Film

TIFF diary #2: dead cheerleaders + Tsai, Hong, and Breillat

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Check out the first entry in Jesse Hawthorne Ficks' Toronto International Film Festival diary here, and stay tuned for more tomorrow!

All Cheerleaders Die (USA) is the follow up to Lucky McKee's attention-grabbing The Woman (2011), which stunned Sundance audiences with both its subversive take on gender issues and its violent brutality.

Taking a much lighter tone with co-director Chris Sivertson, Cheerleaders (an expanded remake of his 2001 short by the same name) nicely echoes the ironic horror-comedy vibe of Joss Whedon's Cabin in the Woods (2012) while still managing to deliver a genre entry for text-crazed teenyboppers. Goths, jocks, some faux feminism, and a bevy of ass and crotch shots should make fans of Harmony Korine's Spring Breakers quite satisfied.

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TIFF diary: standouts from France, Nepal, and Japan

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After 33 feature films at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival, I can safely say that I am ecstatic about where cinema is heading this decade.

While many of the following films might not receive major releases, I have compiled a spoiler-free overview of films — presented here as a series of blog posts — to keep your eyes and ears out for in the coming months (and perhaps years) at your local theaters and online resources.  

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Ki-ki-ki-ah-ah-ah: new movies for Friday the 13th

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Naturally, there's at least one horror movie, Insidious: Chapter 2,  opening in honor of Friday the 13th — two if you count Our Nixon — as well as a new series paying tribute to the singular Pier Paolo Pasolini (check out Dennis Harvey's round-up here). Read on for more new reviews and one special holiday recommendation.

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Action franchise junkie Vin Diesel returns ... and more new movies!

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Who dares to challenge the box-office supremacy of Vin Diesel, who returns yet again to play the titular night vision-gifted (but really socially awkward) escaped con in sci-fi actioner Riddick?

For masochists, there's Brian De Palma's latest, Passion, which checks in for a brief Castro run (Dennis Harvey gets bored talking about it here); there are also a couple of docs, a MILF drama, and a South Korean disaster-by-numbers flick about a disease that, shockingly, doesn't spawn zombies, just bloody coughs and rapid death. Read on for our short takes (and take note of your best-bet new flick: "charming seriocomedy" Afternoon Delight). Read more »

Fall films to look forward too ... and new movies to see tonight!

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Click this way for my Fall Film Preview, presented as part of this weeks Fall Arts spectacular. With bonus photo of Bradley Cooper's Brady perm!

Read on for this week's openings, including one of the best indie films of the year, the latest from Wong Kar-Wai, and, uh...the One Direction movie.

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The robot apocalypse, Mr. Darcy, outlaws, and revolutionaries: new movies!

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Let's Boo-Boo! Edgar Wright's latest bromance-in-genre-clothing, The World's End, opens today, and it's a riot. Elsewhere, there's a rom-com about Jane Austen obsessives, Hollywood's latest supernatural-teen fantasy, and an indie horror flick critic Dennis Harvey calls "a very bloody good ride." (Check out those reviews below).

Longer features this week include my interview with director David Lowery about his neo-Western Ain't Them Bodies Saints, and Harvey's take on artist-couple doc Cutie and the Boxer. Read more »

Never enough hours in the weekend to see all these NEW MOVIES

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Quite a few openings this week, although it seems like 10-plus new movies is becoming the norm these days. (At least there's no big film festival to distract you from the regular ol' cinema at the moment.) In the spirit of efficiency I did a combo-platter review of sci-fi chiller Europa Report; Johnnie To's latest, Drug War; Tenebre, a 1982 Dario Argento giallo that's screening at the Roxie tonight; and doc Adjust Your Tracking: The Untold Story of the VHS Collector, which plays the Balboa. Also at length, Dennis Harvey takes a look at Shirley Clarke's freshly restored 1967 doc Portrait of Jason, also screening at the Roxie.

Ain't enough for you? Read on for Kick-Ass 2, Jobs, and more on the week's fresh crop of flicks.

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Woody does SF in "Blue Jasmine" ... plus more new movies!

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Remember that brief, exciting period last year when Woody Allen sightings were being breathlessly reported on 'round town, particularly in the Mission? Here's your chance to see Allen's take on San Francisco (it ain't exactly glossy) in Blue Jasmine, which boasts a stellar performance by likely Oscar nominee Cate Blanchett as someone you would not want to have as a houseguest. Dennis Harvey's take on the film here.

Also opening today: a doc about Napster, a so-so biopic of political theorist Hannah "Banality of Evil" Arendt, an action flick for Denzel Washington completists, and likely Oscar nominee (um...) Smurfs 2. What can I say...if you're not a Woody Allen fan, it's kind of a slower week. Read on for short reviews.

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Counterpoint: an appreciation of 'The Lone Ranger'

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Warning: slight spoilers ahead.

I will say it and I will say it loudly: Gore Verbinski's The Lone Ranger is perhaps the most subversive Hollywood film since Paul Verhoeven's still misunderstood sci-fi masterpiece, Starship Troopers (1997).

Not only does this sneaky, revisionist epic attempt to recontextualize the history of Western films, screenwriters Justin Haythe, Ted Elliott, and Terry Rossio — working directly from Zane Grey's 1915 novel The Lone Star Ranger — have designed an ambitious journey through America's tainted, tattered history. And like Starship Troopers, the combination of ruthless "all-American" violence, ironic historical references, and off-beat slapstick comedy give The Lone Ranger legs that audiences will get to uncover for decades to come. (Sadly it will have to happen after the film leaves US theaters this week.) Read more »

SF Jewish Film Festival, Hugh Jackman, killer whales, and more: new movies!

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This week: the 33rd San Francisco Jewish Film Festival takes off with screenings all over the Bay Area; check out my take on some of the documentary selections here. Also, the harrowing documentary Blackfish opens, a film that will make you never want to visit SeaWorld again (with good reason). My interview with the film's director, Gabriela Cowperthwaite, here.

Elsewhere, Hollywood hopes you're ready for yet more claw-bearing Hugh Jackman (in The Wolverine), Danish actor Mads Mikklesen shines as a falsely-accused man in The Hunt; indie darling Andrew Bujalski delivers what may be his finest film to date with Computer Chess; a majorly great/bad/quotable/mind-blowing cult film plays the Clay's midnight series; and more. Read on for our short takes.

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