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Friday, Oct 24, 2014
That's some view... of modern marriage.

So… a man runs away from an impending avalanche, leaving his wife and two young children behind.


That’s it. That’s the basis for this talky, incomprehensibly narrow minded “view of modern marriage” being touted as some brilliantly enlightened masterpiece. Indeed, Force Majeure (Latin for “superior force”, though typically translated as “unavoidable accident”) is making the arthouse rounds in preparation for an end of the year run at the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar next February and what an over-praised pile of yellow snow it is.


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Friday, Oct 17, 2014
Even with all its XXX gimmickry, Nymph()maniac remains grounded in character. From someone like Von Trier, we'd expect nothing less, and we even get a lot more.

Did we really need more? Did we really need to see a graphic self-abortion, male genitals in all manner of pre/post sexual release? Did we need more conversations between title “subject” Joe (Charlotte Gainsbourg in the present, Stacy Martin in flashback) and her Good Samaritan “therapist” Seligman (Stellan Skarsgård)?


After viewing Lars Von Trier’s director’s cut of Nyph()maniac, packing at least 40 more minutes of provocative button pushing, the answer is an enthusiastic “Yes!” Those already inclined to dislike the film won’t find anything new to reverse their opinion. Those who found the director’s dissection of the fantasies and failings of a life devoted to sex interesting will be pleased with the additions, if not 100 percent convinced of their necessity.


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Friday, Oct 17, 2014
It's the brutality of Saving Private Ryan without the jingoistic flag-waving, the one-two punch of Clint Eastwood's Greatest Generation epics sans the strident moralizing.

As it rattles through the countryside, its defensive armor pocked by dozens of mortar and bullet marks, one can tell that Fury has seen its fair share of fighting. As a tank trying to clear a path to Berlin for Allied troops during the final desperate days of World War II, it’s also safe to say that there’s a suicide mission quality to the crew’s purpose, even with assurances from Staff Sergeant Don “Wardaddy” Collier (Brad Pitt) that he will keep them safe.


So far, he’s been more or less successful. While he recently lost his side gunner, our hardboiled hero has managed to keep the low IQ likes of mechanic Grady “Coon-Ass” Travis (Jon Bernthal), driver Cpl. Trini “Gordo” Garcia (Michael Pena), and artilleryman Boyd “Bible” Swan (Shia LaBeouf) alive. They’ve all been overwhelmed by the recent loss, making newcomer Norman Ellison’s (Logan Lerman) acclimation into this group all the more difficult.


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Friday, Oct 17, 2014
Like a hack tunesmith that keeps rewriting the same melodies over and over again, hoping his legion of fans don't notice the ruse, we've heard this Sparks song before.

When I was a kid, they were called Harlequin Romances. The famous imprint, which used jacked-up male models in suggestively sexy painted cover shots with their target demo: women who read. The covers provided a kind of softcore titillation, allowing the lonely and/or literate a chance to fantasize their otherwise ordinary and uneventful life away. There, within the pages of its latest period piece pillow fight, a female could find her Prince Charming, her Royal Soldier, her ephemeral soulmate, earning a love that would sacrifice itself for her far more important wants and needs.


While names like Barbara Carlton and Barbara Taylor Bradford guaranteed sales, most of these novels where scrivener pulp, formulaic and flawed as both works of art and examples of the long form narrative craft. Still, they brought in the bucks, and with them, a fanbase always eager for more. Then, cable TV took over, introducing a little something called Lifetime to the lonely hearted. Within its gender-specific programming was a place for such specious escapes. Decades later, the network’s name has replaced the jester-based original for boo-hoo, bodice heaving bragging rights.


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Friday, Oct 10, 2014
Dracula Untold is terrible. It should be subtitled Dracula Unnecessary.

Who knew? Who knew that Count Dracula was, at one time, a pretty decent guy. A bit morose and damaged from a stint as a child soldier for a marauding Turk, but as an adult, a nobleman with a kind heart, a compassionate manner, and a devotion to his people. Yes, Prince Vlad was a good person, plagued by a kingdom filled with whiners, but still able to rise above the rabble to do what’s right to maintain his 15th century sovereignty.


Doesn’t quite jive with your memories of the “monster”, does it? That’s because Universal is being run by a bunch of jealous desk jockeys who’ve taken one look at what Disney and Marvel have created via their vast superhero universes and phases and have shouted strongly “Yes, please!” And why not? The House of Mouse and its billion dollar acquisition have seen their bottom line increase as many zeroes, if not more, based on such a plan. Besides, if they can make Maleficent a misunderstood moneymaker, why not the former Prince of Darkness?


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