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  • Shadow and Act
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    Watch: "The Burma Boy" (On The African Soldiers Taken From British Colonies To Fight In WWII)

    Feel free to include this in the ongoing conversation about the largely ignored contributions by blacks (in this case black Africans) in WWII... an almost hour-long worthwhile documentary courtesy of Al Jazeera:

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    More: Watch Now
  • Thompson on Hollywood
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    No New Strike Back Episode Friday -- Mini-Marathon for Labor Day

    No New Strike Back Episode Friday -- Mini-Marathon for Labor Day

    Don't take anything for granted, warns David Chute, as you wait an extra week for the resolution of the latest Strike Back cliffhanger.No new episode tonight of TV's new best action series. Instead, Cinemax is running a mini-marathon of the first three episodes of Strike Back, beginning at 10 p.m. Those already watching will have to continue gnawing their fingernails until Friday, September 9. Only then will they find out if Damien Scott has been blown to bits by the bomb strapped to his chest in a barn somewhere in South Africa by ex-IRA-turned-freelance terrorist Daniel Connolly.

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    More: Reviews, TV, HBO
  • Thompson on Hollywood
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    Venice Reviews: Soderbergh's Contagion, Alps, Chicken with Plums, That Summer

    Brit correspondent David Gritten reports from Venice: Traditionally, weekends are the busiest time in Venice, but today has felt quieter -- perhaps because of the lack of high profile competition films on offer.

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  • Thompson on Hollywood
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    Post-42West, Cynthia Swartz Launches Own Praisery

    As expected, it has not taken long for 30-year Oscar campaigner and indie strategist Cynthia Swartz to set up her own PR shop after disentangling her founding partnership since 2004 at 42West. Strategy PR/Consulting is open for business in New York and soon, Los Angeles as well. Swartz will not only do Oscar pushes but unit publicity, corporate representation, national PR campaigns complete with digital marketing, and film festival repping of acquisition titles. Swartz is importing her key NY-based 42West lieutenants as VPs: fest and awards maven Michael Kupferberg and film PR strategist Elena Zilberman. Strategy is also adding NY staffers Chanelle James (director of national publicity) and Katelyn Bogacki (manager).

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  • The Playlist
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    Venice '11 Review: 'Persepolis' Follow-Up 'Chicken With Plums' Is Amiable & Pretty, But Twee & Thin

    It can be difficult to shift from animation to live-action direction; the processes are very different, and even an accomplished animation helmer can sometimes be undone once they're faced with cameras, actors and the breakneck schedule of a feature film shoot, as opposed to the multi-year process that produces a feature cartoon. Some have managed it, Tim Burton being the most obvious example (at first, anyway...) and Pixar dons Brad Bird and Andrew Stanton are both hoping to make the leap in the next few months. But it's got to be even harder to go from working in graphic novels, to animation, to live-action, but that's been the path for Marjane Satrapi and Vincent Paronnaud in the last few years.

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  • Shadow and Act
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    "A Soldier's Story" Coming Out On Blu-ray DVD Dec 6

    Slowly but surely more and more older black films are being released on blu-ray which means more and more black people, and people who genuinely like good movies, are getting blu-ray players.

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    More: New On DVD
  • The Playlist
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    Watch: First Footage From Madonna's Venice Flop 'W.E.'

    The fall festival season had its first major league flop as Madonna's sophomore directorial effort "W.E." was roundly crucified and/or dismissed as an opulent folly after its premiere at the Venice Film Festival. Our own Oliver Lyttelton gave the film an F, saying that "despite a couple of solid performances, the film can’t be redeemed," pointing to a litany of gaffes from clumsy editing and shot blocking to the script itself, which offers very little reason to be providing two parallel storylines that seemingly have little to connect them. Naturally, the failure has grown curiosity about the film, and two clips have now landed online that give a taste of what Madonna delivered to the critics in Italy.

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    More: Films, W.E.
  • The Playlist
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    Venice '11 Review: 'Contagion' Is A Propulsive, Terrifying Picture With A Top-Notch Cast

    Disaster -- an eternally popular obsession of film. Audiences have turned up in droves over the last century or so to watch mankind against their own extinction in the form of meteorites, earthquakes, alien invasions, exploding suns, planetary collisions, and whatever it was that was happening in "The Core." One of the more popular hypotheses is that when the end comes -- and it will -- it'll be not with a bang, but with a whimper. And that's what Steven Soderbergh has examined in "Contagion," his first studio film since 2007's "Ocean's Thirteen," that finds the spread of a deadly bird flu-type virus the source of man's demise.

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  • The Playlist
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    Telluride '11 Review: George Clooney Riffs On Family, Love, Loss & Death In 'The Descendants'

    Shifting from heartbreak to cathartic laughter and back, sometimes within the same shot, director Alexander Payne and star George Clooney have collaborated on "The Descendants" to give us a very human story about a very flawed man and his very flawed family. Just like his previous pictures, the success of Payne's film rests on whether he can coax a nuanced performance from a strong male lead who is capable of accessing intense vulnerability. In “About Schmidt” (2002) he found what he needed in Jack Nicholson’s Oscar-nominated turn and two years later in “Sideways” (for which he shared the Oscar for Best Screenplay with Jim Taylor) he scored a double whammy with Paul Giamatti and the also Oscar-nominated Thomas Haden Church. For the central male protagonist of “The Descendants,” Payne turned to George Clooney and in the course of the Q&A that followed the screening he insisted that Clooney had provided him with the best acting collaboration of any of his films. Can the performance possibly live up to that? Actually, yes. Clooney takes on the role wholeheartedly and succeeds on pretty much every level.

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  • The Playlist
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    Telluride Adds Jennifer Garner's 'Butter'

    Part of the fun of the prestigious Telluride Film Festival is its secret lineup that's only revealed at the last minute, as only yesterday, did organizers reveal the slate of programming -- less than 24 hours before the event kicked off today. As longtime attendees know, there are usually one or two secret or surprise screenings revealed over the weekend, and THR reports that "Butter," starring Jennifer Garner, will most likely get the open slot on Saturday night at the same time as the George Clooney retrospective, having its world premiere at Telluride instead of Toronto.

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