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The Maze Runner

What’s intriguing about “The Maze Runner”–for a long time, at least–is the way it tells us a story we think we’ve heard countless times before…

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20,000 Days on Earth

In his music, he routinely celebrates/deconstructs his public persona: brutalizer, coward, agnostic, and wannabe deity. "20,000 Days on Earth" is accordingly not a biography, but…

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Ballad of Narayama

"The Ballad of Narayama" is a Japanese film of great beauty and elegant artifice, telling a story of startling cruelty. What a space it opens…

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Monsieur Hire

Patrice Leconte's "Monsieur Hire" is a tragedy about loneliness and erotomania, told about two solitary people who have nothing else in common. It involves a…

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Waxing Roth: Define "failure"

View image Is this man a "torture pornographer"? Strike that. Is he a "failure"?

Letters from Filmmakers Part II: This one was published today at MSN Movies, a response from Eli Roth to an article by Don Kaye about the phenomenon popularly known as "torture porn": Don,

I saw your article on "Torture Porn," and while I disagree with you about your criticism of my film, I would like you to back up how "Hostel II" is a failure, a claim you repeatedly make. While the film did not do what the first film did at the box office, (which was a total shock to everyone - myself included) "Hostel II" cost only $10 million dollars to make, and is currently at $30 million dollars worldwide box office, with many territories left to open. How many other films this summer have earned triple their production budget in their theatrical run? Are those films failures as well?

Critically, your comments were that I had MTV style editing and a lack of character development. What, exactly, are you talking about? "Hostel II" has barely any flashy cuts or MTV-style editing, and the first 45 minutes of the movie is all character development with almost zero on screen violence. Heather Matarazzo's torture scene doesn't happen until nearly 50 minutes into the movie.

View image One of the milder posters for "Hostel Part II" -- this one from Italy.

It sounds to me like you are jumping onto some kind of 'anti-violence' crusade without actually watching the film, when if you looked closely, you'd see that my film actually has a very strong anti-violence moral core. Writers I respect such as Stephen King, Elvis Mitchell, and writer/Attorney Julie Hilden, a former clerk for supreme court Justice Breyer, praised the film specifically for its anti-violence message and skilled filmmaking (http://writ.news.findlaw.com/hilden/20070716.html) and in Europe the major critics hailed the film for its political messages against corporations that profit from the death of Americans.

My films are not for everyone, and many critics dismissed the film because of the violent scenes, which is the very thing horror fans are paying for when they see a film like "Hostel II." But to lump my film in with other films that may be ripping off a trend for "MTV editing" and "lack of character development" shows more of a reflection of your lack of understanding as a critic and a desire to be seen as a 'moral person' than an actual critique of my film.

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