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War Story

Director Mark Jackson’s drama is a chilly study in grief starring Catherine Keener as a war-zone photographer shattered by her experiences in Libya.

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Hercules

Dwayne Johnson tries, but he’s surrounded by poor CGI and a terrible adaptation of yet another comic book. Ian McShane steals what little movie there…

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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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A prosecutor wonders about torture porn

From Ben Smith:

When I was a kid in the 70’s / 80’s I loved horror movies. I collected Fangoria Magazines and old movie posters and covered my walls with them. My friends and I practiced making horror special effects and made movies with my PXL 2000.

Now that I’m older (pushing 40) and a criminal prosecutor, I am really saddened by the human suffering that is portrayed in movies. Granted, I’m somewhat speaking ignorantly because I haven’t really seen most them except the first Saw and parts of the other Saws. I also suffered my way through Human Centipede. When I was a kid I loved the "Friday the 13ths", "Nightmare on Elm Streets," "Texas Chainsaw Massacres," etc. Some of them, like the original "Last House on the Left" and "I Spit on Your Grave" and "Faces of Death" series, I would not necessarily try to defend, although even those I don’t feel are as banal and masturbatory as some of the films that are being made presently.

I still consider myself somewhat hip (I like going to rock shows and eating sushi), but am I just exhibiting what happens when you get older? Just like when my parents would shake their heads and wonder why I wasn’t satisfied with "The Creature From the Black Lagoon"?

I don’t know, I can’t really give an objective reason why the movies I enjoyed were somehow better or classier, but they seemed more artistic and fun. These newer Torture Porn movies don’t seem to stimulate the artistic part of the brain, but rather the PTSD/adrenaline part of the brain that someone experiences when watching someone getting shot on news footage.

Ebert: I gave zero stars to "Centipede Two" and was baffled that many critics took it right in stride as an example of the genre. They even praised the star's performance, which seemed to me to exploit the unfortunate man.

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