"As the bloody sectarian horror show of Northern Ireland in the 20th century has tapered off in the headlines, so has much of its currency in the movies," writes ST VanAirsdale in Movieline. "A few Irish Republican Army gems peek out from time to time (recent Cannes award-winners The Wind That Shakes the Barley and Hunger come to mind), but on the whole, the subject has become almost as quaint as the townships where so many of its earlier films unfolded. Which makes Fifty Dead Men Walking both the last of a dying breed and a rejuvenating marvel of sorts: Quintessential IRA grit and exploitation cinema balled up in one fierce package."
But in the Voice, Aaron Hillis finds the film "proves how easy it is to shamelessly bilk audiences of their empathy with an 'inspired by true events' credit." More from Roger Ebert (Chicago Sun-Times), Stephen Holden (New York Times), Tasha Robinson (AV Club) and Ryan Stewart (Slant).
Another film focusing on the Troubles this week is Five Minutes of Heaven; Damon Smith in Reverse Shot: "Instead of pitching us headlong into the past and fastening onto heroic intrigue, like the new Fifty Dead Men Walking, [director Oliver] Hirschbiegel limns the present-day inner turmoil of two men linked by fate. One is a killer, the other his victim's brother. It's a gaunt two-man show, told in three acts." For the NYT's Manohla Dargis, it's "a feature-length talkathon built on a sketchy premise, some unpersuasive psychology, a pinch of politics and strong star turns from Liam Neeson and James Nesbitt."
Of course, the big opener this week is Quentin Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds, which we've been tracking here; also recently updated are entries on Lucrecia Martel's The Headless Woman and RAF drama The Baader Meinhof Complex. Also in theaters...
"When I saw Spike Lee's film adaptation, Passing Strange: The Movie, in effect a video recording of a performance identical to the one I'd witnessed at the Belasco Theater in 2008, I was blown away," writes AO Scott in the NYT. It's "less a collection of songs... than a single headlong piece of music. You might say a rock opera, if that phrase did not summon up spectacles of bloated self-importance entirely antithetical to the spirit of this show. A show not simply preserved by Mr Lee's camera, but brought, somehow, to its fullest, strangest, most electrifying realization."
More from Roger Ebert (Chicago Sun-Times), Scott Foundas (Voice), Stephen Garrett (Time Out New York), Jeremiah Kipp (Slant), Benjamin Mercer (L), Noel Murray (AV Club), Jeff Reichert (Reverse Shot), Cameron Shaw (Artforum) and Armond White (New York Press). Interviews with Lee and Stew: Adam Eisenberg (Flavorpill) and Aaron Hillis (IFC).
"To a greater extent than Sleeping Dogs Lie, Bobcat Goldthwait's World's Greatest Dad clumsily straddles the line between comedy and drama, its story neither outrageous enough to be funny nor substantial enough to be moving," finds Nick Schager at Slant. But for IFC guest critic Mike D'Angelo, Goldthwait is "a talent to be reckoned with. He's like Todd Solondz with empathy, oxymoronic though that sounds."
More from Simon Abrams (L), Stephen Holden (NYT), Nick Pinkerton (Voice), Nathan Rabin (AV Club) and Joshua Rothkopf (TONY). Interviews with Goldthwait: Dave Itzkoff (NYT), Eric Kohn (Vulture), Jenni Miller (Cinematical), Nathan Rabin (AV Club) - and David Poland's is an online viewing tip.
"Shorts so faithfully adheres to [Robert] Rodriguez's formula that at times it resembles a Spy Kids installment thrown into a chronological Cuisinart," writes Ann Hornaday in the Washington Post. "A big, grown-up kid who happens to have major-cool special effects and a few million bucks at his disposal, Rodriguez remains in perfect synch with viewers who, when presented with a giant, goopy piece of nasal effluvia don't think, 'Gross.' They think, 'Now that's entertainment!'"
More from Simon Abrams (Slant), Peter Bradshaw (Guardian), Jeannette Catsoulis (NYT), Aaron Hillis (Voice), Robert Horton (Herald), Jonathan Kiefer, Keith Phipps (AV Club), Benjamin Sutton (L) and Keith Uhlich (TONY).
"Confessions of a Ex-Doofus-Itchy Footed Mutha is probably Melvin Van Peebles's most personal film since Sweet Sweetback's Baad Asssss Song in 1971, which is a mixed blessing," writes Mike Hale in the NYT. Nick Pinkerton in the Voice: "There's a temptation to 'give' this to Van Peebles, but any scene in which actors get to interact is deathly awkward, and 100 minutes should never feel this long." More from Cullen Gallagher at Hammer to Nail.
"Sikandar, a boy-meets-gun film set in Kashmir, wants to make a statement about hatred and cycles of violence," writes Rachel Saltz in the NYT. "But this odd, unsuccessful movie, written and directed by Piyush Jha, is too rigged to have any broader implications about the bloody standoff in Kashmir between militants and the Indian Army." More from Andrew Schenker in Slant.
"Art & Copy, a celebratory documentary about the history of the advertising industry, is as visually enticing as any of the puffery revisited during its run time," writes Keith Uhlich in Time Out New York, but it's "less an illuminating examination than it is an act of myopic rehabilitation." More from Mike Hale in the NYT, where Jeremy W Peters talks with some of the ad men Doug Pray profiles and finds them "a far cry from the martini-swilling hedonists portrayed on AMC," and from Mimi Luse (L), Brian Miller (Voice), Nathan Rabin (AV Club), Andrew Schenker (Slant), David Schmader (Stranger) and James van Maanen. Online viewing tips. At Interview, Darrell Hartman posts "some of the classic spots discussed in the film, along with some the stories behind them."
"With a surrogate for every demographic and a heroine for every taste, Casi Divas jiggles and jokes its way around as many Mexican box-office bases as possible," writes Jeannette Catsoulis in the NYT. "Such calculated commercialism, however, doesn't preclude loftier goals, and as the film picks up speed it also accrues a socially progressive agenda. If only this were half as well developed as the female leads." More from Nick Pinkerton (Voice), Paul Schrodt (Slant) and James van Maanen.
"Your enjoyment of My One and Only will depend on how much the words 'inspired by incidents in the life of actor and Hollywood icon George Hamilton' spark swoony memories," warns Melissa Anderson in the Voice. More from Stephen Holden (NYT), Karina Longworth (TONY), Nick McCarthy (L), Nick Schager (Slant), Scott Tobias (AV Club) and Stephanie Zacharek (Salon).
"Timing's everything in comedy," writes S James Snyder in Time Out New York, "so perhaps Post Grad would have seemed peppier prior to the Great Recession; circa now, this comedy feels like a cynical stroll through the unemployment lines awaiting today's class of seniors." More from Jeffrey M Anderson (Cinematical), Jeannette Catsoulis (NYT), Joe Coscarelli (Salon), Roger Ebert (Chicago Sun-Times), Keith Phipps (AV Club), Vadim Rizov (Voice) and Nick Schager (Slant).
What do you say we wrap the week with a quick "Fests and events" roundup. "Atom Egoyan will open the competition at the San Sebastian Film Festival with Chloe, his latest film starring Liam Neeson, Julianne Moore and Amanda Seyfried that's set to premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival." Peter Knegt has the full lineup at indieWIRE.
Of course, Toronto's the festival on most virtual lips at the moment and dedicated TIFFlers are huddling at 1st Thursday. But Toronto sees another event opening today and running through the weekend. Jasper Sharp has an overview of the Shinsedai Cinema Festival, which he "helped organize with Chris MaGee of the Toronto J-Film Pow-Wow to celebrate the best in new indie talent currently working in Japan, and I must say, I'm mighty excited."
Happening now through Tuesday: Yesterday's Angel: Natalie Wood, previewed in the Voice by Melissa Anderson. Also in New York, Not Coming to a Theater Near You presents Trent Harris's The Beaver Trilogy on September 26.
Follow @theauteursdaily for more news and tips throughout the day.