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2 items from 2012

[Review] Contraband

13 January 2012 5:30 AM, PST | The Film Stage | See recent The Film Stage news »

Judging by the advertisements for Contraband, I expected to watch a half-baked actioner with big beats and little brains (let alone heart). Instead the film, a remake of the Icelandic Reykjavik-Rotterdam and with a cast member as director, is a more than capable action picture, filled with fun small moments and a tight script that whisks us from the unmistakable charm of New Olreans onto the high-seas and into the high stakes world of illegal contraband.

Chris Farraday (a fully-engaged Mark Wahlberg) was one of the best runners of contraband in the delta, a fact reiterated more than a few times in the opening scene at a former crew member (Lukas Hass)’s wedding. But now he’s just a regular Joe, living with his wife Kate (Kate Beckinsale) and his two kids, setting up security systems to keep people like himself out of homes. While Chris is out of the game, »

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Blu-ray Review: ‘Straw Dogs’ Remake Fails to Equal Power of Original Film

5 January 2012 8:59 AM, PST | | See recent news »

Chicago – The 2011 remake of Sam Peckinpah’s galvanizing 1971 classic is a film destined to appeal to no one. It’s not poorly made, and the writer/director Rod Lurie is gifted at crafting suspenseful morality tales (such as the under-appreciated “Nothing But the Truth”). But it’s difficult to understand why Lurie would bother putting his personal stamp on a picture that he considers repugnant.

By taking the moral high ground and cutting out the original film’s offensive content, Lurie has entirely lost the point of Peckinpah’s tale, and instead veered into severely hypocritical territory. If “Straw Dogs” isn’t about the animalistic nature of man, then what’s left to explore? It’s like draining the anti-Semitism out of “Triumph of the Will.” Lurie has essentially taken Peckinpah’s blueprint and morphed it into one of those maddening “Get the Hell Out Of There” idiot plots inhabited »

- (Adam Fendelman)

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