<p>Joss Whedon regulars Alexis Denisof and Amy Acker pitch woo in 'Much Ado About Nothing' to charming effect</p>

Joss Whedon regulars Alexis Denisof and Amy Acker pitch woo in 'Much Ado About Nothing' to charming effect

Credit: Bellwether Pictures

Review: Joss Whedon's 'Much Ado About Nothing' is light and funny modern spin on the Bard

HitFix
B+
Readers
n/a
A cast of familiar faces should please Whedon's fans enormously

Joss Whedon is having one of those years that most filmmakers only dream of having, and the real winner is the audience.

First, the film that he co-wrote and produced, "Cabin In The Woods," was finally released after it sat on a shelf for two years because of financial problems at MGM, and it would have been easy for that film to have gotten permanently lost.  instead, it was met with open arms by genre fans, and it seems like it is well on its way to its rightful place as a cult classic.  Then "The Avengers" conquered the summer and finally gave him a monster box-office hit he can call his own, an important step if he's going to have an sort of career longevity working on the bigscreen.  And now, finally, we've got "Much Ado About Nothing," a micro-budget personal take on Shakespeare's play, cast largely with actors who will seem very familiar to people already fans of Whedon's work.

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<p>Joaquin Phoenix is astonishing in 'The Master' even when the film can't live up to his performance</p>

Joaquin Phoenix is astonishing in 'The Master' even when the film can't live up to his performance

Credit: The Weinstein Company

Review: 'The Master' features searing performances around a hollow center

HitFix
B-
Readers
B-
An actor's showcase with an oddly thin script does not resonate

There are few filmmakers working whose output has been as consistently exciting and rewarding as Paul Thomas Anderson, and there are few films I have anticipated with as much confidence this year as "The Master."

So you'll understand if it unnerves me a bit to find that I don't love it.

I respect it and even admire it, but for the first time, I find myself struggling to connect on that extra level that we reserve for the films that matter most to us.  "The Master" is, as was rumored, a fictionalized look at the dynamics that existed in the early days of Scientology, but simply viewing it through that prism, looking for the parallels and trying to parse Anderson's stance on the house that Hubbard built, would be a simplistic way to approach it.  Instead, I think the film is really trying to grapple with the way broken or damaged people reach for salvation and balance and the extremes they will suffer in the futile hope that someone else will give them the answers, which is certainly fertile ground for drama.

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<p>Halle Berry and Tom Hanks are just two of the actors who took the incredible journey of 'Cloud Atlas' with Lana and Andy Wachowski and Tom Tykwer</p>

Halle Berry and Tom Hanks are just two of the actors who took the incredible journey of 'Cloud Atlas' with Lana and Andy Wachowski and Tom Tykwer

Credit: Warner Bros.

Review: Tom Hanks and Halle Berry take a soulful journey in the transcendent 'Cloud Atlas'

HitFix
A+
Readers
A
Tom Tykwer and Lana and Andy Wachowski join forces for a challenging, daring new vision

I can tell you this:  we'll definitely be running a Second Look piece about this film after it's in theaters, because it is a remarkable movie experience, one that cannot be digested easily, and any attempt to dig in fully would rob you of the sense of discovery that washed over me as I sat in the theater.

No matter what the subject matter, the combination of Lana and Andy Wachowski and Tom Tykwer would be reason enough to be excited.  The novel they adapted, though, is something very special, and a huge challenge for anybody looking to turn it into a film.  Walking into the film, I was hoping for something ambitious and different.  What I got was one of my two favorite films of the year so far, a movie I'll be returning to again and again, a unique and beautiful work of film art that dares to dream big in a way we rarely see from either studios or independent sources.

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<p>Colin Farrell, Christopher Walken, and Sam Rockwell all do tremendous work in the new dark comedy 'Seven Psychopaths'</p>

Colin Farrell, Christopher Walken, and Sam Rockwell all do tremendous work in the new dark comedy 'Seven Psychopaths'

Credit: CBS Films

Review: Sam Rockwell and Chris Walken soar in seriously silly 'Seven Psychopaths'

HitFix
A-
Readers
A-
The new film reunites the star and director of 'In Bruges' to tremendous effect

Martin McDonagh's film "In Bruges" was one of those tiny movies that many audiences simply didn't notice when it was released, but the people who did see it ended up devoted to it.  The film's reputation has grown in the last few years, helped in large part by McDonagh's work on stage, and now he's once again working with Colin Farrell.  The result, "Seven Psychopaths," is perhaps the most interesting implosion of narrative convention since "Adaptation," and it works as a comedy first and a commentary on the entire idea of violence as entertainment.

Marty (Farrell) is a screenwriter who is struggling to figure out his new script, a piece called "Seven Psychopaths," and as the film opens, pretty much all he has is the title and one of the psychopaths.  His best friend, Billy (Sam Rockwell), wants to help him with the script.  He's convinced that Marty is a great writer and that "Seven Psychopaths" could be a great film.  The problem is that Marty wants to write a movie about lunatics, but he wants to find a way to do it without violence, sending a message of peace that will be uplifting, and Billy's pretty sure that's going to be impossible.

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<p>Logan Lerman, Ezra Miller, and Emma Watson all do remarkable work in 'The Perks Of Being A Wallflower'</p>

Logan Lerman, Ezra Miller, and Emma Watson all do remarkable work in 'The Perks Of Being A Wallflower'

Credit: Summit Entertainment

Review: Logan Lerman and Emma Watson light up the lovely 'Perks Of Being A Wallflower"

HitFix
A-
Readers
B+
Gorgeous heartfelt look at adolescent angst offers up a great ensemble.

One of the best moments of the entire festival for me so far was seeing Rory Cochrane join Ben Affleck onstage during the introduction for "Argo."  The two of them co-starred in one of my favorite films, "Dazed and Confused," and it was just great to see them together again.  The thing I've always loved most about that movie is the way it captured that feeling of those long, weird adolescent days when curfew was broken and substances were imbibed and nothing seemed to matter except the moment.

Stephen Chbosky's film adaptation of his novel, "The Perks Of Being A Wallflower," is equally adept at evoking the feeling of being young and unfocused and full of potential and desire without focus.  It is smart, it is delicately made, and it is played perfectly by its young ensemble cast.  I haven't read his book, so I can't tell you how faithful the film is, but I can tell you that it affected me deeply and moved me greatly.  It is a wonderful, tender thing, and I hope this is just the beginning of what we see from Chbosky as a filmmaker.

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<p>Karl Urban as Judge Dredd feels the heat in a scene from 'Dredd 3D'</p>

Karl Urban as Judge Dredd feels the heat in a scene from 'Dredd 3D'

Credit: Lionsgate

Want to win an early screening of 'Dredd 3D' for you and your Mega-City?

We've got the details on you can enter to win

Right now, I'm seeing a tendency among studios to do special free screenings based on demand that they try to calibrate by using various new companies and methods, and it's exciting.  Nothing speaks better for a film than screening the film itself, and today, we've got a chance for you to win a local screening of Lionsgate's new release, "Dredd 3D".

It's simple to enter, too.  Remember, in the world of "Dredd 3D," there is just one city, but it stretches from Boston to Washington DC, and it's now called Mega-City One.  Keep that in mind as you check out what Lionsgate had to say about the event:

Citizens of Mega-City One, the law is on your side!  If this is not your city block, simply head on over to The Dredd Report, the number one news source for all things Mega-City One, where you can see if your block has been chosen and enter to win an early screening of DREDD 3D, in theaters September 21.

All you need to do is send an e-mail to info@hitfix.com and be sure to include your full name, age, and the city/town where you live, with the subject line "Dredd 3D Phoenix."  You can do that any time between now and Monday the 10th at 12:00 noon PST.  We'll be sending out e-mail notifications to the winners as well as posting their names here in this article on Monday.

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<p>Karl Urban IS the law in 'Dredd 3D'</p>

Karl Urban IS the law in 'Dredd 3D'

Credit: Lionsgate

Review: 'Dredd 3D' offers up a grimy hyper-violent faithful take on the comic icon

HitFix
B
Readers
A-
Stylish and bloody, 'Dredd 3D' should give genre fans a thrill

For many Americans, 1995's Danny Cannon film "Judge Dredd" was their introduction to the long-running English comic book, and it managed to poison the well for the character almost completely.  Hopefully enough time has passed that when audiences walk into "Dredd 3D" later this month, the 1995 version is no longer an issue for them and they're able to just give this new film a shot without any baggage.

I'd heard good things after the Comic-Con screenings of the film, and it seems to be picking up a head of steam as far as critical reactions are concerned.  There were rumbles about behind-the-scenes difficulties during production, but none of that is visible in the final product, which is a hyper-violent action film that manages to perfectly capture a sort of world-weary attitude that really sells the reality of life in Mega City 1.  Karl Urban's performance as Judge Dredd, a legendary figure in the city, is suitably grim and badass, and there's not a hint of ego in the way he vanishes into that costume and that permanent scowl.  We see one quick encounter between Dredd and a van full of genuinely stupid criminals at the start of the film, one of them taking hits of a drug called Slo-Mo that seems to almost freeze time for the user.  Right away, you get a sense of just how far the film will go in terms of violence when Dredd fires what is essentially a flare into a guy's mouth, causing his whole head to catch on fire from the inside.  It's a crazy image, and just a hint of what's ahead.

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<p>Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Bruce Willis play opposite ends of the same life in 'Looper'</p>

Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Bruce Willis play opposite ends of the same life in 'Looper'

Credit: Sony Pictures

Review: Joseph Gordon-Levitt kills in the human and heady 'Looper'

HitFix
A
Readers
B+
One of the year's best films mixes big ideas and big emotion to stunning effect

One of the oldest time travel "what if" questions deals with the very idea of changing the future through one single action.  "If you could go back in time and kill Adolf Hitler as a child, would you?"  After all, with that one action, you would erase so much pain and horror that it seems like a more-than-fair trade, right?

But what if instead of immediately leaping to the idea of murdering a child, no matter who that child is or is going to become, you took a less easy route?  What if you went back in time and raised Hitler Jewish instead?  What if instead of killing him, you connected him to a faith and a tradition and you changed his entire set of values and beliefs?  It's not a single action, and it doesn't sound easy, but it does raise a far more pointed question about the hypothetical situation.  Can you erase an evil by committing an evil?  Can you do good by doing bad?

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<p>Be afraid, Chris... be very afraid.</p>

Be afraid, Chris... be very afraid.

Credit: Jeff Wadlow/Universal Pictures

'Kick-Ass 2' director Jeff Wadlow teases the start of production on Twitter

A half-glimpse of Mother Russia is just one of the highlights so far

That look on Chris Mintz-Plasse's face pretty much says it all.

It is slightly miraculous that there is a "Kick-Ass" sequel.  I really like the first film, but while it did decent business, I wasn't convinced it did enough business for them to move forward with a follow-up.  Even when Mark Millar and John Romita Jr. published the sequel as a comic, it didn't seem like any sort of guarantee.

Over the last few months, the film's been coming into focus as they've started casting and as the returning cast has started talking about getting back to the characters they played in the first film.  I've interviewed Chris as well as Aaron Johnson and Chloe Grace Moretz this summer, and they all said they were looking forward to a return to the world of the movie, but I also got a sense of caution from them, as if they were aware just how tenuous the whole idea was.

About a month ago, I finally read Jeff Wadlow's script for the film, and as far as I'm concerned, this thing can't get to theaters fast enough.  If you didn't like the first one, I'm not sure the sequel will change your mind, but if you did, they're turning everything up this time.  And if the new cast they're adding is any indication, it's going to be a much crazier movie.

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<p>His role in 'The Slammin' Salmon' gave Duncan a big showcase for his big personality.</p>

His role in 'The Slammin' Salmon' gave Duncan a big showcase for his big personality.

Credit: Anchor Bay Entertainment

A personal goodbye to 'Green Mile' star Michael Clarke Duncan

A look back at the moment that gave him the rest of his career

The term "gentle giant" is a cliche, but in the case of Michael Clarke Duncan, it was completely appropriate.

I find it difficult to believe that Duncan is gone.  I find it hard to write about his passing, because it doesn't seem real.  Duncan was one of the most genuine wide-open souls I've ever had the pleasure of meeting, and my many encounters with him over the years all left me convinced he was someone who would work for the rest of his life, always in demand, always good when he's hired.

I remember hearing about him first.  Harry Knowles came back from his visit to the set of "Armageddon" completely and utterly in love with him.  No other way to put it.  Harry was convinced that of the entire sprawling ensemble, positively dripping with testosterone, Michael Clarke Duncan was the biggest personality, the guy he couldn't stop watching.  He was doing other films, busy with TV work, but "Armageddon" was a major jump into the foreground for him.  You can see him in "Bulworth" and "A Night At The Roxbury," and he's good considering what he's given to play, but he had to find the right thing, something that really showcased him.

Then came "The Green Mile."

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