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04/15/2014 | Comments 0

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RLJ Entertainment's new Blu-ray for No Holds Barred begins with what seems like dozens of trailers for movies starring pro wrestlers from the WWE talent pool. Each flick went direct to home video, but once upon a time — aka 1989 — one had to go to the multiplex to catch such a spectacle.
04/15/2014 | Comments 0

Knights of Badassdom

In 2008, the third act of the guy comedy Role Models used LARPing — live-action role-playing, that is — as a backdrop for our protagonists' lessons learned. Today, Knights of Badassdom extends that half-hour into a full feature, to the point where viewers are left not smiling, but exhausted. 
04/02/2014 | Comments 0

Switched on

Not everything on television has to appeal to mass audiences. In fact, with the further fractioning of viewership thanks to alternatives like Netflix and VOD, more series can afford to become more niche. Here are five examples of shows both past and present — and new to DVD and/or Blu-ray — that encompass some of the more outrageous ideas ever to go beyond boardroom discussion.
04/02/2014 | Comments 0

Confession of Murder

Seventeen years after slaying 10 women and getting away with it, the charismatic serial killer Du-sok (Park Si-hoo) comes clean with a Confession of Murder, in this 2012 South Korean crime thriller. He does so by publishing a book that dishes all the grisly details.
04/02/2014 | Comments 0
Home · Articles · Movies · Drama · The Illusionist

The Illusionist

Nice trick

Rod Lott February 9th, 2011

If I could play God, when the Best Animated Feature envelope is torn open at next month’s Oscars, the winner wouldn’t be the presumed lock of “Toy Story 3,” but the dark horse, “The Illusionist.”

Don’t get me wrong: I liked “Toy Story 3.” I just feel like I had seen it before (it is a sequel, after all). All too often, I think good animated films like Pixar’s are overhyped, because when one considers the other crap our children drag us to — i.e. “Yogi Bear” — something like “Toy Story 3” at least isn’t painful by comparison.

Go see “The Illusionist,” opening Friday, but leave the kids at home — not because of content, but because the PG-rated film has nothing that will be turned into items on next year’s Christmas list. The French work is near-silent, adapted by Sylvain Chomet (“The Triplets of Belleville”) from a story by the late Jacques Tati, that country’s king of comedy.

Unquestionably based on Tati, the title character is a past-his-prime magician who finds that his style of entertainment is no longer in vogue in 1959 Paris, where rocking guitars have usurped pulling rabbits. While traveling, however, he gains his biggest fan in a teenage girl; together, they form a surrogate father-daughter relationship.

Its plot is admittedly slight, but blossoms with immense heart and warmth. With so little dialogue, Chomet lets the story be told in its splendidly hand-drawn visuals, with a wonderful score echoing each emotion, but shorn of audience manipulation. No pushed pixels here; this was painstakingly crafted by hand, with a sheer love for the medium that bathes its every frame. —Rod Lott

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