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Review: 'Lore' Is An Evocative & Enigmatic Look At Post-WWII Moral & Emotional Fallout

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • February 6, 2013 8:04 PM
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  • 1 Comment
With her beautiful and expressive debut feature film "Somersault," writer/director Cate Shortland established herself as a filmmaker with a sharp sense of the emotional complexities of young women. And now, eight years later, she returns with belated follow-up effort "Lore," another tale of a young woman not only navigating her burgeoning sexuality, but the emotional and moral fallout of post-World War II Germany, all while she battles to keep her family together and alive as power in the country changes hands.
More: Lore , Review

Review: Jet Li's 'The Sorcerer & The White Snake' Is Wuxia-Lite, With Bad Action & CG

  • By Oliver Lyttelton
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  • February 6, 2013 7:03 PM
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  • 0 Comments
It might have a highbrow reputation (something anyone who's caught one of the sidebars can confirm), but that doesn't mean that the organizers of the Venice Film Festival [ed. where we first saw the movie in 2011 -- this is a slightly edited reprint of that review] don't like to watch a little ass get kicked sometimes. 2010, in fact, was something of a banner year for action at the festival, with "13 Assassins" and 'Detective Dee' in competition, and "Machete," "The Town," "Reign of Assassins" and "Legend of the Fist" all playing out of it. 2011 was a little lighter on the chop-socky, but if there was a single film that let film critics scratch their face-punch itch, it was the Jet Li vehicle "The Sorcerer & The White Snake." Directed by Tony Ching, who not only helmed the classic "A Chinese Ghost Story," but also served as action director/choreographer on the high octane likes of "Shaolin Soccer," "Hero" and "House of Flying Daggers," expectations were high that at the very least that we'd see some spectacular fight sequences, and possibly even something that transcends the genre.

Review: 'A Glimpse Inside The Mind Of Charles Swan III' Displays The Flair & Flaws Of Roman Coppola's Approach

  • By Jessica Kiang
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  • February 5, 2013 6:59 PM
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  • 3 Comments
Roman Coppola may only be on his second directorial feature, but as a music video and commercials director, and as a writer and frequent Wes Anderson collaborator -- not to mention handling the second unit on various films from his famous family members -- he has certainly amassed a wealth of filmic experience. All of which he brings to bear on "A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan III." Destined to be a crowd-pleaser because of its many celebrity cameos, quirky and apropos Liam Hayes music, and lovingly detailed 70s-influenced stylization, the film affords many glossy, knowing pleasures, and we found ourselves really wanting to love it. But that deeper level of engagement just didn't kick in for us for two main reasons: the lack of a strong narrative through line and the lack of dimensionality to the central titular character. The film delivers on its title, but it turns out we need more than just a glimpse.

Göteborg Review: Volker Schlöndorff’s ‘Calm At Sea’ Is A Wrenching WWII Tale Told In Capable But Old-Fashioned Style

  • By Jessica Kiang
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  • February 5, 2013 6:02 PM
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  • 0 Comments
A story that is apparently very famous all over France -- that of Guy Moquet, a 17 year-old boy executed by the Nazis as part of a reprisal for the assassination of one of their officers -- forms the heart of veteran German director Volker Schlondorff’s latest film, which screened at the Göteborg International Film Festival last week. Titled “Calm at Sea” and based on primary source documents from the period (the letters, diaries and reports left by the participants, the writing of which often forms part of the onscreen action), the film is a solid piece of historical reconstruction, that despite never quite reaching any heights of inspiration, nonetheless builds to a surprisingly moving finale.

Santa Barbara Review: 'Angels in Exile' Captures The Lives Of South African Street Kids & Treads New Path For Social Action Documentaries

  • By Katie Walsh
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  • February 4, 2013 7:01 PM
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  • 0 Comments
In 2003, college student Billy Raftery took a surf trip to South Africa and made a stop in the city of Durban, finding more than just waves— he stumbled upon the subject for a documentary in Ariel, one the thousands of street kids who live on Durban’s Point Road. “Angels in Exile,” narrated by Charlize Theron, is the cinematic culmination of that project, 10 years in the making, but it certainly isn’t the end of it, by any means. Raftery founded the non-profit organization Children Rise in order to help fund his film, and to continue to work to manifest actual change in lives of these children. “Angels in Exile” represents a new model for the social change documentary, where the activism and the filmmaking are inextricably linked.

Santa Barbara Review: 'Blumenthal' A Funny & Original Work That Heralds The Arrival Of A Unique New Voice In Seth Fisher

  • By Katie Walsh
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  • February 2, 2013 10:54 AM
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  • 0 Comments
“Blumenthal” is a film about three Blumenthals. There’s Harold (Brian Cox), the famous playwright who died laughing at his own joke. There’s his brother, Saul (Mark Blum), an English professor who feels entitled to a bit of Harold’s success and has had some issues, ahem, not letting things… go. And there’s Saul’s son, Ethan (Seth Fisher), a pharmaceutical rep who’s obsessed with finding the perfect fit. He wears nurse’s shoes and can’t stand his girlfriend Christina’s (Mei Melancon) sloppy eating.

Review: David Fincher's 'House Of Cards' Is A Beautiful, Bedazzling Political Thriller (At Least In Its First Two Episodes)

  • By Drew Taylor
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  • February 1, 2013 12:27 PM
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  • 4 Comments
When Netflix announced that they would get into the scripted programming game, with three high profile projects all lined up for the first half of 2013 (including the Eli Roth literary-based Gothic horror project "Hemlock Grove" and the hopefully rapturous return of oddball comedy classic "Arrested Development"), it seemed that the possibilities, in theory, were endless. Netflix would be unburdened by the restraints, in both content and form, of the tired old ad revenue-dependent television model (premium cable, while remaining fuzzier, still depends on subscribers), free to provocatively reshape our formalized notion of "television" and "shows." Except, that didn't happen. At least not yet. It's first big, splashy original production, a David Fincher, Kevin Spacey and Eric Roth produced remake of the British miniseries "House Of Cards," doesn't take any bold structural or stylistic detours. But it is totally fucking brilliant just the same.

Review: 'Side Effects' A Satisfying, Twisty Psychodramatic Thriller From Steven Soderbergh

  • By Drew Taylor
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  • February 1, 2013 9:00 AM
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  • 4 Comments
"Side Effects," a twisty-turny psychodrama and thriller, will occupy a special place in the Steven Soderbergh oeuvre. Since his highly influential debut "sex, lies, and videotape" single-handedly launched the American independent film revival, his body of work has included 26 films that have covered an absurd amount of topical ground, nevermind all the genres he's dipped into. If all goes according to plan, "Side Effects," will be the last Steven Soderbergh movie ever released theatrically. In some ways this puts an almost unfair amount of pressure on the complex little thriller, especially considering that the film may be better suited for premium cable than his upcoming HBO Liberace biopic "Behind the Candelabra." The picture's conspiratorial late-night tone and fleshy after hours luridness was practically built for watching at night, when our parents think we've gone off to bed (think '80s films directed by folks like Adrian Lyne). Like much of his recent output, "Side Effects" is a somewhat slight genre exercise, but given that it's Soderbergh, it's stylistically unparalleled, totally gripping and occasionally devastating in its emotional presentation thanks to its two leads Rooney Mara and Jude Law.

Review: Walter Hill's Sylvester Stallone-Starrer 'Bullet To The Head' Is A Blast From The Past

  • By Jessica Kiang
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  • January 30, 2013 6:57 PM
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  • 1 Comment
About as unreconstructed as it's possible to get, Walter Hill's first feature in 10 years, "Bullet to the Head," finds the veteran action director utterly mired in the tropes of the '80s R-rated action film. And we enjoyed the hell out of it. With nothing but the Himalayan crags of Sylvester Stallone's face to suggest the last 30 years of filmmaking ever happened, Hill has -- crafted seems the wrong word -- rammed together an action movie in which the plot is laughable, the quips are quippy and the action nasty -- no graceful, balletic, parkour bullshit here, just guns, fists, explosives and, gloriously, axes. This is gristly, muscly action, Stallone's aging sinews standing up remarkably well to the task of dispatching opponents fleshily against concrete, steel and marble surfaces when he's not simply shooting them. There is absolutely nothing defensible about the movie's leering treatment of women, or the casual racism played frequently for laughs, or even the utter nihilism of its hero, but it's so patently unrepentant, and so oddly even-handed in having all of its characters seem mindbendingingly dumb, that it kind of gets a pass.

Review: 'Warm Bodies' Exhumes A Zombie Romance Without Much Of A Pulse

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • January 29, 2013 4:51 PM
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  • 6 Comments
Credit where credit is due, “Warm Bodies” does at the very least bring a zombie to the big screen that we’ve never seen before: one seemingly caught in the grip of an existential crisis. When we first meet the undead R (Nicholas Hoult) he’s literally and figuratively shuffling through life. His decayed state has also robbed him of his memory (he can’t remember his name, hence the initial), he’s not quite sure when his zombie life began and his “hoodie would suggest I was unemployed.” This is part of the pleasingly sardonic opening to the movie (you can watch the first four minutes right here), but unfortunately, it’s a tone that eventually evaporates from “Warm Bodies” in favor of something far more conventional.

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