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Wednesday, January 13, 2010

House of the Devil

A slow-burn of a throwback will win over fans of horror and creeps

Posted By on Wed, Jan 13, 2010 at 12:00 AM

Ti West’s retro-flashback creepfest goes like this: Nubile but sweet-faced college sophomore Samantha (Jocelin Donahue) is in desperate need of cash. She’s got a pig of a roommate and the perfect relocation spot, but needs $300 in less than a week. No easy task in ’80s America; minimum wage is $3.35. Answering a flyer ad for a high-paying emergency babysitting gig, she’s driven to the outskirts of town by her unruly best buddy Megan (mumblecore mainstay Greta Gerwig). There she meets the creepy Ullmans (Tom Noonan and Mary Woronov), who reveal that it’s actually their elderly, antisocial mother they’d like her to look after. When Samantha balks, they offer her enough dough to solve all her housing dilemmas. Note that it’s the night of a total lunar eclipse, and that town is the best place on earth to view it. Oh, also, Tom and Mary are Satanists.

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The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus

Heath Ledger’s final film is a morality yarn that enlists Jude Law, Johnny Depp and Colin Ferrell for backup

Posted By on Wed, Jan 13, 2010 at 12:00 AM

Terry Gilliam’s latest cinematic sideshow is biography as metaphor, an exhilarating, deranged and indulgent mess of a movie that giddily reflects both the filmmaker’s strengths and weaknesses. For anyone who knows Gilliam’s work (Brazil, 12 Monkeys, The Fisher King, etc.), it’ll come as no surprise that his movie is filled with delightfully acid-laced visuals, vaudevillian zaniness, thematic musings on the power of imagination, and, of course, at least one character who’s below normal height.

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Leap Year

The gifted Amy Adams twinkles above lame script and story

Posted By on Wed, Jan 13, 2010 at 12:00 AM

With her singsong disposition and chipmunk cadence, the always likeable Amy Adams glimmers like a golden-age matinee starlet. It’s too bad her scripts seem stuck in the 1940s as well. This fish-out-of-water yarn finds Adam’s trademark cheerfulness tested by inclement weather and the twinkly folk of Ireland, an enchanted place which turns out to be an isle of right proper arseholes. She’s there in pursuit of her arrogant boyfriend, chasing him to a Dublin cardiologist convention, where she intends to finally force him into marriage by way of an old Irish folk tradition that says ladies are allowed to propose on leap day.

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Propose a toast

To Jeff Bridges, because he can walk on water and channel old Cisco Pike

Posted By on Wed, Jan 13, 2010 at 12:00 AM

Playing a boozed-up, down-and-out country legend who finds love, loses love, then struggles for redemption, Jeff Bridges is a miraculous and soulful train wreck of a character. After years of successfully collaborating with a rising country star (Colin Farrell), crusty old Blake is in professional and personal freefall. He has so abused his musical gifts that he’s reduced to playing bowling alley gigs and rushing from the stage mid-performance to vomit out back. At a Santa Fe gig, he meets budding journalist and single-mom Maggie Gyllenhaal, and a relationship sparks. Bridges injects just enough dignity and weary charm that we find ourselves rooting for him to overcome each self-destructive heartbreak.

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Red Cliff

Its epic running time matches its scale, splendor and ambition, redeeming director John Woo

Posted By on Wed, Jan 13, 2010 at 12:00 AM

Using dirt-cheap labor, repatriated director John Woo outfits 10,000 actor-extras in ancient weaponry for Red Cliff, the most expensive Chinese-language movie ever produced. Of course, by Hollywood blockbuster standards, its $80-million budget is chump change, but in today’s global economy, Woo gets to work his hyperkinetic magic on a truly epic-sized canvass. Magnificent battle sequences, astonishing hand-to-hand combat scenarios, masculine psychology, and virtuous heroes facing impossible odds are all part of his operatic mix. Set in 208 A.D., during the end of the Han Dynasty, Red Cliff opens with the ruthless general Cao Cao (Zhang Fengyi) browbeating the Emperor into letting him march an army of 800,000 men into the peaceable southern kingdoms on the false charge of insurrection. After defeating the noble warlord Liu Bei (You Yong) and turning his people into refugees, he sets his sights on the neighboring kingdom Red Cliff. But Bei’s crafty military strategist Kong Ming (Takeshi Kaneshiro from House of Flying Daggers) has brokered an alliance with Red Cliff’s noble general Zhou Yu (Tony Leung from Lust/Caution and Hero), setting the stage for a David versus Goliath showdown. Shifting allegiances, miraculous reversals of fortunes, a tense spy mission and superhuman skirmishes all set up the great and final nighttime naval battle.

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Broken Embraces

Penelope Cruz is a goddess in Almodovar’s latest, but what else is there?

Posted By on Wed, Jan 13, 2010 at 12:00 AM

Pedro Almodovar’s latest film is both ravishing and ridiculous, introducing us to blind screenwriter and former director Harry Caine (Lluis Homar), who is visited by mysterious young filmmaker Ray-X (Rubén Ochandiano). He’s making a documentary about his father, a jealous and controlling millionaire (José Luis Gómez) whose gorgeous young wife (Penelope Cruz) had an affair with Harry 15 years ago. Needless to say, the outcome was tragic. Almodovar bounces his narrative between 2009 and 1994, expertly threading the convoluted plot twists, time shifts, flashbacks and characters into a sumptuous tapestry of betrayal and voyeurism. Never mind that he’s recycling ideas, motifs and themes, he’s peerless in his ability to echo and reference other movies (including his own).

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Gray-suited man

Designer Tom Ford creates a textured film debut that’s filled with beauty and sadness

Posted By on Wed, Jan 13, 2010 at 12:00 AM

As 50-year-old gay college professor George Falconer, Firth is buttoned down and bottled up, a precise man who keeps his emotions as deeply buried as his sexuality. His lover (Matthew Goode) of 16 years recently died in a car crash. It’s a loss George can’t begin to mourn in public nor private. Firth delivers a rich, adult and lived-in performance, a feat of agility made all the more remarkable because director Tom Ford steps on his toes with his slightly grating in his directorial style.

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Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Wednesday night, Don't miss: DIA Gallery talk with artist Matthew Barney (Bjork's brilliant hubby).

Posted on Tue, Jan 12, 2010 at 2:48 PM

He's back ... Boundary-pushing artist Matthew Barney is in the midst of producing a series of performances and music (with composer Jonathan Bepler) for his new project, which, we hear, is a seven act, seven location, opera that draws its inspiration from Norman Mailer's 1983 novel, Ancient Evening. One...

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Thursday, January 7, 2010

PSST: MONEY FOR MUSICIANS WRITERS, PERFORMERS

Posted By on Thu, Jan 7, 2010 at 3:42 PM

Last summer we featured the work of 18 visual artists who — from a field of more than 350 applicants — had been designated Kresge Artist Fellows, and honored with $25,000 fellowships to go along with the title. The grants are part of a program funded by the Kresge Foundation...

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Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Metro Times makes the connection

Posted on Wed, Jan 6, 2010 at 12:24 PM

After we asked everybody to share their worst New Year’s Eve stories, we had a ball reading through them. One of the funniest came from former Metro Times staffer Jen Lumpkin, who shared this doozy: One New Year's Eve, I was a "Kiss Sandwich" — it's true and tragic! I...

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