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Thompson on Hollywood

SXSW Opens with Raucous 'The Incredible Burt Wonderstone'

The SXSW Film Festival's opening night has been the terrain of celebrity-infused audience-pleasers from "Kick-Ass" to "The Cabin In the Woods" and this year played to a seemingly winning formula. Friday evening, Jim Carrey, Steve Carell and Olivia Wilde took to the stage at the Paramount Theater in the heart of Austin to introduce "The Incredible Burt Wonderstone" to a packed and rowdy audience that SXSW seems to breed and studios (and their smaller brethren) eat up. If spontaneous hollers and boisterous guffaws can pass as a barely scientific poll for how a film played, then "The Incredible Burt Wonderstone" appeared to be a hit. Brass at New Line, indeed, received what past openers have found here -- a raucous crowd.
  • By Brian Brooks
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  • March 9, 2013 12:51 AM
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Weekend Preview: From Artful 'Beyond the Hills' to Mainstream 'Oz'

Cristian Mungiu's brilliantly slow-to-burn "Beyond the Hills" (which people might start referring to as "the Romanian exorcism movie") opens this weekend, with critics appropriately impressed with the Cannes winner; leads Cristina Flutur and Cosmina Stratan both won Best Actress at the fest last May.
  • By Anne Thompson and Beth Hanna
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  • March 8, 2013 3:12 PM
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Review: Cristian Mungiu's 'Beyond the Hills' a Brilliant Slow Burn to Hell

“Beyond the Hills,” Cristian Mungiu’s shortlisted Oscar entry from Romania, is shot in gorgeous grey-gold widescreen. The film is set in the rural countryside, where a humble monastery dots the top of a sparse hill. When a stranger intrudes the monastery, and wreaks havoc on its order and indirectly on herself, the nature of belief systems is called into question.
  • By Beth Hanna
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  • March 6, 2013 1:06 PM
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Review: Likable 'Oz the Great and Powerful' Is Overstuffed With Digital Wizardry

Disney’s “Oz the Great and Powerful” is a $190-million prequel to the turn-of-the-century L. Frank Baum 14-book series. Directed by Sam Raimi, the film is bloated in length and overstuffed with digital 3-D wizardry, yet somehow manages to be a horse of a pleasing -- if not particularly different -- color.
  • By Beth Hanna
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  • March 6, 2013 6:07 AM
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'Girls' Recap 8: OCD and AA in an Episode That's All Over the Place

“It’s Back” works hard to juggle four different storylines. Two are successful, and two are cringe-inducingly out of left field.
  • By Beth Hanna
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  • March 4, 2013 12:33 AM
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Weekend Preview: 'War Witch' Bewitches, 'Stoker' a Mixed Bag, 'Jack the Giant' Not Slaying Critics

It's a good weekend for limited release films. Canada's Oscar-nominated foreign entry "War Witch," a harrowing yet poignant tale of a young Congolese girl's survival and first love, is scoring top marks with critics. Meanwhile, documentaries "Leviathan" and "A Place at the Table"...
  • By Beth Hanna
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  • March 1, 2013 2:43 PM
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Review: Oscar-Nominated 'War Witch' Sees Trauma Through the Haunted Lens of Magical Realism

“War Witch,” Canada’s Oscar-nominated Foreign-Language entry, centers on a young African girl’s abduction into a rebel army, her escape, and the slow, painful process of liberating herself from the army’s traumatic, devastating reach. It is directed by French-Canadian Kim Nguyen, and is the second feature film in history to be shot in Kinshasa of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
  • By Beth Hanna
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  • February 28, 2013 1:50 PM
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Now and Then: What's the Matter with Film Critics?

The only genuine surprise of Sunday night's Oscar telecast — varying levels of predictability, misogyny, and self-congratulations being par for the course these days — came during the "In Memoriam" montage, which by definition should be the least surprising moment of all.
  • By Matt Brennan
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  • February 27, 2013 12:44 PM
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Review Roundup: 'Jack the Giant Slayer,' from Fee-Fi to Ho-Hum, End of Fairy Tale Rainbow?

Critics are divided on Bryan Singer's "Jack the Giant Slayer," starring Nicholas Hoult, Ewan McGregor, Stanley Tucci and Eleanor Tomlinson. Some bluntly call it "pretty dumb" and label it as yet another Hollywood cash-in on the fairytale trend, while others find Singer's direction admirable -- "smart, thrilling and a whole lot of fun." Roundup below.
  • By Beth Hanna
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  • February 27, 2013 12:40 PM
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Weekend Preview: Dwayne Johnson and Alex Karpovsky Receive Middling Reviews, Luis Bunuel's Must-See 'Tristana'

This weekend sees such diverse personalities as Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson and "Girls" star Alex Karpovsky on the big screen. Johnson's vehicle "Snitch" isn't snatching much praise from critics, while Karpovsky has written, directed and starred in the double feature "Rubberneck" and "Red Flag," receiving middling to positive reviews.
  • By Beth Hanna
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  • February 22, 2013 1:58 PM
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