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September 2008

August 2008

Film Review: College


The first and last laudable element of “College” is the spirited opening title sequence. Skillfully mixing high school iconography with contractually-obligated acknowledgments, the opener, designed by director Deb Hagan, is an inventive, bouncy way to start off the picture. From there, the movie falls right into the toilet. Willfully or accidentally is up to the viewer.

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Film Review: Babylon A.D.


Oh, it’s been a weary road for “Babylon A.D.” Not only has the film been handed a lousy late-August release date, had its original R-rated intent chopped to fit constrictive PG-13 requirements, and touts Vin Diesel as its star, but the director, Mathieu Kassovitz, disowned the movie during a hissy fit interview this past week. Now there’s a picture with some astonishing bad luck. Frankly, it doesn’t deserve such a public meltdown. It’s not a solid feature, but “Babylon” is far from the total disgrace media reports would have us all believe.

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Film Review: Disaster Movie


After “Date Movie,” “Epic Movie,” and January’s “Meet the Spartans,” writer/directors Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer have willingly positioned themselves as artistic pariahs. They abuse the art of parody to craft wickedly loathsome pop culture spoofs, forging actual effort to razz their subjects, only reiterating absurdity. And man oh man, do teenagers ever flock to these vile, willfully unfunny concoctions. But how can you blame them? I’m sure a night ignoring the screen to text-message friends and giggle at fart jokes is far more appealing than Scrabble with mom and dad.

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Film Review: Another Gay Sequel: Gays Gone Wild!


Any film that opens with a comical beheading and electrocution deserves at least some praise, however faint it may be. A follow-up to the unleashed lunacy of 2006’s “Another Gay Movie,” “Another Gay Sequel: Gays Gone Wild” takes this improbable franchise even further into comedic dementia, eager to top the original picture in pure knockout vulgarity. I’d say it’s a photo finish.

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Film Review: Death Race


While I won’t pray at the altar of the 1975 cult film “Death Race 2000,” I definitely enjoyed its satiric spit-take on outrageous violence and media-fed bloodlust. It was an innovative and enormously entertaining exploitation picture, blessed with a brain to compliment the body count. The remake takes everything that was imaginative about the original feature and reduces it to an ear-splitting energy drink commercial, topped off with some of the worst filmmaking decisions to be found at the multiplex this year. Yes, that’s right: Hollywood has allowed Paul W.S. Anderson to make another movie.

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Film Review: Hamlet 2

HAMLET 2 still

Watching Steve Coogan overact is like being pummeled bloody with a pillowcase packed tightly with frozen oranges. When he’s given carte blanche to eat up the frame, Coogan can be aggravating to behold, and “Hamlet 2” is always eager to let the British comic set the tone. It results in a thoroughly disheartening farce that doesn’t believe a joke is funny until it’s been indicated into fine dust.

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Film Review: The Longshots


Perhaps the most brilliant decision the producers of “The Longshots” made was to hold director Fred Durst’s credit from reveal until the end of the film, to minimize assured slack-jawed disbelief. The guy who gifted the world “Nookie” is making movies these days, and much like the music he created with band Limp Bizkit, Durst’s cinematic sensibilities are hackneyed, tiresome, and lack sorely needed rehearsal.

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Film Review: Transsiberian


It’s been a long time since the conceit of a train odyssey was used to backdrop a psychological thriller. Typically associated with cutting Hitchcockian overtones, filmmaker Brad Anderson looks to return a touch of discomfort back into the genre with “Transsiberian,” a glacial but easily consumed thriller played out in mysterious, remorseless locations.

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DVD Review: Virgin Territory


(Warning: This review contains nudity!)

Imagine a randy, ridiculous Monty Python film with the famous troupe on vacation, replaced with Hayden Christensen, Mischa Barton, and a half-asleep Tim Roth. It’s not a pretty picture, and “Virgin Territory” is a constant reminder that delicate tone and comedic heft should be placed in the assured hands of professionals, not handsome, young, marketable stars of dubious ability.

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Film Review: Mirrors


With the magnificent “High Tension” and his exhilarating remake of “The Hills Have Eyes,” director Alexandre Aja positioned himself as a genre innovator with unusually lucid ideas on how to return some fright to horror cinema. “Mirrors” is Aja stepping up to the big leagues, taking on his largest budget to date and working with an authentic Hollywood star. It’s a tricky position for Aja to find himself in, and the obscene pressure has blurred his once pristine vision for scares.

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Film Review: Star Wars: The Clone Wars


Out of all the astonishing sights and sounds plastered to the big screen by the George Lucas franchise juggernaut “Star Wars,” I think the last item on the average fan’s wish list of things to see was “Teen Girl Jedi.” Not that the inclusion of more female warriors is something to be shamed, but this puberty-bound knight is indicative of the infantilized experience put forth by “The Clone Wars.”

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Film Review: Jack Brooks: Monster Slayer


“Jack Brooks: Monster Slayer” is the type of predigested cult film that’s easier to admire than actually enjoy. A polite tip of the hat to “Evil Dead” and all things “Buffy,” this horror/comedy is lacking proper oomph in both categories, resulting in a movie of commendable purpose, but lackluster realization.

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