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Review: '17 Girls' Neglects Thematic Weight In Favor Of True Story Melodramatics

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • September 20, 2012 6:58 PM
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  • 0 Comments
In film, there is a natural hostility towards youth. Part of this comes from the obvious fact that most cinematic stories are reflected through the eyes of an adult storyteller. Or Michael Bay. But this also comes from the fact that cinema has it’s own limitations as to what it can capture, and developing youngsters, filled with contradictory beliefs and attitudes, sometimes irrationally exuberant or overwhelmingly downcast, do not make reliable figureheads for onscreen drama. These inherent limitations ghettoize most films about youth, placing a ceiling on recognizable human drama that can be evoked from still-fertile, erratic minds. That makes it even more difficult when a topic like the controversial one that drives “17 Girls” enters the conversation, as it stems from a true story that defies any sort of adult sensibility.

Review: 'I'm Carolyn Parker' Tells The Story Of Post-Katrina New Orleans Through The Eyes Of One Resilient Woman

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • September 20, 2012 3:00 PM
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  • 1 Comment
It has been seven years since Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans, and the impact is still being felt both locally and nationally. The event is still a touchstone for conversations about race, class and government, one that usually pits the haves against the have nots. But in truth, the story of how New Orleans and its residents continue to live and rebuild is something much more layered and complex, with the past playing a prominent role in how to shape the future. And for director Jonathan Demme, he found a way to delve into the many sides of post-Katrina life by telling it through the eyes of Carolyn Parker. Joining her from months after the floods and tracking her life for years afterward, "I'm Carolyn Parker" is an insightful and at times moving eye on the ground of the day-to-day struggles that are still common for many in the city.

Review: 'Three Stars' An Interesting Look At What It Takes To Run A Michelin-Starred Restaurant

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • September 19, 2012 7:04 PM
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  • 0 Comments
The perception of food and how we interact with it in our daily lives is at an interesting crossroads in the media. For the most part, the message of the moment is about keeping things organic and simple, using the best ingredients on hand, sourced locally if at all possible. On the other end of the spectrum, reality TV pushes a mixed message of preparing high end, highly crafted food, but as fast as possible. From the top shelf "Top Chef" to the lowly "Hell's Kitchen," they both have the same goal of spotlighting refined eating and, eventually, positioning participants on a path to earn a coveted Michelin star, should their career take them on a path to work on that level. And Lutz Hachmeister's documentary, "Three Stars," explores what it takes to earn those coveted honors, and even more, what's required to keep it.

Review: Emotional & Inspiring 'How To Survive A Plague' Is One Of The Best Documentaries Of The Year

  • By Katie Walsh
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  • September 19, 2012 6:27 PM
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  • 0 Comments
It can seem like ancient history to the millenial generation, but many remember the all-too-harrowing realities of the AIDS crisis and the subsequent social movement that arose out of the desperation and fear of imminent death faced by young, vibrant individuals with a fierce will to live. This movement has been inscribed in history by the new documentary “How to Survive a Plague,” from first-time filmmaker David France, an award-winning journalist who covered the crisis from a fly on the wall standpoint from the beginning. The film is skillfully crafted from hours of archival footage shot on the front lines -- on the streets at protests, at ACT UP (AIDS Coalition To Unleash Power) meetings, in the halls of international health conferences, on the lawn of the White House -- and from eyewitness accounts of key members of the movement.

NYFF Review: Barry Levinson's 'The Bay' Is A Frightening Eco-Horror 'Jaws' Riff

  • By Drew Taylor
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  • September 19, 2012 6:07 PM
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  • 5 Comments
Primarily known for his talky, small-scale comedic dramas, exemplified by his beloved "Diner," Vanity Fair recently made a compelling argument for this seminal Barry Levinson film influencing everything from "Seinfeld" and "Swingers" to Judd Apatow's comedy factory and feel-good Hollywood trifles like "The Natural." In light of this posit, this makes "The Bay," Levinson's new, highly squishy found footage horror movie more than just a career left turn; it's more like he veered onto oncoming traffic. The only thing more surprising than Levinson making "The Bay," though, is how effectively creepy it is.

Review: 'The Perks Of Being A Wallflower' A Touching, Fresh & Funny Take On Teenage Love & Life

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • September 19, 2012 3:40 PM
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  • 0 Comments
Teenagers have generally not been well served by the movies. Folks like Cameron Crowe, John Hughes and Judd Apatow aside, adolescent life is usually positioned around the goals of having sex, partying and getting into outlandish hijinks with little-to-no actual insight into how teenagers think or feel. In fact, it has been a long time since we've really had a movie that got it right, but delivering beyond expectations, "The Perks Of Being A Wallflower" is about as authentic as it gets, bringing a fresh, funny and moving look at the ups and downs of friendship and family in high school.

Review: 'Dredd' A Visually Strong, Engaging But Ultimately Empty Cinematic Experience

  • By Todd Gilchrist
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  • September 18, 2012 9:58 AM
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  • 7 Comments
Remakes and reboots always seem to demand comparisons to their predecessors, but “Dredd” evokes a slightly different relationship: What Zack Snyder’s “Dawn of the Dead” is to George Romero’s original, Pete Travis’ film is to, no, not Danny Cannon’s 1995 film “Judge Dredd,” but Paul Verhoeven’s “Robocop.” In both cases, gifted visual stylists took fertile, socially-conscious subject matter, pared out the cultural commentary, and left behind an engaging, if empty, cinematic experience. And for the most part, that works, although the abrupt ending of Travis’ film only highlights its thematic vacuousness, while Snyder’s bleak post-credits punchline successfully disguised it (at least at the time). Nevertheless, by far the better of the two cinematic interpretations of this particular character, “Dredd” is a video game procedural tied to great visuals, but one without deeper substance to make its experience remotely meaningful.
More: Dredd, Review

Review: 'Bait 3D' Joins The Ranks of Forgettable Cheap Shark Thrillers

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • September 17, 2012 11:03 AM
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  • 3 Comments
In the fine tradition of “Shark Night 3D,” “Piranha 3DD” and the direct-to-DVD “Deep Blue Sea 4” that surely exists in another dimension, comes “Bait 3D,” an Australian-Singapore co-production once again warning us to stay out of the deep end. In an inventive twist, this time, the deep end has come to us: “Bait 3D” has a high concept premise that’s essentially Sharks In A Supermarket. As the tagline deftly teases, “Cleanup On Aisle 7.” The parenthetical assumption is that this shark isn’t actually shopping, see.

TIFF Review: Low Energy 'Wasteland' A Forgettable Brit Crime Flick

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • September 17, 2012 10:01 AM
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  • 2 Comments
Every six months or so it seems the British film industry cranks out another modestly budgeted crime flick. Usually identified by a cast of recognizable but not quite famous faces, a desaturated color scheme, working class setting and familiar plot machinations, these are comfort food for genre fans that provide a distraction for a couple of hours and little else more. However, every now and then a film breaks out of the mould, offers up a higher standard of filmmaking verve and storytelling inspiration to become something that stretches beyond its genre trappings. "Wasteland" is not one of those movies.
More: TIFF, Review

Review: 'Trouble With The Curve' Is A Lifeless Baseball Drama That Throws A Few Innings Too Many

  • By Benjamin Wright
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  • September 17, 2012 9:22 AM
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  • 3 Comments
Despite a recent mishap involving an empty chair meant to be President Barack Obama, actor Clint Eastwood has been relatively out of sight when it comes to the press. He mostly turns up at awards shows come January every year or so, and he’s perhaps best known at this point for his work behind the camera on mainstream fare, intelligent or even thought-provoking entertainment like “Letters to Iwo Jima” and “Mystic River” -- or far less savory works like “Hereafter,” and the well-intentioned misfire of a biopic in 2011’s Oscar bait “J. Edgar.” There’s little doubt the actor/director will maintain his iconic status until his final days, but “Trouble with the Curve” finds Eastwood on cranky autopilot.

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