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Home Movies: Natural Born Killers

Just as the Grateful Dead have been fairly and unfairly blamed for inspiring the aimless noodling and whimsical indulgences of jam-band progeny like Phish and Blues Traveler, so too has M. Night Shyamalan born the brunt of criticism for the blindsiding, 11th-hour twists popularized by his 1999 thriller The Sixth Sense.

It's 1995 All Over Again on Valencia Street

There was no valet parking on Mission or Valencia streets 15 years ago. No one was no waiting 10 minutes in line for Tartine or Ritual coffee. The only slightly gentrified business on the Valencia strip was Val 21 – (now Dosa) right next to the lesbian bookstore. 23rd Street was inhabited by Radio Valencia (serving up pre-mp3 mixed music), instead of people drinking absinthe at Beretta.

Notes from a Darkened Theater: The Tedious War Over Watchmen Rages On

By now, it’s hardly news that Zack Snyder’s Watchmen is a potential casualty of a bitter dispute between rival studios - ts March 6 release date in jeopardy as Twentieth Century Fox attempts to prove that the Warner Bros. project infringes on Fox’s copyright, first acquired in 1986. But the biggest surprise in a case that has already inspired some Web-savvy fans to call for boycotts of upcoming Fox tent-poles including May’s X-Men Origins: Wolverine is that neither studio appears willing to back down, whatever the cost.

The Unbearable Burden of Living Life in Reverse

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, inspired by F. Scott Fitzgerald’s farcical retort to the notion, espoused by Mark Twain, that the best things in life happen at the beginning and the worst at the end, demands a generous leap of the imagination. Fitzgerald dedicated roughly 25 pages to his whimsical tale of a man who begins life as a doddering senior and grows progressively younger. Here, director David Fincher and screenwriter Eric Roth attempt a bold re-imagining, using Fitzgerald’s premise as the foundation for a heartfelt rumination on the drawbacks of living life in reverse.

Looking Back at '08: Poehler v. Palin Maternity

Among, you know, other things, 2008 will be remembered as the year that Saturday Night Live became relevant (and funny) again. Ms. Tina Fey, obviously, has been coronated as the savior (just see January's Vanity Fair cover). Her spot-on impersonations of Sarah Palin may very well go down as the apex of SNL political satire. But Palin, of course, was the comedic gift that just kept on giving.

Notes from a Darkened Theater: The Future of Batman and a Jester in King Arthur's Court

Recently, the Sun – the London-based tabloid that seems to pride itself on movie-related misinformation – reported that Eddie Murphy and Shia LaBeouf would be joining Christian Bale and rumored Catwoman Rachel Weisz in Christopher Nolan’s next Batman sequel, tentatively titled Gotham.

Though the rumor has been categorically (and convincingly) denied, I believe Murphy could make a fine Riddler, provided he muted his act to suit the dark tone of the material, as Robin Williams did for another Nolan production, Insomnia. But LaBeouf as Robin? Spare us.

Mendes' Tale of Suburban Angst Proves a Bitter Pill

An attack on ‘50s suburbia as a bastion of gray-suited conformity is hardly a fresh idea. So what, pray tell, is the point of Revolutionary Road, besides providing a showcase for two dynamic actors, Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet, to chew the scenery in an overwrought exposition of domestic combat Connecticut-style?

There’s no denying the pair’s ability to infuse their dialogue with a wintry chill, and here they attack each other like a pair of poisonous passive aggressors, lacing every syllable with bruising bitterness. Theirs are intense, tortured performances tailor-made for awards consideration, but where is the pleasure in watching them?

A Saintly Will Smith Contemplates the Ills of the World in Seven Pounds

Will Smith has played an alcoholic superhero, a mystical caddie and a fighter pilot on a mission to save the planet from aliens, but Ben Thomas, the guilt-ridden do-gooder at the heart of Seven Pounds, might just be the most unbelievable role of them all.

An 'Anonymous Postcard' to the Moms of Mill Valley

Does Governor Blagojevich know how bad his hair is? If he’s been too busy lately to watch late night comedy maybe someone should send him a note suggesting he reconsider his locks.

The Rocky Horrification of The Sound of Music


You’d be surprised at the number of people who harbor a latent desire to sit in a dark theater with a few hundred strangers and sing in chorus, “You Are Sixteen, Going On Seventeen.”

Nothing unites folks more than shared nostalgia. Reliving some of your favorite childhood things along with a roomful of stranger bonds the crowd, swiftly and inextricably.

And, in this crummy economy, maybe knowing that a gaggle of spunky kids had to wear drapes for play clothes -- and still managed to escape the Nazis, can make us feel a little better about thrift.

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