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Film Critic.
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Fulfilling the ambitions of his debut Brick, Rian Johnson crafts a scintillating neo-noir gem of existential quandaries and inescapable fatalism with Looper. In 2044, Joe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) works as a Looper – a mob assassin who, because it's too tough... Continue reading
Posted Sep 30, 2012 at Lessons of Darkness
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A taut, unnerving thematic follow-up to There Will Be Blood as well as the work of Stanley Kubrick, Paul Thomas Anderson's The Master investigates the line between bestiality and civility through the 1950 story of Naval veteran Freddie Quell (Joaquin... Continue reading
Posted Sep 13, 2012 at Lessons of Darkness
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Subpar material gets a tonal and aesthetic – and, by extension, thematic – boost from directorial virtuosity in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, David Fincher’s American remake of the Stieg Larsson best-seller that was first adapted for the screen... Continue reading
Posted Dec 13, 2011 at Lessons of Darkness
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Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is a film about death, and the dead men who willingly and hopelessly ensnare themselves in lies, subterfuge and detached amorality. Condensing John le Carré’s seminal 1974 spy novel (originally adapted into an Alec Guinness-headlined 1979... Continue reading
Posted Dec 12, 2011 at Lessons of Darkness
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Credit motion-capture technology for reinvigorating Steven Spielberg, who with The Adventures of Tintin (produced by Peter Jackson, who will direct its forthcoming sequel) recaptures the same buoyant, childlike B-movie zest that powered his first three Indiana Jones efforts. Never has... Continue reading
Posted Dec 12, 2011 at Lessons of Darkness
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Alexander Payne takes the easy way out time and again in The Descendants, a tale that wants to be mature but can’t help shortchanging its drama through constant reliance on its protagonist’s unimpeachable nobility. Lawyer Matt King (George Clooney) is... Continue reading
Posted Dec 12, 2011 at Lessons of Darkness
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Peeling back societal facades of cheerful propriety and political correctness to reveal the ugliness of human nature is Carnage’s somewhat familiar and clichéd aim, yet Roman Polanski’s adaptation of Yasmina Reza’s heralded play “God of Carnage” offsets its familiar thematic... Continue reading
Posted Oct 1, 2011 at Lessons of Darkness
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A mood of ominous psychotic dread and two finely calibrated performances successfully compensate for a slight final misstep in Take Shelter. Likely destined to be compared to Melancholia, another tale in which internal chaos threatens to manifest itself in apocalyptic... Continue reading
Posted Sep 30, 2011 at Lessons of Darkness
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Co-screenwriter Aaron Sorkin’s baseball variation on The Social Network, Moneyball focuses on another outsider-rebel-wunderkind determined to upend traditional social and business paradigms through technological innovation via the story of Billy Beane (Brad Pitt), the general manager of Major League Baseball’s... Continue reading
Posted Sep 30, 2011 at Lessons of Darkness
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Rise of the Planet of the Apes takes the predictable franchise-rebooting route, delivering a modern-day origin story about the ascension to intelligence and power of the planet’s simians. That climb up the evolutionary ladder comes courtesy of Will (James Franco),... Continue reading
Posted Sep 12, 2011 at Lessons of Darkness
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‘80s nostalgia has evolved from cheeky fun to putrid cultural stain, and Take Me Home Tonight merely furthers that progression, trotting out shoulder pads, big hair, Michael Jackson dance moves and Appetite for Destruction album covers as dim-witted signs of... Continue reading
Posted Sep 12, 2011 at Lessons of Darkness
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Brutal men in desperate situations are Nicolas Winding Refn’s (Bronson, the Pusher Trilogy, Valhalla Rising) stock and trade, a preoccupation that continues with Drive, the story of a nameless Hollywood stuntman and auto-mechanic (Ryan Gosling) who spends his evenings working... Continue reading
Posted Sep 12, 2011 at Lessons of Darkness
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Tom Tykwer dazzles the eye and dulls the mind with 3, the Run Lola Run director’s tedious promotion of a new identity-definition paradigm. In modern-day Berlin, long-time couple Hanna (Sophie Rois) and Simon (Sebastian Schipper) are struggling with a loss... Continue reading
Posted Sep 12, 2011 at Lessons of Darkness
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Everything goes viral in Contagion – most critically a rampant new disease that threatens to wipe the globe clean, but also fear, rumor, panic and information. Sharing with his Oscar-winning Traffic a multi-character, multi-focus structure, Steven Soderbergh’s pandemic thriller fixates... Continue reading
Posted Sep 12, 2011 at Lessons of Darkness
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Paul Rudd is a divine moron who brings peace and harmony to his secretly miserable sisters in Our Idiot Brother, a pleasant-enough trifle that ensnares itself in the uneasy middle ground between indie drama and dumb-guy comedy. The titular doofus... Continue reading
Posted Sep 12, 2011 at Lessons of Darkness
Nope, the mustache has been gone almost a year now, RIP.
Toggle Commented Aug 16, 2011 on Submarine (2010): C at Lessons of Darkness
1 reply
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Why even bother with the chitchat? Here are reviews from the past three months: The Village Voice: Glee: The 3D Concert Movie (Village Voice) Scheherazade, Tell Me A Story (Village Voice) The Smurfs (Village Voice) The Perfect Age of Rock... Continue reading
Posted Aug 15, 2011 at Lessons of Darkness
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Hoodlums get to be heroes for a night in Attack the Block, an alien invasion saga that evokes far more childlike Spielbergian wonder than this summer’s similar Super 8, yet nonetheless somewhat stumbles in attempting to generate an unnerving sense... Continue reading
Posted Jul 26, 2011 at Lessons of Darkness
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Errol Morris’ lightest, most amusing film since 1997’s Fast, Cheap & Out of Control, and yet nonetheless a companion piece to 2008’s Standard Operating Procedure in its investigation of media-filtered truth, Tabloid tells the truly outrageous tale of Joyce McKinney,... Continue reading
Posted Jul 12, 2011 at Lessons of Darkness
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Transformers: Dark of the Moon is a stunning apotheosis of many sorts – of supersized CG spectacle, of cruel and cavalier carnage, of sexist T&A and militaristic fetishism, of narrative inconsequentiality and crass stereotypes, and of size, scale and over-over-over-the-top... Continue reading
Posted Jun 30, 2011 at Lessons of Darkness
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Back behind the camera for his first feature since 2001’s Ghosts of Mars, John Carpenter serves up some sluggish and silly shock-scary horror with The Ward, a tale about the supernatural mysteries that engulf Kristen (Amber Heard) after she burns... Continue reading
Posted Jun 28, 2011 at Lessons of Darkness
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Hopelessly benign but still boisterous enough to deliver a mild buzz, Cedar Rapids details the efforts of goodie-two-shoes insurance salesman Tim (Ed Helms) to win his firm a coveted award – nabbed the past three years by his revered and... Continue reading
Posted Jun 28, 2011 at Lessons of Darkness
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A second-rate superhero receives a second-rate summer extravaganza in Green Lantern, the first big-screen adventure for DC Comics’ intergalactic do-gooder. Director Martin Campbell’s saga is one of creation, destruction and daddy issues, all revolving around a daredevil fighter pilot named... Continue reading
Posted Jun 24, 2011 at Lessons of Darkness
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A Welsh variation on Rushmore’s Max Fisher, 15-year-old Oliver Tate comes of age through a budding romance with classmate Jordana (Yasmin Paige) and his quest to save his parents’ (Noah Taylor and Sally Hawkins) marriage in Submarine, Richard Ayoade’s off-putting... Continue reading
Posted Jun 24, 2011 at Lessons of Darkness
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Red Riding Hood is nothing like Twilight – except, of course, for the fact that it’s directed by Catherine Hardwicke, tells a tween-targeted supernatural story of a young featureless beauty (Amanda Seyfried’s Valerie) caught in a love triangle with two... Continue reading
Posted Jun 24, 2011 at Lessons of Darkness