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Review: 'Red Dawn' Intermingles Inept Jingoism With Casual, Wrongheaded Racism

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • November 20, 2012 11:40 AM
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  • 0 Comments
Why is it that films that spend the longest time on the shelves feel so unfinished? Reportedly filmed three years ago, Dan Bradley’s strikingly incompetent “Red Dawn” is now being dumped in theaters, stitched together with scotch tape and falling apart at the seams, letting casual racism and misanthropy to spill out the sides.

Review: 'Inventing David Geffen' Is Wildly Entertaining, But Never As Insightful As It Should Be

  • By Christopher Schobert
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  • November 20, 2012 9:56 AM
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  • 3 Comments
David Geffen is so powerful, wealthy and connected that he could probably kill this review right now were he so inclined. He is a show business titan; a controversial figure who is revered—and feared—by equal measure. He is perhaps the closest thing we have to the kingpins of old, the Selznicks, the Zanucks. (How fitting that Geffen now lives in Jack Warner’s stunning old mansion.) But like Harvey Weinstein, what most differentiates Geffen from the other powers-that-be in his ranks is an ability to spot talent. As “American Masters: Inventing David Geffen” reveals, he helped break artists as far reaching as Laura Nyro, Jackson Browne, and even Guns N’ Roses.

Review: 'In The Family' A Sincere, Heartbreaking Indie Drama

  • By Christopher Bell
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  • November 18, 2012 11:49 AM
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  • 0 Comments
It’s tough for the drama. For every movie that is successfully earnest and sincere in its heartbreaking story, about fifty others are willed into the cinema that rest on familiar tropes, forced emotions lacking any legitimate heart, and a trusty sensational score that knows just when to blare. Their power is so considerable that it’ll make a pessimist out of even the least bitter moviegoer. But when that anomaly does come along, it needs to be held high, trumpeted so fiercely that it drowns out all of the other hollow tearjerkers. So here we shall declare Patrick Wang’s “In the Family” that able wonder to which we shall champion with fervor.

Rome Review: 'Tar' With James Franco Is A Dreamy Collage Of Pretty But Overfamiliar Aesthetics

  • By Jessica Kiang
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  • November 17, 2012 1:53 PM
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  • 15 Comments
It's difficult to know quite what to make of 'Tar,' a multi-authored project seemingly coaxed into being by the sheer force of James Franco's current artistic cachet. Playing In Competition in the XXI sidebar of the Rome Film Festival, the film represents the work of twelve newbie directors -- NYU film students all -- and attempts to create an impressionistic interpretation of the work of poet CK Williams, who himself appears occasionally, reading from his collection. Championed by and starring Franco, amongst a starry cast including Mila Kunis, Jessica Chastain, Henry Hopper, Bruce Campbell and Zach Braff, the film shifts around in time and mood, using four different actors (Franco one of them) to depict Williams at different stages in his life, with the scenes sometimes playing out with internal dialogue and mini-storylines, and other times played mute, with snatches of poetry voiced over.

AFI Review: 'The ABCs Of Death' Won't Win Over Non-Horror Fans, But That's OK

  • By Ryan Gowland
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  • November 16, 2012 6:05 PM
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  • 4 Comments
Horror anthologies have been on the rise of late, with movies like "Trick 'r Treat," "Chillerama" and the found footage anthology "V/H/S" keeping the tradition alive. The latest anthology is "The ABCs of Death," which combines 26 shorts in what is less of an interwoven narrative like "Trick 'r Treat" or even a loosely connected anthology like "V/H/S" and more of a "Spike and Mike's Festival of Animation" of horror shorts, and we're not just saying that because of the use of animation and claymation. The end result provides a range of quality, from the inspired and creative to the lazy and insipid, but one that horror fans will certainly devour.

Review: 'La Rafle' A Somber, Flat, Occasionally Moving Reminder Of One Of France's Darkest Moments

  • By Mark Zhuravsky
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  • November 16, 2012 10:00 AM
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  • 2 Comments
If we accept that Holocaust films have become a genre onto themselves, espousing survival against impossible odds or perhaps bravery in the face of organized genocide, a chance to hold on to a shred of humanity when up against deplorable conditions, then it's fair game to discuss the cliches many lesser and greater films about the time period trade in. One of the key cliches, a foundation really, is the film taking a moment to establish the vibrant and diverse Jewish communities, frequently caught unawares, expecting mere discrimination while the specter of annihilation creeps up and swings open the doors of stifling cattle cars. It's a chance for a film to show how people who aren't so different from their non-Jewish neighbors are reduced to second class citizens, enemies of the state, and finally subhuman vermin, barely fit to work themselves to death. It's also not particularly compelling to see after the tenth go-round, and that is where Roselyne Bosch's "La Rafle" stumbles out of the gate with a pacing that suggests a stern history lesson, despite warm performances from the cast and a polished look.
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Review: Heightened Melodrama Carries Overheated 'Festival Of Lights'

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • November 15, 2012 10:19 PM
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  • 1 Comment
The afterschool special is alive and well in immigration drama “Festival Of Lights,” an amateurish independent film tracking the evolution of one family in their path from Guyana to America, and the roots they leave behind. Forgive a generation of filmmakers, well-intentioned, but unaware that nuance and subtlety are missing from their arsenal, soldiering on with incidence. “Festival Of Lights” is nothing if not busy, hop-scotching around hot-button satellite issues to the main concern of immigration like Darren Aronofsky’s camera operator lost in the K-hole.
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Rome Review: Johnnie To's 'Drug War' Is A Gritty, Talky Procedural That Amps Up To A Bruising Climax

  • By Jessica Kiang
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  • November 15, 2012 2:45 PM
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  • 1 Comment
Johnnie To is a prime example of a director whose name means one thing to overseas audiences, and quite another to those in his native Hong Kong. While his home fans know him as a prolific genre-hopping polyglot whose production company Milkyway Image is a force to be reckoned with on the national filmmaking scene, abroad, especially in the U.S., he's primarily known as an action/thriller director; a less-stylized John Woo. And so his newest film, "Drug War" ("Du Zhan"), which was a late "surprise" addition to the Rome Film Festival line-up, should export neatly.

Review: Big-Hearted & Hilarious 'Silver Linings Playbook' A Touchdown From David O. Russell

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • November 15, 2012 11:56 AM
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  • 3 Comments
Life hasn't been too kind lately for Pat Solitano. He's just been released from a court ordered stint in a mental hospital after severly beating the man he caught cheating with his wife. Diagnosed as bipolar with mood swings, Pat has a difficult journey ahead of him but he's optimistic. With a rallying cry of "Excelsior," he believes that you can take "all negativity and make it a silver lining." His outlook is positive and he hopes to rebuild himself to win his wife back who has a restraining order out on him. And so begins David O. Russell's "Silver Linings Playbook," an enormously entertaining, crowd-pleasing winner from the director whose comedic edge has never been sharper.

AFI Fest Review: 'The International Sign For Choking' Is Simultaneously Brash And Boring

  • By Emma Bernstein
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  • November 14, 2012 6:24 PM
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  • 4 Comments
“The International Sign for Choking,” the second feature from writer-director Zach Weintraub, is kind of like one of those short-term relationships that ends when you both decide that you don’t like each other enough to keep calling. You’re not entirely sure what the point of it all was, and maybe you even feel a little regretful that it happened, but since there’s nothing you can do about the past, you move on, hopefully to someone better. And this is precisely what we’d suggest regarding this film: stop trying to understand it – there isn’t much there that’s worth figuring out – and go see something else.

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