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  • Spout
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    "Honest Man: The Life of Budd Dwyer" is an Ugly Documentary That Skims Over an Uglier Issue

    There is a tremendously crucial documentary somewhere in James Dirschberger's "Honest Man: The Life of R. Budd Dwyer." Unfortunately, if honesty is to be celebrated here, I have to admit there's a pretty weak film wrapped around the few minutes of truly interesting material. For those unfamiliar with either infamous deaths or Pennsylvania politics, Budd Dwyer was the state treasurer who shot himself during a press conference in 1987 and whose graphic death was aired on many news stations -- not live -- on the day. Even if you're not a fan of "Faces of Death" type compilations, or a morbidly curious Googler, you've no doubt seen footage of his suicide during the "Happiness is a Warm Gun" montage from "Bowling for Columbine." Sadly it's a fairly well-known and widely seen tragedy, and few of us know anything about the man who did it or why.

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  • The Playlist
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    Review: 'Assassination Games' Presents Direct-To-DVD Action On The Big Screen

    Inexplicably hustling into (limited) theaters this weekend is “Assassination Games,” a hitman actioner the likes of which you’ve seen before. Jean-Claude Van Damme is the big name attached, but the “star” is martial artist Scott Adkins. Together the two cinematic pugilists have been cutting a swath through the world of direct-to-DVD action, though Van Damme has dabbled in the mainstream a bit more as of late. So, to some, this is a momentous match-up.

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  • REVERSEBLOG: the reverse shot blog
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    In the Middle: Steve James's "The Interrupters"

    In The Interrupters, a valuable yet seemingly incomplete documentary, director-producer-cinematographer-editor Steve James (the codirector of Hoop Dreams) and producer-interviewer Alex Kotlowitz (the author of There Are No Children Here) shadow three “violence interrupters,” all of them employees of the Chicago-based organization CeaseFire. The goal of the interrupters—themselves all rehabilitated gangbangers—is to “save a life,” largely by attempting to short-circuit the impulse toward retaliatory action (they seem to have made a specialty of counseling those likely to plot revenge killings) through carefully calibrated real-talk. “You have to immerse yourself in the bullshit,” says CeaseFire director Tio Hardiman of the work. In their admiring (though certainly not sanitized) portrait of three interrupters—Ricardo “Cobe” Williams, Eddie Bocanegra, and Ameena Matthews, the daughter of notorious Chicago gang leader Jeff Fort—James and Kotlowitz dutifully show the extent of that “bullshit,” which encompasses not only senseless gangland brutality but also the ingrained hostility of many young adults in rough-and-tumble Chicago neighborhoods like the Ville and Altgeld Gardens. “Fuck a problem, fuck a solution,” says a hothead named Flamo during one of the film’s many high-pressure talk-downs. Some of the film’s other most searingly intense passages—like CeaseFire school visits in the wake of the death of Derrion Albert, whose beating with a large wooden board was caught on video and posted to YouTube—underscore the immensity of the challenges facing the interrupters. Continue reading Benjamin Mercer's review of The Interrupters.

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  • Leonard Maltin
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    Cowboys & Aliens: movie review

    As its title indicates, this is a strange cross of movie genres, and lest any viewers get antsy, it doesn’t allow much time to pass before we first encounter UFOs in the Old West. The film takes its time unraveling the rest of the story, leading us along a trail with no clear destination in sight, at first. (Could that have something to do with the six A-list writers who worked on the screenplay, which was inspired by Scott Michael Rosenberg’s graphic novel?) All we know is that there’s been an alien invasion, and neither the cowboys nor Indians know how to deal with it.

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  • The Playlist
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    The Amazing Race: 10 Dark Horses That Could Shake Up The Awards Season

    Last time we talked about the awards race, we were halfway through the year, and it was anyone's game, with only a handful of even vaguely serious contenders emerging both from wide releases, and from the festivals up to Cannes. Our conclusion was that only "Midnight in Paris," "The Artist" and "The Tree of Life" were real contenders, with a handful of other films looking like they might pick up nominations here and there, but unlikely to be in the final ten.

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  • Leonard Maltin
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    Crazy, Stupid, Love.

    When a movie opens with a woman telling her husband that she wants a divorce after twenty-five years of marriage and it isn’t played for laughs, you know you’re not in for a “typical” Hollywood comedy. Given the current state of comedy, that’s not necessarily a bad thing, but what we get instead is an odd, meandering, mood-swinging movie called Crazy, Stupid, Love. (Yes, there’s a period at the end of the title, for no apparent reason.)

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  • Leonard Maltin
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    The Guard

    This movie made me smile and even laugh out loud. In fact, it gave me more pleasure than any aliens, robots or superheroes have all summer. That’s because it’s doggedly offbeat and completely original. It also provides a showcase for two fine actors, Brendan Gleeson and Don Cheadle.

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  • The Playlist
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    Exclusive: U.S. Poster For 'Gainsbourg: A Heroic Life'

    What is there to say about Serge Gainsbourg that hasn't already been said? The musical legend, sex symbol, French icon and troublemaker left an incredible and distinct mark on the musical landscape, influencing a whole generation of musicians. And now his life has received the big screen treatment.

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  • Press Play
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    GREY MATTERS: The personal politics of FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS

    By Ian Grey Press Play contributor

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  • Thompson on Hollywood
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    Trailer Watch: Ratner Might Have a Populist Hit with Robbery Flick Tower Heist

    Tower Heist (November 4) is going to be a huge hit for Universal, for several reasons. First, it's about getting back at The Man: Bernie Madoff, basically, played by Alan Alda. The American moviegoer is ready for some payback about now. The trailer below spells it out: a Madoff-type rip-off artist is subject to house arrest in his fancy skyscraper penthouse. Even the building employees got rooked, and they're looking to get their own back. But they need a robbery expert: Ben Stiller knew Eddie Murphy back in the old neighborhood.

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