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Review

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    VIFF '11: Lo-Fi Puppets And A Big, Hilarious Heart; 'Kooky' Is Destined To Be A Family Cult Classic

    In many ways, “Kooky” harkens back to the halcyon days of yore (read: in particular the ‘80s) when things were scary in kids’ movies. Or maybe we're just starting to show our old age, but didn't it seem like filmmakers back then were unafraid to at least hint at the possibility of actual threat and potential harm to characters, if not follow through on it completely? It was certainly a different time. Maybe they were untethered by the whims of insanely over-protective parents and ludicrous MPAA ratings strictures that insist on rounding off every sharp edge, creating a bland cinematic landscape these days that all-too-often wears down a movie...

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    NYFF '11 Review: 'Play' Is A Confident, Complex Look At Social Issues In Sweden

    Festivals can be a great place to discover new, brilliant cinema, but often times the unknown films get drowned out by the heavily buzzed or the latest by a longstanding director. How many of us at the New York Film Festival saw "Martha Marcy May Marlene" and "The Kid with a Bike" but, for whatever reason, happened to miss out on "The Loneliest Planet"? It's highly likely that this writer isn't alone. Still, one person generally can't see everything a festival has to offer, so flicks that don't have Palme d'Or helmers behind them or a truckload of auspicious praise for their "breakout performer" tend to get shafted. Still, it's a must to atte...

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    VIFF '11: In Belgian 'Bullhead' Sympathy For The Devil Is A Mark Of Quality

    “No matter what you do or think, one thing is for sure, you’re always fucked. Now, tomorrow, next week or next year, until the end of time, fucked.”

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    Review: 'Martha Marcy May Marlene' A Stunner With A Breakout Turn By Elizabeth Olsen

    The following is a reprint of our review from Sundance.

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    Review: 'The Catechism Cataclysm' Is An Indescribable & Unforgettable Curio

    If you’re a student of screenplay structure with a dog-eared copy of a Robert McKee book, it’s best to stay away from “The Catechism Cataclysm.” The new film from director Todd Rohal spends a good majority of its scant seventy-five minute runtime stymieing conventional thought, trafficking in casual...

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    Book Review: 'Drew Struzan: Oeuvre' Is A Beautifully Complete Look At The Master Illustrator's Work

    Last fall, the great "Art of Drew Struzan" book was released. It did a fairly comprehensive job of chronicling the career of the master illustrator and offered colorful commentary by the artist, giving us an exclusive peek behind the scenes of some of his most memorable work. Just as amazing as seeing early versions of his poster designs for movies like "Back to the Future" was learning some of the circumstantial anecdotes, such as how his concept for "Money Pit," featuring the house capsizing like the Titanic, was shelved because of a real-life ocean liner tragedy. But the selection was obviously chosen for specific reasons – to illustrate a...

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    Review: 'Retreat' Piles On The Twists, But Doesn't Deliver The Thrills

    The following is a reprint of our review from Fantasia.

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    VIFF '11: Paddy Considine's Directorial Debut 'Tyrannosaur' An Uneven Portrait Of A Damaged Man

    The opening scene of “Tyrannosaur” is a real belter. Through near whiplash-inducing cross cuts, we are introduced to a night in the life of Joseph (Peter Mullan) as he drinks heavily and stews with unfettered rage on a barstool (and back at home with a sawed-off wood baseball bat that looks like a l...

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    Review: 'Miss Representation' Exposes An Ugly Truth That Needs To Be Seen

    It’s no shock to anyone who has turned on the TV, read a magazine, spied a billboard or surfed the internet that media representations of women are problematic at best. At worst, they are a both a symptom and cause of a troubled society reaching a tipping point in its relationship with sex and violence onscreen. This is the thesis set out by “Miss Representation,” a searing documentary directed by Jennifer Siebel Newsom, an actress, activist, and wife of California Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom. This film, born out of anxiety about the world she was bringing a little girl into, and inspired by her past struggles in life, configures itself ...

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    VIFF '11: 'Elena' Is A Dramatic Masterwork From Russian Director Andrey Zvyagintsev

    For this writer, there are fewer things in cinema more satisfying than a filmmaker in total control of their story. Sure, we love the visceral thrill of a well-choreographed, impeccably staged action sequence as much as the next red-blooded human being. And there’s the perfect combination of song/score over moving images, blissful moments heightened through all the tools available in the medium. But then there are those rare moments when a film has just begun, and the feeling sets in immediately that you’re in good hands; that no matter what happens in this film, you can trust the filmmaker has thought everything through and knows what he or ...

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