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Kevin Bacon (#110 of 5)

15 Famous Cabins in the Woods

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15 Famous Cabins in the Woods
15 Famous Cabins in the Woods

This weekend sees the release of Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard’s The Cabin in the Woods, the most anticipated and buzzed-about horror film in some time. The setup is indeed the same one you’ve experienced over and over: a group of partying, young-adult archetypes head to a remote getaway, only to find terrifying carnage. But the guys behind Cabin delve far deeper into the geek abyss than many viewers will expect, emerging with a gonzo, convoluted send-up that stirs the pot even as it flies off the rails (no spoilers here, kids). The titular locale is but a dilapidated entry point, and we’ve got 15 more shacks that have opened their doors for audiences through the years.

15 Famous Kids with Bikes

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15 Famous Kids with Bikes
15 Famous Kids with Bikes

Pedaling its way into theaters this weekend (and surely a lot of hearts too) is the Dardenne Brothers’ beautiful and poetic The Kid with a Bike, whose red-shirted, redemption-bound lead, Thomas Doret, should be penciled onto your shortlist of Best Actors for 2012. They may not be as common as the boy-and-his-dog tale, but stories about kids and their bikes have long been hitting screens (as evidenced herein, the 1980s, in particular, had a bike-film free-for-all). So before you check out this new can’t-miss slice of cycling cinema, dig into our list, likely the only one to put Nicole Kidman in the company of Lori Loughlin.

Berlinale 2012 The Captive, Flowers of War, Sister, Jayne Mansfield’s Car, & Meteora

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Berlinale 2012: The Captive, Flowers of War, Sister, Jayne Mansfield’s Car, and Meteora
Berlinale 2012: The Captive, Flowers of War, Sister, Jayne Mansfield’s Car, and Meteora

Berlinale, the most smoothly run of all major festivals, is a pleasure for the Anglophone. Everybody speaks English and most of the non-English-language films have English subtitles rather than German. However, this Anglo-centricism seems to be creeping into several films here, among those from the Philippines, China and Switzerland, which suffer from the misguided idea that they would attract a wider audience, especially an American one.

English is the lingua franca of Brillante Mendoza’s The Captive, which seems to have been directed by his younger brother, Mediocre Mendoza. Based on a true story of the kidnapping of a group of tourists and Christian missionaries by a group of armed men belonging to a militant Islamist group, it fails the first principal of a disaster movie: identification with the victims. Except for Isabelle Huppert, as one of the missionaries, they’re an anonymous lot. Only toward the end of a long two hours, during which we are subjected to what can be called “wobblyscope”—jerky handheld camerawork intending to give the story the immediacy of a documentary, relieved only a few times by a crane shot or two—is there a feeble attempt to get Huppert to relate to one of her captors, a 15-year-old soldier. Mendoza seems to think that it’s enough to present the hardships the victims suffered in the Philippine jungle at the hands of Islamist fanatics without any overarching viewpoint.

SXSW 2011: Super, 13 Assassins, Last Days Here, The Beaver, Scenes from the Suburbs, and Natural Selection

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SXSW 2011: <em>Super</em>, <em>13 Assassins</em>, <em>Last Days Here</em>, <em>The Beaver</em>, <em>Scenes from the Suburbs</em>, and <em>Natural Selection</em>
SXSW 2011: <em>Super</em>, <em>13 Assassins</em>, <em>Last Days Here</em>, <em>The Beaver</em>, <em>Scenes from the Suburbs</em>, and <em>Natural Selection</em>

Trying to fit in, like, four or five screenings a day at South by Southwest—a task at which I mostly failed until, maybe, my last two days in Austin, Texas—inevitably took away valuable time to write about everything I saw at the festival that I found of interest, for well and ill. So while I managed to squeeze in time to write about some of my favorites (The City Dark, American Animal, and Bellflower, especially), consider this last dispatch (from me, anyway) a run-down, with brief commentary, of a few others I saw that I either loved, liked, or didn’t like but at least found interesting enough to say something about. Oh, and yeah, Natural Selection, the big SXSW narrative feature award winner.

New York Telephone Mélo: Jieho Lee’s The Air I Breathe

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New York Telephone Mélo: Jieho Lee’s <em>The Air I Breathe</em>
New York Telephone Mélo: Jieho Lee’s <em>The Air I Breathe</em>

The Air I Breathe is a slick little shit-slinger, one of those “we’re all connected” mélos that seem to be the rage these days (check my colleague, Steven Boone’s, encounter with a Euro cousin of the genre—same bat-festival). Not that there’s anything wrong with this particular cinema subgroup, which various and sundry have traced back to Paul Haggis’ Crash, Paul Thomas Anderson’s Magnolia, and Robert Altman’s Short Cuts; it’s just a particular kind of narrative storytelling (typically in service of, or enslaved to, a massive ensemble cast) where the pretentious reach more often than not exceeds the philosophical grasp.