Paul Knoll

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Category: The Scene11 City Slang1

Year: 20104 20083 20083 20075

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Maxed Out April 18, 2007

Recent Articles

  • Valhalla Rising

    A Nordic odyssey straight down to Jerusalem
      Set between the eighth and 11th centuries against the stark, gloomy and filth-ridden world of pre-Christian Denmark, we’re introduced to One Eye (Mads Mikkelsen, the villain in Casino Royale). He’s a fearsome and mute warrior and slave for a Norse clan, and he disposes of his opponents with frightening efficiency while earning coin for his captors. One Eye is sold off, but after the sale he gets free of his shackles (literally) and makes a bloodbath of his new owners, except for a young boy named Are (Maarten Stevenson), the one sympathetic person who’d bring him food and water. Up till this point, Valhalla Rising plays like some sparse deconstructionist version of Gladiator — hyper-realistic violence, stunningly filmed desolate landscapes and little to no dialogue. One Eye soon encounters an army of Vikings who’ve been sent on a holy mission to spread Christianity and have been slaughtering the Danes (who were pagans) as part of their crusade. The Vikings enlist One Eye in their religious journey promising him that his sins will be forgiven once they reach Jerusalem. They’re barely on their boat before the journey turns sinister.
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  • The Last Exorcism

    Eli Roth-produced frighter looks neat, but that’s it
      The Last Exorcism — which is only produced by Roth, but that’s enough — rides TV’s wave of mock-doc reality shows that “debunk” paranormal activity, sorta like Ghost Hunters meets Fact or Faked: Paranormal Files. Cotton Marcus (who is actually played with panache by Patrick Fabian) is a Baton Rouge minister and one-time child evangelist. Marcus teams up with a documentary film crew to show tricks of his trade — namely using sound effects, slight of hand and good ol’ fashioned religious histrionics — while performing an exorcism. (Are these intentional nods to 1972’s Oscar-winning doc Marjoe, which exposed one-time child evangelist Marjoe Gortner?) Marcus is the good guy motivated by a news clipping in which a child died while being exorcised. Marcus randomly chooses the Sweetzer family from letters he receives of folks looking for an exorcist. But when he and crew enter the family home, it’s quickly apparent that something’s very odd about the Sweetzers. Lewis Sweetzer has gone all fundamentalist Christian in the wake of his wife’s death; he pulled his kids from school, banned secular music, distrusts modern medicine and stopped attending church. The real action starts in the last 20 minutes when Nell is suddenly speaking in tongues, but we’ve seen it all before, and the motion-sick camerawork ruins most frights by obscuring everything behind what could be a Vaseline-smeared lens.
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  • TV Eyesore

    Celebrity and the PR politico
      Videocracy is a Swedish doc that shows Italy’s own obsession with fame’s idiot wind, and, in particular, television, and how celebrity, sex, gender, politics and power have all become horrifyingly intertwined in modern Italian culture. Director Erik Gandini — who also narrates — opens this doc with a zany archival clip from a call-in quiz-show that featured masked housewives stripping to a contestant’s correct answer. Flash forward 30 years and Italian TV is still peddling female anatomy for ratings. A league of ragtag fame-chasers are profiled, leading to Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, who also happens to be a media mogul who owns three Italian TV channels and countless publications. From there, it gets weirder and more incisive.
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