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Review: Meta 'Art History' Is NOT Recommended For Joe Swanberg Newbies

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • September 27, 2011 6:45 AM
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  • 1 Comment
The very first shot of “Art History” features a close-up of a woman’s hand placing a condom on an erection. If you needed any further clues that prolific indie filmmaker Joe Swanberg has no intention of going mainstream any time soon, the director has a cock for you to look at. While his “mumble core” allies are moving on to more broad or genre interests (Mark Duplass and Greta Gerwig might as well star in a CBS sitcom at this point), Swanberg soldiers on, approaching the academic depths usually plumbed by late-career artists freed by their lower budgets.

Review: 'Real Steel' A Simple, Effective Crowd Pleaser Like A Robot-Driven 'Warrior' For Kids

  • By Todd Gilchrist
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  • September 27, 2011 4:00 AM
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  • 4 Comments
If the maturity and sophistication of “Warrior” is more than you can handle, then “Real Steel” might be the movie for you. A start-to-finish festival of storytelling conventions, director Shawn Levy’s bid for credibility differs only from its predecessor in that it’s aimed at a kid-friendly audience, making its relentless obedience to formula perhaps more acceptable, but less augmented by genuinely great performances. Nevertheless a crowd-pleaser of the first order – even on par with the ‘80s films from folks like Spielberg and Zemeckis that inspire it – “Real Steel” is an effective retelling of a familiar story, albeit one that it might help being ten years old (or having the same mindset) to fully enjoy.

Review: Comedy And Tragedy Awkwardly Collide In ’50/50’

  • By Jeff Otto
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  • September 26, 2011 10:59 AM
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  • 4 Comments
Director Jonathan Levine’s new comedy-drama is an ambitious undertaking, a heartfelt attempt at finding the difficult balance between the masks of comedy and tragedy. Based partially on the real-life struggle of writer Will Reiser and his relationship with pal Seth Rogen (who produces and stars), “50/50” tells the story of a young man diagnosed with cancer and forced to come to terms with his own mortality, something that would generally be relegated to movie-of-the-week or arthouse status. But Rogen’s inclusion, along with Joseph Gordon-Levitt in the lead, in addition to a strong supporting cast elevates “50/50” to a level of exposure, scrutiny and commercial compromise that may ultimately be detrimental to the intended artistic expression of Reiser’s experience.
More: Films, Review, 50/50

Fantastic Fest Reviews: 'Michael,' 'Haunters' & The Thrilling, Graphic & Hard-To-Watch 'Yellow Sea'

  • By Todd Gilchrist
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  • September 26, 2011 4:55 AM
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  • 1 Comment
For folks who don’t hear about regional or niche festivals because of the din of their larger, international counterparts, Fantastic Fest is an Austin, TX-based film festival, now in its seventh year, which focuses on genre fare. Unlike other such festivals like Los Angeles’ Screamfest, however, Fantastic Fest curates its selections from a wide variety of sources, and embraces a particularly liberal definition of “genre” which allows its programmers to assemble a schedule of films with remarkable eclecticism, and an almost shocking consistency of quality. Needless to say, no festival is completely full of winners, but in just the first few days of Fantastic Fest, attendees were able to see more good films than most festivals screen during their entire run.

Review: British Urban Melodrama 'Broken Lines' With Paul Bettany Falters, Fails To Convince

  • By Sam Price
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  • September 26, 2011 3:11 AM
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  • 0 Comments
There’s a familiar, some would say endless, argument about the British film industry: that the films it produces are essentially afraid of tackling the present and pressing contemporary issues. British directors, or at least the companies that finance their films, have rarely tried to engage with the shock of the now, and instead remain happy to retreat into a comfortable, mindless and nostalgic past that probably never existed in the first place. The recent riots that rocked the capital, for instance, or the fall-out from the News International hacking scandal are subjects less likely to be turned into a feature film than, say, something like “Notting Hill 2,” or any another mythological and monocultural representation of London or -- God forbid -- one of the country's other major cities. Occasionally someone comes along with a stick and pokes the ruling classes in the eye (think “The Shooting Party” or “Gosford Park”) but screenplays penned by Julian Fellowes can hardly be considered the stuff of breath-taking dynamism. When the Brits aren’t churning out benign pictures about a benign royal dynasty (hello, “The Queen” and “The King’s Speech”) or enlisting scads of former theatre directors (Richard Eyre, Stephen Daldry, Nicolas Hytner, Sam Mendes) to blandly recreate their deferential attitude towards bland material, they make shockingly poor gangster pictures that would make even a hack like Guy Ritchie blush.

Review: Seann William Scott's 'American Loser' Fails To Make Sense Of A Fractured Life

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • September 26, 2011 2:06 AM
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  • 5 Comments
There’s a vague sense of cruelty to the direct-to-DVD market, which is used to solely accommodate cheap genre products, but more often seems like a dumping ground for unusual niche projects that die a slow death on the festival circuit. They usually get treated much like the aptly titled “American Loser,” a dramatic half-comedy with Seann William Scott that went through a number of title changes before being dumped onto the market. The film now carries a title that not only insults the lead character, and by extension Scott (who has experimented a few times in risky projects that ended up with negligible releases), but it cravenly attempts to exploit the brand name for which he is known, “American Pie.”

Review: 'The Mill And The Cross' Is A Sumptuous Visual Feast

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • September 24, 2011 12:10 PM
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  • 5 Comments
Unlike a film, a book, or a television song, a painting has infinite life. The artist weaves his narrative with a brush, his work not a mimicry but an impression of a time that comes and goes. It’s this eternal life that enlivens “The Mill and the Cross,” a biography not of a person, but of “The Way to Calvary,” a 16th century creation detailing a crucifixion in the midst of a busy field of Flanders. The painting itself is dense with detail and incidence, and a movie capturing the context of what occurs inside would go on forever.

Review: Too Meta 'Human Centipede Part 2' Almost Reaches The All-Time Gross-Out Pantheon

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • September 24, 2011 1:35 AM
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  • 3 Comments
Is Tom Six a filmmaker? Is Tom Six a storyteller? No, at this point, you’ll have to conclude he is neither of these things. What he is represents something maybe more honest, more pure: he’s a provocateur. In making “The Human Centipede: First Sequence,” Six took a memorably deranged subject of medical dubiousness and turned it into a taut, often surprisingly funny shock fest, notable for its actual restraint considering the risible content. Lambasted for being a one-joke (one-gag?) premise, Six took advantage of a memorably deranged turn by Dieter Laser to produce a sterile, cold minor classic within the horror genre.

Review: 'Puncture' With Chris Evans A True Story Weighed Down By Oscar Reel Antics

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • September 23, 2011 2:00 AM
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  • 1 Comment
The following is a reprint of our review from the Tribeca Film Festival.

Review: A Brooding, Wooden Taylor Lautner Muddles His Way Through The Nonsensical 'Abduction'

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • September 22, 2011 12:05 PM
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  • 18 Comments
In the future (it’s closer than you think!), celebrities will be an even bigger part of our society. While the pool of “famous people” will expand beyond movie stars, politicians and random public figures, we’ll find ourselves consumed by the public’s thirst for all things mega-famous. In this future, somewhere, someone will write a massive tome dedicated to the forehead of Taylor Lautner. Like the Monolith in “2001: A Space Odyssey,” it is massive, and says everything and nothing. It sits on top of the scrunched up Zardoz-of-a-face that is this curious manchild, at once Cro-Magnon and, yet, every bit representative of his teenage years. It's going to be a helluva book.

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