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Women with swords: King Hu and the Art of Wuxia

Decades before women took center stage in the one-two punch of Ang Lee's Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill , King Hu (1932-1997; the subject of a retrospective at the HFA) put swords in the hands of a soaring heroine in Come Drink with Me.
By: BRETT MICHEL  |  March 12, 2013


Review: Emperor

Yes, Tommy Lee Jones plays the "supreme commander" of the US forces in this historical drama from Peter Webber ( Girl with a Pearl Earring ) that takes place after the Japanese surrender in World War II, and the Oscar winner puts in another towering performance.
By: BRETT MICHEL  |  March 12, 2013


Review: 21 And Over

As one of the Asian stereotypes in this hit-or-(mostly)-miss comedy from writer/directors Jon Lucas and Scott Moore says, "Fuck kids these days. Every one of you is drunk, stupid, and fat."
By: BRETT MICHEL  |  March 05, 2013


Review: The Last Exorcism Part II

Now that the shaky-cam nonsense has been left behind, what remains are textureless, overlit, sub-TV-quality visuals that only accentuate the fact that our protagonist, Nell Sweetzer (Ashley Bell), is at least a decade older than the 17-year-old exorcised sect-escapee that she's playing.
By: BRETT MICHEL  |  March 06, 2013


Review: Jack The Giant Slayer

Stop me if you've heard this one before: a farm boy dreams of adventure, finds it, and falls in love with a princess along the way. (For everyone's sake, let's just hope she's not his sister.)
By: BRETT MICHEL  |  March 06, 2013


Review: Dark Skies

"Two possibilities exist: either we are alone in the universe or we are not. Both are equally terrifying."
By: BRETT MICHEL  |  February 26, 2013


Review: A Place At The Table

Directors Kristi Jacobson and Lori Silverbush cover a lot of ground in their heartbreaking documentary examining the hunger experienced by nearly 50 million Americans, but at less than 90 minutes, it feels a bit overstuffed.
By: BRETT MICHEL  |  February 27, 2013


Review: Sansho the Bailiff + The Ballad of Narayama

Japanese masters
When Japan's Kenji Mizoguchi died in 1956 at the age of 58, fellow filmmaker Akira Kurosawa remarked that "in the death of Mizoguchi, Japanese film lost its truest creator."  
By: BRETT MICHEL  |  February 20, 2013


Review: The Last Reef 3D: Cities Beneath The Sea

The Last Reef , like Cameron's environmental epic, is the vehicle for a message, a call for cutting carbon emissions that are destroying the Earth's coral reefs — home to wondrous life forms, including crocodile fish, giant sea worms, and Finding Nemo –fan favorite, the clown fish — as the seas become more acidic.
By: BRETT MICHEL  |  February 13, 2013


Review: Stand Up Guys

Has Al Pacino ever looked so small?
By: BRETT MICHEL  |  January 30, 2013


Review: Movie 43

Don't subject yourself to this crap, which is credited to nine writers and 12 directors, among them Farrelly, Steven Brill (the auteur behind Adam Sandler's Little Nicky ), Steve Carr ( Paul Blart: Mall Cop ), and (sigh) Brett Ratner.
By: BRETT MICHEL  |  January 30, 2013


As If Our Eyes Were In Our Hands: The Films of Susumu Hani

Role modeler
Susumu Hani was one of the strongest voices of Japan’s early independents working in the postwar cinema of the ’50s and ’60s, before he moved on to making nature documentaries for television.
By: BRETT MICHEL  |  January 22, 2013


Review: Sundance Shorts (2012)

The Sundance mission
As Robert Redford's Sundance Institute turns 35, these 10 short films make good on its mission to "champion the risk-takers and pioneers whose stories reflect and shape our world."
By: BRETT MICHEL  |  January 15, 2013


Review: A Haunted House

This latest Marlon Wayans vehicle is a send-up of the "found footage" genre, from Paranormal Activity to The Devil Inside, and if the name of its director — Michael Tiddes — makes you chuckle, then is this the movie for you!
By: BRETT MICHEL  |  January 15, 2013


Review: Bad Boys/Furyo Shonen (1961)

One of the fathers of the Japanese New Wave, Susumu Hani followed up a series of documentary shorts with this, his improvisational first feature depicting life in a reform school.
By: BRETT MICHEL  |  January 15, 2013


Review: Texas Chainsaw 3D

Forget the various sequels, remakes, and prequels of Tobe Hooper's seminal horror movie, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre .
By: BRETT MICHEL  |  January 08, 2013


Review: Cirque du Soleil: Worlds Away

A pixie-haired girl (Erica Linz) catches the eye of a strapping young aerialist (Igor Zaripov) in a traveling circus, and the two are transported to a dimension that's made up of set pieces from every Cirque du Soleil show under the, well, soleil.
By: BRETT MICHEL  |  December 21, 2012


Review: This Is 40

I'm at a loss to empathize with the middle-aged plight of Pete (Paul Rudd) and Debbie (Leslie Mann), supporting players in Judd Apatow's Knocked Up , now front and center in the writer/director/producer's kinda-sorta sequel.
By: BRETT MICHEL  |  December 20, 2012


Review: Django Unchained

Spaghetti southern style
Tarantino reconfigures that classic American genre, the Western, setting his new film in the Deep South, creating what he terms a "Southern," while infusing it with the spaghetti sensibilities of Sergio Leone (director of Tarantino's favorite film, The Good, The Bad and the Ugly ) and, more so, the genre grit of that other Sergio, Corbucci (director of 1966's Django , naturally).
By: BRETT MICHEL  |  December 28, 2012


Review: Playing For Keeps

Gabriele Muccino's misogynistic family sports film stars Gerard Butler as has-been Scottish footie star George Dryer, a man who once "got more ass than a toilet seat," according to screenwriter Robbie Fox, who bends it like Beckham to present George as the willing victim of oversexed soccer moms making advances toward their kids' new coach.
By: BRETT MICHEL  |  December 12, 2012
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