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"Gun Hill Road" Completes Its Detour to DVD

2 March 2013 8:36 PM, PST

Within the last few years, gay culture and its acceptance within the larger American consciousness has been a major focus in independent film. So much so, in fact, that a set of clichés exists within the genre of films that deal with the sexual awakenings of gay youths and adults alike. Great films don’t necessarily avoid clichés, but they attempt to bring a new dimension to them when they have to use them, the poor films line them up like dominos and hope that they can hit each one in rapid succession. Gun Hill Road is the latter type, and goes after a story of a Latino father with traditional values returning home from prison to find out about the transsexual lifestyle his son adopted while he was away. A few decent performances keep Gun Hill Road from exploding in the director’s face, but horrendous characterization make it »

- Lex Walker

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"Nature Calls" But Doesn't Really Have Anything to Say

2 March 2013 8:23 PM, PST

A scouting-themed comedy starring Patton Oswalt and Johnny KnoxvilleNature Calls is about a failing scoutmaster looking to honor his dad and former scoutmaster's legacy by having one last big scouting trip. David Gordon Green produced Nature Calls, and it's not unlike his previous producing/directing efforts in that there are adults cursing at children. Historically, this is comedy I like, but typically only if the cursing is done by Danny McBride. Adults and kids involved in bad behavior is always a plus, but everything feels stilted here. However, the kids are quite good, especially Regan Mizrahi as Kent, who revels in hitting on Maura Tierney's character.

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- Robert Ottone

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"Phantom" Probably Won't Haunt You

2 March 2013 8:05 PM, PST

Going into Phantom, I was secretly hoping I was actually going to watch "Død Kalm," from season 2 of the X-files. In this spellbinding episode, Scully and Mulder board an American naval vessel in the chilly throes of the Norwegian sea that’s mysteriously been abandoned by half its crew. While on the ship, the agents find themselves vulnerably enmeshed in an unexplained phenomenon: they, like the one surviving member of the crew, experience rapid aging. Every ten minutes, they age ten years. Before long, the skin hangs from their faces, they grow weak and their breathing is difficult. Naturally, this presents a serious obstacle to their investigation - but lends itself to some of the sweetest, most tender Scully-Mulder interchanges in all of the X Files.

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- Kelsa Trom

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You'd Do Well To Accept "Stoker"'s Invitation

1 March 2013 9:38 AM, PST

Stoker is a highly intriguing film. It expertly combines various aspects and themes from family dramas, psychological thrillers, and horror films to tell a stunning story of murder and familial bonds. It also works as a lavish visual and sonic feast, giving the film various layers for enjoyment. And with its stellar cast, Stoker is a sumptuous film that lends itself to repeat viewings.

After Richard Stoker (Dermot Mulroney) dies under suspicious circumstances (at least in the gossip circles), his mysterious, unknown brother Charlie (Matthew Goode) appears to help Richard’s grieving family. Richard’s wife Evelyn (Nicole Kidman) is emotionally unstable at her loss, but finds comfort in the charming and seductive Charlie. But it is actually Richard’s daughter India (Mia Wasikowska) that Charlie finds most fascinating. India is an introspective young woman who was very close to her father. She is mistrusting of Charlie because his arrival »

- John Keith

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"21 & Over" Fondly Remembers A Time That Didn't Happen

1 March 2013 7:45 AM, PST

Fade in:

Butts.

It is always nice when a film is honest about its nature. From the earliest scene, 21 & Over rarely minces words. Evidenced by the title, the picture floats upon abundant spirits and the resulting debaucherous hijinks indicative of young adulthood. 21 & Over comes from writers-directors Jon Lucas and Scott Moore, who scripted The Hangover (2009), making the kinship more direct, as if it were obtuse before. However, Lucas and Moore’s latest flick features a clever turn of an old plot device, along with wittier dialogue that transforms college into a more desirable experience than the audience remembers.

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- Steven M. Paquin

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"Dead Space 3" Starts & Ends with a Whimper & Not With a Bang

28 February 2013 1:56 PM, PST

Dead Space has always understood the concept of a memorable opening.  The first with the helplessness of watching your crewmates die before fleeing for your own life.  The second with a psych ward descending into chaos while Isaac is bound in a strait-jacket.  Maybe that's why I should've been more worried when Dead Space 3 opens with such a whimper.

The opening displays the general problem with Dead Space 3.  The plot and writing is just horrid.  I'm lost in where to begin with how poorly told the narrative is.  I loathed when Isaac's helmet came off, because it meant I had to hear people speak.  Every character is forgettable.  Every decision they make is senseless.  Every word they utter is juvenile.  There is not a likable person in this game.

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- Eric Godfrey

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"Seeds Of Destruction" Are Planted In The Screenplay

28 February 2013 10:40 AM, PST

Is there anything less frightening than plants? Probably, but they still rarely make good villains. The qualities that make a good monster (strength, agility, a defined predatory instinct) are decidedly lacking, and attempts to give them to things like seed pods and vines rarely work out. Unfortunately, Seeds Of Destruction is unable to solve this problem, and frequently manages to make it worse by applying pseudo-religious context when a deranged scientist would work just fine. Granted, there is a mad scientist, and a weird lab, and some nationwide destruction, but an entirely too serious tone stops them from coming together into something entertaining.

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- Anders Nelson

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"Seven Psychopaths" Will Make You Laugh and Maybe Steal Your Dog

28 February 2013 10:14 AM, PST

Screenwriters writing movies about writers is one of Hollywood’s ultimate conceits and more often than not it goes off in strange directions of meta storytelling ultimately lost on the broader audience most studios want to address. Martin McDonagh’s follow-up to In Bruges, Seven Psychopaths, plays chicken with that line, dancing back and forth across it with a gleeful hysteria that manages to wrest plenty of laughs from the concept thanks to a tightly packed cast of Sam Rockwell, Colin Farrell, Christopher Walken, and Woody Harrelson who deliver the convention-defying dialogue with ease. Does the film require you to have some level of familiarity with the basic action and western films of Hollywood? Sure, but that’s a pretty safe prerequisite for a film to demand these days, and the fact that it plays off them brilliantly with a mix of subtle and over-the-top performances makes Seven Psychopaths all the more enjoyable a comedy. »

- Lex Walker

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"Freaky Deaky" Spends Too Much Time Revving Its Engine

27 February 2013 10:41 PM, PST

Freaky Deaky is another adaptation of an Elmore Leonard’s writing (Justified, 3:10 to Yuma). This one, helmed by director/screenwriter Charles Matthau (son of acclaimed actor Walter Matthau), is a wacky comedy about bomb-making radicals in 1974—as opposed to a western story like other works of Leonard’s. While the ensemble cast is amusing, there the tone of the film is a little too freaky-deaky to engage the viewer.

Protagonist Chris Mankowski (Billy Burke) gets transferred out of the bomb squad (after a botched job) and sent to work sex crimes. There he gets involved with Ginger (Sabina Gadecki) who claims that the wealthy alcoholic Woody Ricks (Crispin Glover) raped her at one of his lavish parties. Woody’s conniving chauffeur/personal valet/bartender/lawyer Donnell Lewis (Michael Jai White) gets Chris suspended for interfering, which only serves to make Chris more determined to prove Woody’s guilt. Meanwhile, »

- John Keith

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"Nobody Gets Out Alive", Or With Their Dignity

27 February 2013 8:51 PM, PST

“I just want to clarify that I don’t have Down’s Syndrome.”

Oh the horror. Low budget movies. This one is titled Nobody Gets Out Alive (2013) written and directed by Jason Christopher. Will anyone get out alive? Yes. So much for titles. Jenn (Jen Dance) is just out of the hospital after having a nervous breakdown or something and her friend Michele (Chelsey Garner) organizes a trip out to the woods. Michele hopes to be proposed to by Mike (Shaun Paul Costello). They’re joined by a poor man’s Jay Mohr named Deron (David J. Bonner), a Zack Galifinakas impersonator Jared (Chris Ready), a Tara Reid hopeful called Angie (Nikki Bell), and a pointlessly aggressive jerk called Danny (Matthew Nadu). For some reason, the murderer, Mr. Isth (Brian Gallagher)—worst evil name ever—kills the people who run a convenience store. Anyway, the gang go out to the »

- Jason Ratigan

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"Skyfall" Rises Miles Above Most of the Bond Franchise

27 February 2013 2:08 PM, PST

That Sam Mendes’s Skyfall can credibly be suggested as one of the best films in a 23-film old franchise says a lot, both positively and negatively, about the James Bond series. 23 films up on the big screen over the course of the last 50 years; it’s a monumental achievement unrivaled by any other big-budget series out there, and in the process it’s accrued a very passionate fanbase who’ve grown up and old with the films. Truth be told, that fandom is a bit dubiously deserved when you weigh the few excellent films of the series against the rest, especially when two of the best were made in the last 7 years. With Martin Campbell’s Casino Royale in 2006, a new Bond was born in the form of Daniel Craig, and the groundwork was laid for Sam Mendes’s Skyfall – arguably the most beautifully shot Bond ever made. Skyfall »

- Lex Walker

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Please Bury "So Undercover" Deep, Deep Underground

27 February 2013 10:07 AM, PST

Since leaving Disney Channel's Hannah Montana, Miley Cyrus has tried her hardest to distance herself from her wholesome image. She pole-danced on an ice cream truck, played a bratty teenager in The Last Song, and recently wore a strapless bra as a shirt on Leno. Now, I'm not interested in shaming Cyrus or her personal decisions because I can only imagine what it must have been like to grow up in the spotlight. She can wear whatever she wants to wear, and regardless of their quality, there are plenty of great actors who got their starts in Nicholas Sparks films. In the midst of this awkward period, though, Cyrus was in one of the ugliest, most anti-woman movies I have ever seen wrapped up as a Legally Blonde knock-off, the straight-to-dvd “comedy” So Undercover.

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- Rachel Kolb

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Even the Lowest Bar of Expectation Was Too Much for "Night of the Tentacles" to Grasp

27 February 2013 9:04 AM, PST

I recently reviewed a film titled Bath Salt Zombies, an incredibly low budget (and low quality) horror-comedy from multitasking cult filmmaker Dustin Wayde Mills. Despite the film’s various faults (and trust me, there were many), my overall impression was rather positive; the cast and crew’s lack of filmmaking prowess was somewhat canceled out by the impression that they clearly had a great deal of giddy enthusiasm for what they were doing.

However, Night of the Tentacles, which I hoped would entertain me in the same ridiculous way, did not measure up to the incredibly low bar set by Bath Salt Zombies, which is saying a lot. The films share much of the same cast, including goofy star Brandon Salkil as Dave, a lonely artist who spends his days jerking off to his pregnant neighbor and his nights creating “fantasy erotica” for other people to jerk off to. It »

- Lee Jutton

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"Searching For Sugar Man" Finds More Than It's Looking For

26 February 2013 11:23 PM, PST

Deep down, somewhere in a dark night of the soul, guys like Bob Dylan and Mick Jagger must feel like sell-outs. These moments are probably brief (and easily undone by mountains of cocaine), but the fact remains that they’ve been projecting an image for the better part of their careers, which may or may not reflect the men that they were when they began. For someone like Rodriguez though, who produced two brilliant albums that never went anywhere, the money was never there, but there was never a question of authenticity. As Searching for Sugar Man documents, that legacy is much more difficult to perpetuate, but far more compelling.

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- Anders Nelson

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"Blood" Doesn't Stain The BSG Legacy

26 February 2013 9:36 PM, PST

In time, Battlestar Galactica may come to be known as the definitive television show of its decade. While lacking the critical stature of something like The Wire, its engagement with its time period was as direct and nuanced as anything in television or film, while its ensemble cast of characters and well-constructed universe gave it a fanbase as dedicated as any in the media space. It stands to reason, then, that the powers that be would try to expand the brand with spin-offs and tie-ins such as this one. Blood And Chrome doesn’t significantly expand the Battlestar universe, it certainly doesn’t take away from it.

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- Anders Nelson

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Tour Dates Announced for Goldroom, James McCartney, Kate Nash, & WatchTheDuck

26 February 2013 3:22 PM, PST

It's good to take in a live concert once in awhile, whether it's just to experience some new artists or to lend your monetary support to them directly. In the coming months a number of established and up and coming acts are making their way across this fair country and should they be coming to a city near you we encourage you to catch them. Four such artists are Goldroom, James McCartney, Kate Nash, and WatchTheDuck. Each of them has a distinctly different sound, so no matter what you're in to, at least one of these artists will likely appeal to you. To help you find that out, we've included clips of their music along with the tour dates to help you figure that out.

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- Lex Walker

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New Posters for "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2", "Monsters University" & More

26 February 2013 2:11 PM, PST

It's a big day for new poster releases with a number of notable upcoming features releasing new art on the web this afternoon. Among them is the sequel Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2, continuing the story from the memorably funny 2009 animated feature by Phil Lord and Chris Miller. The poster has a great riff on The Lost World: Jurassic Park and makes it pretty clear we're getting a bigger helping of animalistic food than we did the first time. Also new today is a poster for Pixar's Monsters Inc. prequel (of sorts) Monsters University, Derek Cianfrance's The Place Beyond the Pines (starring Bradley Cooper and Ryan Gosling), and Antoine Fuqua's Olympus has Fallen with Gerard Butler, Aaron Eckhart, and Angela Bassett.

To check out all the posters, read on.

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- Lex Walker

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Classic Film-Noir "Laura" Doesn't Feel Classically Film-Noir

26 February 2013 1:08 PM, PST

You don’t see many film noirs nowadays, so to get your fix you usually have to dive into the vaults of studios and pick out a hard-boiled detective flick from way back when. In an effort to make that easier and to cash in on annual Oscar-fever, Fox has released Otto Preminger’s 1944 Laura a film that loosely qualifies as a noir but certainly deserves the recognition it received for its beautiful cinematography, the very quality which also makes it an ideal transfer for Blu-ray. Laura might not be the traditional film noir of cleverly lit rooms or a strong femme fatale, but it’s a compelling enough mystery with some strong character performances that makes it a worthwhile watch from start to finish.

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- Lex Walker

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Wintry Thriller "Deadfall" Has Eric Bana at his Best

26 February 2013 12:44 PM, PST

Director Stefan Ruzowitzky’s Deadfall is the kind of independently produced thriller that brims with a surprisingly good cast, has enough excitement and tension to keep it churning through its crime story without missing a beat, and generally has a high enough production value to not lose its audience on the details. Yet chances are you never knew it existed thanks to a teeny-tiny (if not completely non-existent) ad campaign and a limited theatrical run late last year that probably didn’t even put it in a theater near you. It’s a shame really, because even if Deadfall isn’t perfect, it features one of the best performances by Eric Bana in years and has what it takes to find an audience and please it, if only it got the chance.

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- Lex Walker

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Even Weak Episodes of "Archer" are Funnier Than Many Other Shows at Their Best

26 February 2013 9:05 AM, PST

The third season of FX’s Archer got off to an irregular start, airing a standalone 3-part story in September that would link the traumatic events of the second season’s closing with the rest of the third season, which wouldn’t air until mid-January and would otherwise begin with things back to their normal, dysfunctional ways. The September episodes were, quite simply, hilarious and a definite high-point for the series with a number of running gags throughout it (like the use of idioms) that gave it lots of re-watch potential—which was good, because fans would have to do so for the next three months. By the time January came around fans were more than ready for some new hilarity, but the third season wasn’t always up to the challenge.

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- Lex Walker

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