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Rome Review: Overlong & Incoherent, Takashi Miike's 'Lesson Of The Evil' Is Sadly More Bore Than Gore

  • By Jessica Kiang
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  • November 9, 2012 11:58 AM
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  • 4 Comments
The slasher picture, which is what we suppose this film eventually morphs into, relies on a certain novelty in how our successive victims are offed for us to retain interest -- there should be jumps, scares, the unexpected, the gruesome. But for all its (literal) buckets of blood and fetishistic slo-mo messy deaths ‘Lesson,’ enjoying its World Premiere at the Rome Film Festival, spends its entire last third in an orgy of murder that feels, of all things, rote.

Review: Todd Rohal's Third Feature 'Nature Calls' Is A Dull, Droning Wrong Number

  • By James Rocchi
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  • November 8, 2012 6:31 PM
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  • 1 Comment
Curiously squandering an immensely talented cast, Todd Rohal's "Nature Calls," written when the writer-director lived in Austin, had more humor and humanity and life in its 10-minute post-screening talk here at SXSW than it showed in its previous 98-minute running time. Starring Patton Oswalt and Johnny Knoxville as brothers -- in a clear refutation of all we know about genetics -- "Nature Calls" pits Oswalt's dedicated scoutmaster, eager to take his scoutmaster father on one last camping trip, against Knoxville's black sheep son. You can imagine this premise leading to all kinds of hilarity.

Review: 'Citadel' Is A Sometimes Scary, Sometimes Silly Entry In the Hoodie Horror Sub-Genre

  • By Drew Taylor
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  • November 8, 2012 6:00 PM
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  • 2 Comments
Over the last few years an interesting subgenre has developed in British horror – dubbed "hoodie horror" by the press and named after the young, urban kids who wear hooded sweatshirts – these films are set primarily in England's low income housing "estates" and played up the fears of "Broken Britain," a term coined by conservative newspaper The Sun, to describe the country's perceived social and moral bankruptcy. Everything from the Michael Caine revenge thriller "Harry Brown" to last year's gleeful SXSW smash "Attack the Block" have used elements of this subgenre. "Citadel," which won the Midnight award at the fest, further explores the fears and anxieties of urban Britain (and Ireland), and the results are sometimes scary, sometimes silly, and always politically questionable.
More: Citadel, Review

Review: Secrets, Revelations & An Unlikely Friendship Emerge In The Compelling 'Starlet'

  • By Katie Walsh
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  • November 8, 2012 5:00 PM
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  • 0 Comments
Sean Baker’s film “Starlet” wants to play a little trick on you. It’s a fun trick, and it might be more enjoyable figuring it out on your own, but it’s the most important and interesting part of the movie, so it’s hard to talk about its merits without giving it away. In fact, the main crux of the film isn’t interesting enough without the drama of the environment, the truth of which is slowly revealed throughout the first half of the film. You may be able to figure it out within the first sequence, but the fun is in how the film tells you what’s up.
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Review: '28 Hotel Rooms' Doesn't Get Beyond Just A Couple Of Jagoffs Having An Affair

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • November 8, 2012 4:06 PM
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  • 2 Comments
In movies, there is honesty, and there is truth. Forgive filmmakers for getting them confused, particularly in the post-indie world, where low-budget strategies bled into the mainstream allowing films to have an emotional immediacy and verisimilitude that soon gave way to simple re-creation of real life. This has resulted in a certain honesty much like that portrayed in “28 Hotel Rooms,” but the art form has evolved too much for that honesty to still be confused for truth.

Review: 'The Comedy' A Compelling, Layered Look At A Hipster Adrift In Brooklyn

  • By Christopher Bell
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  • November 8, 2012 1:56 PM
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  • 5 Comments
"Tim and Eric's Billion Dollar Movie" and Rick Alverson's "The Comedy" (starring Tim Heidecker) both played at the Sundance Film Festival, and it'd be easy to simply peg the former as your standard bizarre T&E affair and the latter as a dramatic arthouse effort. But that's simply much too reductive for Alverson's current character study, a film uniquely weird in its own right and filled with enough of the duo's humor to make their followers happy -- to a point.

Review: David Frankham & Michael Mann's 'Witness' A Raw & Powerful Look At The Front Lines Of Photojournalism

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • November 8, 2012 11:05 AM
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  • 0 Comments
The news media hasn't been in good shape in the past few years, particularly when it comes to on the ground, investigative journalism. Dwindling budgets, an audience shift from newspapers and television to the internet, and some would argue a lack of drive from the media themselves to do hard reporting, has made it a grim time to be involved in the industry. But as producer and director David Frankham told us recently, he hopes that the HBO series "Witness" (also produced by Michael Mann), is able to enact the kind of change that the classic reportage of "60 Minutes" managed to achieve. And while it doesn't quite go that far, "Witness" is an eye-opening, riveting look at conflicts raging around the world, and the complex and mostly ignored narratives that are unfolding.

AFI Fest Review: 'Rise of the Guardians' Is An Animated Yuletide Treat

  • By Drew Taylor
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  • November 7, 2012 10:04 AM
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  • 0 Comments
"Rise of the Guardians," the new DreamWorks Animation feature conceived by famed children's book author William Joyce, features, at its core, such an ingenious concept that it's hard to believe nobody's ever thought of it before. The plot concerns a kind of "Avengers"-style super-team made up of beloved childhood characters – Santa Claus (Alec Baldwin), the Easter Bunny (Hugh Jackman), the Tooth Fairy (Isla Fisher), the Sandman (he doesn't speak but communicates through ghostly dreams), and the newest, most reluctant member of the team, Jack Frost (Chris Pine), who must band together to stop the spooky boogeyman Pitch (Jude Law) from annihilating childhood innocence in a more profoundly evil way than the Internet already has.

AFI Fest Review: Audacious 'Clip' Winds Up Overwhelmed By Its Own Despair

  • By Nikola Grozdanovic
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  • November 6, 2012 1:57 PM
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  • 0 Comments
Maja Miloš’s debut feature film “Clip” continues to tour the festival circuit, including stopovers at the Rotterdam International Film Festival, Buenos Aires International Fesitval of Independent Cinema, Montreal’s Festival Du Nouveau Cinema and, most recently, in AFI’s “New Auteurs” selection. With its exposure overshadowed by the bigger international players, it still managed to impress the Dutch so much in Rotterdam that they bestowed upon it the KNF Award, “given to the best feature film in the official section that is yet to find distribution within the Netherlands.” And while all the signs pointed to a quality picture, audiences tolerance for the picture may depend on how much despair they can handle in one sitting.

Review: 'Miami Connection' Not A Rediscovered Schlock Classic, But Close

  • By Mark Zhuravsky
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  • November 5, 2012 3:59 PM
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  • 0 Comments
To understand the hyperbole being tossed around when so-bad-it’s-good obsessives talk about “Miami Connection,” it’s vital to acknowledge that the best “bad” movies have a great making-of story. The current reigning champ of the lot remains Tommy Wiseau’s incomparable “The Room” (sorry “Birdemic” fans, the film is possibly too inept to remain consistently entertaining during its two-hour runtime) but here comes Grandmaster Y.K. Kim and his baby, ostensibly the story of a martial arts-themed rock band that takes on drug-running, motorcycle gang ninjas. Let’s pause for a moment – yes, that does sound like a childhood dream come true, provided you grew up digesting schlock fare and dreaming of crossovers that were not to be. Yet, for all the hints of notorious greatness that the film racks up over the course of ninety occasionally glorious minutes, it’s not about to dethrone the established “classics."
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