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Review: '5 Days Of War' Is A Tribute To Georgia Both Bombastic And Political

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • August 16, 2011 11:03 AM
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  • 9 Comments
In 2008, the world turned its back as Russia declared war on the neighboring region of Georgia. For five days, the vastly superior Russian forces descended on destitute Georgian villages, separating families, causing massive property damage and driving a fractured country into further disrepair, of which the area has yet to recover. For all intents and purposes, Renny Harlin’s “5 Days Of War” should not exist. And yet it does, not only as a war picture that emphasizes the ugliness of this conflict, but as a document of a dark moment in world politics, when women and children were under the gun in front of the world's closed eyes.

Empire Big Screen '11 Review: By Crom, 'Conan The Barbarian' Is Unbelievably Awful

  • By Oliver Lyttelton
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  • August 16, 2011 10:00 AM
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  • 22 Comments
For a good quarter of a century, since Arnie hung up his loincloth in 1984's "Conan The Destroyer," people have been trying to bring Robert E. Howard's pulp sword-and-sorcery hero back to the big screen, most notably in John Milius' unmade "King Conan," while The Wachowskis, Robert Rodriguez and Brett Ratner have also made various attempts at the material. Finally, he's returned for some rapin' and pillagin', thanks to Lionsgate and "Friday the 13th" director Marcus Nispel, with "Game of Thrones" star Jason Momoa as the Cimmerian. We caught the film's European premiere at Empire Big Screen tonight: was it worth the wait?

Book Review: 'Straw Dogs' Retains The Controversy & Thematic Pull Without The Sleaze

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • August 15, 2011 4:46 AM
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  • 2 Comments
It has been 40 years since Sam Peckinpah released "Straw Dogs," and four decades on, the film still remains a powerful and sometimes hard to watch piece of work. Starring Dustin Hoffman and Susan George, the film centers on David (Hoffman), a American mathematician who moves with his new bride Amy (George) to her hometown of Wakely, Cornwall in England. Some locals are hired on to do some repairs on David and Amy's farmhouse and they immediately take a disliking to the brainy David, and in an act of intimidation, they strangle their cat, leaving it hanging from a light inside the home. Things are then taken up a notch when David, lured into a distant area in the woods on a hunting trip with those same workmen in an effort to bond with him, his wife is raped by their ringleader, Amy's former lover Charlie Venner, and then again, by another man. The temperature is raised even more when David accidentally hits Niles the village idiot -- and pedophile who unbeknownst to him has just killed a local girl -- with his car driving home late one night in the fog, takes him home and reports the accident. Finding out that David has Niles, a crew of local men come to his house looking for the body pitching David in a final fight to save his home in a battle that will restore his crumbling masculinity in wake of the rape of his wife of the taunts of the workers at his home.
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Review: 'Gloria: In Her Own Words' A Cliffs Notes Portrait Of The Feminist Icon

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • August 15, 2011 2:57 AM
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  • 0 Comments
There is perhaps no other woman who is more easily identified to the burgeoning feminist movement of the late '60s and '70s than Gloria Steinem. Vocal, intelligent and yes, very beautiful (even now at 77 she looks remarkable), Steinem galvanized women across the country, and over the years, has tackled topics both taboo and controversial ranging from abortion to female genital mutilation, while becoming a public figure for feminism like no one else has since. But in turn, she has also become a figure of criticism and ridicule from those both inside and outside feminist circles for a variety of reason. And thus, it's a shame that the life of such a powerful, passionate, divisive and fascinating woman is given such a perfunctory portrait with the documentary "Gloria: In Her Own Words."
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Review: Romance On The Fringe, A Community Stuck In Time In 'Bad Posture'

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • August 14, 2011 1:27 AM
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  • 0 Comments
For most movies, living on the fringe of society means a certain level of judgment is passed on the characters. Sometimes it's implicit in the condescending filmmaking techniques, with attempts made at clarifying our protagonists as "The Other," a socio-economic problem compounded by these characters often being minorities. At other times it's more overt, the picture trying to make you root for the underdog by creating a superficial caricature to engender sympathetic audience emotions, regardless of the context. Which is why it's refreshing to see an indie like "Bad Posture" crop up, a picture that remains laser-sharp in its focus as it refuses to categorize its wayward protagonists.
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MIFF '11 Reviews: 'The Day He Arrives,' 'Sleeping Sickness' & 'HERE'

  • By Simon Dang
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  • August 13, 2011 1:06 AM
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  • 2 Comments
More reviews from the recent Melbourne International Film Festival.

Empire Big Screen '11 Review: 'Warrior' Is Silly, Over-Familiar & Enormously Effective

  • By Oliver Lyttelton
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  • August 12, 2011 11:12 AM
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  • 8 Comments
Considering that it's the fastest rising sport in the world and that it's inherently cinematic in a way that, say, baseball isn't, it's surprising that Hollywood hasn't made greater hay out of mixed martial arts (or MMA). For the newcomer, it's essentially a blend of boxing, wrestling and a good old bar fight, a mix you would have thought would have led to far more movie outings than David Mamet's "Redbelt" and next year's Kevin James (yes, Kevin James) vehicle "Here Comes the Boom." But a movie opening next month, Gavin O'Connor's "Warrior," which we caught today as the first surprise public screening at Empire Big Screen in London, is planting its feet firmly in the cage, and it's taking two of the fastest rising stars in town, "Inception" 's Tom Hardy and "Animal Kingdom" 's Joel Edgerton, in with it.

Review: 'Over Your Cities Grass Will Grow' A Tarkovskian Study Of Ambitious Modern Art

  • By Christopher Bell
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  • August 10, 2011 10:08 AM
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  • 0 Comments
Even those that find modern art to be unbearable and pretentious must concur: paving roads, digging out caverns, and building houses as part of your art installation on the grounds of an abandoned silk factory is bad-ass. That said, detractors are likely to question the amount of money used for this that didn't go to something else, but let's remember that art, when given the chance, can affect us profoundly and in ways that we sometimes can't comprehend immediately. Also, let's not derail towards a time-consuming and bitter brannigan.
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Review: 'The Help' A Well-Intentioned Drama, Boosted By Strong Performances

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • August 9, 2011 2:46 AM
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  • 0 Comments
In some ways, "The Help" is critic-proof because it arrives wrapped up in the most deceptive of packaging: good intentions. A well-meaning film can make a critic blind to flaws or, conversely, can make a reviewer more ruthless about its shortcomings purely because of its lack of narrative or thematic ambition. And director Tate Taylor doesn't make it easy on himself, tackling a film about segregation, based on an Oprah-friendly book, and produced under a division of Disney. All of those elements make "The Help" a pretty big and easy target, and to be sure, the cynical viewer could sit back and lob easy shots. However, buoyed by strong performances -- a couple of which are sure to be major awards-season contenders -- and a mostly subtle touch with material that could very easily be manipulated or manipulative, "The Help" finds its good intentions in very capable hands.

MIFF '11 Reviews: 'The Forgiveness Of Blood,' 'Toomelah' & 'Majority'

  • By Simon Dang
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  • August 8, 2011 11:00 AM
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  • 0 Comments
More, somewhat belated reviews from the Melbourne International Film Festival. Firstly, a return from director Joshua Marston who burst onto the scene with his 2004 drug-mule drama "Maria Full Of Grace" and went missing, other than a few television credits. A whole seven years later, Marston unveils "The Forgiveness Of Blood," a unique spin on a family drama genre which explores the phenomena of blood feuds in rural Albania. After an argument over a blocked path through one family's property leads to a violent confrontation the details of which audiences are kept in the dark about, a stalemate is set in place between the two families as per a 15th century legal code called the Kanun.
More: Review, MIFF

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