Chloe (2010) -vs- Fatal Attraction (1987)

March 23, 2010 Bryce Zabel

If you’ve ever been loved by somebody too tightly, then you know how scary it could be to let someone in your life and then not know how to extricate yourself from their smothering grasp. The trick in erotic thrillers like “Chloe” and “Fatal Attraction” is execution. Too far on one side of the spectrum, they become cerebral. Too far on the other side, they become unintentionally comedic.

Although “Fatal Attraction” defined this genre back in the late 80s, it’s been re-visited over the years in films like “The Hand That Rocked the Cradle” and “Single White Female,” and now it gets brought to life again in “Chloe.” All I can say before we begin is that seeing these two back-to-back is enough to drive the average person to mandatory background checks on all potential lovers. Be afraid, be very afraid.
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The White Ribbon (2009) -vs- The Last Station (2009)

February 23, 2010 Sherry Coben

Over the fifteen months preceding the first world war, a series of increasingly strange events unfold in a tiny German town. (In this hamlet, something’s rotten in the state of Germany, not Denmark.) The denizens are not individual characters so much as monstrous archetypes; the landed baron a controlling overlord who gradually loses control, the doctor a cold, cruel, and sexually perverse father, the pastor sexually repressed and physically abusive to his many children, the schoolteacher ineffectual, romantic, and somewhat distracted. The children are beaten and tortured, molested and abandoned, mistreated and punished for every infraction. The women are muzzled, abused, and dispatched with not much fanfare. Even the crops suffer brutal beheadings, and the pets savagely killed. In revenge, they act out their dark fantasies, traveling in a creepy Children-of-the-Corn-style pack, walking in an ominously straight line, visiting mysterious cruelties on the different, the Other. All this ritualized punishment rains down on the entire town; initially, the town looks normal, but soon the bucolic vistas yield to a slow motion horror movie, all portent and unease.
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From Paris With Love (2010) -vs- Taken (2009)

February 12, 2010 Bryce Zabel

Watch out when the American CIA comes to Europe in any movie made by the collaboration between French filmmakers Pierre Morel and Luc Besson because the body count will be high and the local infra-structure will certainly suffer. While both of these films let their leads hunt down and kill prodigious amounts of bad guys, one of them wanted to be Taken seriously while the other one merely wants to let you know that it’s a comically violent gift sent you From Paris with Love. The truth is if the CIA really had any agents who behave like Liam Neeson or John Travolta, the entire War on Terrorism would probably have been wrapped up by now. And Paris would probably be burning. […]

I ♥ UK: The BAFTA Awards

February 4, 2010 Sherry Coben

Did you ever get the feeling that you woke up on the wrong side of the bed? I can top you. Every day, I wake up on the wrong side of the world. A longtime (perhaps even lifetime) Anglophile, I’ve always preferred Britcoms to sit-coms, the BBC to ABC. Cary Grant and Hugh Grant light my proverbial fire. I wouldn’t want to face a movie world without my dear Merchant-Ivory, Richard Curtis, and Mike Leigh. Without Monty Python, Blackadder, The League of Gentlemen, Ricky Gervais, Steve Coogan, Peter Cook & Dudley Moore, AbFab, Eddie Izzard, Stephen Fry, Simon Pegg, and other comedy geniuses too numerous to list here, life would be a darker and far less entertaining slog. Still, I’ve made my peace with my circumstance. My ancestors left the steppes of Russia for the promise of American freedom, and I accept that. I do.
But then I read this year’s list of BAFTA nominees.
It’s official. I do not belong here.
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A Woman in Berlin (2009) -vs- Downfall (2005)

August 28, 2009 Bryce Zabel

Even as “Inglourious Basterds” and its fast re-write on World War II storms the theaters, let’s put a couple of extremely controversial German films in our gun-sights as they re-visit the gory days of April 1945 when the Russians ripped apart Berlin. It’s a twisted “Upstairs/Downstairs” Smackdown… “A Woman in Berlin” is a story nobody in Germany or Russia wanted to talk about in the fifty years since the book it’s based on was published — namely that the invading Soviet soldiers raped up to 100,000 German women turning Berlin into “one big whorehouse.”
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District 9 (2009) -vs- Cloverfield (2008)

August 17, 2009 Rodney Twelftree

It’s that time of year again: the American blockbuster summer season, and again, we are under attack. Yeah, okay, so Katherine Heigl has inflicted some cinematic travesty yet again, but instead of being attacked by simpering, romantic fluffery, it’s the good old Hollywood staple: aliens. Thank God, because if I have to sit through another “He’s just Not That Into You” or “The Ugly Truth” I might just have to invent my own giant green death ray and obliterate something important. Last time round, the big monster tore shreds out of the Big Apple, gave the viewing public a real scare, and brought back vivid memories of “The Blair Witch Projects” vomit-inducing cinematography. This time, the extraterrestrial interlopers have been given a suburb of Johannesburg to inhabit, with typically human racist attitudes again becoming the most prevalent problem they face, as well as our desire to develop their technology into weaponry so we can destroy each other more effectively. So which one of these two modern alien blockbusters would have the upper hand in pitched battle? Read on to find out more. Oh, and if you’re an alien, please discontinue reading now. This computer is being monitored.
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Slumdog Millionaire (2008) -vs- The Kite Runner (2007)

December 27, 2008 Bryce Zabel

Childhood friendships can last a lifetime and have profound consequences. Both Slumdog Millionaire and The Kite Runner tell sweeping stories in the lives of two boys — a set of brothers in the former and a set of friends who act like brothers in the latter. They use narratives that cut back-and-forth across time, forcing them to use multiple sets of actors to portray their characters as boys turn to men. The contemporary story lines are deepened by the children’s experiences we see in flashback. Both films started as novels, force viewers (English-speaking ones anyway) to read a few subtitles and share settings — India and Afghanistan — that have been scarred by terrorism as deeply as the United States. And even though Slumdog Millionaire is assured of a “Best Picture” Oscar nomination this year (and currently, is the odds-on favorite to win), it’s still going to have to hold off The Kite Runner to win this Smackdown… […]

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