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Michael Atkinson 

Film, Film Reviews

Narco-Thriller Heli Makes War-Zone Art

So far on screen, Mexican narcoculture has generated mostly grim documentaries, but given the carnage and the proximity, you can easily imagine the movies coming from both sides of the border: the mezzobrow hand-wringers, the trigger-joy gangster trips, the based-on-true-story crusades. What we might not have seen...…
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Film, Film Reviews

The Dance of Reality May Be Jodorowsky's Best Film

The grand old dirty pope of midnight-movie voodoo and post-'60s turn-on, drop-out mythopoeia returns with a vengeance, in his autumnal phase and with, surprise, a personal look back at his own childhood. The Dance of Reality may be Alejandro Jodorowsky's best film, and certainly, in a filmography top-heavy with freak-show...…
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Film,

Child's Pose, a New Romanian Classic

Ah, the Romanians — sometimes it seems that no one else is bothering to make movies for grown-ups anymore. Those of us with an abiding, New Wave–y interest in human warts and tragic truth-telling have known, since 2005's The Death of Mr. Lazarescu, to look to the Carpathians for dependable...…
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Film,

Paradise: Love Review: Ulrich Seidl's Film About a Fateful Beach Vacation in Kenya Approaches Greatness

Taken together, Ulrich Seidl's three Paradise films, each being released separately in the coming months, will be hard to beat this year for sheer art-house scald. Rivaling fellow Austrian miserablist Michael Haneke in pessimistic cred if not in fame or formal precision, Seidl has always been a dedicated voyeur of...…
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Film, Film Reviews

Reality Is the First Great Film About Bad TV

Reality, about an Italian fishmonger who wants to be on Big Brother, is the first great film about bad television. Rampaging through the otherwise arid desertscape of contemporary Italian cinema, Matteo Garrone doesn't want for ambition or walnuts — he may be the premier chronicler of Berlusconi-era Italian culture, and...…
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Film,

The First Time Review: Teen Love Done Right

Objectively, the world needs another teen-romance-slash-virginity-loss dramedy like we need a hole in our collective movie heads. But Jonathan Kasdan's The First Time, against all odds, is something of a wonder, a palm-size ball of banter and irony and earnestness that never stops rolling and almost never misses the sweet...…
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Film, <i>Bourne Legacy</i> Review: Sequel Suffers From Damonlessness

Bourne Legacy Review: Sequel Suffers From Damonlessness

The Bourne films have more than just overstayed their welcome and outlasted the Ludlum books ― they’ve been Van Halenized, with an abrupt change of frontman and a resulting dip in personality. The only big-ass popcorn franchise of the past decade to have not been spawned on computers, the series...…
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Film, <i>Hara-Kiri: Death of a Samurai</i> Might Be Takashi Miike's Best Film Yet

Hara-Kiri: Death of a Samurai Might Be Takashi Miike's Best Film Yet

The transformation might be complete: The crap-and-gore, genre-mincing Tasmanian devil of Asian pulp psychosis Takashi Miike we’ve come to know and, well, kinda semi-love since 1999's Audition seems now to have finished evolving into a tasteful, even resonant art house master. It has only taken him 50 movies or so...…
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Film,

Do-Deca-Pentathlon Review

The ubiquitous Duplass brothers stoke the furnace of sibling tension in this single-minded but fascinating discomfiture comedy, a kind of secret twin study of brothers locked in neurotic battle. In The Do-Deca-Pentathlon, Mark (Steve Zissis) is a chubby family man heading to his mother's house for his birthday; older brother...…
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Film, California Noir

California Noir

Will we ever tire of noir? Unlikely — the genre's organic expression of its time and place (postwar America, in all of its secret doubt and existential dread) makes the films deathlessly fascinating and vitally true. Noirs, still written about and retro-screened and DVD'd more than any other Hollywood-product genre,...…
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Film, <i>Alice in Wonderland</i> on Film Through the Ages, at LACMA

Alice in Wonderland on Film Through the Ages, at LACMA

It's such a toxic-potent paradigm it's hard to believe Lewis Carroll came up with it first — female puberty as a mud-wrestle with the irrational, a maiden's journey into a quasi-adult sphere drunk on its own rules and power but actually fucking nuts. It's an elemental conflict that's as political...…
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Film, Oscar Nominee <i>In Darkness</i> Reviewed

Oscar Nominee In Darkness Reviewed

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Film, Charlotte Rampling: <i>The Look</i> Review

Charlotte Rampling: The Look Review

"A self-portrait through others," as it's subtitled, this conversational hall of mirrors never takes its microscope off 65-year-old actress Charlotte Rampling, ruminating freely on beauty, acting, sensuality, being photographed and "what's behind the eyes." Less famed as a thespian over the decades than as an icy '60s-'70s icon, jet-set provocateur...…
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Film, <i>The Yellow Sea</i> Review

The Yellow Sea Review

Treating crime drama like a death cage tournament, rousing, dark-hearted Korean epic The Yellow Sea doesn't know quite when to stop once it begins, which is with an ethnically Korean Chinese cabbie (Ha Jung-woo) traveling to South Korea to find his errant wife and pay off her debt by killing...…
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Film, London Boulevard Review

London Boulevard Review

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Film, Killing Bono

Killing Bono

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Film, 13 Review

13 Review

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Film, My Reincarnation Review

My Reincarnation Review

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Film, <i> Atrocious </i> Review

Atrocious Review

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Film, <i>Leap Year</i> Review

Leap Year Review

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