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  • REVERSEBLOG: the reverse shot blog
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    Out of the Shadows: Cristi Puiu's "Aurora"

    Even more so than his much heralded The Death of Mr. Lazarescu, Cristi Puiu’s Aurora is a monument to the quotidian. Or is it the quotidian made monumental? Everyday life seems at once faithfully recorded and amplified in Puiu’s films: carefully observed studies of average men—Lazarescu’s eponymous ailing sixty-something; the terse loner at the center of Aurora—whose prolonged running times and sheer accumulation of detail force us to consider the complicated undercurrents churning beneath what we might dismiss as “commonplace” happenings. In Lazarescu, this attentive gaze became a spotlight, illuminating the defective inner workings of Romania’s post-Communist health care system as seen through the experiences of one dying man. Too attentive to the contradictory flux of human experience to churn out a simplistic “exposé” of medical and bureaucratic dysfunction, Puiu’s camera remains interested in everything that passes before it, expanding its view to note the precise way a long-married couple bickers over household tasks, or recognizing the oasis of relief that comes from finding a trusted colleague amidst a whirlwind of professional chaos. Nevertheless, the film’s argumentative thrust feels clear, and intrinsically tied to Puiu’s detail-oriented eye. The depth of the medical establishment’s ineffectiveness—and the inability of well-meaning individuals to break through its inertia—becomes clear through the ever-growing cavalcade of arrogant physicians and dismissive nurses that Lazarescu encounters over the course of one long night. Maddening structural failures get refracted through the lens of familiar human failings, making them feel at once revelatory and recognizable. Read Matt Connolly's review of Aurora.

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  • The Playlist
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    'Curb Your Enthusiasm' Star J.B. Smoove Bags A Role In Sacha Baron Cohen's 'The Dictator'

    Star's Brother Erran Baron Cohen To Compose The MusicMore or less everyone involved in long-running HBO comedy "Curb Your Enthusiasm" has done pretty well out of it outside of the day job: creator/star Larry David toplined a Woody Allen film (albeit a terrible one...) and bagged a supporting turn in "The Three Stooges," Jeff Garlin's become a Pixar stalwart second only to John Ratzenberger, while Cheryl Hines got to make her directorial debut on "Serious Moonlight." But perhaps the biggest breakout seems to be the actor who's behind one of the most seminal supporting characters on the show: J.B. Smoove, who's played Leon Black on the last couple of seasons of the sitcom.

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  • The Playlist
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    New Look At Tintin & Snowy In 'The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn'

    Will 2011 be the year Steven Spielberg is no longer given a free pass from fans and critics? It would seem so. The early trailers for "The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn" were not widely embraced and we were surprised by the blowback the first spot for "War Horse" got. Well Spielberg still has some time to right the ship on both movies and we're only at the beginning of the campaigns for both, but this new look at 'Tintin' won't quiet the dissenters.

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  • Women and Hollywood
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    Sex, Sexuality and Women's Sports

    I've been obsessively watching the great coverage on ESPN of the Women's World Cup soccer tournament. Yes, folks women do play soccer just like the men and they are quite good. While the US seems to have regressed in its women's soccer passion since the 99ers (like Mia Hamm) retired and nobody seems to have filled that female soccer celebrity void, the world is catching up. The soccer (football to the rest of the world) is better, more competitive, and the women are amazing athletes able to run, tackle and kick butt for 90 minutes.

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  • Spout
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    "Crime After Crime" is a Legal Doc That Puts Justice Above Courtroom Theatrics

    I tend to think very contextually about films I'm watching and therefore it's sometimes necessary to reference these contexts when reviewing films. For Yoav Potash's "Crime After Crime," it was only circumstantial that I viewed the legal documentary on Independence Day, and only slightly a coincidence that a lawyer friend complained on said holiday about those incarcerated who are not free but should be. Now I write this as the verdict comes in, with all the nation anxious to hear it, for an over-mediated trial involving a case that seems far less important than that of many others in this country, including Debbie Peagler, the subject of this film and a name as obscure as Casey Anthony's is now famous. I won't bother commenting on the cases themselves as my opinion of them is not pertinent to the discussion of a single film, but I will urge anyone who cared about Anthony's trial in the slightest to watch more legal docs, including "Crime After Crime."

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  • The Playlist
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    Keri Russell, J.J. Feild & Bret McKenzie Toplining Jane Austen Themed Rom-Com 'Austenland'

    'Twilight' Author Stephenie Meyer Producing, 'Napoleon Dynamite' Co-Writer Jerusha Hess Making Directorial DebutIf you've been feeling a strange, nagging void in the part of your soul where you keep your love for costume drama, there's a reason for that: we've somehow gone four years without a major Jane Austen-centered movie. Sure, Bollywood flick "Aisha" borrowed the plot of "Emma," and "From Prada to Nada" was (very) loosely based on "Sense & Sensibility," but given the wealth of adaptations, and even biographical entries like "Becoming Jane" and "Miss Austen Regrets" that appeared in the middle of the last decade, it doesn't quite compare.

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  • Thompson on Hollywood
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    Malcolm McDowell Talks Lindsay Anderson, A Clockwork Orange, Gets Maine Fest Career Award

    Malcolm McDowell, 67, has been on the PA circuit of late, scooping up award tributes and riding the PR swell for the 40th anniversary Blu-ray release of my favorite Stanley Kubrick film, 1971's A Clockwork Orange and Antoine de Gaudemar and Michel Ciment's doc Once Upon a Time… Clockwork Orange. They both screened at Cannes, where McDowell taught a master class.

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  • The Playlist
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    Hans Zimmer Says He's Listening To Verdi & Goldfrapp As He Prepares 'The Dark Knight Rises' Score

    Though it's been known for a while now and pretty much expected, back in May it was confirmed that Hans Zimmer would once again reteam with Christopher Nolan for his currently filming "The Dark Knight Rises." The interesting bit was that James Newton Howard -- who worked with Zimmer on "The Dark Knight" -- was not returning to the fold, but that Zimmer was striking out on his own as he did for "Inception." Of course details surrounding the film remain tight and even trying to get a composer to describe his score this early in the game usually leads to ambiguous descriptions -- Zimmer told MTV earlier this year that it will be "epic" and "iconic" -- but it seems he's opening up a tiny bit more.

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  • Shadow and Act
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    American Black Film Festival 2011 Preview - "The Experience"

    With the American Black Film Festival (July 6-9) descending on Miami this week, here's another selection--The Experience--making it's world premiere in the "Out of Competition" category .

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  • Shadow and Act
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    Preview "Home - The Documentary Movie" (On African Americans Returning South In the 21st Century)

    Preview of an intriguing upcoming documentary produced and directed by Naimah Fuller titled Home - The Documentary Movie; the feature film chronicles the migration experience of African Americans, reversing historical trends and relocating back to the south in the 21st century, thanks in part to rising costs of living up north. Further, as Fuller states, "The poignant question the documentary begs: Are blacks relocating into the South as a consequence of an insidious urban renewal policy called "gentrification", or is it the manifestation of a shared ethos, a spiritual calling to African Americans to return to their southern roots?"

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