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Review: ‘The Jeffrey Dahmer Files’ Is An Uneasy, Largely Unsuccessful Mixture of Fact And Fiction

  • By Drew Taylor
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  • February 14, 2013 7:33 PM
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  • 0 Comments
The title of the new true crime documentary “The Jeffrey Dahmer Files” is evocative and provocative. It suggests a couple of things, too. One, the word ‘Files’ insinuates that this is going to be a probing documentary, something that reaches into the storied history of one of America’s most infamous serial killers and dregs up new details or possibly even secrets, locked away in the titular files until just now. The title also suggests a certain amount of scope – that this will be a coalition of all of the files on Jeffrey Dahmer, maybe featuring interviews with dozens of the people who touched his life (investigators, neighbors, family members, friends). Instead, “The Jeffrey Dahmer Files” is neither; it’s an incredibly small documentary that often feels less complete than one of those hour-long specials they run on a loop on the ID Channel, often cripplingly hampered by a series of clumsy reenactments that do nothing but distract. The definitive Jeffrey Dahmer documentary is out there, but this isn’t it.

Berlin Review: Giuseppe Tornatore's 'The Best Offer' Is A Campy, Overcooked Mess

  • By Jessica Kiang
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  • February 14, 2013 11:04 AM
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  • 15 Comments
If director Giuseppe Tornatore has had an up-and-down time of it since his breakthrough, 1988's almost universally adored, Oscar-winning "Cinema Paradiso," it has to be said that his most recent film, "The Best Offer," marks a definite low point, even as one of the downs. But that's probably what's going to happen when you take a cast, including Geoffrey Rush, Jim Sturgess and Donald Sutherland, that mostly seems as though they don't belong on the same planet, let alone in the same film, stick them in a pointlessly convoluted plot that's ludicrously unbelievable from start to finish, and drench the whole lot in a hysterically screechy score from Ennio Morricone. The resulting film is such a campy mess that for a while it's possible to see it having some sort of life as a kitsch cultish artifact, like an overplotted TV movie from the eighties. But then it goes on for an interminable 124 minutes, and even that dubious hold on our interest is lost.

Review: It's Ad Men vs. Bad Men In Pablo Larrain's Exciting, Funny, Moving 'No' Starring Gael Garcia Bernal

  • By James Rocchi
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  • February 13, 2013 8:02 PM
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  • 2 Comments
"No" is exactly the kind of film you hope to stumble across -- a film that hadn't been on your radar until buzz from too many quarters too diverse to be ignored made you seek it out, discovering a film that's extraordinarily well-made, superbly acted, funny, human, warm, principled and, yes, as enthrallingly entertaining as it is fiercely moral and intelligent. Set in Chile in 1988, "No" stars Gael Garcia Bernal as Réne, a "creative" at an ad agency. At the start of the film, he's explaining to a group of clients how this spot he's about to show them represents the new, young feeling of Chile, and how it's in tune with the youth of that country and their needs. And then he rolls … a soda commercial, full of shoulderpad-wearing rockers, exultant crowds of youth, and a mime.

Review: Korean Action Flick 'The Berlin File' is Mostly Fun, Always Silly & Rather Inconsequential

  • By Christopher Schobert
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  • February 13, 2013 6:02 PM
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  • 1 Comment
To paraphrase Mugatu from "Zoolander," Berlin, the setting for the enjoyable sub-“Bourne” Korean action flick “The Berlin File,” is so hot right now. No less than David Bowie has returned to the city in his seemingly dropped-from-the-sky comeback single, “Where Are We Now?” Shortly thereafter came the news that a Bowie-and-Iggy-do-Berlin film was in development. The Berlin International Film Festival is still underway, and made major news with the debut of the “international cut” of Wong Kar-Wai’s forever-in-the-works “The Grandmaster.”
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Review: John McClane Becomes A Non-Entity In The Faceless & Tedious McActioner 'A Good Day To Die Hard'

  • By Rodrigo Perez
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  • February 13, 2013 5:28 PM
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  • 11 Comments
If you were to tell the even the average civilian who frequented movies that the script for "A Good Day To Die Hard" was actually just another generic actioner found in a studio pile and then subsequently retrofitted to fit the "Die Hard" brand, said average schmoe would have no reason to doubt you. In fact, this was exactly the case for both “Die Hard With A Vengeance” -- originally called “Simon Says” -- and "Live Free Or Die Hard," which started as "WW3.com" (seriously) with neither originally conceived for the franchise. That is to say there’s almost nothing distinguishable that identifies this particular story with the John McClane (Bruce Willis) narrative -- that of an everyman New York cop who often finds himself a magnet for trouble -- other than gigantic broad strokes. This is how largely anonymous and colorless, "Die Hard 5" aka “A Good Day To Die Hard” truly is. Set in Russia for seemingly random (and antiquated) reasons and featuring a father/son dynamic that's uninspired and banal, the fifth installment of this series takes a weak, half-baked story and simply grafts it onto John McClane's ongoing adventures, but for no discernible reason other than to keep said adventures going.

Review: 'Beautiful Creatures' A Stylish Southern Gothic Riff On 'Twilight' That Gets Tangled In Its Own Mythology

  • By Drew Taylor
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  • February 13, 2013 11:20 AM
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  • 5 Comments
Just as the "Harry Potter" franchise begat a number of costly imitators that failed to catch on (just think: "Lemony Snicket's Series of Unfortunate Events," "The Spiderwick Chronicles," "Cirque du Freak"), so too will the unstoppable "Twilight" franchise breed countless would-be successors, each with some kind of otherworldly overtones and always with star-crossed lovers that defy the odds to be together (hello, "I Am Number Four"). Earlier this month we had zombies-in-love lark "Warm Bodies" and now we get "Beautiful Creatures," which transplants the Pacific Northwest setting of "Twilight" for the earthy Deep South and swaps that series' emphasis on vampires and werewolves for some much-needed attention to witches. Also, it's the kind of movie that heavily features not only Civil War flashbacks but also modern day kids participating in Civil War battlefield recreations. I do declare!

Berlin Review: 'Interior. Leather Bar' Is A Surprisingly Successful James Franco Experiment On Male Sexuality & Filmic Process

  • By Jessica Kiang
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  • February 12, 2013 3:43 PM
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  • 2 Comments
So let's clear up a few misconceptions about this film -- and of course there are misconceptions, it's a James Franco project. In fact it's the third title to boast his involvement at this Berlin Film Festival (after "Lovelace" and "Maladies"), but here he is pulling double duty as co-director with Travis Matthews, and performer, as himself (kinda). Firstly, "Interior. Leather Bar" is not a recreation/reimagining of the "censored," never-shown 40 minutes from William Friedkin's "Cruising," nor even footage inspired by that missing footage. Instead it's a semi-scripted, hour-long documentary about the production of that reimagined footage, in which much less of the actual recreated footage appears than the stories around its making, the concept behind it and the utterly self-conscious, self-referential approach. Hope you're still with us?

Berlin Review: Jane Campion's 'Top Of The Lake' A Satisfying & Cinematic Crime "Novel" In The Shape Of A TV Show

  • By Jessica Kiang
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  • February 12, 2013 11:58 AM
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  • 2 Comments
Taking the concept of binge-watching to a whole new theatrical level, we were lucky enough to spend most of our Sunday at the Berlin Film Festival in a large auditorium consuming Jane Campion’s six-hour “Top of the Lake” TV series, which will air in seven episodes on The Sundance Channel starting March 18th. It was a great experience, and not just because of the quality storytelling and filmmaking on display, but because of the sense of community and buzz you get at this type of event. We saw the show divided into three two-hour chunks, and during the brief intermissions, the audience buzzed with speculation: who was the father of the unborn child? Was X dead or alive? What was the significance of Y?

Review: 'Would You Rather' See This Movie, Or Make A Better Use Of Your Ten Bucks?

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • February 8, 2013 4:00 PM
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  • 5 Comments
Several filmmakers have their own insight into what the recession has done to the middle class. Few of them have as much anger as David Guy Levy, director of “Would You Rather,” a sinister new thriller opening in theaters this Friday. No, Levy thinks of the general public as prey not to be hunted, but to be toyed with. Why eat the poor, when they can provide entertainment? It’s not the most optimistic outlook, admittedly.

Berlin Review: Matt Porterfield’s ‘I Used To Be Darker’ Has Empathy To Burn But Lacks Urgency

  • By Jessica Kiang
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  • February 8, 2013 2:16 PM
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  • 0 Comments
In between the big events that mark our lives -- the births, the deaths, the falling-in-loves, the breaking-ups, the runnings-away, the reconciliations -- there often exists a kind of pause moment. And it’s one such moment that Matt Porterfield’s Sundance-approved third feature, “I Used to be Darker,” which plays at the Berlin Film Festival today, deals with; a caesura that punctuates the Big Life Business that is going on in the disparate lives of one fragmented family.

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