Screening Room: “Hansel And Gretel,” “On the Road,” “Mandingo”

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SHAWN: The movie "Hansel & Gretel" isn't exactly the version of the fairy I remember my mom reading to me. Yes, in this version things get a bit gangsta and gully but none of it is really exciting. Hollywood has a severe case of vampire and witch hunting. But someone needs to find a cure. "Hansel & Gretel" falls flat 15 minutes in. It's directionaless and muddled. Some ofthe action sequences are well-executed but because the story is so drab it's all rendered pointless in this plotless re-telling that crumbles like a poorly constructed ginger bread house.
SHAWN: 2 Popcorn Bags
RUSS: Iconoclastic author Jack Kerouac’s “On the Road,” his infamous celebration of the bohemian beat movement, was thought to be unfilmable. After seeing Walter Salles’ big screen adaptation, I still think it’s unfilmable.
SHAWN: "On the Road" is a mess that gets totally lost in cinematic translation.
RUSS: A sense of time and place is captured nicely and the movie is beautifully produced. But the filmmakers didn’t find a way to translate Karouac’s kinetic prose in a way that works on screen. It’s not what happens that makes it interesting; it’s how Kerouac describes it. The movie is a meandering road trip that goes nowhere.
SHAWN: The movie doesn't work because it's stuck in neutral. But the cast is fun to watch especially Kristen Stewart who is actually fantastic in a very non-Twilight way.
RUSS: 2 Popcorn Bags
SHAWN: 3 Popcorn Bags
RUSS: The 1975 cult classic exploitation flick is a brutal depiction of the horrors of slavery that is an obvious inspiration for "Django Unchained." The writing and direction aren't in that class, though.
SHAWN: Nevertheless, "Mandingo" is severly underratted. What could easly be dimiissed as overly-salacious camp is a fascinating and almost boldly appualing examination of slavery. Sure there are steamy interacial love triangles, brutal mandingo fight scenes and lots of ugly stereotypical imagery -- it's hilarious and hysterically offensive --  but the film also features beautiful sun-drenched cinematography and not so subtle storylines that make "Gone with the Wind" seem like Seasame Street. Sure"mandingo" is excessive. But it's social critique is biting and truthful. In many ways it's the perfect companion if you have already seen both "Lincoln' and "Djnago Unchained." A cinematic slavery tri-fecta. You'll have the rare opportunity to see "Mandingo" uncut and on the big screen Tuesday, January 29 at the Alamo Drafthouse.
RUSS: 3 Popcorn Bags

SHAWN: 4 Popcorn Bags

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