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May 2012

Film Review - LOL

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It’s almost impossible to decode the true intent of “LOL,” which is such an obnoxious and baffling viewing experience, clouding whatever teen angst authenticity it was striving for. A remake of a 2008 French feature starring Sophie Marceau, the original picture’s writer/director Lisa Azuelos has returned to helm the American take on the war between teens and adults, perhaps best qualified to film material she’s already tackled before. The challenge proves too insurmountable for the creator, with her update a choppy, confused observation of growing pains and adolescent insubordination, executed with a bizarre obliviousness to the toxicity of these characters and their extraordinarily superficial concerns begging for sympathy.

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Film Review - The Avengers

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After years of insides jokes, cameos, hints, and calculated introductions, it’s finally led to this. “The Avengers” pays off a promise made in 2008’s “Iron Man,” bringing together Marvel’s greatest superheroes (and two question marks) for a battle to save the Earth, after they’re done pummeling one another. A mildly clunky but largely soaring presentation of citywide devastation, costumed hero neuroses, and flamboyant evildoing, the feature gathers all the details and character quirks fans could want from a super-sized outing such as this. And who better to direct than a man with practically his own religion in the realm of geeklandia, Joss Whedon. Every ticket should come with a tube of smelling salts to keep the target demographic from passing out.

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Film Review - The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

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With such an esteemed cast and capable director, it’s hard to argue with anything “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” provides. The familiarity of the story’s revelations and relationships are a tad deflating, but the overall feature puts forth a great deal of heart and empathy, with emphasis on the aging process, rarely handled delicately in features. Although mildly comedic, “Marigold Hotel” is at its finest sitting back and allowing the gifted performers an opportunity to feel around the situations, usually discovering the most precise emotions to play. It’s far from a remarkable film, yet it strikes all the satisfying notes required to remain meaningful and entertaining.

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Film Review - Beauty is Embarrassing

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As a child, I adored the CBS Saturday morning program, “Pee-Wee’s Playhouse.” A phantasmagoria of cartoons, slapstick, and puppetry, the show was a miracle shot of creativity in a realm of glorified commercials, drilling into my brain with its purity of imagination and firm grasp on ridiculousness. At the time, I didn’t consider the personalities that drove the series alongside Paul Reubens, but as the years went by, revisiting “Pee-Wee’s Playhouse” exposed brilliant work emerging from multiple sources. One of those fountains of genius was Wayne White. While the playhouse festivities don’t define his career, it’s an excellent entry point into a snowballing mind always on the prowl for absurdity.

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Blu-ray Review - Death Stop Holocaust

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The Quentin Tarantino/Robert Rodriguez collaboration "Grindhouse" wasn't a box office smash when it was first released in 2007. However, that elaborate valentine to the pleasures of scrap yard cinema triggered a wave of true believers, with the wilds of low budget cinema suddenly populated with imitators of an admitted homage, each attempting to return a bit of the old school exhibition flavor to the contemporary moviegoing experience. With push of a button and the twirl of a knob, a feature shot this afternoon could suddenly resemble forgotten product lost to the blur of distribution 40 years ago, displaying severe print damage and offering exploitative plots that investigate the limits of extreme violence. Read the rest at Blu-ray.com


Blu-ray Review - Crows Zero

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"Crows Zero" requires the utmost in viewer concentration, though it never quite earns such devotion. An adaptation of Hiroshi Takahashi's best-selling manga, the feature is blizzard of names and motivations, creating an ideal sensation of screen immersion for fans of the original work, while outsiders are left to question the half-realized subplots and wild tonal changes. It's not a terribly interesting motion picture, though the effort has been dutifully colored by the insanely prolific director Takashi Miike (in the time I took the write this sentence, he just made another movie), who brings a loaded sense of style and intermittent blasts of ultraviolence to the idiosyncratic film. The helmer flexes his visual muscles on occasion, slapping the screen with chaotic fight choreography and exaggerated character designs, but he's oddly powerless when it comes to the glacial pace of "Crows Zero," unable to bring it up to the awe-inspiring speed a few superlative scenes hint at. Read the rest at Blu-ray.com