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Movie Reviews

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    REVIEW | A Familiar Can of "Kick Ass"

    The prevalence of superhero movies at the multiplexes has made them ripe for self-reflection. On the surface, Matthew Vaughn's "Kick-Ass" fulfills that opportunity. Adapted from Mark Millar and John Romita, Jr.'s 2008 comic book mini-series, which focuses on a nerdy high school student named Dave (U...

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    REVIEW | "Prophet" Portends Success: Audiard's Arty Mob Film

    EDITOR'S NOTE: This review was originally published as part of indieWIRE's coverage of the 2009 Cannes Film Festival. "A Prophet" opens in limited release this Friday through Sony Pictures Classics.

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    REVIEW | Twists and Shouts: Kimberly Reed's "Prodigal Sons"

    In the first twenty or so minutes of Kimberly Reed's marvelous documentary "Prodigal Sons," the film's director, who is also one of its main subjects, returns to her small Montana hometown to attend a high-school reunion. En route, she is reunited with her adopted older brother, Marc, with whom she casually mentions she has been estranged for over a decade. Soon, the first bombshell, uttered by Marc from the backseat of a car: his sister Kim, our narrator, used to be his brother, Paul. A third child, Todd, will waft in and out of conversation and the movie itself. Shot in perfunctory home video style with the occasional Big Sky Country visual...

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    Berlinale Critics Notebook: Searching For Meaning In a "Two Star" Festival

    Five days into the 60th Berlinale, and the mood might have most charitably been described as neutral. There were some good films, though not a lot. But then, there weren't many outright stinkers, either. The market hummed along without seeming to achieve much, either in terms of major sales or -- to...

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    REVIEW | Cash Poor: Julio DePietro's "The Good Guy"

    Whatever suspense Julio DePietro's "The Good Guy" seems to think it's generating is predicated upon the supposedly surprising twist that its central Wall Street wannabe tycoon is not, in fact, a standup guy. Though all of the details of his cretinous behavior come as a slap in the face to the film's...

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    Berlinale Critics Notebook: The undeniable ‘find’ of the festival, so far?

    It was 106F the day I left Sydney, at the end of a four-month visit with family and friends. By the time I got home to Berlin, on the evening of January 26, it was -4F. The cold was dry and tense and lacerating; you felt hollowed out by it. But far worse were the pavements: thickened with weeks of c...

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    REVIEW | Haunted House: Michael Palmieri and Donal Mosher's "October Country"

    The type of introspective, intimate domestic American nonfiction that has sprouted up so much in art-house theaters in the wake of the success of "Capturing the Friedmans" has come to typify documentary filmmaking of the past decade. Itself somewhat of an acolyte of the far more sensitive "Crumb," which at least foregrounded its inevitable grotesquerie, Andrew Jarecki's sensational depiction of an upper-middle-class Jewish family torn apart by intimations of child molestation tried to pass off its essentially exploitative nature as an investigation into American suburbia. Plus, with its tacked-on faux reconciliation ending and lack of aesthet...

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    REVIEW | On the Butcher Block: Haim Tabakman's "Eyes Wide Open"

    Most of the gay Israeli films that have made their way to the U.S. have seemed to prefer narratives of extreme conflict. Of course there have been exceptions (last year’s glib yet exceedingly hot romantic comedy "Antarctica"‘s only issues were, refreshingly, those of sex and commitment), but for the most part, they place their central homosexual couplings within larger political or social frameworks that make them seem like extraordinary challenges to embrace or overcome. So in Eytan Fox’s breakout "Yossi and Jagger," it’s not just a clandestine gay love affair, but one enacted within the uber-masculine barracks and battlefields of the Israel...

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    REVIEW | No Exit: Scandar Copti and Yaron Shani's "Ajami"

    "Ajami" gets right to the tragic heart of the matter. Before the viewer knows what or whom he's watching, a young boy is gunned down in the middle of a city street in broad daylight. Though a backstory is soon provided, the incident truly and crucially never makes sense. Revenge, recompense, clumsy justice, even apparently legitimate legal proceedings provide a measure of context and set the rest of the narrative in motion, but the brutal fact of the murder is never gotten over. Violence will return, again and again over the course of the film, but it is not to be justified by theoretical or political abstractions, and its impact is never sof...

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    REVIEW | The Toxic Avenger: Josh Fox's "GasLand"

    Josh Fox's "GasLand" is the paragon of first person activist filmmaking done right. Matching his perspective with a slew of infuriating case studies, Fox explores the influx of hydraulic fracturing (or "fracking"), a method of drilling natural gas that endangers the sanity of water supplies in the i...

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