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Review

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    Review: 'Detective Dee' Underwhelms As A Boilerplate Wuxia/Noir Mix

    The press notes for “Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame" refer to the prolific director Tsui Hark as a “genre master”. Complimentary at first glance, the phrase takes on shades of damning praise when it comes to 'Detective Dee,' an overstuffed period mystery with all the trappings of a wuxia epic. Wuxia, originally a literary tradition that came to silver screen prominence in the early 20th century, blossomed in the 80s and 90s, with celebrated directors like Zhang Yimou delivering films that captivated a world audience. It’s fair to say Ang Lee is responsible for awakening mainstream American interest in the genre with 2000’s...

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    Review: 'Love Exposure' Is Four Hours Of Madhouse Kink

    Sion Sono‘s “Love Exposure” is a film that, upon its conclusion, feels as if you’ve spanned the globe to tell its narrative. So broad is its scope -- addressing topics like religion, incest and murder -- that the film never once seems like its staying in one place, so hyperactive and eager to stimul...

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    Review: 'The Debt' An Uneven Thriller Powered By Strong Turns By Jessica Chastain & Helen Mirren

    After its predecessor “Killshot” got a cursory limited release before being scuttled off to DVD and the film before that, “Proof,” hobbled in and out of theaters, “The Debt” is director John Madden’s first film in more than a decade to receive a theatrical run of more than 1600 screens, but an overbearing sense of self-importance undermines its box office potential, much less the effectiveness of skillful performances by a mostly-talented cast. Helen Mirren and Jessica Chastain, sharing the screen as the same character as much as current and next generations of great actresses, sustain a frequently overwrought (and overlong) tale of Mossad ag...

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    Review: Not A Racing Fan? 'Senna' May Not Convert But Still An Absorbing Account Of A Great Athlete

    Engaging, well-paced and an absorbing behind-the-scenes account of a world many are unfamiliar with, the race-car documentary "Senna" by director Asif Kapadia, is not unlike a sports doc you'd see on ESPN (think the excellent and compelling "30 For 30" series), but thanks to Universal, it is being t...

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    Review: 'General Orders No. 9' A Moving Study Of Change In The American South

    "General Orders No. 9" is playing in NY starting August 28th at the reRun Gastropub Theater as part of its "ReRun RERUNS" series. Visit here to see when it'll play near you.

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    Review: 'Brighton Rock' Perplexes And Fascinates, Sometimes In Equal Measure

    Early on in Rowan Joffe’s directorial debut “Brighton Rock," adapted from the Graham Greene novel, sociopathic protagonist Pinkie Brown (“Control” star Sam Riley) desperately batters a man with a sizeable rock. He does so right underneath the oblivious vacationing crowds on the Brighton boardwalk (circa 1964). This duality is hammered home by a portentous soundtrack and crosscutting between the sounds of children’s laughter and the ragged breathing of the two men locked in mortal combat. Lucky for us, Joffe, a screenwriter with “28 Weeks Later” and “The American” to his name, keeps the film from slipping into self-serving grimness and deliver...

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    Review: 'Colombiana' Is An Exploitation Actioner Devoid Of Thrills & Humor

    "Colombiana," an ornately florid title for a hopelessly pedestrian Euro-trash action movie, has been marketed and sold around various images of its comely star (Zoe Saldana) brandishing firearms while in her underwear. As far as exploitation hooks go, it's about as old as the format itself, and just...

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    Review: 'Tucker & Dale' The Hillbilly Horror Buddy Comedy You Never Knew You Wanted

    Tucker & Dale Vs. Evil,” Eli Craig's directorial debut, suffers from a concept that would work wonders in a short, but doesn’t make for a necessarily compelling feature. Written by Craig and Morgan Jurgenson, the film follows the enterprising Tucker (Alan Tudyk) and the painfully shy Dale (Tyler Labine) who are on their way to refurnish a newly purchased summer house (littered with ample evidence that hints at a formerly deadly owner). The two men could rightly be described as “hillbillies” and through a series of escalating misunderstandings, a group of teenagers led by the psychotic Chad (Jesse Moss), believes Tucker and Dale to be evil inc...

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    Review: 'The Family Tree' Is A Trite Indie Comedy That Thinks It's Shocking

    "The Family Tree" -- a movie that seems destined for home video obscurity even as it hits a handful of cinema screens this week -- sets out to answer the question: just how many cloyingly idiosyncratic "quirks," the kind that aim for "American Beauty" profundity but mostly come across as "Desperate ...

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    Review: 'Shut Up Little Man! An Audio Misadventure' A Hilarious Exploration Of A Viral Sensation

    If you don't think two belligerent, elderly men cursing out each other abrasively is hilarious, then "Shut Up Little Man! An Audio Misadventure" will leave you bored. Matthew Bate's movie on the audio-vérité craze that was "Shut Up Lil' Man" is such a celebratory love-letter that anybody who doesn't find the audio clips even remotely fascinating will get little out of the documentary's 90 minute running time. This writer, however, loves the furiously relentless barrage of insults that the pre-YouTube cult-celebrities Raymond Huffman and Peter Haskett would drunkenly hurl at each other daily. While the tapings of the two men fighting alone mak...

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