War Witch

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By the time I read Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game, I had already read a few Harry Potter books and I couldn’t help but think of the earlier sci-fi work initially as “Harry Potter in space.” It’s a comparison that continues for many now that the movie is out. “Harry Potter meets Star Wars,” claims a blurb used in UK ads credited to Sky Movies host Craig Stevens. And if you search Twitter for “Ender’s Game and Harry Potter” the results of both titles mentioned together is aplenty. All this is natural for the lazy way we relate movies to each other. The sad thing is some kids might think of the new movie as a derivative piece of YA fiction modeled after J.K. Rowling’s boy wizard. I don’t know if Potter was at all influenced by Ender’s Game. It’s not like Card’s book was the first messianic tale. The website TV Tropes even labels the relevant trope as “A Child Shall Lead Them,” a Biblical quote that also appears at the top of the New York Times review of the movie, in which critic Manohla Dargis breaks out the ol’ “Christ figure” descriptor for the main character. Still, I wish that I’d both read and seen the Harry Potters after reading/seeing Ender’s Game. If you’ve somehow avoided all the Hogwarts adventures before going to Battle School with the new Ender’s adaptation, consider yourself lucky. Watch the entire series now to see what I’m talking about. And right there I’ve got […]

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discs death force and vampire hookers

Welcome back to This Week In Discs! As always, if you see something you like, click on the image to buy it. Drive-In Collection: Death Force / Vampire Hookers In Death Force, Doug Russell (James Iglehart) is a soldier on the way home to his wife and infant son, but when he runs afoul of two supposed friends he’s left for dead in the middle of the ocean. Luckily he washes up on an island beach where he’s found, nursed back to health, and trained in the way of the samurai by two Japanese soldiers unaware that their war (WWII) ended years prior. Vampire Hookers doesn’t really need a synopsis, does it? Vinegar Syndrome’s latest double feature of obscure drive-in favorites is one of the good ones thanks mostly to the first feature. At its core it’s a revenge flick, but the story touches and fight choreography make it a surprisingly good time. In its uncut incarnation, aka Vengeance Is Mine!, it does for decapitations and gut slashings what Olympus Has Fallen did for head shots. Better, the numerous fight scenes are actually pretty great. And best? The ending! Vampire Hookers meanwhile comes from the same director (Cirio H. Santiago) but is a completely different beast tone-wise. It’s a comedy through and through, complete with physical gags, bats on strings, and a very vampy John Carradine. The seven minute-long (but relatively tame) sex scene stands out though. [DVD extras: Trailer]

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review war witch

Best Foreign Language Film nominee War Witch (aka Rebelle) is the story of a young girl kidnapped by a rebel army in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and forced into becoming a child soldier. Yet, despite the moral simplicity we often expect from the Oscars, it is not a film designed to make you weep and rally around a cause. I would argue that that film doesn’t exist, hasn’t existed, but that’s a conversation for another day. War Witch is not the long form cinematic equivalent of “Kony 2012” either. It is, rather, a beautifully wrought tale of humanity that is much more focused on its own characters than it is on your tears. If anything, Kim Nguyen’s Oscar-nominated feature has more in common with an adventure novel than any human rights campaign video. War Witch is three years in the life of a young girl, whose journey through central African life would be picaresque if it weren’t so earnest and genuine. The film opens on Komona (Rachel Mwanza) at twelve years old, living in a small village with her parents. She narrates her own story, with a lucidity reminiscent of 18th century autobiographical fiction. The biggest trauma comes almost immediately, as her world is destroyed by the makeshift army of the Grand Tiger. She is held at gunpoint by the rebels, handed a Kalashnikov, and forced to execute her parents. The ensuing 90 minutes, episodic and widely scoped as they might be, are in essence her recovery (and ours) from […]

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Best Foreign Language Film

More so than every other category at the Academy Awards, the winners of the Best Foreign Language category are rarely the actual best film. That’s due as much to the Academy’s voters as it is to the process that sees countries having to each choose a singular film to represent their entire annual output for the year. The process leaves brilliant and fantastic films out of the running each and every time. This year’s nominees feature a rarity in that one of the films is also up for Best Picture. That’s only happened three times, and in all three cases (Algeria’s Z, Italy’s Life is Beautiful and Taiwan’s Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon) the films won in the latter category. It seems obvious that they would simply by definition… if it’s the only one of the five up for Best Picture then isn’t it the Best Foreign Language by default? But I digress. The staggeringly problematic structure of the category aside, keep reading for a look at all five of this year’s nominees for Best Foreign Language Film along with my predicted winner in red…

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The 2012 Tribeca Film Festival will attack eyeballs from April 18-29, and they’ve launched their first offensive by declaring some of the movies they’ll have in their arsenal. That group includes James Franco and Ian Olds‘s Francophrenia (or Don’t Kill Me, I Know Where the Baby Is) which was filmed during tapings of Franco’s appearances on General Hospital. It also boasts new work from Harmony Korine and several of the most interesting-sounding flicks from the European Film Market. Check out the full list below:

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