Author Archive: cook.ashley

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Saw III

Saw III

| October 29, 2006

This new Jigsaw is a real bitch. Literally. In Saw III, Amanda (Shawnee Smith), once a victim herself, has taken up the gruesome, game-playing mantle of Jigsaw, creating clever contraptions that test a person’s will to live through pain and suffering. But Amanda isn’t interested in the old Jigsaw’s (Tobin Bell) tests: in her world, […]

Babel

Babel

| October 25, 2006

Crash is to Babel as artificial flavoring is to the real thing. Alejandro González Iñárritu, who proved his artistic chops in the violently beautiful Amores Perros (only to dull his vision for the monotonous 21 Grams) is back atop his game with a film that’s more interested in character than charting political undercurrents (Syriana), giving […]

School for Scoundrels

School for Scoundrels

| September 26, 2006

Todd Phillips has sure come a long way since Road Trip. No. Wait. No, he hasn’t. His latest, School for Scoundrels is a straightforward revenge comedy that lacks the charm of Starsky & Hutch’s unadulterated chemistry and Old School’s irrepressible spunk. Like Benchwarmers before it, Jon Heder rises up for the nerds of the world…but […]

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Wordplay

Wordplay

| September 24, 2006

It was inevitable that Will Shortz, the crossword editor of the New York Times (and uber-puzzler), would become the subject of a documentary. Not only is he the herald of what is called “the gold standard of crosswords,” but he’s a proud major in the little-studied field of enigmatology. If this funny-looking man of the […]

I Am a Sex Addict

I Am a Sex Addict

| September 24, 2006

Presented as a tongue-in-cheek meta-documentary, I Am a Sex Addict chronicles the life of Caveh Zahedi (also the writer/director), a man who is poignantly described as “constantly falling in love at the drop of a hat” but is more realistically a fetishist for prostitutes. The film doesn’t follow the poignant route–nor would we expect that […]

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12 and Holding

12 and Holding

| September 24, 2006

12 and Holding is a tragic coming-of-age story that strips away the expectations of security and takes a trio of young friends into shocking territory. The film starts with a familiar setup: a loner, picked on by bullies, is protected by his twin brother, who dumps a bucket of piss on the offenders from their […]

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Aurora Borealis

Aurora Borealis

| September 22, 2006

Every year, a few low-budget independent films have a good story, are shot well, and and contain performances well worth seeing. This year, Aurora Borealis is one of them. Shot in Minneapolis, it is the story of 25-year-old Duncan Shorter, who is a rolling stone in the river of life. He spends his time hanging […]

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American Gun

American Gun

| August 29, 2006

Crash was the big Hollywood salute to the racial divide in America. American Gun is the small independent response to the gun crisis. Both films take a patchwork approach towards identifying the problem, coming at different perspectives from all angles–but whereas Crash needed closure, American Gun accepts the less satisfying but more realistic ending. Aric […]

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Lonesome Jim

Lonesome Jim

| August 18, 2006

A precarious anti-hero who’s been beaten to a nervous breakdown by his older brother; an overly sweet heroine who doesn’t match the hero; crazy drug-addled friends, medicated relatives; a precocious little boy – yup, Lonesome Jim is an art flick. Under the guidance of Steve Buscemi, who directs like he’s making the unpretentious version of […]

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Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest

| July 11, 2006

It is unfair to call Dead Man’s Chest a Pirates of the Caribbean movie. This is a Pirate of the Caribbean film, based less on the Disneyworld ride, and even less on pirates, so much as on one specific pirate, Captain Jack Sparrow, the most gleeful anti-hero since Harrison Ford’s Han Solo or Indiana Jones. […]

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