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Review: 'The Possession' Wants To Be 'The Exorcist' But Comes Off Like A Lesser Episode Of 'The X-Files'

  • By Drew Taylor
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  • August 29, 2012 9:56 AM
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  • 3 Comments
In "The Possession," a new horror movie from Sam Raimi and Rob Tapert's Ghost House production shingle, a young girl becomes infatuated and then, yes, possessed by a dubious Jewish spirit that had been kept imprisoned in a wooden box. As far as horror movie premises go, this one is pretty outlandish, even for a genre defined by chainsaw-wielding madmen, haunted hotels, and all manner of slippery, otherworldly creatures. The fact that the movie claims to be based on a true story doesn't exactly legitimize anything, either. And what could have been a Jewish take on "The Exorcist," full of existential dread and the violent collision of the new world and old faith, ends up coming across, instead, like a lesser (though considerably longer) episode of "The X-Files."

Venice Review: Mira Nair's 'The Reluctant Fundamentalist' A Heavy-Handed Look At A Post 9/11 World

  • By Oliver Lyttelton
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  • August 29, 2012 7:31 AM
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  • 8 Comments
Opening films at festivals are always worth approaching with a little caution. Normally given out-of-competition slots, it’s often a signal that the films have been selected to bring some starry names, and the attention that goes with them to the red carpet, or to make some kind of mission statement, with the more prestigious pictures being saved up for the main competition. But generally speaking, Venice has had a good run in the last few years for their opening night film: “Atonement,” “Burn After Reading,” “Black Swan” and “The Ides Of March” all picked up varying degrees of praise, with Giuseppe Tornatore’s “Baaria” the only one of late that failed to get much of an international following.

Review: Pascal Laugier's 'The Tall Man' An Unfocused & Silly Horror Tale

  • By Drew Taylor
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  • August 28, 2012 7:56 PM
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  • 18 Comments
A few years ago there was a sort of mini-horror movie renaissance in France, with a bunch of talented young directors paying homage to their favorite American horror films the only way they knew how – by making them incredibly French. Under the stewardship of older French genre provocateurs (like Luc Besson and Christophe Gans), a new litter of spiky young filmmakers gave us visceral and challenging movies like "Them," "High Tension," "Frontier(s)," "Inside," and "Martyrs." The latter in particular was pretty heavily fawned over and picked up by The Weinstein Company for distribution through their Dimension shingle, although when it came time to release the film, they weren't sure what to do with such an extreme movie. Now the writer/director of "Martyrs," Pascal Laugier, is back with his first English-language film, "The Tall Man." And whatever blood-splattered charm he might have mustered with "Martyrs," it isn't apparent now.

Venice Review: Kiyoshi Kurosawa's 'Penance' Is An Absorbing 4 1/2 Hour Drama That Falters At Its Ending

  • By Oliver Lyttelton
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  • August 28, 2012 2:57 PM
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  • 7 Comments
For all the talk of auteurs working on the small screen, and helping to bring in a new golden age of television – Martin Scorsese, Michael Mann etc. – it’s hardly a phenomenon only made up of HBO’s current output. Ingmar Bergman and Rainer Werner Fassbinder both turned to television in the 1980s, for instance, and more recently British filmmakers Shane Meadows and Michael Winterbottom have both worked regularly on U.K. TV. The latest international filmmaker to follow in their footsteps is Kiyoshi Kurosawa, the Japanese filmmaker best known for his millennial horror masterpiece “Pulse.”

Review: 'The Day' Presents Post-Apocalypse From The A La Carte Menu

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • August 28, 2012 10:01 AM
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  • 1 Comment
"The Day" runs about eighty-seven minutes in length. It features a number of recognizable actors. There's violence at the beginning, middle and end, and many characters die, mostly with an explosion of blood. The story takes place over the course of one day, and though the image is saturated, we see the sun go down, and eventually come back up again. There is an orchestral score of grinding guitars as well. Some further detective work will conclude that yes, this is a movie.

Book Review: Unnecessary 'The Dark Knight Rises' Novelization Brings Noir Sheen To The Surface

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • August 27, 2012 2:02 PM
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  • 1 Comment
The continued existence of the movie novelization is perhaps one of the more curious and enduring elements of blockbuster tie-ins. During the '70s and '80s, when you could only see a movie in theaters, a book of your favorite film served a more concrete purpose. Until you got a chance to rent the movie at some point in the future (owning a VHS copy of a film was generally quite expensive early on, and home video release frames were much longer than they are now), reading the story that you saw on the big screen allowed your imagination to recreate the experience, and some authors even added a few more elements and textures to the tale. In short, it was a way for movie fans to remain close to the characters and world they enjoyed so much until they got the privelege to watch it again. But in 2012, it's difficult to understand the purpose behind recreating a movie on the page.

Review: 'The Apparition' Is A Hauntingly Inept Chiller

  • By Drew Taylor
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  • August 24, 2012 8:38 AM
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  • 3 Comments
In "The Apparition," a profoundly dull and uninteresting horror movie from the usually above-average Joel Silver genre machine Dark Castle (home to things like the crucially underrated "House of Wax" remake and the splatter-fu oddity "Ninja Assassin"), a group of smart aleck grad students unwittingly open a gateway to a vaguely defined supernatural realm and release some kind of ghost… or boogen… or something. And as a horror movie conceit, this one is pretty cool – testing tweedy academia's hubris against the ethereal spookiness of the spiritual unknown. It's just that "The Apparition," which is horrible instead of horrifying, doesn't do anything with the concept. Instead, it's a plodding, undercooked, and old-fashioned (not in a good way, either) chiller that will bore you to tears instead of scare you to death.

Review: 'Sleepwalk With Me' Observes The Life Of A Comedian & Commitmentphobe

  • By William Goss
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  • August 23, 2012 1:02 PM
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  • 0 Comments
Yes, everything that follows is true, our narrator assures us from the start after asking everyone to go ahead and turn off their cell phones. The validity of it all has been questioned before, and he simply wants to cut our skepticism off at the pass. However, since this is Mike Birbiglia playing a version of himself (named in the film as “Matt Pandamiglio”), replicating stories of his own life in a film based on his one-man show and identically titled book, "Sleepwalk With Me," there remains an inevitable degree of distance between seeing Matt go through the travails of becoming a stand-up comedian and a suitable boyfriend, and laughing at Mike’s actual experiences. Don’t worry: it’s a bit less through-the-looking-glass than it reads on paper.

Review: 'Premium Rush' Sputters To The Finish Line

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • August 23, 2012 9:00 AM
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  • 1 Comment
In an age where green screen is over-utilized, and costs are managed by shooting in the Midwest, Canada, or even Eastern Europe, there’s something classy and maybe even downright quaint about a film entirely set on the streets of New York City. Permit restrictions have long ended the days of most low-budget, scrappy productions making the city their home, so it’s probably worth acknowledging that the producers of “Premium Rush” spent a good amount of cash securing the locations for their pavement-pounding chase thriller. Regardless, there’s something refreshingly low-fi about rubber against the pavement of the world’s greatest city, and for a moment you forget that “Premium Rush” is a big, dumb, studio star attraction.

Review: Soccer & Street Life Collide In Sincere But Overwrought 'Hermano'

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • August 22, 2012 6:13 PM
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  • 0 Comments
They say soccer (or football as it's known everywhere except in the United States) is the world's game and it's easy to see why. With the only equipment necessary being a ball and a space to play on, it remains one of the most accessible sports across the globe, giving hope to anyone of any class, creed or color that they too can ascend to the heights of the game and reap the rewards. But for some that journey is made even more difficult by an array of social woes that can impede progess, cut short a career or even end a life. And somewhere between the aspirations and cold hard realities, is Marcel Rasquin's "Hermano."
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