Jim True-frost

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Slippery Slope Review

Irony doesn't get any richer than in the movies.

Take Slippery Slope. Here we have Gillian (Kelly Hutchinson), who is such a radical feminist that she made a documentary about feminism. The doc is accepted into Cannes for screening... but she still owes the film lab $50,000, and they won't release the print until she pays up. She's broke, of course, so what will she have to do to earn the money? If you said the thing she hates the most -- porn -- you're well on your way to a bustling career in Hollywood.

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The 13th Annual Gen Art Film Festival At The Ziegfeld Theater - Arrivals

Jim True-Frost Wednesday 2nd April 2008 The 13th Annual Gen Art Film Festival at the Ziegfeld Theater - Arrivals New York City, USA

Jim True-Frost

The Wire: Season Four Review

By the end of season three of The Wire -- aka HBO's best excuse for staying on the air -- one could sense that the show had, in some sense of the word, come to an end. It was certainly clear for a time that HBO executives thought so, having come close to canceling the multifaceted, frighteningly addictive urban drama yet again, as it never pulled anywhere near the kind of ratings that their warhorses like The Sopranos and Sex and the City had. Although plenty of strings were left dangling at the conclusion of episode 37, "Mission Accomplished," a chapter had been definitively closed, with Avon Barksdale back in jail, and his brainy partner Stringer Belle gunned down. Since the two of them had been the impressive foils to the strung-out cops in the Baltimore Major Crimes Unit, their departure seemed to leave a vacuum. With nobody of real consequence running the West Baltimore drug trade (the Barksdales' chief rival and replacement, Marlo Stanfield, seems at first nothing more than some punk kid), what would be left that was worth watching?

More than enough, it turns out.

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The Wire: Season Two Review

During its run on HBO, The Wire has established itself as nothing less than an epic television show. It tackles a monstrous issue -- the illegal drug trade, with its manifold social, economic, criminal, and moral implications -- and resounds with the ring of truth like no other police drama before it. Whether an episode features a glimpse into the lives of stevedores at a dying Baltimore port, a candid peek at the inner-workings of city government, or a look at the relationships between cops and the drug dealers they're forever chasing, The Wire gets it, right down to the last bill of lading, backroom deal, and warrant for arrest.

The second season is no different. It's riveting television that pulses with realism, intelligence, and harrowing drama. If by chance you've stumbled upon this review without having watched the first season, update your Netflix queue immediately, with The Wire: Season One at the top. Like nearly all of today's best hour-long dramas, its multilayered storytelling technique demands a great deal of attention to detail from the viewer. The show can't be fully appreciated without understanding each character's nuanced backstory and the history of interactions and conflicts everyone has with one another. So start at the beginning and enjoy.

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Singles Review

Crowe's guilty pleasure of a confection outlines the struggles of Gen-X singles in the 1990s, but doesn't portray a wholly realistic version of them. Instead, Singles survives on its charming humor and inadvertant status as the de facto chronicle of the Seattle grunge scene. Watch for endless cameos and stars who would later go on to much higher heights.

Off The Map Review

Within the past seven years, Campbell Scott has quietly become an important indie hyphenate, producing and starring in notable art house circuit films including Big Night, Roger Dodger, and the current The Secret Lives of Dentists. His passion for the craft of acting is obvious; it's now also clearly visible in his own directing, with the unconventional and often beautiful family tale, Off the Map.

Based on the play by Joan Ackermann (and adapted by Ackermann for the screen), Off the Map recalls one summer in the life of an offbeat family living off the land in rural New Mexico. It's essentially a series of dialogue-driven scenarios that actors like Joan Allen and Sam Elliott can sink their teeth into; Scott guides them there while avoiding any unnecessary scene-chewing or melodrama that could come with the subject matter. That's an accomplishment in itself -- but the visual dreaminess and charm that Scott weaves into, and wraps around, his performances elevate the film into a poignant and thoughtful work of art.

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Normal Life Review

God bless John McNaughton. Before he gave us the decadence of Wild Things he directed Normal Life, which offers an endless parade of Ashley Judd, topless and fancy free. But nothing of substance has come from John John since 1998. McNaughton, why have you forsaken us!?

Unfortunately Normal Life is a dud from a story and pacing standpoint, as it attempts to combine Bonnie and Clyde with a sexed-up Skinemax movie, plus a touch of Girl, Interrupted. Judd is an emotional basketcase with a penchant for cutting herself (named, ahem, Pam Anderson), while Luke Perry (sure, you remember him!) is a cop who falls for the poor lass (first spotting her smashing a beer mug in a bar -- great sign!).

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