Dark Shadows

1 comment on May 08, 2012 by Pete Hammond

A cult favorite gothic soap opera that ran daily on ABC for over 1200 episodes in the late '60s, Dark Shadows has been decidedly Tim Burton-ized in its first big screen incarnation. Fans of the original will be happy it's back, but be warned: suddenly, this very dark saga is a comedy. Nevertheless, it's a great time at the movies and a wickedly clever cinematic treat. With a terrific Johnny Depp in the lead role of the creepy Barnabas Collins, a vampire transplanted 200 years into the future of 1972 and caught up in the antics of his descendents and the witch (Eva Green) who's stalked him for two centuries, this version is a far cry from the TV version. But it's faithful enough and makes for sensational sinister fun for those willing to succumb to its, uh, spell.

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Free Samples

Add Comment on May 02, 2012 by David Ehrlich

Free Samples opens with Jesse Eisenberg wearing a cowboy hat in a dive bar, even though he wears it more like a fedora. This image immediately raises any number of questions, but as to why he's drinking there is very little mystery: Jillian (Jess Weixler), the messy blonde in the gin next to him, may be the most unpleasant person currently living. A recent law school dropout, Jillian is pouty, petulant and, worst of all, she's the protagonist. The brunt of the film involves Jillian manning a friend's ice cream truck as a sudden favor, offering free samples (hey!) of ice cream to a parade of strangers who essentially exist to personify her quarter-life crisis.

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The Raven

Add Comment on April 29, 2012 by Mark Olsen

Set in Baltimore in the days before the writer's mysterious death, The Raven uses Edgar Allan Poe's stories as the basis for a series of crimes in which the writer himself becomes an unwilling detective. Likely to disappoint both literary aficionados and action-thriller fans, the film neither captures the creepy atmospheres of Poe's influential writing nor works on its own. Box office won't live long enough to mourn Leanor.

Though he once defined intelligent dude-dom for a generation (Say Anything, Better off Dead) and, later, the troubled passing of adulthood into middle age (High Fidelity, Grosse Pointe Blank), John Cusack has finally reached the Nicolas Cage phase of his career.

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Add Comment on April 27, 2012 by Sara Maria Vizcarrondo

In the end, aren't we all prostitutes anyway? So argues Malgoska Szumowska's Elles, a film about two beautiful young prostitutes in contemporary Paris who sell their bodies by choice in order to afford posh, consumerist lifestyles. From the co-producer of Lars von Trier's Antichrist comes another challenging and occasionally violent story of sexual dynamics, though Elles comes armed with a clear message: Life is transactional, sex is no different, and everything that works to separate the two is rooted in hypocrisy and self-deception. Salacious but not pa...

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Deadfall (2012)

Add Comment on April 27, 2012 by Nick Schager

A crime saga cobbled together from scraps of genre predecessors, Deadfall's unbelievable silliness escalates at every turn. The Counterfeiters director Stefan Ruzowitzky's film starts promisingly enough, with Addison (Eric Bana), his sister Liza (Olivia Wilde) and a driver heading to the Canadian border after a lucrative casino heist, only to find their path made more difficult when their car crashes, they commit murder, and then are forced to flee into the wintery forest. Liza's come-hither look to her brother while changing clothes suggests incestuous desires which are c...

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The Pirates! Band of Misfits

Add Comment on April 27, 2012 by Pete Hammond

The Pirates! Band of Misfits is one of the funniest animated films in years, or to put it in terms you scallywags can understand: it's a treasure trove of laughs. Coming from Aardman Studios, the outfit responsible for Wallace and Gromit and the classic Chicken Run, this film's quality is no surprise; Aardman specializes in clever ‘toons that play as well for adults as they do for kids, maybe better. With Hugh Grant (in his ‘toon debut!) voicing the bumbling, but lovable Pirate Captain, the plot centers on his intense efforts to best his key adversaries and win the near-unobtainable Pirate Of The Year Award.

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Safe (2012)

Add Comment on April 27, 2012 by Kate Erbland

Action star Jason Statham takes on a mini-me in Boaz Yakin's Safe, a high-octane genre picture that spends too little time building relationships between allies and too much—if there can be too much—on ass-kicking and skull-cracking. Writer-director Yakin (whose resume runs the gamut from the Denzel Washington football drama Remember the Titans to the Brittany Murphy/Dakota Fanning comedy Uptown Girls) is adept at crafting characters who are deeply and believably isolated. Bringing them together is an entirely different story. Centered on Statham's har...

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