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Spout

"Act of Valor" is Actually TOO Authentic, Yet Not Real Enough

  • By Christopher Campbell
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  • February 23, 2012 3:26 PM
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  • 8 Comments
After "Act of Valor," we can no longer complain about inaccuracies and inauthentic material in action movies. This relatively fictional and dramatized look at the work of a U.S. Navy SEAL team is unquestionably the most realistic portrayal of the special ops branch in a "narrative" motion picture, and having employed actual active duty SEALs in the lead roles of the main characters, that's obviously the intention of stuntment-turned-filmmakers Mike McCoy and Scott Waugh. But action movies aren't really meant to be realistic, and this one just proves why authenticity isn't necessarily a positive thing when it comes to entertainment. 

Review and Interview: Joshua Marston's Very Impressive "The Forgiveness of Blood"

  • By Spout
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  • February 21, 2012 2:24 PM
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  • 4 Comments
One of our favorite films we saw at the 2011 Toronto International Film Festival is "The Forgiveness of Blood," the second feature by "Maria Full of Grace" director Joshua Marston. Film critic Daniel Walber, who was impressed with many aspects of the Albanian-language teen drama, reviewed the film from the fest, calling it an honest, universal and surprisingly non-exoticizing work by an outsider filmmaker who respectfully overcomes the language barrier for a nuanced piece of global cinema. Here's some snippets of that review:

"Undefeated" is a Good But Not Great Underdog Sports Film

  • By Christopher Campbell
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  • February 16, 2012 4:57 PM
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  • 7 Comments
It’s very hard not to like “Undefeated,” the underdog sports film that is currently also considered the underdog among the 2012 Oscar nominees in the feature documentary category. I’m not exactly sure why it’s thought to be a long shot, though, since it is a gorgeously shot, expertly edited and very accessible movie with a familiar narrative and appealing characters. Also it’s got distributor backing from Harvey Weinstein (not that he’s ever bagged an Oscar for a doc before, as far as I can recall). Is it the crowd-pleasing quality that has people thinking it’s not serious enough to win? Or, is it truly a dark horse because it deserves to be, since it’s not anywhere near as significant an achievement in nonfiction filmmaking as the other four contenders?

Review and Ranking of the 2012 Oscar-Nominated Live Action Shorts

  • By Christopher Campbell
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  • February 9, 2012 4:59 PM
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  • 0 Comments
I wasn’t too thrilled with last year’s Oscar nominees in the live action short category. It was my first time seeing and reviewing all the films, though, and I wasn’t aware that it was such an off year. The 2012 nominees, on the other hand, are all excellent. Whether this is evidence of a typical year for short film or an inverse fluke of this being an especially on year I can not say. But I’m happy to genuinely recommend the annual theatrical release of this category’s contenders, a program that hits cinemas nationwide this Friday.

Review and Ranking of the 2012 Oscar-Nominated Animated Shorts

  • By Christopher Campbell
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  • February 7, 2012 3:42 PM
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  • 2 Comments
Curious which Oscar-nominated animated short film will win the Academy Award on February 26? Well, I'm no prognosticator and I honestly don't really care which little-known filmmaker takes home the golden statue. But I am happy the Oscars exist and have the animated short category because it means that moviegoers have at least one chance a year to see at least five (supposedly) exceptional animated shorts in the theater. There's usually at least one in the bunch I'm not that in love with, but even 4 out of 5 makes for a great program, especially when the best films are really something special. And maybe you, like the Academy, will enjoy them all.

Sundance 2012: Managing Cynicism - This Year’s Great Crop of Sundance Online Shorts

  • By Daniel Walber
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  • January 26, 2012 11:15 AM
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  • 0 Comments
Maybe I’m a bit cynical. That’s not true. I’m excessively cynical. I could claim it comes naturally once you’ve seen too many movies, but that doesn’t seem like a good enough excuse. And the 2012 Sundance Film Festival’s online shorts are a perfectly illustrative example of why any exhausted approach to new movies is a bad idea.

Sundance 2012: Top Online Shorts "Long Distance Information" and "The Debutante Hunters"

  • By Daniel Walber
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  • January 25, 2012 7:23 PM
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  • 1 Comment
All of the nine shorts Yahoo and the Sundance Film Festival have put on the web are pretty good. It’s an impressive crop, and I’d say more consistent than a lot of the stuff festivals have put online in the last year. Yet in any batch of films a few rise to the top. I’ve rounded up the other seven, and the oddly consistent problem they have. Here are my two favorites and some gushing about why I think they’re absolutely worth your time.

Sundance 2012: "Teddy Bear" is a Sweet Drama With a Lovably Large Breakout Performance

  • By Christopher Campbell
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  • January 23, 2012 3:28 PM
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  • 0 Comments
The main conceit of Mads Matthiesen’s “Teddy Bear” (aka "10 Timer til Paradis") which was previously established in his 2007 short film “Dennis,” is that its protagonist is a bulging bodybuilder who ironically isn’t macho at all. The idea that this guy, Dennis, is introverted, awkward with women and for all we know a 40-year-old virgin is expanded upon in the feature, and though it’s a simple idea with little extra going on the film never overextends its welcome.

Sundance 2012: "Compliance" is a Bloodless Horror Film That I Couldn't Resist

  • By Christopher Campbell
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  • January 21, 2012 3:06 PM
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  • 2 Comments
For a good portion of Craig Zobel’s twisted new single-setting drama, “Compliance,” I had difficulty believing what was happening. The film, which is based on a true story, depicts a busy night at a Midwest fast food restaurant during which a teenage employee is accused of theft, detained in a stock room and consequently strip searched in the process of investigating her alleged crime. The problem is there’s no police detective in sight, though there is supposedly one on the phone dictating irregular procedures to the chicken joint’s manager and staff. And to them it all seems a strange yet acceptable idea to conduct such an outlandish probe by proxy with only the word and authority of an unfamiliar “cop.”

"Ultrasuede: In Search of Halston" is a Casual Celebration of the '70s Fashion Designer

  • By Christopher Campbell
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  • January 20, 2012 2:41 PM
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  • 0 Comments
There are few kinds of documentaries I dislike more than the amateur first-person film that pretends to be about a famous person (or persons) but really ends up being primarily about the self-involved director and his or her fandom (or investigative journey). The sort that begin with redundant narration from the director along the lines of, “I always wanted to make a film about...” Exceptions do occur, and I’d cite docs like “Sherman’s March” (and Ross McElwee’s other works), “Roger & Me” (and some of Michael Moore’s subsequent work) and “Gasland” as classic successes of the style. And the recent Toronto hit “Paul Williams Still Alive” proves miraculously that they can even work when the filmmaker is a pest -- something that typically hurts these films.

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