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V.23 No.30 | 7/24/2014
Whatever they’re watching, it’s not a very popular movie.

Film Review

Life Itself

Poignant documentary points the camera at the life of movie critic Roger Ebert

Filmmaker goes from being reviewed by Roger Ebert to making a movie about the famed critic’s final days in Life Itself.

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V.23 No.29 | 7/17/2014
This is what we call the money shot.

Film Review

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

Apes + machine guns = awesome

Smart, surprising Dawn of the Planet of the Apes proves the old axiom that apes + machine guns = awesome.

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Film

This Week at the Guild Cinema

Festival of Film Noir, Wal-Mart: The High Cost of a Low Price, and Green

Guild Ad

Look what’s playing at the Guild this week. We accidentally lost their ad in our print edition—sorry for the inconvenience, everyone!

V.23 No.28 | 7/10/2014
“Strolling around Paris with my lover, Olivia Wilde? God, I’m so depressed.”

Film Review

Third Person

Paul Haggis explores the audacity of despair in morose, muddled anthology

The man behind Crash tries his hand at another all-star anthology with the confused, contrived melodrama Third Person.

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V.23 No.27 | 7/3/2014
“Magic and wonderment, everybody. Magic and wonderment. ... OK, 10 percent less wonderment, Ella.”

Film Review

Earth to Echo

Found-footage sci-fi film is a weak echo of earlier, better efforts

Found-footage, sci-fi film Earth to Echo aims for Spielbergian nostalgia, but is just a faint echo of earlier, better efforts.

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V.23 No.26 | 6/26/2014
Not even a half-caf mocha frap can save this day.

Film Review

Obvious Child

Pro-choice dramedy is pregnant with possibility

Comedian Jenny Slate impresses in mood-straddling abortion-based dramedy Obvious Child.

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V.23 No.25 | 6/19/2014
Now that’s an album cover.

Film Review

We Are the Best!

Spirited Swedish flashback gives audiences punk-rock girl power times three

Swedish auteur Lukas Moodysson gives audiences an ’80s flashback with punk rock girl power pic We Are the Best!

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V.23 No.24 | 6/12/2014

Book Review

Reel People, Real Lives

The New Biographical Dictionary of Film (Sixth Edition)

Movie nerds, the sixth edition of David Thomson’s seminal biographical dictionary will give you plenty to chew on and argue over.

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V.23 No.23 | 6/5/2014
Ralph Steadman and Johnny Depp

Film Review

For No Good Reason

Artistic documentary illustrates the life and work of Hunter S. Thompson collaborator Ralph Steadman

Johnny Depp interviews Hunter S. Thompson collaborator Ralph Steadman in an artistic new documentary.

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V.23 No.21 | 5/22/2014
“Mr. Darcy? Honey, you’re thinking of a different movie.”

Film Review

Belle

Historical biopic is too polite to get worked up over slavery

Belle, a well-meaning historical biopic about a mixed-race aristocrat, is too polite to get worked up about slavery.

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V.23 No.20 | 5/15/2014
“Who here wants to score some Martinis and some stewardesses?”

Film Review

Million Dollar Arm

American baseball gets some Indian spice in extremely likable, Disney-approved biopic

Disney pitches genuine feel-good sports movie with Million Dollar Arm.

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V.23 No.19 | 5/8/2014
“Is that another penis?”

Film Review

Neighbors

Raunchy frat film milks comedy from boners and bad behavior

Seth Rogen milks comedy from boners and bad behavior in raunchy frat film Neighbors.

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V.23 No.18 | 5/1/2014
Yeah, OxiClean isn’t even gonna get that stain out.

Film Review

Blue Ruin

Indie revenge drama delivers cold comfort

Revenge is a dish best served cold in indie revenge drama Blue Ruin.

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Film

Nymphomaniac Vol. II: Pitch-dark existentialist fairy tale zigs feminist zag

"Fighting fire with fire ..."
All photos courtesy of Zentropa
"Fighting fire with fire ..."
Embattled Dutch auteur Lars von Trier's “Depression Trilogy”—Antichrist, Melancholia and now Nymphomaniac—culminates in a revelatory and arguably feminist existentialist fairy tale. Admittedly, it's more Grimms' than Aesop.

Antichrist is a magical realist horror show, and Melancholia is a Wagnerian sci-fi epic. Triptych finale Nymphomaniac is an existentialist torture “porn” double-feature. Released in two parts, Vol. I left the audience at terror-struck anticlimax as protagonist Joe fails to achieve orgasm. The psychodrama of Vol. II dances widdershins on a dark, twisty path paved by the sexploitation genre. Where Antichrist examined medieval witchcraft and the history of gynocide and Melancholia expertly manipulated ownership of knowledge and the imagination of disaster, Nymphomaniac explores patriarchy and stigmatized female desire.

With minimal introductory pomp, a soft-focus lens captures young Joe (Stacy Martin) mourning carnal summit. Again the viewer is voyeur to asexual nerd Seligman (Stellan Skarsgård) and present-day Joe (Charlotte Gainsbourg) and their sex-and-fly-fishing tête-à-tête. Joe recalls the inception of her lust—it involves levitation, spontaneous orgasm and the Whore of Babylon. Seligman's weakest digression ever, toward Jesus' transfiguration on the mount, Zeno's paradox of Achilles, and the divergence of essential doctrine of Eastern and Western Church doctrine inspires Chapter One's title.

K (Jamie Bell)
K (Jamie Bell)

“The Eastern Church and The Western Church (The Silent Duck)” explores the incongruity of monogamy with Jerôme (Shia LaBeouf)—and attendant pregnancy, domesticity and complex maternal emotions—with Joe's longing to be overfull. Contentment is transmuted, and Jerôme's reluctant consent to an open marriage sets the stage for unfamiliar and increasingly masochistic sex. Highlights include Joe's matchless revamp of fuck-me clothes, an entirely nonverbal encounter with two African fellows, and engaging the services of professional dom K (Jamie Bell). In escalating sessions with sadistic K, Joe's submissive alter ego “Fido” prizes dogged pursuit of the little death above all else. A campy demo of “the silent duck” segues into a hurled teacup, betraying sentimental anger, and the next passage is named for spectacular reflection.

“The Mirror” observes Joe compulsively, injuriously masturbating in an office bathroom and communicating (mostly with herself) in employer-mandated sex addict meetings. She earnestly tries to gain some control over her addiction and consequent self-mutilation. Working the steps means reducing exposure and removing incentive. After witnessing Joe's version of sex-proofing an apartment, you'll never see your bathroom sink or mirrors in quite the same way again. Joe's kilometer-wide stubborn streak rears up just shy of a month of sobriety. She rebels against the twelve-steppers, proclaiming her refusal to erase her own obscenity so the bourgeoisie can feel safe. A tea stain and irreverent references to the literature of Ian Fleming provide the cut-up lead-in to resolution in “The Gun.”

L (Willem Dafoe) and Joe
L (Willem Dafoe) and Joe (Charlotte Gainsbourg)

The workaday world isn't for her, and she meets L (Willem Dafoe), who initiates her into the unscrupulous world of “debt collection.” Her general facility with and knowledge of men and their desires and fears proves useful in the world of heavy handed persuasion to pay. L pragmatically inspires Joe to mentor an at-risk 15-year-old P (Mia Goth). In the world of extortion, parenting happens on a whole 'nother level. A mentee acts as a right hand, and as amoral L half-sneers, some might even do time for their surrogate advocate. Joe attends P's basketball games for three years and eventually wins her loyalty at the age of maturity.

"... And explode into space."
"... And explode into space."

Gainsbourg illuminates the role of outsider, a wholly sexual woman whose very existence stands in opposition to the patriarchy of both the Church and secular culture. Seligman delivers a fervent feminist polemic on how Joe's behavior would be perceived entirely differently were she a man: Vol. I's train games with BFF B (Sophie Kennedy Clark) and home invasion by a bitterly jealous spouse (Uma Thurman) would have fallen flat if Joe's chromosomal makeup offered so-called “reason” for aggression and infidelity.

Unabashedly demanding her sexual rights as a woman, Joe serves as a lightning rod for wounded souls in a largely puritanical world. Given his self-professed asexual nature and thus “unique” insight into Joe's story, Seligman declares his superior fitness to judge her goodness. But this is von Trier land. Yet another chance encounter with Jerome tells of the violent prelude to Seligman discovering her in the alley. The resounding, pitch-black ending renders a film marketed as a (black-and-) blue movie into a horse of a different color; and in doing so, it unmasks all its characters' true natures and the commonplace tedium of evil.

More Videos

V.23 No.17 | 4/24/2014
Spaceships! Yay!

Film Review

Jodorowsky’s Dune

Surrealist filmmaker’s long-lost masterpiece comes to life in imaginative, inspirational documentary

Cult filmmaker explores sci-fi classic in Jodorowsky’s Dune.

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    High Mountain Hideout
    High Mountain Hideout8.29.2014