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Review

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    Venice '11 Review: Jet Li's 'The Sorcerer & The White Snake' Is Wuxia-Lite, With Bad Action & CG

    It might have a highbrow reputation (something anyone who's caught one of the sidebars can confirm), but that doesn't mean that the organizers of the Venice Film Festival don't like to watch a little ass get kicked sometimes. Last year, in fact, was something of a banner year for action at the festival, with "13 Assassins" and 'Detective Dee' in competition, and "Machete," "The Town," "Reign of Assassins" and "Legend of the Fist" all playing out of it. 2011 is a little lighter on the chop-socky, but there is a single film that's here to let film critics scratch their face-punch itch, and that's the Jet Li vehicle "The Sorcerer & The White Sna...

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    Venice '11 Review: 'Un été brûlant' Is A Thundering Bore That Verges On Self-Parody

    There are certain cliches associated with European cinema -- they're not necessarily always accurate but they do exist. Ask a layman -- a well educated, smart, nice person who might not be quite as subtitle-happy as you or I -- what they imagine they might see in, say, an average French film, and a ...

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    Venice '11 Review: Cronenberg's 'A Dangerous Method' An Insightful Look At Sexuality & The Mind

    The recent career of David Cronenberg has been an interesting thing to watch. Having made his name with a very particular, icky brand of fetish-happy body horror, he hasn't dipped back into that well for a decade now, preferring instead to take his obsessions and use them to spice up what in other hands could be standard fare. And generally speaking, it has worked well: "Spider," "A History of Violence" and "Eastern Promises" all have much to recommend them, all peculiarly Cronenbergian, but each pushing in a slightly different direction. But now he's made what, on the surface at least, might seem to be his biggest departure to date: a period...

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    Review: 'Shark Night 3D' A Joyless, Trashy Thriller

    When Rogue Pictures announced that their forthcoming horror film “Shark Night 3D” was going to be rated PG-13 instead of R, they shepherded it into theaters with two strikes already against it. Especially following the go-for-broke gratuitousness of Alexandre Aja’s “Piranha 3D,” but really in the wake of every single killer fish movie since the original “Jaws,” to deny an audience gory dismemberments or even just gloriously pointless nudity feels, well, irresponsible. But with “Snakes on a Plane” director David R. Ellis behind the camera, “Shark Night 3D” is a full-fledged, bottom-of-the-ninth strikeout, a trashy, stupid, joyless, and overlon...

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    Venice '11 Review: 'Carnage' Is Fun While It Lasts, But Insubstantial & Anonymous

    Compared to his last film, Roman Polanski's "Carnage" must have been a breeze. Not that the shoot for "The Ghost Writer" was "Fitzcarraldo" or anything, but, famously, the project hit a major speed bump in September 2009, while the film was in post-production, when the helmer was arrested in Zurich,...

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    Review: ‘Gainsbourg: A Heroic Life' Is An Ambitious Biopic That's Disappointingly Incomplete

    The following is a reprint of our review from the Quebec release of the film in 2010. "Gainsbourg: A Heroic Life" is now in limited release.

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    Review: 'A Good Old Fashioned Orgy' Is A Good New-Fashioned Slob Comedy

    The following is a reprint of our review from the Tribeca Film Festival.

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    Venice '11 Review: Madonna's 'W.E.' Is A Royal Disaster

    Just as news of an actor excitedly announcing that they've got a definitely-not-a-vanity-project album on the way is generally greeted with a reaction somewhere between mockery and outright terror, news of a musician moving into the movies is rarely a good thing. But all in all, pop megastar Madonna...

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    Review: 'Bunraku' Wants To Be 'Sin City' But Is More Like 'The Spirit'

    When you go to see any movie, particularly a genre picture, you are required to make a handshake deal with the film regarding the world it's trying to establish. If the picture can successfully convince you that, yes, this is a world of superheroes who are now retired, or this is a planet where no o...

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    Venice '11 Review: 'The Ides Of March' Is A Gripping Return To Form For Director George Clooney

    Even more so than usual, 2012 should be a particularly fascinating election year. On the one hand, you've got the incumbent, President Barack Obama, a man elected on the promise of hope and conciliation, and a man who's failed to live up to the sky-high expectations placed on him. On the other, you have a band of Republican candidates who have, so far, failed to look anything like contenders, instead seemingly competing in a national crazy-off. We're a long, long way off from finding out the victor, but to get things underway, one of the most politically engaged actor-directors around has opened the Venice Film Festival with a look behind the...

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