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Review: 'Don't Go In The Woods' A Horror/Musical That Hits A Sour Note

  • By Mark Zhuravsky
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  • January 13, 2012 2:00 PM
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  • 2 Comments
Sometimes your headlines write themselves. When a film features a warning right in the title, that’s playing with fire. In the case of Vincent D’Onofrio's woeful directorial debut, the warning is more than prophetic. Based on a script by Sam Bisbee and Joe Vinciguerra and a story by D’Onofrio, “Don’t Go In The Woods” is an earnest attempt to marry musical and horror, two genres that already have quite a bit in common. Both tend to invest in stagy, big-time emotions and feature grandiose payoffs, but while musicals deliver vocal triumphs, horror dishes it out in blood and guts, arterial sprays and all that good stuff. D’Onofrio's film features a great deal of occasionally decent but consistently navel-gazing songs and a precious few craniums caved in via sledgehammer during its exhaustingly paced eighty-six minute runtime.
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Review: 'Fake It So Real' An Intimate Look At An Independent Wrestling Federation

  • By Christopher Bell
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  • January 13, 2012 1:01 PM
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  • 0 Comments
“People say jazz is the great American art form. Jazz is dead. I think wrestling is the great American art form." - PITT

Review: Xavier Gens' 'The Divide' Is Silly, Clichéd Apocalyptic Trash

  • By Drew Taylor
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  • January 12, 2012 7:01 PM
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It seemed, to us at least, that there was a strangely apocalyptic cloud that was cast over many of the SXSW film festival selections in 2011 – things like "Bellflower" all the way up to "Attack the Block" had a definite "end of days" feel. "The Divide" might have been the one movie to attack the material with the most heads-on gusto, however, with the opening scene bringing New York City to waste with a hail of comet-like missiles. It's a striking image, for sure, but there's not much that equals it in the movie's labored, two-hour running time, either in terms of visual sophistication or crafting a sense of apocalyptic gloom. Instead, you'll be wondering why everything's so over-lit after the world's ended and why anyone would behave the way the characters do.

Review: Don't Let The Awkward & Clumsy 'Loosies' Pick Your Pocket

  • By Drew Taylor
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  • January 12, 2012 5:59 PM
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  • 0 Comments
The poster for “Loosies,” a new film written, produced, and starring Peter Facinelli, best known for his role as the big daddy vampire in the “Twilight” movies, makes it look incredibly dangerous and edgy despite the fact that its name suggests some son-of-“Porky’s” sex comedy (it’s a reference to buying single cigarettes, which we all know is both illegal and fairly commonplace). The poster is doused in dark, brooding colors and even has Michael Madsen, part of the movie’s all-star B-grade supporting cast, brandishing a gun (while wearing sunglasses no less). But the movie itself is a much lighter, more amiable affair, much more so than its Photoshopped-to-shit poster suggests. And that’s part of the problem.

Review: 'Beauty and the Beast 3D' Is The Same Great Movie, With Some Added 3D Charm

  • By Drew Taylor
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  • January 12, 2012 4:59 PM
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  • 2 Comments
It's easy to forget, what with the endless string direct-to-video sequels and long-running musical and theme park omnipresence, what a big deal "Beauty and the Beast" was when it first opened in 1990. But it was. It screened at the 1991 New York Film Festival in an incomplete form (the next time they would show a movie like that was last year, with the rough-around-the-edges version of Martin Scorsese's "Hugo") to a rapturous response and became the first animated movie ever nominated for the Best Picture Academy Award. It cemented that period, which began with 1989 "The Little Mermaid" and concluded (unofficially) a decade later with "Tarzan" in 1999, as the second golden age of Disney feature animation. And now it's back, with a fresh coat of 3D paint. Like this past fall's 3D presentation of "The Lion King," it's less a whole new experience than a slightly different one and the main reason for seeing it isn't the newly immersive effects but the profound awesomeness of the original movie. It still gets you.

Review: The Choir Of 'Joyful Noise' Preaches To Itself

  • By William Goss
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  • January 12, 2012 12:00 PM
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  • 0 Comments
Your friend and mine Roger Ebert has often said that the matter isn’t what a movie is about, but rather how it is about it. "Joyful Noise" is ostensibly about a small-town Georgia church choir competing against others in a nationwide gospel competition. It’s about a dying town in need of some community pride. It’s about the newly named leader of said choir battling with the widow of her recently deceased predecessor. It’s about that widow’s recently arrived and perpetually restless teenage grandson. It’s also about an all-but-single mother caring for both a son with Asperger’s and a daughter interested in all the wrong boys while their father, her husband, is enlisted in the military. It’s also somehow about a choir member who unfortunately earns a reputation on the gospel circuit for killing the men with which she lays. And it is about all of these things poorly.
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Review: In 'Contraband' The Humans Aren't Nearly As Compelling As The Bullet Holes

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • January 11, 2012 6:30 PM
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  • 0 Comments
Chris Farraday, the protagonist of “Contraband,” is a popular movie construct. Handsome, wide-shouldered, and with a movie-star smile, he’s tough enough to have done some Very Bad Things, but also principled enough to be retired by the time we meet him. Chris is an ex-drug smuggler, and the life doesn’t seem to have done much for him. Clad in form-fitting jeans and tee-shirts, he still hangs out at the same ratty bars with his low-life former criminal acquaintances. It’s a character as walking, talking movie shorthand: we know what he was, what he is, and, likely, what he’ll have to become again.

Review: ‘Albatross’ Is A By-The-Numbers Coming Of Age Tale, But 'Downton Abbey' Star Jessica Brown Findlay Is One To Watch

  • By The Playlist
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  • January 11, 2012 10:02 AM
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  • 0 Comments
Featuring “Like Crazy” up-and-comer Felicity Jones alongside Julia Ormond and German actor Sebastian Koch ("The Lives of Others"), the British indie film "Albatross" possesses a pretty impressive cast, especially considering the director Niall MacCormick (U.K. TV and BBC films "The Song of Lunch," "Margaret Thatcher: The Long Walk to Finchley" and "Wallander") is making his feature film debut.

Review: Go And Say Ten Hail Marys Instead Of Bothering With 'The Devil Inside'

  • By William Goss
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  • January 6, 2012 10:59 AM
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In theory, the fundamental effectiveness of horror should spring from a willful dissonance between a sense of normalcy and the discord of the story’s events…but what happens when that sense of discord itself becomes all too familiar? Among the many problems of "The Devil Inside" is a slavish two-fold adherence to the routine of modern horror films – specifically, the tropes of the demonic-possession genre and those of the faux-documentary approach. When director William Brent Bell and co-writer Matthew Peterman, the brains behind the equally turgid "Stay Alive," aren’t evoking every single exorcism movie this side of, well, "The Exorcist," they’re dutifully aping the decade-old wave of imitation spawned by the success of "The Blair Witch Project" and fueled more recently by the "Paranormal Activity" franchise.

Review: 'Louder Than A Bomb' An Entertaining, Soulful Look At The High School Slam Poetry Scene

  • By Katie Walsh
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  • January 5, 2012 12:56 PM
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  • 1 Comment
Slam poetry. It can be a misunderstood art form, exalted in places like Def Poetry Jam, or snubbed as a silly high school phase. But what Greg Jacobs and Jon Siskel's documentary "Louder Than A Bomb" does so well, is point out how something like slam poetry can offer an outlet, and a way out, for kids trapped in their circumstances. The film follows the Chicago area high school slam poetry competition of the same name, during a particularly dramatic and glorious run in the fall of 2007 and spring of 2008. Focusing on four teens from different Chicago high schools and their experiences with the Louder Than A Bomb competition, the film offers a look into this world and the impact it has on the lives of its participants. The four teen poets-- Lamar, Nova, Nate and Adam-- are clearly the standouts of the competition itself, true success stories for what their high school slam poetry teams have done for them. Framed as a real competition doc, it's an entertaining, soulful look at this significant event in the lives of these young people.
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