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Venice Review: Ramin Bahrani’s ‘99 Homes’ Starring Andrew Garfield, Michael Shannon And Laura Dern

  • By Jessica Kiang
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  • August 28, 2014 6:52 PM
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  • 1 Comment
99 Homes
It opens with blood spatter; it will end with your blood boiling. Which is to say that Ramin Bahrani’s ferocious foreclosure drama, “99 Homes” is exactly as effective as it needs to be. While neither subtle nor particularly nuanced, the blunt force trauma impact of its narrative never feels exploitative, being wholly justified by the importance of its themes. Importance -- it’s such a loaded, off-putting word, but it is the right one, because while Bahrani’s filmmaking skill and the excellent performances convincingly sell the experience of the film almost as a genre thriller or a Scorsese-esque, descent-into-madness gangster picture, those of us not directly affected by the housing collapse will nonetheless emerge with a better understanding of its terrible human toll, one all too easy to push aside when it is reduced to statistics and demographics.

Review: Installation-Worthy 'The Strange Color Of Your Body's Tears'

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • August 28, 2014 6:43 PM
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  • 0 Comments
The Strange Color Of Your Body's Tears
Some movies are watched. “The Strange Color Of Your Body's Tears” is a movie you live inside. This new film from directors Helene Cattet and Bruno Forzani touches you repeatedly, inappropriately, from the front and, delightfully, from the rear. To synopsize the film is folly, though it will be fun to see viewers try. This is the magic that Cattet and Forzani have weaved from their debut effort “Amer," a hypnotic trip down the giallo rabbit hole. Very few filmmakers today are working with a radical new vocabulary, but Cattet and Forzani are using genre of the past to toss us, shouting, into the future.
More: Reviews, Review

Venice Review: Quentin Dupieux Returns With Droll Dreams-And-Movies Head-Trip ‘Reality’

  • By Jessica Kiang
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  • August 28, 2014 1:28 PM
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  • 0 Comments
Reality
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. And if it is broken, no harm in breaking it further. After the modest, cultier-than-thou successes of killer tire movie “Rubber” and lost dog odyssey “Wrong,” perpetual student filmmaker Quentin Dupieux returns with another iteration of his very narrowly defined field of expertise with “Reality.”

Venice Review: Xavier Beauvois’ Grave-Robbing Comedy ‘The Price of Fame’

  • By Jessica Kiang
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  • August 28, 2014 11:34 AM
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  • 0 Comments
Amiable if overlong, "The Price of Fame," the new film from festival circuit fixture Xavier Beauvois, whose last film “Of Gods and Men” won the Grand Prix in Cannes 2010, is a serviceable addition to the surprisingly well-defined subgenre of the graverobbing comedy. Based on the true story of an inept plot to steal Charlie Chaplin’s grave and hold it for ransom, the film suffers from the same uneven tone that can often hound this sort of shaggy dog story,

Venice Review: 'The Act Of Killing' Director Joshua Oppenheimer’s ‘The Look of Silence’

  • By Jessica Kiang
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  • August 27, 2014 6:37 PM
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  • 0 Comments
The Look of Silence
A stretch of placid water in rural Indonesia known as Snake River has been the site for many unspeakably horrible killings. One such brutal butchering was of a young man called Ramli, caught on the wrong side of the country’s 1965 communist purges and messily executed, his remains thrown along with those of countless others into the water. “No one would buy fish,” chuckles one of the perpetrators —because everyone around the river knew the fish were feeding on human remains. If Joshua Oppenheimer’s “The Act of Killing” was a full-throated scream, his follow-up “The Look of Silence” is an ululating lament, a drawn-out wail of grief that sounds almost like a song, albeit a harrowing one.

Venice Review: Alejandro González Iñárritu’s ‘Birdman’ With Michael Keaton, Emma Stone, Ed Norton & More

  • By Jessica Kiang
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  • August 27, 2014 7:44 AM
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  • 14 Comments
Birdman
Hubristic, humble, heartfelt and hotheaded, “Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)” is phenomenal. The feverishly anticipated (not least by us) movie from Alejandro González Iñárritu blasted through its Venice premiere (it’s the opening film) in a gonzo rush —it's so exciting, so moment-to-moment enjoyable that to expect profundity would be greedy. And yet it delivers on that level as well; the film is as thoughtful and smart as it is infectiously absurd. And that's perhaps the biggest surprise of an endlessly surprising, inventive movie: whatever the sum of its elements, like how it launches and completes the “Keatonnaissance” in one fell swoop, or incredible camerawork that imperceptibly stitches together into (mostly) one long, seemingly cutless take, “Birdman” adds up to more. It’s borderline miraculous.

Review: Jack O'Connell Gives A Breakthrough Performance In Prison Film Classic 'Starred Up'

  • By Jessica Kiang
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  • August 26, 2014 6:05 PM
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  • 3 Comments
Starred Up
It was a glorious, freezing, snowy Monday evening at the Göteborg International Film Festival that yielded the first truly great film of 2014. “Starred Up” (which, fine, actually premiered at Telluride last year) is an instant classic of the prison movie genre, making a bona fide breakthrough star of its lead Jack O’Connell (best known for British TV series “Skins”), while propelling director David Mackenzie’s previously solid career (which included highlights “Hallam Foe” and “Young Adam”) straight to "boss" level in one fell swoop. And in case anyone forgets, the film confirms that however often you cast Ben Mendelsohn as a violent, unpredictable scumbag, he’ll find a way to amaze/terrify you every time. The superlative-averse might want to stop reading now, because there will be many coming up in the next several paragraphs.

Book Review: Samuel Fuller's Long Lost Pulp Novel 'Brainquake'

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • August 26, 2014 3:31 PM
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  • 1 Comment
Brainquake header
Samuel Fuller didn't do anything halfway, either in his life, or with his movies. His filmography reads like punch after punch of hard-hitting films — "Park Row," "Underworld U.S.A.," "Shock Corridor," "The Naked Kiss," "The Big Red One" — and it was 1982's "White Dog" that got him in particular trouble. The controversial film about dog trained to attack black people unsurprisingly found him at odds with Paramount, so Fuller went into self-imposed exile in France, where among his many activities, he turned to novel writing. It's something he had always done throughout his career, and even you might know his "The Dark Page" though the film version, "Scandal Street" (that was not directed by Fuller). However, "Brainquake," written during his foray abroad, fell through the cracks. The book was released overseas, published only in French and Japanese, and rather remarkably, never saw an English language printing until now.

Review: 'Coldwater' Explores the Violent World of Juvenile Rehabilitation Camps

  • By Katie Walsh
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  • August 25, 2014 7:03 PM
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  • 0 Comments
Coldwater
Brad Lunders (P.J. Boudousqué) is awakened in the middle of the night by strapping figures wearing shirts reading "STAFF" and is unceremoniously tossed in the back of a van with other teenage boys, all handcuffed and shivering in their pajamas. They are headed to a private juvenile "rehabilitation" facility out in the country, a place where their parents have paid former military men and their lackeys a hefty sum of money to scare their misbehaving teens straight, with physical and mental torture.
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Review: 'The November Man' Starring Pierce Brosnan, Luke Bracey And Olga Kurylenko

  • By Nikola Grozdanovic
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  • August 25, 2014 12:09 PM
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  • 0 Comments
November Man
Perhaps the one sheet of Pierce Brosnan, a man responsible for one of the best incarnations of iconic spy James Bond, with his game face on, pointing a gun under the cheeky tagline "A Spy Is Never Out Of His Game," will be enough to convince some filmgoers that watching “The November Man” won’t be a waste of their time. The image of a scantily clad Olga Kurylenko might be a bonus too. On the other hand, those who aren’t entirely convinced by the poster should ignore the familiar axiom of not judging a book by its cover, and walk away, because other than the prospect of watching one of the best 007’s playing the game again, there’s not much of value or substance in this action thriller.

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