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Fantasia Review: Award-Winning South Korean Indie 'Han Gong-Ju' Is Damaged And Beautiful

  • By Nikola Grozdanovic
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  • July 28, 2014 3:43 PM
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Han Gong-ju
Looking over the Fantasia Film Festival guide, one quote in the “Han Gong-ju” section is conspicuous. Martin Scorsese calls the film “outstanding,” noting its "mise-en-scene, image, sound, and performance.” Last December, in his capacity as Jury President of the Marrakech Film Festival, presiding over a group including Marion Cotillard, Fatih Akin, and Park Chan-wook among others, Scorsese awarded Su-jin Lee’s debut feature film the top prize, and has been championing it ever since. When arguably the biggest cinema geek of all time (no offense to Quentin Tarantino) backs a movie with such praise, one tends to pay attention. But we find ourselves in the peculiar position where we disagree with one of the greatest living filmmakers regarding just how outstanding this film really is.

Recap: 'The Leftovers,' Season 1, Episode 5 'Gladys'

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • July 27, 2014 11:00 PM
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Ann Dowd and Amy Brenneman in "The Leftovers"
Loyalty is a bond that can be stronger than blood ties, but creating that connection requires a careful balance of trust and vulnerability to show that you can be both sensitive and stoic to the needs of someone else. But loyalty can also be dangerous, and that becomes clear in "The Leftovers' " fifth episode "Gladys," where we witness in rather chilling fashion how and why the Guilty Remnant stay so devoted to their cause even in the wake of horrific acts.

San Diego Comic-Con Review: Found Footage Time Travel Movie 'Project Almanac'

  • By Drew Taylor
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  • July 25, 2014 3:49 PM
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Project Almanac
Christopher Nolan and Matthew McConaughey's appearance in Hall H wasn't the only surprise aspect of Paramount's lengthy San Diego Comic Con panel yesterday. It was also announced, after a brief clip was shown, that "Project Almanac," the Michael Bay-produced found footage time travel movie, would also be screened for select attendees. We were able to attend the screening and, while it doesn't exactly blaze a new trail, the movie is smart and knowingly acknowledges both its place in the time travel subgenre and its formal limitations as a found footage movie. That self-awareness makes it fun and silly and, yes, kind of stupid, but in ways that are mostly enjoyable and forgivable.

Review: 'Hercules' Starring Dwayne Johnson, Ian McShane And John Hurt

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • July 25, 2014 9:00 AM
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  • 1 Comment
Hercules
There are cheap costumes, cartoonish special effects and endless nonsense monologues in Brett Ratner's “Hercules." Ergo, there's also Ian McShane. HBO's "Deadwood" blew up the journeyman actor's career, making him a must-have accessory in the eyes of all casting agents. But since the end of that show, where he essayed the role of the iconic Al Swearengen, he's been lost in an increasingly inessential sea of special effects-heavy blockbusters, from “Pirates Of The Caribbean: On Stranger Tides” to “Jack The Giant Slayer," from “The Seeker: The Dark Is Rising” to “Snow White And The Huntsman." You figure the qualifications for McShane appearing in your movie involve the least amount of acting possible. “Hercules” may be the first film where, finally, everyone is on the exact same page as McShane.

Review: Award Winning Documentary 'The Kill Team'

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • July 24, 2014 7:01 PM
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The Kill Team
There's a stomach-turning sadness at the heart of "The Kill Team," Dan Krauss' austere documentary about a soldier trapped in the cycle of violence perpetrated by a group of soldiers indicted on charges of violence against innocents in 2010. While the media was more than ready to discuss a culture of violence, utilizing "Kill Team" as a fashionable headline-filler, Krauss' film places the spotlight on Pvt. Adam Winfield. Like the upcoming "We Steal Secrets: The Story Of WikiLeaks," which places a strong focus on walking security breach Bradley Manning as a square peg, "The Kill Team" paints a portrait of Winfield as an overly earnest young fellow far out of his league when paired with soldiers that, when armed, simply became Boys With Guns.

Review: Marvel's 'Guardians Of The Galaxy' Starring Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Bradley Cooper & Vin Diesel

  • By Oliver Lyttelton
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  • July 24, 2014 4:00 PM
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  • 14 Comments
Guardians Of The Galaxy
Now, they’re all over t-shirts and lunchboxes, but back in 2008 when Marvel Studios were kicking off as their own self-producing entity, their characters weren’t all that well known. Captain America was probably the most familiar (along with the Hulk), but Iron Man and Thor and Nick Fury and co. were, while obviously known and loved by comic fans, pretty unrecognizable to general audiences, who knew more immediately iconic characters like Batman, Superman and Spider-Man, far better. Now, the roster of The Avengers are all household names, but with Spidey, X-Men and the Fantastic Four still under the clutches of other studios, and contracts on the original actors running out, Marvel are being forced to turn to some of their more obscure properties.

Review: Joe Swanberg's Engaging, Truthful 'Happy Christmas' With Melanie Lynskey, Anna Kendrick & Mark Webber

  • By Rodrigo Perez
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  • July 24, 2014 12:05 PM
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  • 0 Comments
Happy Christmas
As perhaps the poster boy for independent cinema in the last seven to eight years, it’s crazy to realize that lo-fi filmmaker Joe Swanberg has never been in competition at the Sundance Film Festival before. While two of his films have played in Park City previously (though one was a short segment in “V/H/S”), Swanberg and his zeitgeist-defining mumblecore movement (read: indie filmmaking with a cute name and perhaps even lower budgets than audiences were used to at the time), were actually embraced by the SXSW Film Festival and not the indie-defining organizers in Utah.

Fantasia Review: John McNaughton's 'The Harvest' Starring Michael Shannon & Samantha Morton

  • By Nikola Grozdanovic
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  • July 24, 2014 10:01 AM
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  • 1 Comment
The Harvest
Discounting some scattered television work, director John McNaughton has been off the grid for 13 years as far as features go. Even then, you’d have to go back all the way to 1998 and “Wild Things” to find the last movie he’s made with any kind of traction, with a certain swimming pool scene featuring Denise Richards and Neve Campbell doing the rounds on an assortment of seedy list articles. And you’d have to rewind the tape even further to 1986’s “Henry: Portrait Of A Serial Killer,” to find the McNaughton film most likely to remain the ace in the cult director’s deck so far. In “The Harvest” McNaughton returns to add to the rich cinematic tradition depicting depraved parenting, and gets the best possible welcome back party at Montreal’s genre film festival Fantasia.

Review: Spy Tale 'A Most Wanted Man' Starring Philip Seymour Hoffman, Rachel McAdams And More

  • By Cory Everett
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  • July 23, 2014 6:01 PM
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  • 5 Comments
A Most Wanted Man
As the line between television and film gets blurrier, it becomes increasingly difficult to distinguish exactly what makes something qualify to be a film at all. Particularly in the age of “Homeland” and “The Americans,” some may leave a slow-burning, understated spy caper like “A Most Wanted Man” wondering if it wouldn’t have been better served as a limited series on Netflix or HBO. And it will be a perfectly valid question. Based on the novel by John le Carré (“Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy”), the film is the new anti-thriller from director Anton Corbijn and centers on the war on terror in Germany via a tapestry of several characters, chiefly Gunther (Philip Seymour Hoffman), a grizzled counter-terrorist intelligence officer stationed in Hamburg after a previous fuck up in Beirut.

Fantasia Review: ‘Open Windows’ Starring Elijah Wood & Sasha Grey

  • By Nikola Grozdanovic
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  • July 23, 2014 2:04 PM
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  • 2 Comments
Open Windows
When he burst onto the scene in 2007 with his Spanish debut feature “Timecrimes,” everyone saw a potential new big name from a nation with a knack for churning out directors who really know how (and really, really want) to thrill you. But Nacho Vigalondo’s follow up “Extraterrestrial” in 2011 was more of a whimper compared to the bang he started off with. This year, the hope is that his English language debut puts him back in gear. After a six year absence from the festival, Nacho Vigalondo is back at Fantasia to spook you into never looking at your computer screen the same way again, especially if there’s one too many windows open at the same time. To help him get an even bigger international boost, he’s got the support of an ex-porn star and an ex-hobbit. Unfortunately it feels like the rise keeps getting stunted because those who criticized "Timecrimes" for being a little muddled in its narrative, and "Extraterrestrial" all over the place in tone, will most likely feel carsick by the time “Open Windows” comes to a close.

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