Paranormal Activity 3 (2011) -vs- The Blair Witch Project (1999)

October 20, 2011 Arthur Tiersky

Ingredients:
One hand-held camera. (Shake well.)
An ominous, mostly unseen supernatural force making largely off-camera mischief.
Lots of improvised bickering.
No stars, no music, nothing to suggest that any money was spent on anything.
An abruptly violent downer ending.
Blend for approximately 90 minutes, and presto! You’ve whipped up your very own POV horror flick! […]

Please Give (2010) -vs- Babies (2010)

May 14, 2010 Sherry Coben

Women’s breasts appear in a lot of movies. A lot. Usually, they’re gratuitous. Gratuitous, pneumatically enhanced and phony, fetishized dangling orbs meant to entice, designed for ogling. There. I’ve got your attention and I didn’t even have to unbutton my blouse. The breasts featured prominently in these two Smackdown contenders are all real and as far from exploitation as one could imagine. In the startling opening frames of “Please Give,” a series of disembodied, wordless and vulnerable milk glands get gently slapped, manipulated, and arranged under the harshest fluorescents. Readied for their respective mammograms, these random fleshy bundles of ducts and veins and possible disease are hardly ready for their decisively, definitively, defiantly unglamorous close-ups, and the tone is set. The bar is raised. In the remarkable French documentary “Babies,” mothers’ breasts appear frequently and utterly without the usual fanfare and sexual context. We’re on sacred ground, people. These movies weren’t made for teenage boys and the arrested men they’re destined to become. These films celebrate the human condition with honesty, integrity and very rare courage indeed.
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Anvil! The Story of Anvil (2008) -vs- The Hobart Shakespeareans (2005)

February 20, 2010 Sherry Coben

“Anvil! The Anvil Story” takes so many untelegraphed turns that it’s impossible to predict. The most unexpected thing is how inexplicably sweet the guys are, how truly touching their hopes and dreams, and how much we pull for them to make it on their terms. The filmmaker masterfully builds the narrative, adding salient biographical details and snippets of interviews captured on the fly, dropped like tantalizing breadcrumbs on our journey. I’m far from a metalhead; I’d never even heard of Anvil before seeing this documentary. Like another terrific metal band documentary, “Metallica: Some Kind of Monster,” this film doesn’t pander to fans. It goes deep and leaves us thinking about our own lives, our own relationships, and even – gulp – the meaning of life. Who’d a thunk it?
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