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Thompson on Hollywood

SXSW Review UPDATE: Christopher Abbott of 'Girls' and Gaby Hoffmann Lead Jury Award-Winning Ensemble Cast in 'Burma'

“Burma,” made by first-time feature filmmaker Carlos Puga and winner of the Grand Jury Award for Ensemble Cast at SXSW, looks at a family in crisis. They aren't falling apart, but instead put together, suddenly, awkwardly, and the building blocks hurt. What starts as a generic and even patience-testing drama ultimately grows into a film boasting strong performances and a few unexpectedly open wounds.
  • By Beth Hanna
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  • March 13, 2013 12:54 AM
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SXSW Review: In Lovely and Devastating Narrative Spotlight Entry 'Good Night,' No One Goes Gently

One of the best films I’ve seen at SXSW is “Good Night" by Sean H.A. Gallagher, a striking ensemble piece that looks at one night in the lives of a group of thirtysomethings as they unwittingly assemble for an announcement from their friend Leigh (Adriene Mischler): Her leukemia, which has been in remission for the past three years, has returned. It’s not going away.
  • By Beth Hanna
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  • March 12, 2013 7:35 PM
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SXSW 2013: ‘Bates Motel’ Preview a Few Cuts Under Its Pre-‘Psycho’ Potential

“Who’s gonna rent a room in the rape/murder hotel?” smokin’ hot Norma Bates (Vera Farmiga) rhetorically asks her introverted son Norman (Freddie Highmore) after a grizzly scene has just unfolded in their creaky house. Based on the first episode of “Bates Motel,” which was unveiled March 11 at SXSW, a number of clunkily-drawn characters will probably swing by the infamous rest-stop, less in the service of true creepiness and more for generic thrills.
  • By Beth Hanna
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  • March 11, 2013 11:46 PM
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  • 2 Comments

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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  • 3 Comments

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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  • 0 Comments

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