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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.

Review: 'Footloose' Is An Expressive Old School Ode To Youthful Abandon

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • October 12, 2011 2:07 AM
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  • 9 Comments
Once upon a time, there was an outsider who came to a small town of limited imagination. He looked upon the town’s ignorant forces of authority and challenged them, fighting for the oppressed and changing the social order. It’s a story that’s been told countless times in various forms of media, to the point where we take these archetypes pretty seriously. “Footloose” is the latest picture to utilize this familiar framework, and a novice might smirk at the main concept’s compelling hook: a town that has outlawed dance.

VIFF '11: Johnnie To's 'Life Without Principle' An Uneven, All Too Familiar Financial Crisis Drama

  • By Erik McClanahan
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  • October 11, 2011 2:16 AM
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  • 0 Comments
While movies are primarily considered a form of entertainment, they do have the ability to inform, especially to a mass audience. But that’s a slippery slope. All too easily, the audience can be taken right out of the story if things get too didactic. We at the secret Playlist headquarters (which is, naturally, surrounded by a piranha-filled moat where we toss in haters of the movie “Drive”) tend to like our cinema focused more on organic storytelling, not issue-driven diatribes.

NYFF ‘11 Review: A Slight & Superficial 'My Week With Marilyn' Often Resembles A Lifetime Movie

  • By The Playlist
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  • October 9, 2011 8:01 AM
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  • 7 Comments
Marked by an admirable, but certainly not spectacular performance by Michelle Williams -- in a role she's arguably not very suited for -- some wonderful costuming, set design and locations, and a stand-out supporting turn by Judi Dench, there aren't many other favorable things to say about "My Week With Marilyn," a slight drama with a reputable cast, that still feels through and through like a superficial Lifetime made for TV-movie.

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