The Professional

Welcome to Pine Hill, the first feature film from Keith Miller, has won the Grand Jury Sparky Award for Feature Narrative at Slamdance. The film focuses on former drug dealer Shannon (Shannon Harper) who now works as a bouncer when the sun goes down and a claims adjuster when the sun comes up. In this verite-style offering, Shannon receives a bit of life-changing news that sets him on a path to confront the past and contemplate his future. As you can see in the scene above, there’s something obviously compelling about the delivery and the style. It’s enough to make nerve endings tingle and the brain start thinking about fight or flight. Simple, yes, but effective. The story behind the film is also fascinating. Director Miller and star Harper met when Miller was walking his dog in New York and an angry Harper approached him claiming that it was his dog. After a huge shouting match, they realized that it was Harper’s dog – a puppy he had previously lost. The next day they met so that Miller could pay him for the animal and could toss out the idea that they make a film together. A short was born, and so was their working relationship. They accidentally shared a dog, and now they share a victory. Here are the rest of the winners from Slamdance this year – emerging artists truly worth keeping an eye on. The Slamdance pedigree alone ensures that there’s some truly interesting work going on […]

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Culture Warrior

This editorial features some spoilers for Hanna and Kick-Ass. Consider yourself warned. In preparation for this post I ran a quick Internet search on child assassins and found this video from New York Magazine. While I wasn’t promised a video exclusively on child assassins here, and instead got something that explores the notion of child killers at large, this video conflates two categories of child killers that I think deserve remarkably different types of consideration. The great majority of killings performed by children in this video are from horror movies. From Rosemary’s Baby to The Omen to The Brood to Firestarter to the other Omen and beyond, the child/killer is an exhaustively repeated horror trope to the point of cliche (and is often confused with the simple overlapping category of “scary children,” like in The Shining and The Sixth Sense). But every so often a child-killer horror film comes along that works in line with the formula (The Children, anyone? Bueller? Okay, how about Let Me In?), reminding us why child killers still have the capacity to be engrossing and entertaining even if they’ve lost the ability to be outright horrifying: because they play on our society’s veneration of childhood innocence, replacing the ignorant bliss of childhood with benevolent, malicious intent to do harm to the much taller individuals that surround them. But child assassins are quite different from the overall category of child killers. And while two recent films in two subsequent spring movie seasons that feature child assassins, […]

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Join us each week as Rob Hunter takes a look at new DVD releases and gives his highly unqualified opinion as to which titles are worth BUYing, which are better off as RENTals, and which should be AVOIDed at all costs. And remember, these listings and category placements are meant as informational conversation starters only. But you can still tell Hunter how wrong he is in the comment section below. Several of this week’s new titles seem to be coming in pairs including… Bong Joon-ho’s first film as well as his latest, a pair of Roger Corman’s Cult Classics, the BBC’s Being Human and Look Around You, A Couple of Dicks from Kevin Smith, and more. See all of this week’s relevant DVD releases after the jump…

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