<p>Ryan Gosling gives good smart in George Clooney's new film 'The Ides Of March'</p>

Ryan Gosling gives good smart in George Clooney's new film 'The Ides Of March'

Credit: Columbia Pictures

Review: Clooney's 'Ides Of March' is smart conversation-starter

HitFix
B-
Readers
B+
Film doesn't work dramatically as a whole, but still packs a punch

It will not come as a shock to any moderately-aware adult living in America that modern politics is a shell game for the corrupt, but even if you already know the ideas that fuel George Clooney's latest film as a director, "Ides Of March," there is a certain amount of dramatic pleasure to be taken from watching the exact moment where someone's idealism flickers out and dies forever.  While the film's script has some issues, and there are a few choices that I found distracting, overall, this is a solid adult drama that benefits enormously from a strong and compelling cast.

Stephen Myers (Ryan Gosling) is the assistant campaign manager for Governor Michael Morris (George Clooney), a tough-talking Democratic Presidential candidate still mired in primary season.  Steven and his superior, the much-more-jaded Paul Zara (Philip Seymour Hoffman), are both confident that they've got a winning candidate in Morris, but for Stephen it goes deeper than that.  Paul's a killer, the sort of campaign manager who puts victory above everything else, while Stephen actually still feels like he needs to believe in the person he's working for, and in Morris, he feels like he finally has that Presidential idea, a good man with good ideas.  Their opponent in the primaries, Sentator Pullman (Michael Mantell), is a faceless obstacle to them, represented mainly by his campaign manager, Tom Duffy (Paul Giamatti).  Duffy admires Stephen and the way he works a room, and he makes no secret of the fact that he'd love to hire Stephen away.

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<p>Antonio Banderas and Elena Anaya share a not-entirely-normal post-coital cuddle in Almodovar's new film 'The Skin I Live In'</p>

Antonio Banderas and Elena Anaya share a not-entirely-normal post-coital cuddle in Almodovar's new film 'The Skin I Live In'

Credit: Sony Pictures Classics

Review: Antonio Banderas does very bad things in Almodovar's 'The Skin I Live In'

HitFix
B-
Readers
B
Crazy revenge film is most outrageous Almodovar in years

When I was first introduced to the work of Pedro Almodovar, I was in college, and the only local arthouse theater booked a one-week run of "Matador."  This was well before he had become internationally respectable, before he turned into one of the masters of melodrama, when he was still this slightly crazy Spanish indie upstart making sex-soaked movies about death and madness.  "Matador" also marked the first time I saw Antonio Banderas in something, and the two of them seemed to be in tune with one another.  I love when filmmakers and actors have ongoing creative relationships because you see all sorts of interesting things happen over the course of time.  Little wonder, then, that "The Skin I Live In" marks a return to the early crazy grindhouse sensibilities of Almodovar since it is his first collaboration with Banderas in over a decade.

This is a hard film to discuss without spoilers, but I'm going to do my best to not ruin things.  After all, when I walked in and sat down, I knew nothing beyond having seen a few still images, and with a film like this, built around a mid-movie paradigm shift, it is incredibly easy to ruin the experience for someone else with one or two careless word choices.  Based on a novel by Thierry Jonquet, this is a mad scientist film wrapped in a disturbing exploration of gender politics, and it unfolds with an overheated intensity that I found both darkly hilarious and occasionally even moving.

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<p>The poster for Bobcast Goldthwait's new film 'God Bless America.'</p>

The poster for Bobcast Goldthwait's new film 'God Bless America.'

Exclusive: Check out the poster for Bobcat Goldthwait's new film 'God Bless America'

The black comedy premieres Friday night at the Toronto Film Festival

TORONTO - One of the films that I've most enjoyed discovering since moving to HitFix was at the Sundance Film Festival a few years ago, when Bobcat Goldthwait's "World's Greatest Dad" knocked me flat.  It's as dark as dark comedy gets, and it features one of the very best Robin Williams performances in recent memory.

Because of that, it's probably accurate to say that there are few films I am more excited for at this year's Toronto festival than Goldthwait's newest movie, "God Bless America."  I know very little, and that's the way I'd like to keep it.  Right now, I've read a short synopsis, I've seen about three images, and today, we're going to premiere the poster for the movie exclusively here at Motion/Captured.

If you aren't familiar with the film yet, it sounds like Goldthwait is once again working at pitch black, and that excites me.  There are very few people making smart comedies for adults these days, and what I love about the work he's doing these days is that Goldthwait means it.  He's making crazy funny movies, but he's deadly serious about it.

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<p>Iko Uwais really, really, really does not like Bob Marley</p>

Iko Uwais really, really, really does not like Bob Marley

Credit: Sony Pictures

Review: Toronto's Midnight Madness kicks off with brutal, bone-crunching 'The Raid'

HitFix
A
Readers
A+
Iko Uwais may be the most dangerous man in movies today

Gareth Evans introduced the Indonesian martial art of silat to the world in his 2009 action film "Merantau," and I quite liked the film when I reviewed it at Fantastic Fest that year.  I knew that Evans was working with the star of that film, Iko Uwais, on a new movie, and I knew it was the opening night film at this year's Midnight Madness program here at the Toronto Film Festival.

What I did not know is that this time, Evans and Uwais came with a plan of taking no prisoners.  They came to destroy, and there is little doubt that they absolutely flattened a packed Ryerson theater at midnight tonight.  I haven't seen an action film this unrelenting and punishing in quite a while, and I think Evans has set the bar very high for himself moving forward.  "The Raid" is not just a bone-crunching visceral experience, but it is also a tidy, efficient piece of storytelling with just enough pause for character to push this from good to great.  It is a near perfect action movie, paced tremendously, with bad guys who are genuinely awful, and shot in such a way that you feel every single punch or kick when it lands.

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<p>Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill co-star in the exceptional new film 'Moneyball'</p>

Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill co-star in the exceptional new film 'Moneyball'

Credit: Columbia Pictures

Review: 'Moneyball' features Brad Pitt at his best and strong script by two of Hollywood's best

HitFix
A
Readers
B+
Jonah Hill gives a career-changing performance in supporting role

Anytime I write reviews involving sports movies, particularly if they're based on real-life incidents, I brace myself for the inevitable corrections to something I've said.  I don't pretend to be an expert on every subject dealt with in films, but one of the things I love about film is the way it offers you windows into every other world, into all sorts of professions, and for the two hours while watching that film, I love the feeling of understanding that world, if only for that moment.

"Moneyball" is the sort of picture that could easily be an inert piece of drama, a dry recitation of facts and events, or it could easily tip the other direction and be a goosed-up piece of over-dramatic piffle.  This is not easy material to boil down to a movie, and so before I say anything else, let me offer up praise to the screenplay credited to Steven Zallian and Aaron Sorkin.  No surprise that big brains like those could crack the non-fiction work by Michael Lewis, but it seems like a combination that's just right for this material.  Zallian is brilliant, but sometimes, his work can seem emotionally remote.  Sorkin is equally smart, but I've never seen him pass up a cheap Hollywood moment if he knows it will play.  Somewhere in the middle of those two sensibilities, there's a smart, adult, emotional zone, and that's where "Moneyball" lands.

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<p>Gavin O'Connor is all smiles now that he's finished 'Warrior,' but it was a long hard road to get the film made</p>

Gavin O'Connor is all smiles now that he's finished 'Warrior,' but it was a long hard road to get the film made

Credit: HitFix

Watch: 'Warrior' director Gavin O'Connor talks about directing the emotional fight drama

Plus we talk about Nick Nolte's piercing performance

Gavin O'Connor has had a very interesting career, but in the sort of slow-motion that only Hollywood seems able to manage.

"Tumbleweeds" was his breakthrough moment, critically speaking, and I liked that film a lot. It featured a great performance by Janet McTeer, and it was a controlled, intimate movie.  His sports movie "Miracle" was a conventional Hollywood treatment of a great true-life story, and it worked well enough.  His last film, "Pride and Glory," was a strong movie with Colin Ferrell and Edward Norton starring in it, but it felt slight, and it was treated poorly in its release.  Three movies since 1999, and each one seemed like it took quite a bit of effort to get it going in the first place.

But of all of his films, "Warrior" appears to have been the hardest one to get off the ground, which sort of surprises me.  MMA is so huge right now, so high profile, and there's so much money behind it that it would seem to me that making a film set in that world would be very appealing to studios.  Instead, O'Connor was turned down by studio after studio, and it was an act of faith for Lionsgate to sign on and make the film, particularly with two leads who were essentially unknown.

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<p>'The Human Centipede'</p>

'The Human Centipede'

'Human Centipede 2: Full Sequence' to open Fantastic Fest

Morgan Spurlock doc 'Comic-Con Episode IV: A Fan's Hope' making U.S. debut

Get the family together and start making plans for a road trip to Austin -- the influential genre-embracing Fantastic Fest has announced its final wave of feature films, and the world premiere of "The Human Centipede 2: Full Sequence" has been selected as the opening night film.
 
The first "Human Centipede" -- engrossing for some, just plain gross for others -- premiered at the Texas event in 2009, winning awards for Best Horror Film and Best Actor (Dieter Laser). Director Tom Six and producer Ilona Six will attend to talk about the film in what's sure to be an animated discussion. But the gross-out fun won't stop there -- the opening night party will include live music from The Charles Edward Cheese Band and an attempt to break the world record for the longest human centipede conga line.
 
The fest will close with the U.S. premiere of "Comic-Con Episode IV: A Fan's Hope," directed by Morgan Spurlock ("Super Size Me"), which will be presented by Aint It Cool's Harry Knowles, Marvel legend Stan Lee and "Avengers" director Joss Whedon. The documentary follows five fans as they explore the insane geekery of Comic-Con.

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<p>Really, what could I say to make this picture any better?&nbsp; God bless 'Star Wars'</p>

Really, what could I say to make this picture any better?  God bless 'Star Wars'

Credit: Lucasfilm Ltd.

The Motion/Captured Podcast: 'Star Wars' on Blu-ray - The Pre-Game Show

The first of of a several-part podcast series in September about the 'Star Wars' Blu-ray release

Kevin Smith should look on the bright side... there was a time I swore I'd never write about George Lucas and "Star Wars" again, too.

As I'm sure you're aware by this point, whether you care to be or not, the "Star Wars" films are coming out on Blu-ray this month.  All six of them.  And this pains some people.  More than that, though, even the original films are showing up only in special edition form, and this isn't the special edition you've already seen.  It's another extensive overhaul.  He's done a lot of little nips and tucks.

In other words, fandom has once again lost its damn fool mind.

That is not to say that anyone having any reaction to this information is wrong, but I think there is a predictable drumbeat that begins right away that is little more than anger at the very nature of the person being discussed.  George Lucas is George Lucas.  The sky is blue.  Gravity works.  The sun is in the sky.  These things simply are.  You cannot change them by being angry about them or railing against them or signing petitions.  Ain't gonna happen.  Ain't gonna change.  And so it is.

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<p>Bill Bailey and his 'Dandelion Mind' tour are currently working their way through a very short US&nbsp;run, and I hope it's a hit so he'll come back and hit the west coast, too</p>

Bill Bailey and his 'Dandelion Mind' tour are currently working their way through a very short US run, and I hope it's a hit so he'll come back and hit the west coast, too

Credit: Glassbox Productions

Interview: A quick look inside the 'Dandelion Mind' of UK comedian Bill Bailey

Plus details on his too-short US tour

If you're an American comedy fan, I don't think it's unlikely that you might ask "Who is Bill Bailey?"

But if you're a fan of English comedy, you already know the answer to that question, and no doubt you're looking forward to his brief live tour here in the U.S., a rare opportunity to see the man work a stage.

If you're a comedy fan in general, but you don't know Bailey's work, then hopefully that is about to change for you.  The first thing I would recommend is tracking down the series "Black Books," which is available on Hulu.  In that show, you'll get a good long look at Bailey as Manny, a sort of Zen hippie foil to Dylan Moran's lead character, the foul-tempered Bernard Black.  Bailey is a blissed-out marvel on the show, strange and funny and almost always living in his own strange world.  You may also have seen him in a very sly and surreal turn as twins in "Hot Fuzz," but you may not have known who he was.

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<p>A year ago, they got together for Stallone to pick up an award, but now Bruce Willis, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone may co-star in the 'Expendables' sequel</p>

A year ago, they got together for Stallone to pick up an award, but now Bruce Willis, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone may co-star in the 'Expendables' sequel

Credit: AP Photo/Chris Pizzello

Willis and Schwarzenegger said to have 'substantial' roles in 'Expendables' sequel

Could the sequel turn out to be more fun than the original?

If it's true that Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger are going to play major roles in the new "Expendables" alongside Sylvester Stallone, and that this is going to be more than just another cameo moment for the trio of '80s action icons, then that is indeed a major story.

I'm not sure I think it'll make a good movie, but it's certainly a major news story.  Right now, Deadline is reporting that the two guys, who showed up for one non-action scene in the first "Expendables" have signed on to take "substantial" parts this time.  This is in addition to rumors that Chuck Norris, John Travolta and Jean-Claude Van Damme are signing up to join original cast members Jason Statham, Terry Crews, Dolph Lundgren, and Mickey Rourke.  I've heard conflicting reports about whether or not Jet Li will return, but if he does, this will become one of the single biggest collection of action icons in one movie ever.

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