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Film Review: Gangster Squad (2013)

Posted by on Feb 4, 2013 in Theatrical Reviews | 0 comments

Director Ruben Fleischer’s Gangster Squad was originally scheduled for release in October 2012, but it was delayed until January 2013 due to the July 20, 2012 theater shootingin Aurora, Colorado.  The studio pulled its trailers and decided to re-shoot (no pun intended) a climactic shootout scene in which the antagonists shoot at a theater crowd.  Nonetheless, the re-shoots did

not improve what turned out to be a disappointing film anyway.  To be fair, it is not the absolutely awful movie many critics and viewers have made it out to be. Gangster Squad is a fairly enjoyable, oftentimes brashly violent, genre piece with a star-studded, albeit largely wasted, ensemble cast.  Unfortunately, it is a prime example of Hollywood prioritizing style over substance and glossing over compelling history to make an accessible, fast-paced but pretty predictable, campy run-of-the-mill action flick.

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Film Review: Amour (2012)

Posted by on Feb 4, 2013 in Theatrical Reviews | 0 comments

If one could describe writer-director Michael Haneke’s style in one word, then it would be “deliberate.”  His latest work Amour (2012), which won the coveted Palm D’Or at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival, certainly fits within the mold and yet breaks through in terms of emotion.  His previous films tend to be emotionally detached, but this film is anything but, given its topic.  Yet, he does not pull any punches or add any unnecessary flair or sentimentality; instead, he lets tragic story tell itself.  Amour is a methodically-paced, astutely harrowing film with incredible performances that is relentlessly heartbreaking in its simplicity; it is no escapist fare, to be sure.

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Film Review: Zero Dark Thirty (2012)

Posted by on Jan 15, 2013 in Theatrical Reviews | 0 comments

Zero Dark Thirty (2012) is a monumental film, if not for its brilliant craftsmanship at least for its historic subject matter.  Fortunately, it is a riveting blend of history and drama.  The last time director Kathryn Bigelow and screenwriter Mark Boal teamed up for a film regarding the War on Terror, they made the white-knuckle thriller The Hurt Locker (2010), which went on to win six Oscars that included Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Original Screenplay.  This was poised to make a similar push at this year’s Oscars before many viewers sparked a controversy surrounding torture, though the film actually portrays it in a balanced manner.  Despite the questions of accuracy (as with any movie based on history) and its controversy, Zero Dark Thirty is a first-class thriller, a captivating and concentrated character study, and a fascinating account of history – its selection as one of 2012’s best pictures is certainly deserved.

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2013 Sundance Film Festival Preview

Posted by on Jan 14, 2013 in Features | 1 comment

Last year’s Sundance Film Festival was an amazing experience in which I saw 22 films in one week; you can read my complete 2012 Sundance Film Festival Wrap-Up article here.  This year, our group shall be there for a few more days to get in almost the entire festival (Jan. 17-27).  The 2013 Program Guide features countless promising films and panel discussions.  It should be another wonderful, albeit cold and sleep-deprived, experience in Park City, Utah.  Keep an eye on The Modern Allegory’s Twitter account and/or Facebook page for brief updates throughout the festival, and eventually a 2013 Wrap-Up article and reviews for each screening will be posted.

I divided up this wrap-up article into two main sections: 1) my tentative schedule, and 2) other notable films – the second section is on PAGE 2.  In the first section, I pre-ranked the films I plan to see, then I list out my tentative schedule with brief synopses and reviews.  The listings have links to the film’s Sundance page and its IMDB page (the title link sends you to the film’s IMDB page; the Sundance link will be provided at the end of each review snippet). I haven’t heard or read much about the World Cinema or Documentary categories, so most of my tentative schedule is with U.S. Dramatic Competition films, Premieres, Short Film Programs, and Midnight at Park City movies (I’m sure by the middle of the Festival we’ll hear about what international and documentary features are buzzing and worth seeing).

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Film Review: Django Unchained (2012)

Posted by on Jan 14, 2013 in Theatrical Reviews | Comments Off

As one of 2012’s most anticipated films, Quentin Tarantino’s latest piece of cinema Django Unchained hardly disappoints.  In fact, many claim it is his most accomplished and entertaining work to date, which is certainly saying something from the man who has made such classics as Reservoir Dogs (1992), Pulp Ficiton (1994), and (to a somewhat lesser extent) Kill Bill (2003-2004).  With this film, he has finally made his spaghetti western, though like any of his movies it does not simply conform to the genre and all of its trappings; it is also a rather hilarious dark comedy, tense revenge tale, and even a thought-provoking period piece.  Viewers may debate where it stands amongst Tarantino’s filmography, but Django Unchained is definitely one of the top films of 2012 – it is an audacious piece of exhilarating cinema, one that is certainly not for everyone due to intense violence and prolific profanity (though its gratuitousness is sharply meaningful, to an extent, in shedding light on a dark part of the American history).

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