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Retro Active: Universal Soldier: Regeneration (2009)

2 December 2012 5:40 AM, PST

by Nick Schager

[This week's "Retro Active" pick is inspired by its sequel, the Jean-Claude Van Damme and Dolph Lundgren horror-actioner Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning]

For a franchise predicated on resurrection, it's an unexpected twist to find Universal Soldier: Regeneration reviving the long-dormant Jean-Claude Van Damme/Dolph Lundgren series by switching its focus from reanimation to cloning. Replication, however, does not breed derivation in John Hyams' 2009 direct-to-video gem, which ignores a handful of preceding sequels and picks up some time after Roland Emmerich's 1992 original, in which 'Nam soldiers Luc Deveraux (Van Damme) and Andrew Scott (Lundgren) were brought back to life as superhuman killing machines by the U.S. government. At the start of Regeneration, that covert project has shifted to cloning and modifying the deceased into unstoppable zombie warriors, and has fallen into the wrong hands courtesy of Dr. Colin (Kerry Shale), who's gone rogue and sold his services—namely, a behemoth dubbed Ngu (Andrei "The Pitbull" Arlovski)—to Commander Topov (Zahary Baharov), who's threatening to detonate a Chernobyl »

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To Romania With Love

30 November 2012 8:41 AM, PST

by Vadim Rizov

[Everybody in Our Family and Three Days Till Christmas screen in NYC as part of the Film Society of Lincoln Center's "Making Waves: New Romanian Cinema," beginning tonight through December 5.]

The major titles of the recent "Romanian New Cinema"—The Death of Mr. Lazarescu, Police, Adjective, 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days, the brief exchanges in the largely dialogue-less three hours of Aurora—have accustomed viewers to conversational interactions frequently taking the sudden form of often un-incited rudeness. The opening of Radu Jude's Everybody in Our Family seemingly represents similar terrain: sprawled in a half unmade bed, a man stifles his alarm. Finally sitting up and checking his phone, he mutters "Fuck you" to a voice mail. The question of who the "fucking cunt" being cursed is, at this stage, less notable than the man's hostility, already at full strength moments after waking.

Continued reading To Romania With Love...

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Interview: Kier-La Janisse

26 November 2012 8:38 AM, PST

by Steve Dollar

Montreal-based film critic and programmer Kier-La Janisse explores how her own life as an adopted child with disruptive behavioral issues is intricately wired to a particular strain of cinephilia in "House of Psychotic Women: An Autobiographical Topography of Female Neurosis in Horror and Exploitation Films" (Fab Press; $29.99). On one level, Janisse offers a spirited, incisive, and refreshingly plain-spoken analysis of movies that range from widely discussed auteurist psychodramas (3 Women, The Devils, Audition, Antichrist) to more furtive enthusiasms of the sort once tucked away in the back corner of the kind of video stores where she once worked: The Mafu Cage, with Carol Kane as the infantile, volatile half of a Sapphic sibling relationship with Lee Grant; or The Witch Who Came from the Sea, with Millie Perkins as a sexually abused child who grows up to be a serial-killing seductress with a mermaid tattooed across her belly. »

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