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September 2008

August 2008

Film Review: Kabluey

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“Kabluey” introduces the world to Scott Prendergast, who assumes nearly all production roles for this quirky feature. The movie has all the ornamentation of a strident indie comedy leading with braying irony, but Prendergast doesn’t chase alternative statements, he wants to make people laugh, and “Kabluey” is one of the more inventive, invigorating productions to come out of the industry’s lonely right field.

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Film Review: Frozen River

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“Frozen River” is one of those films that would be laughed out of the independent film scene if there wasn’t a mesmerizing lead performance to hold it together. The actress is Melissa Leo (“21 Grams,” “Homicide: Life on the Streets”), and her work here is stirring, haunting, and singlehandedly maintains a pitch-perfect tone of weathered anxiety the rest of “River” is all too quick to fumble.

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Film Review: Wrangler: Anatomy of an Icon

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Jack Wrangler was an adult film superstar in a way you don’t find anymore these days. He was a phenomenon that slowly enveloped the smut culture, constructing a name for himself through whispers and uncomfortably long, held gazes. When they write that they don’t make ‘em like they used to, they’re talking exclusively about Jack Wrangler.

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Film Review: What We Do Is Secret

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If The Germs were a seminal L.A. punk band who truly informed the scene with their destructive energy and subversive lyrics, then “What We Do Is Secret” is a botched representation of their seismic impression. Striving to become the definitive word on an explosion of raw musical and philosophical energy, “Secret” is mostly about lukewarm actors playing dress up, walking around in punk heritage boots they can’t stand up straight in.

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Film Review: Pineapple Express

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David Gordon Green is a fine director capable of extracting inconceivable moments of nuanced human behavior out of his motion pictures. He’s best with characters that hold dark secrets near their aching heart, habitually fascinated with the limits of reaction and temperament. I write the above with some confidence, since it’s painfully clear Green has no business directing comedies.

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Film Review: Bottle Shock

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The Judgment of Paris was a 1976 tasting competition that pitted the finest French wines against the latest and greatest from California. It was an event assembled to reinforce the might of the European palate, but what actually occurred during this historic tasting shook the wine industry to its core, and forever changed the reputation of American vintners.

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Film Review: The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2

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Well, it looks like the sisterhood is growing up, since the lead characters spend most of their new adventure trying to get out of their traveling pants instead of reflecting fondly on the significance of them. It’s a PG-13 world out there, people, and the sisterhood is finally growing up. It’s a shame the sequel’s screenwriting isn’t showing the same maturity.

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DVD Review: Slippery Slope

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“Slippery Slope” recalls Trey Parker’s 1998 farce “Orgazmo,” only without the comedic vigor and frat house entertainment value. Instead, “Slope” is a wacky comedy with a foundation in intellect, asking interesting questions of feminism between scenes of thrusting and Benny Hill-style undercranking (no joke, it's really in here). The mix is uncomfortable, but not completely unpleasant.

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Film Review: Swing Vote

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“Swing Vote” is a picture of such egregious obviousness, it even seeps into the casting. Kevin Costner as an all-American, beer-swilling loser? Stanley Tucci and Nathan Lane as reptilian political advisers? Dennis Hopper and Kelsey Grammer as spineless presidential candidates? George Lopez as a Mexican-American stereotype? All that seems to be missing is Mo’Nique as a sassy African-American secretary and Patrick Warburton as a butch CG-animated field mouse.

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