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Art or Sleaze? 'I Spit on Your Grave' Remake Straddles Both Lines

As children, we are taught to turn the other cheek, but who can deny the visceral thrill of richly deserved revenge, presented in Steven R. Monroe’s I Spit on Your Grave remake as a dish served well past the freezing point?
 
Anyone familiar with Meir Zarchi’s 1980 original – famously dismissed by Roger Ebert as “a film without a shred of artistic distinction” but hailed by others as a crude testament to feminist fortitude – should recognize the story of Jennifer, the big-city girl beaten and raped by five merciless hillbillies during a retreat in the Louisiana backwoods.
 

Mill Valley Roundup: 7 Movies to See at the Festival

The 33rd Mill Valley Film Festival begins tonight with a star-studded Opening Gala at the Mill Valley Community Center and screenings of Tom Hooper's The King's Speech and Tony Goldwyn's Conviction. For a complete list of featured selections, showtimes and tickets, visit the festival's official site.

Zach Galifianakis Takes a Subtle Turn in Ryan Fleck and Anna Boden's 'Funny Story'

Zach Galifianakis understands that his breakthrough success in last year’s The Hangover has left fans with certain expectations. They want a sequel to Todd Phillips’ comedy about four guys (and one innocent babe) gone wild during a pre-wedding Vegas trip, and they’ll get one in 2011. But more than that, they want Galifianakis, a veteran stand-up and onetime Saturday Night Live writer, to make them laugh.

Mill Valley Film Festival Opens Thursday with Latest from Colin Firth, Hilary Swank

The 33rd Mill Valley Film Festival kicks off Thursday with two opening-night films: The King’s Speech, winner of the Audience Award at last month’s Toronto Film Festival, starring A Single Man Oscar nominee Colin Firth as King George VI, who conquers his humiliating stutter with the help of Geoffrey Rush’s unconventional speech therapist; and Conviction, Tony Goldwyn’s chronicle of a high-school dropout (Hilary Swank) who earns a law degree to free her brother (Sam Rockwell) from prison.

Bloody but Never Broken, Sarah Butler Relives the Infamous Day of the Woman with 'I Spit on Your Grave'

The first time Sarah Butler read the script for I Spit on Your Grave, Steven R. Monroe’s tense, unrelenting remake of the notorious 1980 rape-and-revenge thriller Roger Ebert deemed “a vile bag of garbage, reprehensible and contemptible,” she made an urgent call to her manager.
 
“I’d auditioned for it, but when I saw the script I decided to skip the callback,” says Butler, 25, best known for one-off appearances on CSI: Miami and CSI: New York. “All the nudity, violence, graphic rape scenes – normally, my manager is very protective of me, but he asked me to read it again, so I did. He said it could be the role of a lifetime, and I tried to look at it from that perspective.”

Indie Theater Roundup: 7 Movies to See This Week

Six rogue filmmakers, including Oscar winner Alex Gibney (Taxi to the Dark Side) and Morgan Spurlock (Super Size Me), question the logic of conventional wisdom and human behavior – often with riotous results – in Freakonomics, the new documentary opening today at Embarcadero. Elsewhere:

Woody Allen Struggles with the Agony of Creation and the Perils of Wish Fulfillment with 'You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger'

Perhaps old dogs can’t be taught new tricks, but many veteran directors are learning to adapt in a Hollywood where sequels, remakes and treatments of popular comics are very much in season.
 
This fall, Stephen Frears, 69, will unveil his first take on a graphic novel, the romantic comedy Tamara Drewe, before tentatively laying the groundwork for a remake of his 1984 thriller The Hit. Oliver Stone, 64, has returned to Wall Street. And, at 67, Martin Scorsese is busy directing his first 3-D fantasy – next winter’s Hugo Cabret – and planning a Taxi Driver sequel.
 

Accidental Billionaire? Ultimate Wannabe? 'The Social Network' Deconstructs Facebook Co-Founder Mark Zuckerberg

Unlike MySpace co-founder Tom Anderson, who once greeted the social networking site’s newest users as a default friend, his smiling face plastered on the screen like a digital welcome mat, Mark Zuckerberg rarely seems to have used his position as Facebook co-founder to collect pals, real or imagined.
 
Until now, the man most responsible for the world’s largest online clubhouse, who innocently describes his mission as making the world “a more open place by helping people connect and share” – neglecting to mention the roughly $7 billion his unique brand of altruism is reportedly worth – has managed to remain largely anonymous outside his circle of business associates, who should never be confused with his buddies.
 

Matt Reeves Explains the Need to Remake a Vampire Classic with 'Let Me In'

For fans of the 2008 Swedish import Let the Right One In who have angrily littered the Internet with cries of blasphemous imitation, Chloë Moretz, the 13-year-old star of Let Me In, opening Friday, has a simple request: Give Matt Reeves’ remake a chance.
 
“Put aside the controversy and watch the movie,” says Moretz, who plays Abby, a centuries-old vampire trapped in the pale, deceptively frail-looking body of a 12-year-old. “See if you take something new from it.”
 

Families Divided by China's Changing Values Take Lixin Fan's 'Last Train Home'

It’s an annual tradition created by accelerated modernization, an expanding economy and the world’s largest populace: Each year, 130 million Chinese peasants, displaced from their villages to work in urban factories, crowd train stations to return home for the lunar New Year.

Lixin Fan’s insightful new documentary Last Train Home, a featured selection at this year's San Francisco Film Festival, captures the phenomenon at its alarmingly frantic peak, concentrating on a single family, the Zhangs, divided by harsh economic realities and struggling to cope with the strain.

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