire distribution at the South by Southwest Film Festival, really is: it's the hysterical, son-of-"Jackass" tomfoolery of "The Hanger" taken to an absurdly nihilistic degree. For the most part, it works, despite some tonal wobbliness, although it should be noted that "Cheap Thrills" is not for the squeamish or easily offended.

SXSW Doc Review Recap: Snoop Lion In 'Reincarnated,' Alex Winter's 'Downloaded' & More

  • By Drew Taylor
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  • March 18, 2013 7:48 PM
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  • 0 Comments
If the South by Southwest Film Festival was burdened by anything this year, it was an abundance of quality documentaries. It seemed that, while the narrative side of things was surprisingly sparse (where was the "21 Jump Street" or "The Raid" of this year?), the documentary selection was stronger than ever – there were more buzzed-about entries than we had time for, quite frankly (sorry "Medora!"), and almost everything we saw impressed us to one degree or another. Here is a quick rundown of a handful of key SXSW documentaries – "Lunarcy!," about people obsessed with the moon; "Downloaded," which aims to be the definitive documentary about file sharing program Napster; "Twenty Feet from Stardom," which charts the history of pop music from the backup singers' point of view; "Reincarnated," about Snoop Dogg's transformation into reggae titan Snoop Lion; and "I Am Divine," about director John Waters' corpulent muse, cross-dressing sensation Divine.

Review: ‘American Winter’ A Devastating Portrait Of The Erosion Of The Middle Class

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • March 18, 2013 6:54 PM
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  • 4 Comments
With the nation’s economy continually on a knife’s edge, the past few years has seen the political discourse take a marked shift. Conservative politicians have started to lure voters with an image that they will tighten the wasteful spending in Washington, but for the most part, that has meant targeting social services. Indeed, healthcare, social security and other measures that are seen as bloated programs that will sink the country into financial ruin if they aren’t severely overhauled. And all of this is being done in the name of supposedly preserving the middle class, but as the documentary “American Winter” argues, the entire approach is not only wrong headed, it’s only making things worse for the people these policies are supposed to protect.

SXSW Review: 'You're Next' Isn't Exactly A Next-Level Genre Triumph (But It's Still Pretty Fun)

  • By Drew Taylor
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  • March 18, 2013 2:19 PM
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  • 3 Comments
When low budget horror movie "You're Next" premiered back at the 2011 Toronto International Film Festival, it received a rapturous response and set off a small scale buying war (Lionsgate, home to the "Hostel" and "Saw" franchises, and savior to Joss Whedon's marooned masterpiece "Cabin in the Woods," eventually won out). It played Austin's Fantastic Fest later that same month, to equally enthusiastic crowds and then…nothing. The movie is finally going to be released in August of this year, and in anticipation, the movie came back to Austin, this time for SXSW. And while it isn't quite the genre breakthrough many, at the time, were claiming it was (a prominent blogger provocatively asked if it was the next "Scream" -- it's not), it's still a fun, bloody, occasionally scary home invasion romp.

SXSW Review: 'Milius' Is A Rousing Tribute To The Warrior Poet Of Mainstream Hollywood

  • By Drew Taylor
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  • March 17, 2013 1:26 PM
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  • 8 Comments
In the opening moments of “Milius,” a hellzapoppin’ new documentary about John Milius, a genius tyrant and warrior poet of '70s and '80s mainstream Hollywood who wrote and directed testosterone-soaked epics like “Conan the Barbarian” and “Red Dawn,” Sam Elliott, in the same laid back butterscotch drawl he used to narrate the adventures of The Dude, sums up the filmmaker thusly: “He doesn’t write for women and he doesn’t write for pussies. He writes for men. Because he’s a man.” And as “Milius” (the documentary) elaborates on Milius (the man), this was his biggest strength and his greatest weakness – at some point the persona he fashioned for himself, festooned with his fondness for cigars, right wing politics, and guns, would become too much of a liability, ultimately leading to his undoing.

SXSW Review: VHS Doc 'Rewind This!' Is An Affectionate Tribute To A Bygone Era

  • By Cory Everett
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  • March 16, 2013 10:41 AM
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  • 8 Comments
DVDs are filling up bargain bins everywhere, Blu-ray never really took off the way it was supposed to and digital streaming and downloads will soon usurp all physical media for film the way it has for the music industry. And though VHS remained in production as recently as a few years ago, it seems like it could require some kind of archeological dig to uncover these forgotten artifacts, so far removed are we now from them. That dig is part of what fuels the new documentary "Rewind This!," a love letter to the VHS cassette and the many wonderful and forgotten oddities it brought along with it.

Review: Matteo Garrone's Lightweight & Lifeless 'Reality' Is A Disappointment

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • March 15, 2013 9:59 AM
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  • 4 Comments
The relationship between audiences and reality television has shifted to some degree over the past decade (or longer). Where early shows were once positioned as voyeuristic/documentary style looks at Real People, it quickly became clear to those in front of the camera, behind it and at home watching, that reality television is just a different kind of performance. While these programs are ones ostensibly rooted in Real Life, the people selected for these shows -- as well as the writers, producers and directors -- have become increasingly aware of the audience, playing directly to them. Simply put, most people know reality television is actually not that real at all, but in case you forgot, Matteo Garrone's "Reality" is here to remind you.

SXSW Review: 'I Give It A Year' Is A Woefully Inept Deconstruction Of Romantic Comedies

  • By Drew Taylor
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  • March 15, 2013 8:58 AM
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  • 2 Comments
There's a certain amount of winky irreverence built into "I Give It A Year," based on its title alone, which is something that people snarl, usually at the weddings of people who they feel are fundamentally incompatible. The title suggests that, while it might appear to be a bouncy romantic comedy, it has some seriously acidic undertones. This sensation is solidified once you know that Dan Mazer, one of Sacha Baron Cohen's confederates and a co-writer on both "Borat" and "Bruno," wrote and directed "I Give It A Year." Maybe it's the "Cabin in the Woods" of romantic comedies – something that simultaneously deconstructs the genre while celebrating it (and ultimately elevating it to the next plateau). Unfortunately, "I Give It A Year" is a woefully inept, unfunny, unsexy romantic comedy that falls into all the pitfalls and clichés that it willingly tries to avoid.

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