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Simon Abrams 

Film, "Deadfall": Boring Family Dramas Are All Alike

"Deadfall": Boring Family Dramas Are All Alike

Distinguished only by its fantastic ensemble cast — including Kate Mara and Treat Williams — Stefan Ruzowitzky's Deadfall just isn't manic enough to be memorable. The sleepy thriller follows a pair of psychopathic siblings, Liza (Olivia Wilde) and Addison (Eric…
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Film, "Life of Pi": Irrfan Khan Forges a Cross-Cultural Career

"Life of Pi": Irrfan Khan Forges a Cross-Cultural Career

"I can't think of a more pathetic situation for an actor than to do a film and not connect to it," Irrfan Khan says. "And I pray to God that I never face that situation." Khan might not be one…
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Film, "The Other Son": Forced and Uncomfortable Familial Drama

"The Other Son": Forced and Uncomfortable Familial Drama

Ham-fisted dialogue and clichéd characterizations trump genuine chemistry in The Other Son, a contrived Franco-Israeli drama about two 18-year-olds, an Israeli and a Palestinian, accidentally switched at birth. Joseph Silberg (Jules Sitruk), a wannabe singer, and Yacine Al Bezaaz (Mehdi…
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Film, Feature Starship Wachowski Dares You to Leave Your Pod

Starship Wachowski Dares You to Leave Your Pod

It's a Sunday afternoon in New York, and Tom Tykwer and the filmmakers formerly known as the Wachowski Brothers are talking about Zardoz, that odd and ambitious 1974 science fiction drama most infamous for featuring a gun-vomiting godhead and Sean…
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Film, "Wuthering Heights": Brooding in Perspective

"Wuthering Heights": Brooding in Perspective

English filmmaker Andrea Arnold's atypical, impressionistic approach to Emily Brontë's Wuthering Heights is her adaptation's main hook. As with Fish Tank and Red Road, Arnold's last two feature-length dramas, the new Wuthering Heights is very much about the act of…
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Film, "Excuse Me for Living": No Excuses for This Drivel

"Excuse Me for Living": No Excuses for This Drivel

Excuse Me for Living, sophomore writer/director and first-time producer Ric Klass' wracked therapy comedy, is neither so charming nor humane that it justifies lead actor Tom Pelphrey's consistent leering smirk. Pelphrey plays Dan, a cookie-cutter playboy who pissed away his…
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Film, Feature Genndy Tartakovsky Still Goes it Alone With "Hotel Transylvania"

Genndy Tartakovsky Still Goes it Alone With "Hotel Transylvania"

"I hate realism," director Genndy Tartakovsky said last week over the phone. "In America especially, we're very narrow-minded as far as animation goes. There is only one kind of movie, and that's that big, family-oriented, four-quadrant, please-everyone kind of film.…
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Film, "Dredd 3D": Judge, Jury, and [Insert Explosion]

"Dredd 3D": Judge, Jury, and [Insert Explosion]

Typically, the creators of comic book adaptations assume that ingratiating themselves to anyone unfamiliar with their characters/properties demands boilerplate origin stories where protagonists exhaustively declare who they are in no uncertain terms. This is, thankfully, not true of Dredd, whose…
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Film, "Somewhere Between": Flubbing the Adoption Issue

"Somewhere Between": Flubbing the Adoption Issue

As the documentary equivalent of a group character study, Somewhere Between isn't as sharply focused as you might hope. Director Linda Goldstein Knowlton (The World According to Sesame Street) never delves far enough into her subjects' stories for Somewhere Between…
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Film, Feature David France: ACT UP in the Plague Years

David France: ACT UP in the Plague Years

"Death wasn't being responded to as a public health problem," David France says. "It was dealt with with sniggers. It was left to religious leaders to explain or respond to the epidemic. And they responded by calling it the wrath…
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Film, Feature Falling Man: David Cronenberg's Vision of the Cosmopolis

Falling Man: David Cronenberg's Vision of the Cosmopolis

One of the most interesting things about Cosmopolis, writer/director David Cronenberg's extraordinary adaptation of Don DeLillo's novel by the same name, is that it's based on the first script Cronenberg has both written and shot since 1999's eXistenZ. Additionally, Cronenberg's…
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Film, David Koepp: The Writer/Director at the End of Civilization

David Koepp: The Writer/Director at the End of Civilization

David Koepp writes, and now directs, superior B-movies. This is an admirable and tough-to-master skill given how few major movie studios are willing to take chances on films with lower budgets that don't employ a found-footage gimmick or generally look…
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Film, "Hope Springs": Rom-Com Doesn't Practice Tolerance It Preaches

"Hope Springs": Rom-Com Doesn't Practice Tolerance It Preaches

Although the tone of Steve Carell's couples-counseling character in Hope Springs is consistently placid and even-handed, it's also tellingly vague. Hope Springs might appear more contemplative than your average studio-produced rom-com, but that's only because it's atypically concerned with an…
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