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New and Coming Releases: Oct 19, 2010.

A nicely eclectic batch of releases out today, from the latest Nicole Holofcener gem to a Death Metal doc to a historical drama to action, horror and more. Plus more good stuff coming soon, and updated here every week.

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The Magician

Reviewer:Steve Dollar
Rating (out of 5): *****

When I was in college during the retroactively wondrous 1970s, every budding sophomore movie buff got introduced to the giants of world cinema through 10-week retrospectives that accompanied each quarter's film classes, unspooling in a creaky auditorium with a leaking roof. These crash courses were fairly amazing, since even VHS barely seemed to exist at the time, and the closest art house was a day's drive away. One semester, I watched tons of Ingmar Bergman, supplemented by various textbooks and histories, including the near-Biblical Four Screenplays of Bergman, which featured his treatments for The Seventh Seal, Wild Strawberries, Smiles of a Summer Night and The Magician (aka Ansiktet or The Face).

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Breaking Upwards

 

Reviewer: James van Maanen
Rating (out of 5): **½

I’m glad I viewed Breaking Upwards -- the new do-it-yourself movie from fledgling filmmakers and on-again/off-again couple Daryl Wein & Zoe Lister-Jones -- before I read the full-page article by Larry Rohter in the March 26 New York Times. It detailed how the movie came to be at the relatively rock-bottom cost (for a film shot in NYC) of only $15,000. Much of the information Rohter provides is very interesting, especially for would-be filmmakers.

The film itself, however, despite some comparisons to early work of Woody Allen (his themes may be present but little of his wit or style), is finally rather dreary.Breaking Upwards -- which explains what happens when a young couple, played by the filmmakers, decides to take some time off from each other -- has a relatively starry cast for DIY: Julie WhiteAndrea Martin (of SCTV fame), Peter FriedmanPablo Schreiber, Olivia Thirlby and Ebon Moss-Bachrach (John Quincy Adams on John Adams).

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Mid-August Lunch: More Than Old Folks Being Adorable

 (Article originally appeared on GreenCine Daily)
by Vadim Rizov

The arthouse isn't immune from peddling glorified YouTube cutesiness: earlier this year, Babies offered up viral‐adorable burbles on 35mm. (Cuteness on demand is nicely spoofed in Godard's new Film Socialisme, going from full-screen kitteh close‐up to the woman watching it; she meows, which is considerably less cute.) Similarly, the masses apparently love to watch sassy old folks being stylish and adorable, without any troublesome bodily failures getting in the way. Mid‐August Lunch, full of snippy old ladies and food porn, seemingly offers up more undemanding fare, and let's be clear: there's nothing inherently wrong with that. But Gianni di Gregorio's directorial debut is remarkably tough‐minded.

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New and Coming Releases: Oct 12, 2010.

     

A nice assembly of titles out today, including two from Criterion, a really fun feature 'toon, Tilda Swinton shines, crazy treats from the Far East, and more.

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Fantomas

Reviewer: Jeffrey M. Anderson
Rating (out of 5): ****½

Louis Feuillade worked at the great French movie studio Gaumont, making dozens upon dozens of films, of all different stripes. He made comedies, historical films, "realist" films, and even a series of films with child stars, such as "Bout de Zan." But out of his 700 or so films, his reputation rests mainly on his lengthy crime serials, including Les Vampires (1915), Judex (1916), Tih Minh (1918), and beginning with the five-and-a-half hour Fantômas (1913). These remarkable films were among the first to employ location shooting, and to use a sustained, intertwining plot that lasted for more than a couple of reels. They also perfected the use of the cliffhanger and the maintaining of suspense; D.W. Griffith had learned how to create thrills with his cross-cutting, but Feuillade slowed this down and stretched it out for a richer and deeper experience. His techniques would later be passed on to Fritz Lang, Alfred Hitchcock, and many other auteurs.

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New and Coming Releases: October 5, 2010.

    

 

October arrives with an eclectic, fine mix of new DVD releases, from a lovely Italian romantic comedy to a big ol' remake to horror to an Oscar nominated film for Animated Feature, truly something for everyone here.

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Splice

 

Reviewer:Craig Phillips
Rating (out of 5): ***

I find Splice maddening, provocative, erratic, brave enough to suggest something greater, hard to dismiss, but ultimately frustrating. It's an intriguing film that touches on hot-button issues involving bioethics and corporate science, things that not only "could happen" but are happening. The early David Cronenberg influence in the new film byCube director Vincenzo Natali is clear, and that's both a compliment and a burden. I say this not just because it's a Canadian production, but because the film manages to weave in the gross out with the cold and clinical, with a distinctly wry Canadian sense of humor that is sometimes overlooked in Cronenberg's best work, too. Essentially a modernized take on the age old mad scientist creating a monster tale, as well as cautionary tale on genetic engineering, Splice has its effectively scary moments, but it is not quite on a level with The Fly.

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I'm Gonna Explode

 

Reviewer: James van Maanen
Rating (out of 5): ***

If cinema reflects the state of its country of origin, and I believe it always does, then things are not looking up for Mexico, nor have they in all of my lifetime (Bunuel was not imagining things with his darkly imaginative creations). Scratch a Mexican movie and -- unless it's a nitwit romantic comedy or something on the order of the soap-opera slushy, Latin American co-production La Mujer de mi hermano that was released here a few years back -- you're likely to have your nose rubbed in heavy-duty class divisions, with the nasty rich struggling to hold onto everything they have, while the poor and would-be upwardly mobile, hardly much better, are scrambling to pull themselves up by their crap-infested bootstraps. Nothing changes and everything looks grim -- though it's often brought to life with great style. (See Nicotinafor a dose of that style.)

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