Cinderella (USA: 2015): In case you haven’t heard, the shoe fits and she marries well

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As a children’s film, Kenneth Branaugh’s live action Cinderella is probably worth a visit for the high production values, lush sets, gorgeous costumes, and magical CGI. For adults, however, the movie offers nothing more than Disney’s take on the story from 1950 with no noteworthy changes that might offer a new perspective on the same old story.

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Children:
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Adults
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Tell No One (Italy: 2012): Coming Out, Italian Style

come-non-detto-e1342776572599-600x392A classic Italian-style comedy, Ivan Silvestrini’s Tell No One focuses on contemporary attitudes toward homosexuality through one man’s attempt to either come out to his family on his last night in Rome or risk having his lover do it for him. While it is consistently funny, there isn’t enough new to the story to push the film out of the average zone.

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Kundo: Age of the Rampant (Korea: 2014)

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Jung-woo Ha: the clear-eyed, incorruptible, horse-hung butcher for justice.

Jung-woo Ha and Dong-won Kang shine in this period-action film about a clash of two men cast aside by Joeseon society. Director Jong-bin Yoon pulls Kundo together from a mix of styles, heavy on the Spaghetti western, but true to contempory Korean martial arts action. Overall, the film stays light and fun, but the slow exposition over the 137 minute run time keeps this good film from greatness.

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What we do in the Shadows: (New Zealand: 2014): Five Vampires and a Guy Named Stu

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Winner of the People’s Choice Award at last year’s Toronto Film Festival, Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi’s Vampire mockumentary, What We Do in the Shadows, is finally making the rounds in the US. It answers some pressing questions we’ve had about the prospects for the undead since terrorizing peasants from haunted castles is no longer in fashion. Surprisingly, they are doing just fine in Wellington, New Zealand, repairing their love lives and arguing about household chores.

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Brazil (UK: 1985): A Review at 30

An entry in a periodic series of reviews of films celebrating milestones in 2015

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Brief Review: Terrorism, state torture, the ease at which our humanity can be manipulated away and clinging to the hope that escaping into dreams of love can break us free. I wish I could say its themes are dated. Brazil is still visually stunning. There may be a handful of better dystopian films, and certainly ones that pack more thrills, but since the root social problems that the movie explores are still with us, Brazil remains a vital expression of our fears of the present.

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Release Date: February 22, 1985

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Paddington (USA/UK: 2014): The polite bear won me over

Michael Bond's classic bear keeps his classic look.

Michael Bond’s classic bear keeps his classic look.

True to the storied bear’s origin, funny and cinematically sophisticated, Paul King’s Paddington is a children’s film that actually works. Great care obviously went into the production, with effects placed into a children’s live action film at levels of quality I have not seen since Hugo. What is “real” and what is the effects team’s imagination blend almost seamlessly.

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