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  • Shadow and Act
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    'Static Shock' Returns & 'Batwing' Takes Flight in New Solo Books

    The new adventures of the late Dwayne McDuffie’s co-creation teen hero Static and the brand new action of Batman’s protégé Batwing were released earlier this week in their own comic books, and I’m happy to say that they’re actually pretty good.

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  • The Playlist
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    TIFF '11 Review: 'Killer Elite' Offers Some Cheap Thrills But Not Much Else

    "Killer Elite," the new Jason Statham/Clive Owen/Robert De Niro testosterone tsunami, claims to have been inspired by a true story, and goes about setting the action in the early 1980s as a way of justifying its supposed historical validity. The problem, of course, is that the movie is so silly, so two-dimensionally cartoonish, that you don't buy, for a second, that anything depicted actually took place (the 1991 book on which the film is based, originally sold as a "true adventure," has been debunked and similarly derided). As a junky action movie, it passes muster, but for the historical thriller it pretends to be, it fails miserably.

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  • The Playlist
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    'Heroes Of Nanking' With Christian Bale Now Titled 'The Flowers Of War'

    Today, the Toronto International Film Festival was host to twenty minutes of "The Flowers Of War," the new film from Zhang Yimou seeking a distributor. If you're confused, thinking that the world was finally going to get a look at "Heroes Of Nanking," don't worry, it's the same movie, with Christian Bale as an American priest who helps a number of local women take shelter during the Nanking Massacre of 1937. The synopsis also suggests they "fight back," though the original title is much more aggressive than the new, more graceful one. Both are a bit too melodramatic for our taste, and we suspect to most this will be "that Chinese movie with Batman."

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  • The Playlist
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    In Theaters: 'Contagion' and 'Warrior' Take the Gloves Off

    Finally, FINALLY the Tom Hardy/Joel Edgerton MMA movie will come out to play at the box office, climbing into the ring with Stephen Soderbergh's hand sanitizer ad virus thriller "Contagion" aka "Rise of the Planet of the Apes 2." We'll see how the boxing brothers flick performs after their sneak peeks last Labor Day weekend, or if everyone is ready for some new material. Or you can just salivate over the reviews coming out of Venice and TIFF and count the days until the real fall season ramps up.

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  • Thompson on Hollywood
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    Oscar Talk Post-Telluride, Pre-Toronto: Descendants, Shame, Dangerous Method, Albert Nobbs

    Oscar Talk Post-Telluride, Pre-Toronto: Descendants, Shame, Dangerous Method, Albert Nobbs

    In Contention's Kris Tapley and I hit a timing snag on Oscar Talk this week, with him three hours behind in Los Angeles and me traveling to the Toronto Fest. We grabbed a shortish Oscar Talk nonetheless, and a cantankerous one, as we disagree on everything, it seems, except the exciting prospect of Eddie Murphy as Oscar host. We can promise you a longer one next week, when we will have seen even more films. We are both bullish on Alexander Payne's The Descendants, argue over Glenn Close's Albert Nobbs, Steve McQueen's Shame and David Cronenberg's A Dangerous Method.

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  • The Playlist
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    Harold And Kumar Earn Character Banners For 'A Very Harold And Kumar 3D Christmas'

    Ah, character banners. One of the weirder ways of building anticipation for movies, ignoring that a lot of them are faceless brands where most of the characters are interchangeable. Sometimes, you get stuff like "Harry Potter," where even non-fans are aware that Professor Snape is a supporting wizard character with bad hair. Most of the time, it's a supporting player from something like "Jonah Hex" or "Brick," where even the people who saw those movies are wondering, "Wait, which one is the guy with the hat? Weren't there a couple of hat people? And this woman with the cigarette, which one is she? Okay, that one guy wasn't even in this movie."

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  • Thompson on Hollywood
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    Telluride Final Catch-up: The Story of Film, Diana Vreeland, Shame, Le Havre

    Meredith Brody catches up on her last day in Telluride before heading to Toronto. I had a great last movie day in Telluride, seeing a documentary, two new features, and an hour of Mark Cousins’ 15-hour The Story of Film: An Odyssey, interspersed with two actual meals. But looking back at the jam-packed schedule, I could have assembled several equally exciting programs. I had arranged to meet my friend Hilton Als at 9:15 a.m. for the new documentary Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has to Travel, before he was to flee the mountain at noon, which meant missing competing screenings of the Israeli film Footnote, the Iranian A Separation, and a 1972 Russian favorite of Tom Luddy’s, Happy-Go-Lucky, by (and starring) Vasili Shuksin, a Russian actor-director whose work I’ve never seen.

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  • Thompson on Hollywood
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    3-D Fit for The Lion King: Retrofitting a Classic, Filmmakers Look Back

    3-D Fit for The Lion King: Retrofitting a Classic, Filmmakers Look Back

    The Lion King has been converted to 3-D. Bill Desowitz talks to the folks who did it, and the original filmmakers, who look back on what it took to make the groundbreaking animated juggernaut in the first place. There's been plenty of revisionist outrage about George Lucas digitally tweaking Star Wars for the "Complete Saga" Blu-ray set, which streets Sept. 16. Let's at least wait and see how it looks before passing final judgment. But, in the meantime, there's also some anger about converting Disney's The Lion King to 3-D, which gets a two-week theatrical run beginning the same day. After all, this is the reigning hand-drawn box office champ at $328.5 million and fourth overall on the all-time list of animated features, so people are very protective of their childhood memories.

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  • The Playlist
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    'Drive' Star Ryan Gosling Sets His Sights On The Director's Chair

    Talks Developing ‘Logan’s Run;’ Remains Suspiciously Coy On Malick ProjectIt seems somewhat unnecessary to provide an introduction for Ryan Gosling. America’s Canadian Sweetheart has cultivated a resume over the years that makes him nearly impossible to avoid. In 2010 and 2011 alone he’s had leading turns in the independent drama “Blue Valentine,” the summer comedy “Crazy, Stupid, Love,” this fall’s neo-noir/fairy tale, “Drive,” and premiering soon at TIFF, political drama “The Ides of March.” But during press rounds for “Drive,” the actor, whose slate of upcoming projects appears to grow on a daily basis, revealed that there is in fact a method to his madness, “There’s a lot of filmmakers that I want to work with before I make my own films,” he said, “and I’m getting a chance to work with them.”

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  • The Playlist
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    Your Mission, Should You Choose To Accept It: Staring Contest With Tom Cruise In New 'M:I 4' Poster

    Aw, man, this whole Ethan Hunt-in-a-hoodie motif is gonna be a thing, isn't it? There are ideas less cool than a forty-nine year old man in a hoodie, but we can't think of any right now, particularly with this new poster from "Mission: Impossible: Ghost: Protocol: Colon: Extra Colon: Metalstorm: The Destruction Of Jared-Syn" staring at us in the face. And we do mean FACE. Man, you could just reach out and kiss the Scientology lord in this shot. Kudos for shoehorning in the classic burning fuse from the original TV show, because otherwise, NOTHING about this looks like "Mission: Impossible." And that lament, friends, is three movies too late!

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