shunn: (Elder Shunn)
Reading this edition of "The Big Question" at got me thinking about the first R-rated movie I ever saw. The film itself—a Michael Douglas thriller called The Star Chamber—was not so memorable, but the circumstances around my viewing of it are, in retrospect, amusing.

The Star Chamber When I was growing up, the LDS Church strongly cautioned parents not to let their children see R-rated movies, so that was exactly the rule my parents established for us. I followed it, too, though not always happily.

I don't remember what it was about The Star Chamber that made me willing to break that rule. Since I was close to turning sixteen, it was probably just time for it to happen. My friend David, who was a little younger than I was, kind of wanted to see it too, so he asked his parents to take us. So, it was time plus opportunity, I suppose.

(I had seen R-rated movies already, but on video at friends' houses, not in an actual movie theater.)

We had to drive about ten miles north from Kaysville to Ogden to catch the movie. "I have only one condition for this," David's mother told me en route. She was an elementary school teacher, and in fact had already taught two of my sisters and was about to have a third start her class. She was a good Mormon woman, and my parents thought the world of her. "You can never, ever tell your parents I took you to an R-rated movie. Okay?"

I agreed, and getting away with something like that with the help of my sisters' grade-school teacher probably made the movie seem way cooler than it really was. Thank goodness for teachers.

This all happened thirty years ago, in August 1983. Interestingly, it was 1985 before my (sort of) hometown of Kaysville, Utah, ever saw an R-rated movie of its own. Kaysville had only one movie theater, the policy of which was to show nothing with a rating over PG (or maybe PG-13 by then).

It was huge news, then, when the theater decided to change its policy and show Beverly Hills Cop. The local Mormon congregations organized moms to come out and picket against the corruption of its child-safe, down-home entertainment venue.

Is it any wonder everyone seemed so fucked up at my 20-year high school reunion? I say that with all good humor.

Crossposted from Inhuman Swill
shunn: (Elder Shunn)
Back in September, I took advantage of the chance to support a very worthy-seeming Kickstarter project—helping to fund the completion of a documentary called Mormon Movie.

The director, Xan Aranda, also made festival favorite Andrew Bird: Fever Year, but this new project is something more personal. Check out this preview reel to see what I mean:

The Kickstarter campaign is long done, but you can still help support Mormon Movie at The Hideout this weekend in Chicago. Just buy a ticket to their third "They Shoot Indies, Don't They? Dance Derby Fundraiser Spectacular" and show up to dance and win prizes. It all gets started Saturday, February 2, at 7:00 pm at The Hideout, 1354 W. Wabansia. Tickets are just $10 in advance, $12 at the door.


I'd be there myself, except it's bowling night.

Crossposted from Inhuman Swill
Having seen the French caper flick Rififi last night, in which an alarm system is disabled with fire extinguisher foam, what are the odds that I would today read a Donald E. Westlake short story ("The Ultimate Caper: The Purloined Letter") in which an alarm system is disabled with Redi-Whip? Long odds, it seems to me. Long, long odds.

If I hadn't seen the movie last night, I doubt I would have caught that tiny joke in the Westlake story. Yet how many times have you caught a reference that you wouldn't have caught unless you'd seen, read or heard something else within a fairly short amount of time? I know it's happened to me quite often.

As uncanny as these coincidences seem, it seems to me that culture can only exist and be transmitted via a vast network of shared references. There must be a supply of these matching references that is limited only by number of nodes in our network of cultural references, a vast supply, which we only really notice when a pair of them smack us in the face, like foam defeating an alarm system. Rather than finding the coincidence usual, I tend to think that the strange thing is that we don't notice more of these coincidences. After all, they must be going on around us all the time.

Crossposted from Inhuman Swill
In junior high school, the Alistair MacLean virus swept through a lot of the boys and some of the girls in my class. I caught it from HMS Ulysses, which my father thrust into my hands at some point and told me I had to read. (He always maintained that war novels and spy novels were more instructive about the real world than science fiction novels.) In truth, though, I had theblackshrike.jpg probably caught a mutant strain of the virus in very early childhood, from the movie version of Ice Station Zebra. (My father on occasion would bring a film projector home from the school where he taught, along with library prints of flicks like that or Ivanhoe. I movies, I guess.)

Anyway, those of us afflicted scoured the school and public library shelves for every Alistair MacLean novel we could lay our hands on. Our guide, our index, our grimoire in this pursuit was that most magical of lists, the Also by This Author list in the fronts of the battered paperbacks we passed around. Many of those books were easily found, others discoverable with some detective work, two or three as vanishingly rare as Willy Wonka's Golden Tickets. We thought of them—though in terms more unformed than this phrase—as the MacLean Apocrypha.

I know now that the Apocrypha were apocryphal because they'd been published under different titles in the U.K. (The Secret Ways), been published under pseudonyms in the U.K. (The Satan Bug), or both. But I didn't know this, or care, when I finally managed to lay my hands on the Holy Grail of the Apocrypha—The Black Shrike.

I can only imagine with what anticipation I tore into that lurid tome with the ominous tropical landscape on the cover, an unreal book that seemed to have dropped from an alternate dimension. And as much as I hated to admit it to myself, I discovered an unfortunate fact about apocryphal writings.

There's a reason they're apocryphal. They aren't always very good.

Crossposted from Inhuman Swill
A couple of weeks ago, Laura and I bought tickets online for an evening showing of The King's Speech. We went out to dinner first but failed to leave ourselves enough time to get to the movie theater early. By the time we arrived, our theater was nearly full. We could have sat together in the front row or sat apart. Neither prospect appealed to us so we went to the box office and got a refund. We had to eat the $2.00 online ticketing fee, but it was our own fault for not getting there early enough for decent seats.

Last night we tried seeing The King's Speech again. This time we got to the theater a full hour early. This was probably overkill, but we did end up scoring ourselves the perfect spots, dead center two rows up in the stadium seating section.

Well before the previews started, we couldn't help but overhear an elderly couple bickering in the seats directly behind us. I rolled my eyes, hoping this wouldn't continue once the movie started.

The theater was filling up fast. Shortly after the old man excused himself to go buy popcorn or use the restroom or whatever, we heard a young woman asking the old woman if she would move over so she and her husband could sit together.

"I'm sorry," said the old woman, "but we arrived early so we could have these seats. My husband likes to sit in the center."

"But you could just move over one seat, and we could sit together."

"I'm sorry, but my husband likes to sit in the center."

"All you'd have to do is move over one seat."

"I don't want to move without asking my husband. He's not here right now. When he gets back, you can ask."

"Why won't you just move over one seat?"

The old woman was starting to sound peevish. "My husband likes to sit in the center. He's not here. When he gets back, I'll will ask him."

The young woman eventually went away. Laura and I heard another woman in the row behind us reassuring the old woman that she hadn't done anything wrong.

The movie started, and it was a wonderful film. We laughed, we cried, it became a part of us. The couple behind us didn't make a peep, at least not that I noticed. We were transported.

The lights came up and people started filing out. Laura and I always sit through the end credits when we can, so we stayed put in our seats. When the theater was nearly empty but the credits were still rolling, I heard a young man's voice in the row behind us.

"Excuse me, ma'am," he said, "but do you mind if I ask you question?"

"What is it?" asked the old woman, mildly.

"I want to ask you why you wouldn't move over one seat so my wife and I could sit together," the young man said. "I want to ask why you would be that rude."

"What do you mean? We got here early so we could get the seats we wanted. My husband was out."

"I wasn't here," chimed in her husband. They both sounded so old.

"Why would a person be that rude?" the young man said, with some hostility. "Not to move over one seat. My pregnant wife had to sit by herself."

From his tone, you would have thought the old woman had personally slugged his pregnant wife in the belly. Laura and I both turned around in our seats at the same time, and at the same time we both said, more or less, "She's not the rude one. You're the one being rude."

This was the first I had even seen what the old woman looked like. She had to have been at least eighty, sitting hunched in her seat like a frail, lumpy frog. Her hair looked purple in the half-light.

The young man, on the other hand, was small and slender but very tough-looking. He wore a skin-tight white T-shirt under his jacket, and his hair was shaved down to uniform stubble. He was no older than thirty.

"This is none of your business," he said to us. "How can you defend that kind of rudeness?"

"She didn't do anything wrong," Laura and I both insisted.

"I wasn't even here," the old man said.

My hands were shaking at this point. I am rather confrontation-averse, but who can sit by while some angry thug bullies an old woman?

The "conversation" went back and forth like that for a few more exchanges while I tried to mentally prepare for it to turn violent. Thankfully it never did, but it did end with the seething young man standing up and pointing a finger at the old woman as he retreated down the aisle.

"Shame on you, shame," he said. "And shame on you too, for your rudeness."

"I wasn't even here!" complained the old man.

"I'm not talking to you," said the young man, who was now nearly at the theater exit. "I talking to you and you. Shame on you two for encouraging this kind of rude behavior. Shame! Shame!"

Then he was gone.

The elderly couple thanked us profusely for taking their side, and we reassured them that we didn't think they'd done anything wrong. I kept an eye out for the guy as Laura and I exited the building, but we didn't see him.

We talked the incident over on the way home. We were both glad we had said something, and we were proud of having helped run off a builly. But there were other things we wished we'd had the presence of mind to say to him. One was, "What kind of person needs to bully an old woman just because he didn't get his way?" Another was, "Are you going to stop harassing this woman, or do I need to go talk to a manager?"

I don't know what you think about situations like this, but here's my take. I think there's a culture of entitlement at work here. I'm used to getting my way, I expect to get my way, and if I don't get my way then you are doing me injury. If there's something you could give me that I want and deserve and you don't give it to me, then you are a terrible person. You are rude.

It's a two-year-old's mentality, but you see it in adults all the time. I frequently act that way, I know. But the bottom line is, just because someone could give me something does not mean they are obligated to give it to me. I don't have a right to the theater seat of my choice any more than I have the right to punch you in the nose. Even though I might want to.

Yes, the old woman could have moved over a seat. (Or maybe she couldn't. I don't know what her mobility is like. Maybe she and her husband were waiting to leave until the theater was empty because it takes her five minutes just to stand up.) But when she doesn't, for whatever reason, the adult response is to nod your head and accept the consequences of not arriving at the theater half an hour early. The adult response is not to sit and stew so thoroughly through a two-hour movie that you have to start harassing an old woman afterward.

I don't know, maybe all bullying stems from a sense of entitlement. You have something I don't that I think I deserve to have, so I'm going to take it from you, you rude, selfish person. Even if that something is self-respect.

So that's my take on an incident I'm obviously still stewing over myself. What's your take? Who was right and who was wrong? Or was everyone wrong? I'd like to hear.
There's a good chance that you've seen this already, but if you haven't and you care about good, clear storytelling and you have 70 minutes to kill, you must watch this epic deconstruction of The Phantom Menace.

Aside from the pointless serial-killer subplot (seriously—the narrator of the review is supposed to be a delusional serial killer), this is a brilliant and funny dissection of why the Star Wars prequels suck so hard. It crystallized for me many of my own unfocused thoughts about the films, and gave me ten times as many new reasons to hate the them. The sequence where the reviewer asks friends to describe specific Star Wars characters is alone worth the price of admission.

Because of the 10-minute limit on YouTube content, the review is broken up into seven parts. (Part 7 doesn't always seem to play in its original configuration. If you have that problem, try this version of Part 7 instead.) Here's Part 1 to whet your appetite:

I'm reminded of a couple of my own objections to The Phantom Menace (which I have not seen since its opening week in 1999). First, I was disappointed that Anakin as a child showed no sign of any of the dark character traits—cruelty, rage, craftiness, whatever—that would later turn him into Darth Vader. That, for me, meant I felt no tension in his interactions with the other characters, and it made his eventual seduction by the Dark Side seem kind of arbitrary.

Second, even if that had been in the script, I doubt the child actor who played Anakin could have conveyed it. That kid had no charisma or acting ability whatsoever. I think I remember Orson Scott Card saying somewhere around that time that they were trying to get the same actor to play Ender. Why? Because Card wanted the Ender's Game movie to suck too?

Anyway, I hope this same reviewer tackles the other two prequels someday. After the clusterfuck that was Attack of the Clones, I didn't even bother seeing the third movie. Still haven't.
I love Google for its geeky in-jokes. If you haven't noticed this one before, search for "recursion" and see what the result page offers as a suggestion under Did you mean.

I'm also reminded of Inglourious Basterds, which I saw yesterday morning, in which one instance of the word "Merci" was translated in the subtitles as "Merci."
Early last week, Laura and I were lucky enough to win an invitation to a preview screening of the new comedy The Hangover, which opens today. Having been seeing the commercials for weeks already, I was looking forward to the screening. From the little I'd seen, the film looked right up my alley. Laura was more cautious going in, especially when our host Capone (of gleefully warned us we were about to see some disturbing images.

I won't beat around the bush. The Hangover may be the funniest movie I've seen in my life. Okay, that may be a bit of an exaggeration, but both Laura and I—and the rest of the audience—laughed so hard and loud that there was some dialogue we couldn't even hear. We hurt when we left the theater. I haven't laughed that hard at a movie since the first time I saw South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut.

The film is very cleverly written and structured. It follows a group of three men (Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms and Zach Galifianakis) who have taken their soon-to-be-married friend (Justin Bartha) to Las Vegas for an extended bachelor party. The three men wake up in the morning in a trashed hotel suite rife with clues that something big happened the night before, but with no memory of what that was. Oh, yes, and the groom is missing.

The main thrust of the plot details the friends' attempt to reconstruct the night's events and figure out where they lost track of the groom. Along the way, they meet not just a bevy of colorful characters and assorted weirdness, but also a good deal of violence. I'm tempted to drop hints about my favorite scenes—like the taser bit that just keeps getting funnier and funnier and funnier, even when the trailers have spoiled the final punchline—but I will resist the temptation. Given the media blitz that's been going on for weeks, you already know some of those bits, but that's only scratching the surface. You should go in with as clean a slate as possible.

As cunning as the screenplay is, it's Cooper, Helms, and Galifianakis that really make the film work. They are more than just funny. They've been allowed to create characters that are, in many ways, unlikeable. Cooper's character is that friend we all have who is charming and smarmy but always manages to make you feel like a pussy. Helms's character is henpecked and packs a really deep streak of ugly anger. And Galifianakis—let's just say that it takes some time to see that at the heart of his fearlessly offputting performance is a very sweet, innocent guy. But despite their frequent bickering, they still hang together and act relentlessly, even with heartbreaking bravery, to track down their missing friend. By the end of the movie, we feel a startling love for all these flawed, determined men.

Oh, and did I mention how fucking funny they are? And how fucking wrong this movie is? (Any movie that can get away with slamming a baby into a car door is okay in my book.)

I will admit that the laughter is not non-stop. A few short stretches of The Hangover do lag, but that's more than made up for by the intensity of the best sequences. (And by best I also mean most of the sequences.) The female characters in the film get short shrift also. The three important female characters essentially fit the archetypes of Virgin, Bitch, and Whore, and as winsomely enthusiastic as Heather Graham's performance is as the Whore, she is woefully underused. Mike Tyson's extended cameo is funny also, but seems more like a stunt than an integrated part of the movie. And the Asian stereotype wears a little thin.

But those are minor quibbles. The script plays very fair with the premise, piling complication on complication, and even providing an answer to the question of why no one can remember the previous night. I can't imagine seeing a funnier movie this year, or having a better time. Go see The Hangover. See it this weekend, with a big, enthusiastic crowd. Stay for the closing credits. And then go see it again so you can catch the lines people were laughing too hard to hear.

Some video links:

The real Caesar's Palace

Tiger in the bathroom

Stu's song
It has to have been 1988 when I first read Watchmen. I was a Mormon missionary stationed in Wenatchee, Washington—a zone leader, no less. We weren't allowed even to read newspapers or magazines, let alone comic books, but some sainted individual at church (I now forget who) had found out I was an aspiring science fiction writer and decided I needed to know about the most exciting thing to happen in the field in the time I'd been away. He (because he was definitely male) made me a gift of Issues 2 through 12.

I still remember the marathon reading session that went on that night. Two other elders were hanging out at our apartment that night, and as I finished each issue I would hand it off to my companion, who handed it off to the next elder, and so on. I think all our minds were blown that night, to one extent or another. I don't know what stood out for the other elders, but I was as fired up by the formal brilliance of the books, the panel-to-panel transitions and juxtapositions and visual motifs, as I was by the surface level of the story. Even at 20, I could tell that I had just watched a depth charge exploding against the hull of superhero mythology. I could also tell the blow had been delivered in a way no other medium could have accomplished.

My reading experience wasn't crippled, I think, by not having Issue 1 at hand, though the next day I dragged my companion to the first comics store I could find and plunked down something like ten dollars for a copy. That hurt a little, but it was still less than I would have paid for all twelves issues had I bought them as they came out. I still have those books, bagged in plastic and locked in the safe. I'd be hard-pressed to part with them, even though my Issue 1 is not from the first printing.

But now I digress. I've reread Watchmen many times over the years, and even turned my wife into a fan, so like any other fan I approached the news of a movie adaptation actually going into production with a mixture of excitement and apprehension. I didn't go to a midnight screening last Thursday night, but I did see the earliest showing I could get to on Friday. And I sat rapt, thrilled, and hypnotized for nearly three hours. Seeing those familiar scenes translated so beautifully and faithfully to the screen, I was transported.

Is it a good movie or not? I don't know. I honestly can't answer that question. There were moments that struck me as cheesy or overwrought, and certain alterations of the canonical text that I didn't think played as well on screen as they did in their original versions in the book (though I have to admit that, given the necessary simplifications of the plot, I thought the alteration of the ending worked very well in the context of the film). But I have a hard time divorcing myself enough from my pre-existing immersion in the Watchmen world to judge the movie on its own terms.

Would I have enjoyed the film as much as I did if I had never read the original comics? Would I have tolerated some of the hammy acting as well? Would I even have understood what still seems to me to be the top-level story's obvious critique of superhero archetypes, a subtext I believe actually survived the shearing off of the comic's deeper levels? Why did I love this moviegoing experience so much when I felt such utter loathing for the first two Lord of the Rings movies that I have never been able to bring myself to watch the third? I do not know. I can not answer these questions.

I do know that plenty of critics seem to have had their knives out for this movie, and not just for it but for the book and very industry that gave rise to it. Anthony Lane in The New Yorker, often a critic worth reading, leaps from a (perfectly fair) evisceration of the movie to a misunderstanding and violent condemnation of Alan Moore's original writing without even having read the book. (It's enough, to Lane, simply to have glanced at a few panels.) A.O. Scott of The New York Times salts his disapproving review with rhetoric that strongly implies he himself was a rabid Watchmen fan in college but has since grown the fuck up.

This is both more and less than I wanted to say on the topic of Watchmen. Really, everything else I've been thinking, which might reasonably be summarized as "I don't know why everyone is so upset," has been more deftly articulated by [ profile] asphalteden than I could do it. So please, read his review of Watchmen right now, and pretend that I am standing behind his shoulder nodding vigorously.
Friday night we headed over to the Landmark Theater at the Century Centre for a late-night showing of the Bruce Campbell–directed Bruce Campbell flick My Name Is Bruce. My review is over at

If you have any scintilla of interest in the Campbell oeuvre, you should see this flick. Campbell is currently on a promotional tour, and you can check here to see if he's coming to your town (or, um, if he's already been and you missed it). His live, faux-hostile Q&A sessions after the movie are possibly more entertaining than the movie itself, and should not be missed.

We were lucky enough that Campbell's Burn Notice costar Jeffrey Donovan, who is in town appearing in Don't Dress for Dinner at the Royal George Theater, joined the Q&A here as a surprise guest. Laura, who is a big fan, just about lost her mind. Campbell and Donovan together were as funny and profane as fuck. My 13-year-old son, in town with us for Thanksgiving, was beside himself, and actually held his own with Campbell in an exchange about the movie Congo.
Netflix is going to eliminate account profiles this September. If you don't know, that's the feature that allows you to maintain separate DVD queues under one account.

YMMV, but to me Netflix is taking a giant step backward with this move in terms of serving its customers. This feature was a godsend when they first implemented it. Until then, if I wanted to be sure I always had a Bill-movie on hand (as opposed to a Laura-movie or a Laura-and-Bill-movie), I had to work hard at managing my queue, moving a new Bill-movie to the top every time I sent a Bill-movie back. Profiles took all the effort out of that effort. I'm used to it now, and it pisses me off that they're taking it away and sending me back to the Stone Age.

Good customer service is about continually making things easier for the customer, not harder. It's about giving the customer good new stuff without taking good old stuff away. I hope Netflix has some killer features they're planning to roll out instead, because otherwise they've just made the first move that would make me reconsider how useful my subscription is to me. And they didn't even ask me first.
Should you jump in the stream, or let this one slip by? My review of Anthony Hopkins's Slipstream.

(Turned out I was closer to Stephen Holden than Roger Ebert on this one.)
It's been such a hell of a long time since I've received any hate mail, I almost forgot what it was like. Thank God that hole in my life is plugged again, though I was more than a little surprised that the precipitating incident was, apparently, my mild slagging-off of the film The Last Starfighter in the course of my nearly-three-year-old review of the stage-musical version of same. I said:

Even to its ardent defenders, the movie version of The Last Starfighter has always played like a low-rent version of Star Wars, with a thinner, more maudlin story, inferior special effects and a production design no more convincing than the original Star Trek's. The genius of this new adaptation lies in its recognition that these apparent weaknesses are really strengths when translated to the musical stage.
My estimable correspondent said:

Re: Your review of The Last Starfighter, musical and film versions.

I loved the movie.
I have it on DVD.
I consider it one of my favorite inspirational films.
The effects are ground breaking in this, the first film to rely completely on CGI.
If you told me the sky was blue, I'd check first.
Screw you, Mary.
Goodness. That's the last time I speak out of turn about the film's ardent defenders. And I won't breathe a word about Tron.
I saw a little British film called Cashback earlier this week at a strange mall here in Chicago that seems to have modeled itself after the Guggenheim. I'll tell you about the movie over at Science Fiction Weekly. The mall, well, let's just say the spiraling ramp frustrated my best efforts to exit.
In more news for New York SF fans, check out the HBO Bryant Park Summer Film Festival schedule and start planning your picnic for June 25th.
Do the Right Thing, Sesame Street style.
What a hectic day yesterday was! After most of a frantic morning at the office, I sneaked out to spend an extended lunch hour watching the new independent supernatural thriller First Snow, after which I rushed back to the office to crank out a quick same-day review for, then stayed late at the office working frantically to try to make up for some of the chaos my absence had caused.

At home that night, even with a nice glass of Lagavulin in hand, watching Borat on DVD did little to relax me. Call me not a fan.

This morning Laura and I hauled two rolling suitcases full of books from Queens to the Strand in Manhattan. Nice little payday, and not one of our books was rejected. Laura has really figured out what books they'll take and which ones they won't—which is nice, because the Strand used-book counter I remember from my early days in the city is one characterized by sneering and snobbishness. I like this morning's Strand much better.
What is going on in Mexico? First Pan's Labyrinth from Guillermo del Toro, and now Children of Men from Alfonso Cuarón, both directors whose work I've admired in the past but who have far exceeded themselves this movie season.

I finally saw Children of Men last night, and I wish I'd done so sooner since then my Hugo nominating ballot would have looked a bit different. I can't say enough good about this film. Adapted very loosely from the bloodless P.D. James novel, it's dystopian science fiction of a high order, and movie-making of an even higher order.

I won't belabor the wealth of throwaway details tucked away throughout the movie that makes its near-future landscape seem so real and plausible, like the little laser-painted warning symbol that appears on a shattered car windshield in a corner of the screen. I won't touch on the subtleties of character and symbolism worked almost subliminally into the fabric of the film, such as the way the inherent trustworthiness of Clive Owens' character is illustrated in the way all the animals in the movie are quietly drawn to him.

But I will rhapsodize about the way Cuarón directs his spectacular, thrilling, and harrowing action set pieces. From a terrifying ambush shot mostly from inside the crowded target car to a tense escape scene where both the pursuers and their quarry are trying to compression-start their vehicles on a long-but-not-long-enough downslope to Owens' epic scamper through a battle between various insurgent groups and Homeland Security troops in a refugee camp for illegal aliens that looks more like Beirut than Brixham, Cuarón manages to put the viewer right in the center of the brilliantly choreographed action while still conveying a perfect sense of what's going on everywhere at every moment. His mastery is such that you don't lose your place in the action or have any trouble following what's happening. His vision is cohesive and coherent.

This stands in contrast to most action movies today, which substitute flashy, choppy editing, blurred camera moves, and confusion for true, clear-eyed excitement. Just try to find the edits in Cuarón's action scenes. They're there (except in one magnificent extended tracking shot during the refugee camp battle), but they're so organic to the action that you hardly notice. Cuarón's direction in Children of Men is a masterclass in how to do it right.

Children of Men paints a vision of a grim future, but its style, always in service to its story, is so virtuosic that the movie becomes a joy to watch. I want to see it again.
My review of the new German film Requiem, about a girl who believes she is possessed by demons, is now available at Sci Fi Weekly.
My review of the new French animated film Renaissance (opening today in selected U.S. cities) is available now at Sci Fi Weekly.

(Also, you should check out the English and original French versions of the movie web site. I like the French version of the trailer better, even though I don't understand most of it.)

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