Archive for January, 2012

Oscar Outrages: Best Picture

Last week, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences trotted out its list of the nine best movies of the year. The selection ranges from the portentous — Terrence Malick’s theistic head trip “The Tree of Life” — to the cute but forgettable –“The Artist” — to the simply awful — “Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close.” The majority of these movies are middle-brow white elephants that are as self-serious as they are safe. Here is a list of a few arguably great, overlooked movies that didn’t play it safe.

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Indie Roundup: ‘Declaration of War’

Declaration of War” — France’s selection for an Academy Award this year — opens with a scruffily handsome young man who bares a passing resemblance to James Franco locking eyes with a pretty lass from across the room. He throws a peanut towards her and she catches it in her mouth. They meet, kiss, and realize with disbelief that they are named Romeo (Jeremie Elkaim) and Juliette (Valerie Donzelli). “Are we doomed to a terrible fate,” she muses. Continue reading ‘Indie Roundup: ‘Declaration of War’’

Indie Roundup: ‘Miss Bala’

Hollywood spectaculars are popular the world over not just because of their slick production values, gorgeous movie stars, or cutting-edge special effects; they’re popular because they’re imbued with a distinctly American form of optimism: No matter what hurdles lie before the hero, be they killer robots, machine-gun-toting mobsters, or the resident high school mean girl, she will through smarts, cunning, and luck master her fate and end up triumphant. Movies like Gerardo Naranjo’s grim, virtuoso thriller “Miss Bala” is a sharp reminder of just how much this Hollywood convention is little more than a cruel joke on millions of the poor and the powerless.

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‘Haywire’ Star Gina Carano Beats Up Some of Hollywood’s Leading Men

Steven Soderbergh’s latest movie, “Haywire,” opens with a bruised woman, Mallory (Gina Carano), casing a roadside truck stop from behind a snowbank. She enters the greasy spoon and takes a booth. Soon, Aaron (Channing Tatum) shows up. A few tense words are exchanged before he throws hot coffee in her face and starts a shockingly brutal beatdown. Once she regains her footing, however, she cleans his clock with ruthless efficiency. Of course, before he started acting, Tatum was a male stripper. Carano, however, was an American Gladiator and a mixed martial arts (MMA) champ. Not really a fair fight.
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Head to Head: ‘Underworld’ vs. ‘Resident Evil’

The first teaser for the latest “Resident Evil” movie premiered right on Yahoo! Movies just as “Underworld: Awakenings” hit the nation’s megaplexes. For those of you who haven’t been paying attention, “Resident Evil” is about a woman in a skin-tight outfit who likes to shoot things. And “Underworld” is about a woman in a skin-tight outfit who … likes to shoot things. We decided to compare the two surprisingly profitable franchises head to head:

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Indie Roundup: ‘We Need to Talk About Kevin’

The opening of Lynne Ramsay’s new movie, “We Need to Talk About Kevin,” shows a free-spirited woman, Eva Khatchadourian (played by Tilda Swinton), blissfully lost in the oceanic crowd of a European bacchanalia. Cut to the same woman, at some unspecified time later, now looking mousy-haired and rail thin, who meekly accepts a face slap from an enraged hausfrau and a house doused with paint by unseen vandals. The former woman is as confident and worldly as the later is haunted and broken. The transformation is so striking and complete that it is, no doubt, the reason why Swinton has received a Golden Globe nomination for best actress, and she might very well get the nod from the Academy this year.
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Indie Roundup: ‘A Separation’

Moviegoing audiences might be reluctant to venture into the January cold to go see a subtitled domestic drama set in Tehran with no music score, but, rest assured, “A Separation” is no grueling work of exotic miserablism. Director Asghar Farhadi has described the film as “a detective story without any detectives,” and that’s as apt a description of the flick as you’re likely to find. “A Separation” is a fascinatingly complex film told with the urgency of a Hollywood thriller. There have been few movies I’ve seen this past year that were more riveting, literally edge-of-your-seat riveting, than this one. Continue reading ‘Indie Roundup: ‘A Separation’’

January 2012

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