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Review: 'Little Birds' Has All The Insight Of An After-School Special

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • August 29, 2012 6:29 PM
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  • 2 Comments
There's a misconception about some films that utilize a specific location by gussying it up to be a paradise on camera. Often, the results are "Little Birds," which was shot on location at the Salton Sea of California, a formative place for impetuous Lily (Juno Temple) and Alison (Kay Panabaker). The two teenage girls, both the result of trailer park lifestyles, spend their days visiting the saltine beach, admiring the view and dreaming of boys, handsome dark types who will whisk them away to what can be considered the "big city." They appreciate the picturesque landscape, as does the camera. Does the filmmaker?

Review: 'For a Good Time, Call...' Doesn't Satisfy

  • By Kimber Myers
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  • August 29, 2012 4:56 PM
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  • 2 Comments
"For a Good Time, Call..." could be alternately titled "What People Will Do for an Apartment in New York." And the answer is pretty much anything, whether that be running a phone sex business or living with someone you hate for spilling pee on you. Note that in the world of "For a Good Time, Call..." "anything" does not include looking for a place in (gasp!) Brooklyn.

Venice Review: 'Tai Chi 0' An Uneven, But Playful & Enjoyable Piece Of Kung Fu Pop Art

  • By Oliver Lyttelton
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  • August 29, 2012 3:53 PM
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  • 2 Comments
Just as the nation as a whole sneaks up on surpassing the United States of America as the world’s foremost superpower (if it hasn’t already), China has become more and more important to the movie world in the last few years. Grosses for the relatively few American movies released there are huge (“The Dark Knight Rises” and “The Amazing Spider-Man” both just opened to big numbers), helping blockbusters make coin overseas even if they tank at home, while Chinese financiers are getting involved more and more in production of movies (as in “Looper” or “Iron Man 3,” both partially produced by Chinese companies, and featuring scenes set in the nation). And now, is China starting to beat Hollywood at its own blockbuster game?

Venice Review: Sarah Polley Examines Her Own Family In Lovely, Fascinating 'Stories We Tell'

  • By Oliver Lyttelton
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  • August 29, 2012 2:25 PM
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  • 3 Comments
Sarah Polley has a secret. It’s a secret that, remarkably, she kept under wraps to all but friends and family until the film screened at the Venice Film Festival this morning. It’s a secret that’s seemingly informed her two directorial efforts to date, “Away From Her” and “Take This Waltz,” and is the subject matter of her third film, and first documentary, “Stories We Tell.” And it’s a secret that’s led to her finest work as a director so far.

Review: The Bondurant Boys Deal Moonshine & Violence In John Hillcoat's Lively 'Lawless'

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • August 29, 2012 10:57 AM
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  • 4 Comments
"It's not violence that sets men apart, it's the distance they're willing to go," Forrest Bondurant (Tom Hardy) tells his youngest brother Jack (Shia LaBeouf) in "Lawless." And with a set of brass knuckles in his pocket and a pistol in his waistband, he knows what he's talking about. That theme is one that has carried John Hillcoat through his last two pictures "The Proposition" and "The Road," and once again he explores men and their relationship with violence in "Lawless," a picture that, while highly entertaining, doesn't quite match the heights of his previous efforts.

Review: 'The Possession' Wants To Be 'The Exorcist' But Comes Off Like A Lesser Episode Of 'The X-Files'

  • By Drew Taylor
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  • August 29, 2012 9:56 AM
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  • 3 Comments
In "The Possession," a new horror movie from Sam Raimi and Rob Tapert's Ghost House production shingle, a young girl becomes infatuated and then, yes, possessed by a dubious Jewish spirit that had been kept imprisoned in a wooden box. As far as horror movie premises go, this one is pretty outlandish, even for a genre defined by chainsaw-wielding madmen, haunted hotels, and all manner of slippery, otherworldly creatures. The fact that the movie claims to be based on a true story doesn't exactly legitimize anything, either. And what could have been a Jewish take on "The Exorcist," full of existential dread and the violent collision of the new world and old faith, ends up coming across, instead, like a lesser (though considerably longer) episode of "The X-Files."

Venice Review: Mira Nair's 'The Reluctant Fundamentalist' A Heavy-Handed Look At A Post 9/11 World

  • By Oliver Lyttelton
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  • August 29, 2012 7:31 AM
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  • 8 Comments
Opening films at festivals are always worth approaching with a little caution. Normally given out-of-competition slots, it’s often a signal that the films have been selected to bring some starry names, and the attention that goes with them to the red carpet, or to make some kind of mission statement, with the more prestigious pictures being saved up for the main competition. But generally speaking, Venice has had a good run in the last few years for their opening night film: “Atonement,” “Burn After Reading,” “Black Swan” and “The Ides Of March” all picked up varying degrees of praise, with Giuseppe Tornatore’s “Baaria” the only one of late that failed to get much of an international following.

Review: Pascal Laugier's 'The Tall Man' An Unfocused & Silly Horror Tale

  • By Drew Taylor
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  • August 28, 2012 7:56 PM
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  • 18 Comments
A few years ago there was a sort of mini-horror movie renaissance in France, with a bunch of talented young directors paying homage to their favorite American horror films the only way they knew how – by making them incredibly French. Under the stewardship of older French genre provocateurs (like Luc Besson and Christophe Gans), a new litter of spiky young filmmakers gave us visceral and challenging movies like "Them," "High Tension," "Frontier(s)," "Inside," and "Martyrs." The latter in particular was pretty heavily fawned over and picked up by The Weinstein Company for distribution through their Dimension shingle, although when it came time to release the film, they weren't sure what to do with such an extreme movie. Now the writer/director of "Martyrs," Pascal Laugier, is back with his first English-language film, "The Tall Man." And whatever blood-splattered charm he might have mustered with "Martyrs," it isn't apparent now.

Venice Review: Kiyoshi Kurosawa's 'Penance' Is An Absorbing 4 1/2 Hour Drama That Falters At Its Ending

  • By Oliver Lyttelton
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  • August 28, 2012 2:57 PM
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  • 7 Comments
For all the talk of auteurs working on the small screen, and helping to bring in a new golden age of television – Martin Scorsese, Michael Mann etc. – it’s hardly a phenomenon only made up of HBO’s current output. Ingmar Bergman and Rainer Werner Fassbinder both turned to television in the 1980s, for instance, and more recently British filmmakers Shane Meadows and Michael Winterbottom have both worked regularly on U.K. TV. The latest international filmmaker to follow in their footsteps is Kiyoshi Kurosawa, the Japanese filmmaker best known for his millennial horror masterpiece “Pulse.”

Review: 'The Day' Presents Post-Apocalypse From The A La Carte Menu

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • August 28, 2012 10:01 AM
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  • 1 Comment
"The Day" runs about eighty-seven minutes in length. It features a number of recognizable actors. There's violence at the beginning, middle and end, and many characters die, mostly with an explosion of blood. The story takes place over the course of one day, and though the image is saturated, we see the sun go down, and eventually come back up again. There is an orchestral score of grinding guitars as well. Some further detective work will conclude that yes, this is a movie.

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