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Review: 'Being Elmo: A Puppeteers Journey' Is An Inspirational Doc About The Man Behind The Muppet

  • By Cory Everett
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  • October 17, 2011 5:03 AM
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  • 1 Comment
Suddenly, it’s a good time to be a Muppet again. After a few decades of sub-par films, co-writers (and massive Muppet fans) Jason Segel and Nicholas Stoller appear to be bringing some of the magic back with “The Muppets,” their attempt to revive creator Jim Henson's beloved characters for a new generation of kids. The Museum of the Moving Image in Queens has assembled a massive exhibit to the fuzzy creatures and their creator called “Jim Henson’s Fantastic World” which includes drawings, storyboards, props, and a puppet making workshop as well as screenings of the films. “Sesame Street” has been plugging along steadily on PBS since it’s debut in 1969 but some recent high profile guest stars like Katy Perry have really put the show back into the public consciousness. And now we have director Constance Marks and her feel-good documentary “Being Elmo: A Puppeteers Journey” about Kevin Clash, the man who brought Elmo to life.
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Review: 'Sing Your Song' A Fascinating Look At The Activist Life Of Harry Belafonte

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • October 17, 2011 4:03 AM
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  • 0 Comments
In the pop culture sphere, it's been a while since Harry Belafonte has made a mark musically or on the big screen. His last album came out more than two decades ago, 1988's Paradise in Gazankulu while his last film role was a small appearance in Emilio Estevez's "Bobby" a few years back. But don't think that at 84 years old, Belafonte is merely basking in the rewards of his undeniable entertainment legacy in his twilight years. A tireless activist, "Sing Your Song" is straightforward, and fascinating look at his career at the front of the civil rights movment, striving to end hunger in Ethiopia, looking to find ways to curb inner city violence all within his journey as a musician and actor. Though produced by his daughter Gina Belafonte, the film directed by Susanne Rostock is a balanced, honest look at the life of a man whose success only fueled his work for humanist causes even more.

Book Review: Max Allan Collins Serves Up A Double Dose Of Pulp With 'The Consummata' & 'Quarry's Ex'

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • October 16, 2011 6:33 AM
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  • 1 Comment
Shamus Award-winning author, screenwriter, filmmaker and more, Max Allan Collins -- perhaps best known as the man behind "Road To Perdition" -- has been pretty busy of late. His book “Black Hats” recently began its journey to the big screen with Harrison Ford signing on to take a lead role, and this fall finds Collins delivering two more books, "The Consummata" and "Quarry's Ex," both via the excellent pulp fiction publishing house Hard Case Crime. And they both arrive with a curious back story. "The Consummata" is actually an unfinished Mickey Spillane novel and a sequel that Collins was tasked with finishing, while "Quarry's Ex" is a return to franchise and character that he ended. Yet, despite the seeming limitations imposed on the writer, in both cases, he manages to deliver solid pulp with enough intrigue, sex and grit to keep page-turners happy.

Review: 'The Three Musketeers' Swings, Misses & Fails To Make A Mark

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • October 15, 2011 9:04 AM
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  • 6 Comments
It doesn't take long for director Paul W.S. Anderson -- the man behind two "Resident Evil" movies, "AVP: Alien vs. Predator" and "Death Race" -- to put his own dubious stamp on the latest big screen adaptation of "The Three Musketeers." It'only takes about ten minutes into the movie until he sends his wife and longtime muse Milla Jovovich running and then sliding across the floor to avoid gunfire (in slow motion, of course). You'd be forgiven if for a brief moment you thought you were watching a scene from a period movie version of the zombie killing franchise. Yet, for all the gadgety weapons, battle ready airships, cleavage plunging dresses and outlandish facial hair, "The Three Musketeers" is a dreary bore that manages to squander the game cast and impressive sets under dull political intrigue and rote explosions.

NYFF '11 Review: George Clooney Grapples With Life, Death & Fatherhood In ‘The Descendants’

  • By The Playlist
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  • October 14, 2011 9:36 AM
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  • 0 Comments
Marked by a strong, soulful performance by George Clooney, simple and economic direction, and a slow and patient gait, “The Descendants” finds filmmaker Alexander Payne working in the familiar, but not derivative, milieu of the adult drama. The film doesn’t reinvent the wheel, and while firmly within Payne’s wheelhouse, we can see the filmmaker inching towards pure drama without dramedy or resorting to the James L. Brooks method of punctuating pain with disarming laughter. That’s not to say “The Descendants” isn’t a dramedy or isn’t funny, as it certainly has its moments of comedic flair that do defuse some painful moments, but overall, one can argue that it’s Payne’s most somber and serious work outside of maybe “About Schmidt.” And it’s not without its problems either.

NYFF '11 Review: 'Policeman' A Strong, Haneke-Inspired Rumination On Israeli Society

  • By Christopher Bell
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  • October 14, 2011 3:03 AM
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  • 1 Comment
While it's absolutely an important issue that deserves coverage, we've already heard nearly every angle of the Israel-Palestine conflict seventy times over -- so much so that we barely have a clue about their other dilemmas. One of these issues starting to come to light is the large economic disparity that exists among the Israelis themselves, resulting in many protests against the abnormally high cost of living. In his assured debut "Policeman," journalist/novelist Nadav Lapid tackles this very problem with a reserved strength rarely seen in a filmmaker so green.

Review: Birding Bro-mance 'The Big Year' With Steve Martin, Jack Black & Owen Wilson Is A Lame Duck

  • By James Rocchi
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  • October 14, 2011 1:21 AM
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  • 1 Comment
It is, perhaps, too unkind to call "The Big Year" the perfect film to screen on a trans-oceanic plane flight whose compliment of passengers is made up solely of AARP Members. But we can think of no words of praise less slight and no words of condemnation more heated, so there it is. Inspired roughly by Mark Obmascik's non-fiction book of the same name, three fictional characters are our guides through the biggest event in American birdwatching, the annual competition to see the most North American birds in a year.

Review: 'The Thing' Lamely Inhabits John Carpenter's Original & Turns Into A Generic Monster Movie

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • October 13, 2011 3:55 AM
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  • 5 Comments
"The Thing" arrives this weekend as a prequel to John Carpenter's masterful 1982 film, that aims to theoretically expand on the story presented nearly three decades ago by telling us what happened at the Norwegian compound that first housed the alien infection that then spread to the American base. But perhaps it should be no surprise that screenwriter Eric Heisserer, the man behind "Final Destination 5" and the "A Nightmare on Elm Street" reboot, has little imagination or ability to bring anything new to the table. So what we end up with is a strange hybrid of a movie, one that is oddly slavishly devoted to Carpenter's original, but when given the chance to put its own stamp on the material, falls back on tried and true genre antics. To put in perspective just how at odds this prequel and Carpenter's film really are, the 1982 film starts in a panic in a sequence that ends up with a guy getting dramatically shot in the face -- Matthijs van Heijningen Jr.'s movie kicks off with crude sex joke.

Review: Byzantine, Bloody Almodóvar Takes A New Direction With 'The Skin I Live In'

  • By James Rocchi
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  • October 13, 2011 2:57 AM
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  • 0 Comments
The following is a reprint of our review from Cannes.

Review: Starpower Like Julia Roberts & Ryan Reynolds Can't Save Flaccid 'Fireflies In The Garden'

  • By Todd Gilchrist
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  • October 12, 2011 12:59 PM
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  • 0 Comments
“Fireflies in the Garden” is the cinematic equivalent of going out to dinner with your friend’s family and then having to watch them all fight like cats and dogs the whole time: it’s got to be worse for the people going through it, but you sure as hell have no interest in watching it. Writer-director Dennis Lee, who I can only imagine drew from a deep well of personal experiences – or if he didn’t, clearly suffers from dysfunction envy – created this vivid tale of an embittered writer returning to his childhood home to confront a troubled past. But he failed to realize that personal catharsis isn’t the same as popular entertainment, especially if the characters barely qualify as real people, which is why the only thing more false in “Fireflies in the Garden” than its flaccid melodrama is its clichéd emotional redemption.

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