Red Dawn (2012)

Add Comment on November 21, 2012 by David Ehrlich

As with any mediocre '80s movie that retains a small ironic foothold in contemporary culture, remaking John Milius' Red Dawn was inevitable. A gun-stroking orgy of jingoistic Cold War carnage starring a gaggle of Spokane teens fighting back the Soviet forces who've invaded their hometown, Milius' original film plays like an unholy cross between Battle of Algiers and Gleaming the Cube, streaked with scarlet paranoia and sticky with misspent testosterone. A few years ago, someone who hates money decided that this NRA fairytale was ripe for an update, proving that even alternate histories are doomed to be repeated. The only problem? The Cold War is over. The scariest threat Russia poses against the Western world is Timur Bekmambetov.

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Rust and Bone

Add Comment on November 21, 2012 by James Rocchi

After the sharp, smart and stunning prison drama A Prophet, Jacques Audiard steps into the sunshine (or so it seems) for his new film, Rust and Bone. Ostensibly a romance between tough-and-taciturn Ali (Matthias Schoenaerts) and tested-but-strong Stephanie (Marion Cotilliard), what Audiard has created here is nothing less than the rare combination of high art and beautiful filmmaking with visceral power and gut-level emotional reality—it's like a symphony of fists, or a brutal assault by angels. The pain and beauty of life are one, and every chance for redemption comes with a new chance to make mistakes.

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Rise of The Guardians

37 comments on November 20, 2012 by James Rocchi

Rise of the Guardians boasts a premise you're amazed no one thought up before—uniting holiday icons and childhood folklore figures Santa Claus, The Bogeyman, the Tooth Fairy and Jack Frost. The final film has not just an irresistible pitch, but, even better, superb execution. With a top-notch voice cast including Alec Baldwin, Chris Pine, Isla Fisher and others working in concert with top-notch animation from the DreamWorks creative and the helping hands of luminaries like director Guillermo Del Toro and cinematographer Rodger Deakins, Rise of the Guardians is one of the best kid's films of the year, full of delight and action and charm and comedy. It lacks aimed-at-adults pop references normally see peppered in films like this, and that's a good thing.

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Add Comment on November 16, 2012 by Pete Hammond

The making of the 1960 classic Psycho is deftly weaved with a touching look at the personal and professional partnership of Alfred Hitchcock and his wife Alma in a flick that should please aficionados of the Master of Suspense and audiences interested in a unique love story that stood the test of time, despite Hitch's fixation on affairs, lies and murder. Films about filmmakers and stars have a spotty box office track record but riding on superlative performances from Anthony Hopkins and particularly Helen Mirren in the key roles along with a sparkling Scarlett Johansson as Janet Leigh, Hitchcock should enjoy some decent business from specialty venues during the holiday season.

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Silver Linings Playbook

Add Comment on November 15, 2012 by Mark Keizer

It's easy to imagine what the comedy/drama Silver Linings Playbook would have been had David O. Russell not directed it. Visualize a lead soufflé of shrill bickering, trailer-ready one-liners and brightly-colored inevitability and you'll be in the ballpark. With Russell helming as well as adapting Matthew Quick's 2008 novel, results are weightier, although we never shake the feeling that he's struggling to bend mainstream source material to fit his idiosyncratic sensibilities. His solution is barely workable: embrace the elements that play to his strengths and take his chances with the remaining mountain of contrivances. The ill-fitting final product has been short-listed for Oscar contention, Lord knows why.

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The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2

18 comments on November 13, 2012 by Amy Nicholson

Here's why people don't like Twilight: for three films, Kristen Stewart moped around like a heartsick sloth while two strong supernatural studs (and their equally strong families) decided her fate. And the anti-feminist inertia was dulled further by damp cinematography and a self-serious tone that was like a Danielle Steel novel drained—literally—of blood. Point taken. But in the middle of the fourth film, Breaking Dawn - Part One, new director Bill Condon lit the franchise's fuse and in The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part Two, it explodes into a ridiculous, romantic, violent fireball.

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Anna Karenina (2012)

Add Comment on November 12, 2012 by David Ehrlich

A feverishly deft and dazzling feat of adaptation, Joe Wright's Anna Karenina takes Leo Tolstoy's epic tragedy of lust and death during the fall of the Russian oligarchy and crams it into a snowglobe, confining much of the tale to a single soundstage where he visibly shifts the scenery with the fluid logic of a Broadway musical. The result is a masterpiece of moving pieces, a dizzying and obscenely beautiful film that boils down Tolstoy's text to its most basic elements by making literal the theater of high society. Anchored by Keira Knightley's implacable turn as the titular heroi...

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