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Review

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    Empire Big Screen '11 Review: 'Warrior' Is Silly, Over-Familiar & Enormously Effective

    Considering that it's the fastest rising sport in the world and that it's inherently cinematic in a way that, say, baseball isn't, it's surprising that Hollywood hasn't made greater hay out of mixed martial arts (or MMA). For the newcomer, it's essentially a blend of boxing, wrestling and a good old bar fight, a mix you would have thought would have led to far more movie outings than David Mamet's "Redbelt" and next year's Kevin James (yes, Kevin James) vehicle "Here Comes the Boom." But a movie opening next month, Gavin O'Connor's "Warrior," which we caught today as the first surprise public screening at Empire Big Screen in London, is plant...

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    Review: 'Over Your Cities Grass Will Grow' A Tarkovskian Study Of Ambitious Modern Art

    Even those that find modern art to be unbearable and pretentious must concur: paving roads, digging out caverns, and building houses as part of your art installation on the grounds of an abandoned silk factory is bad-ass. That said, detractors are likely to question the amount of money used for this...

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    Review: 'The Help' A Well-Intentioned Drama, Boosted By Strong Performances

    In some ways, "The Help" is critic-proof because it arrives wrapped up in the most deceptive of packaging: good intentions. A well-meaning film can make a critic blind to flaws or, conversely, can make a reviewer more ruthless about its shortcomings purely because of its lack of narrative or thematic ambition. And director Tate Taylor doesn't make it easy on himself, tackling a film about segregation, based on an Oprah-friendly book, and produced under a division of Disney. All of those elements make "The Help" a pretty big and easy target, and to be sure, the cynical viewer could sit back and lob easy shots. However, buoyed by strong perform...

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    MIFF '11 Reviews: 'The Forgiveness Of Blood,' 'Toomelah' & 'Majority'

    More, somewhat belated reviews from the Melbourne International Film Festival. Firstly, a return from director Joshua Marston who burst onto the scene with his 2004 drug-mule drama "Maria Full Of Grace" and went missing, other than a few television credits. A whole seven years later, Marston unveils "The Forgiveness Of Blood," a unique spin on a family drama genre which explores the phenomena of blood feuds in rural Albania. After an argument over a blocked path through one family's property leads to a violent confrontation the details of which audiences are kept in the dark about, a stalemate is set in place between the two families as per a...

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    Review: 'Superheroes' An Intriguing But Unquestioning Look At Real Life Crimefighters

    Superheroes have captured the collective imagination ever since Superman first lifted a car over his head in Action Comics #1. The idea of a person blessed with extraordinary powers, or a regular citizen who adopts an alter ego to protect humanity, and right the wrongs that the regular justice system fails to address, has resonated with the young and old for decades. And while over the years there have been somewhat random and scattered incidents of people trying to recreate the vigilante hero experience on the streets of their city, today there seems to be a greater movement afoot. Across the country some very organized individuals are suiti...

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    Review: Shion Sono An Exciting New Discovery; 'Cold Fish' Bleak, Bloody, Bold

    The following is a reprint from of our review from VIFF last year.

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    Review: '30 Minutes Or Less' Is A Fun But Forgettable Conclusion To The Summer Of R-Rated Excess

    Zipping along at a brisk pace -- albeit one that feels like it's rushing to be over -- featuring dueling bromance buddy tales from both protagonists and villains, and mostly amusing in its vulgar humor and gags, the "action"-comedy "30 Minutes Or Less," is entertaining, but ultimately only a mild ef...

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    Review: 'Magic Trip' A Pleasant But Unremarkable Trip Down A Druggy Memory Lane

    Best known for his forward, concise, and unyielding documentaries attacking big business, the government, and the media, filmmaker Alex Gibney takes a brief sabbatical from the "heavy issues" and partners up with frequent editing partner Alison Ellwood for the Ken Kesey LSD-extravaganza "Magic Trip." The two cobble together footage and audio recordings from a free-wheelin' cross-country jaunt to the World's Fair in New York lead by the "One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest" scribe, the end result feeling something like a cross between Gibney's own "Gonzo: The Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson" and last year's enjoyable "Lennon NYC." However,...

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    Review: 'Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes' Monkeys Around, Showcases Action Over Nuance

    When blockbuster films deal with conflict that poses a global threat, the question hangs over them: why is humanity worth saving? It’s the drug-film conundrum: 95 minutes of injections and hard-living make a stronger impression than the therapy and lessons of the remaining 10. Why bother presenting ...

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    Fantasia '11 Review: 'Kidnapped' Starts Smart, But Ends As A Sleazy & Cheap Exploitation Flick

    The single setting thriller is a tough trick to overcome as a director, as it constrains nearly every aspect of a production making it all the more difficult to elevate the film from its static surroundings. Last year saw a spate of single-setting flicks hit theaters, and while Danny Boyle's "127 Hours" and J Blakeson's underrated "The Disappearance Of Alice Creed" showed what inventive filmmaking and a smart screenplay can do in opening up the narrative in compelling ways, the Ryan Reynolds-led "Buried" was an example of what happens with a director can't get past the basic conceit of the picture. Which brings us to "Kidnapped," the first fi...

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