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Wednesday, Nov 27, 2013
If there’s anybody who’s untroubled by the invasion of Iraq, it’s Donald Rumsfeld. Just ask him.

Of the three men who led an unprepared America into the Iraq quagmire, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld had less of a say in the invasion than either Vice President Dick Cheney or President George W. Bush. But of the three, Rumsfeld is the one you would want to sit in the chair across from Errol Morris.


In The Unknown Known, Rumsfeld shows time and again why he’s a perfect subject for another of Morris’s documentary investigations into American military adventurism and hubris. For one, he’s the sharpest verbalist of the three. For another, he’s willing to tangle with other points of view; though not necessarily concede an inch of ground. If the film can’t compare in the end to 2003’s The Fog of War, that’s because Rumsfeld doesn’t appear to have had the come-to-Jesus moment about Iraq that Robert McNamara had about his role in the disaster that was the Vietnam War. Given the placidly combative figure presented here, that moment will probably never come.


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Wednesday, Nov 6, 2013
The fanboys foam at the mouth over recent comments made by David Cronenberg regarding the (oddly) beloved Stanley Kubrick creepshow.

Over the last few weeks, websites and critics have been offering up their often considered opinions on what was/is the Best Horror Film of All Time. Hey, it was October, and Halloween, after all. For many, it’s William Friedkin’s Satanic powerhouse, The Exorcist, while other have mentioned John Carpenter’s Halloween or any number of George Romero zombie films. And then there is the Kubrick contingent, a growing consensus that the masterful auteur’s adaptation of Stephen King’s The Shining stands as the most terrifying film ever. Granted, there’s also an equally vocal ‘minority’ who believes that sentiment is hogwash (yours truly included), but for the vast majority of VCR raised fans, the story of Jack and Wendy Torrance, the gifted little boy Danny, and the haunted Overlook Hotel represents the pinnacle of onscreen scares.


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Wednesday, Oct 23, 2013
Those who can't see 12 Years a Slave for what it is are destined to deny its import. If it needs to "exploit" a subject to get people to pay attention, so be it.

Over the last few days, an interesting discussion has broken out over Steve McQueen’s masterful 12 Years a Slave. Aside from the blogsphere fact-checking and critical deniers (it’s impossible to believe that there are some people who actually hate this film), one of the most interesting arguments have come from people who believe that the movie is just… too violent. In fact, one of the most vocal opponents, AP writer Christy Lemire, recently said that, for her, the level of abuse and torture levied upon main character Solomon Northup and his indentured kind was nothing short of exploitation. While not venturing further with this analysis, it seems that she, along with several other members of the cinematic Fourth Estate, have been turned off by McQueen’s desire to emphasize the offensives committed in the name of “State Rights” in this warts-and-all overview of America pre-Civil War.


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Monday, Sep 16, 2013
In the past, when the studio has sent out its legal legions to stop what it saw as unwarranted use of their intellectual property, they were viewed as bullies. With Escape from Tomorrow, they could start to alter that perception.

It’s finally going happen. Ever since the Awards were handed out at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, attendees and those who follow the circuit with interest have wondered if Randy Moore’s surreal psychological “thriller” Escape from Tomorrow would ever see the light of day. Yes, the subject matter was controversial (the film centers on a vacationing father who appears to be having a nervous breakdown) but not in the way you think. There’s no sex or deviant NC-17 behavior. Instead, the reason many were concerned about the movie’s eventual release was because Moore, utilizing a guerilla filmmaking technique to realize his vision, set the entire film inside Disney’s theme parks, almost guaranteeing that the litigious House of Mouse would be stopping any type of distribution.


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Wednesday, Sep 11, 2013
Kon-Tiki, a joint Norwegian and Hollywood venture, is the filmic version of the Millais painting. It’s romantic and hokey and about as subtle as a Norman Rockwell or a movie like Kick-Ass, but it’s a beautiful movie nonetheless.

“It can be done!” lisps the blonde, blue-eyed Thor Heyerdahl (Pål Hagen) to a skeptical academic geographer. It’s 1947, and the young Norwegian ethnographer has come to New York City to persuade The National Geographic Society that the Pacific Islands were settled by ancient peoples from South America who traveled across the ocean on balsa wood rafts. The prevailing theory, based on a variety of genetic, linguistic, and physical evidence, was that the settlers sailed in from Asia, but Heyerdahl is convinced otherwise.


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