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Fantastic Fest Review: 'Elite Squad 2' A Sprawling, Exciting Look At The Depths Of Corruption

  • By Todd Gilchrist
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  • September 30, 2011 3:27 AM
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  • 6 Comments
More of a “Red Riding Hood” or “Millennium Series” installment than a traditional sequel, “Elite Squad: The Enemy Within” doesn’t require viewers to have seen the original “Elite Squad” because it builds upon its predecessor’s themes and ideas rather than the strict details of its plot. Director Jose Padilha, returning to the director and co-writer’s chair for the second time, crafts an engaging, morally ambiguous thriller that also fearlessly examines police and political corruption in Brazil.

Fantastic Fest Review: 'Sleepless Night' A Deceptively Simple Thriller That Packs A Punch

  • By Todd Gilchrist
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  • September 29, 2011 3:59 AM
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  • 0 Comments
Containment thrillers can often be limited by the landscape of their locale, but in the French film “Sleepless Night,” the nightclub where corrupt cop Vincent (Tomer Sisley) races to rescue his son is expansive enough to make it seem like a mini-mall. Writer-director Frederic Jardin somehow manages to squeeze every last drop of claustrophobia from the massive, multilevel building, even after he’s filled it wall-to-wall with clubgoers, diners, socialites, and especially the odd assortment of cops and crooks who all have a stake in Vincent’s future. Although it’s quite deservedly scheduled for an American remake via the folks at Warner Brothers, “Sleepless Night” is the kind of entertainment that requires little translation to succeed, as its characters and story are so cleanly and cleverly designed that they would work in virtually any language.

Fantastic Fest Review: 'Paranormal Activity 3' Runs Low On Ideas, But Delivers Plenty Of Scares

  • By Todd Gilchrist
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  • September 29, 2011 1:03 AM
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  • 1 Comment
As a person terrified by the prospect of encountering a shadowy figure in my apartment in the middle of the night, the “Paranormal Activity” movies work like gangbusters on this writer. On an intellectual level, It's genuinely admirable how effectively they’re able to wring significant suspense out of so little happening on screen, but in terms of visceral impact, they’re among the few horror films whose effect on this viewer lingered long after leaving the theater. “Paranormal Activity 3” is less effective than its predecessors, but it still works when and how it needs to. As a prequel to a prequel that further explored the supernatural world created by Oren Peli, the film unwittingly reveals the dwindling supply of ideas left to be injected into the franchise, both in conception and execution, even as it offers a finale mostly worthy of its predecessors.

Rick Baker Says He's Still Stinging About 'The Wolfman,' Despite Oscar Win, CGI Won Over Makeup

  • By Todd Gilchrist
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  • September 26, 2011 11:59 AM
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  • 2 Comments
Makeup and Special Effects Icon Laments Lazy Use Of CGI In FilmOn Saturday, makeup and special effects icon Rick Baker trekked down to Austin, TX, for a retrospective screening of “American Werewolf in London,” where he conducted a Q&A with fans and presented a special limited-edition poster created by artist Olly Moss. Prior to the screening, he sat down with The Playlist for a conversation about his career then and now, where he didn’t hold back about his mixed feelings for the advent of CGI.

Fantastic Fest Reviews: 'Michael,' 'Haunters' & The Thrilling, Graphic & Hard-To-Watch 'Yellow Sea'

  • By Todd Gilchrist
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  • September 26, 2011 4:55 AM
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  • 1 Comment
For folks who don’t hear about regional or niche festivals because of the din of their larger, international counterparts, Fantastic Fest is an Austin, TX-based film festival, now in its seventh year, which focuses on genre fare. Unlike other such festivals like Los Angeles’ Screamfest, however, Fantastic Fest curates its selections from a wide variety of sources, and embraces a particularly liberal definition of “genre” which allows its programmers to assemble a schedule of films with remarkable eclecticism, and an almost shocking consistency of quality. Needless to say, no festival is completely full of winners, but in just the first few days of Fantastic Fest, attendees were able to see more good films than most festivals screen during their entire run.

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