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  • REVERSEBLOG: the reverse shot blog
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    Custom-Made: Alexei Fedorchenko's "Silent Souls"

    There’s a voiceover buzzing through Alexei Fedorchenko’s brief, impressionistic, and sentimental Silent Souls, and it’s eager to tell you how to absorb what you’re watching. The voice belongs to Aist, presumably a constructed cinematic alter ego of writer Aist Sergeyev, whose novel The Buntings provided the basis for the film. And there’s no denying the novelistic approach the film takes to its storytelling—it relies heavily on its narrator to inform the viewer of the significance of its environment and history. Fedorchenko seems to have been concerned that otherwise we might not be persuaded of the magic inherent in the traditions of the people at its center: the Meryans, a Finnish-Ugric tribe assimilated into Russia for hundreds of years who nevertheless maintained a spiritual connection to their ancestry through rituals and language. In this bleak drama of love after death, two contemporary Russian men of Meryan descent enact an ancient funereal rite of passage on a devoted wife. There’s an undeniable dramatic thrust to the tale, but the film is too impressed with its own elegiac minutiae, and so convinced that its audience will be awestruck by its characters’ resolute adherence to a departed way of life, that it leaves viewers as little more than passive observers. Read Michael Koresky's review of Silent Souls.

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  • The Playlist
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    Criterion Offers Up Ernst Lubitsch's 'Design For Living' & 3 BluRay Upgrades For December

    December is traditionally a lean month for Criterion. With the holidays in full swing and dozens of other high profile holiday releases all battling on store shelves to be the stocking stuffer for the cinephile in your family, the boutique label has traditionally scaled back their releases. However, we've never seen a month as thin as this. Today, Criterion announced their December slate of movies and there is only one new title and three BluRay upgrades.

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  • Shadow and Act
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    Rising UK Talents Daniel Kaluuya and Zawe Ashton In 2 New UK TV Series Next Week

    Young British actors Daniel Kluuya and Zawe Ashton both have new UK TV series debuting next Wednesday.

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    More: Television
  • The Playlist
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    TIFF '11 Review: 'Butter' Tries To Carve Up Edgy Laughs But Goes Soft By The End

    A political satire set in the competitive world of butter-carving at the Iowa state fair, the script for "Butter" was so ballyhooed and praised of that it wound up on The Black List, the annual underground buzz list of unproduced screenplays based on a straw poll of agents, development executives and insiders. (As a side note, we must say that The Black List is only interesting as a barometer of quality insofar as you trust agents, development executives and insiders to be able to tell good from bad, which much of Hollywood's output suggests is not actually the case.)

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  • Thompson on Hollywood
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  • The Playlist
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    Whit Stillman Wants To Team Up Old Favorite Chris Eigeman & 'Damsels' Star Adam Brody For New Film

    Says Adaptation Of 'Red Azalea' Is Dead, But He May Yet Make A China-Set FilmConsidering how long he's been away -- thirteen years since his most recent film, "The Last Days of Disco" -- there was understandably some concern about the return of Whit Stillman with "Damsels in Distress." Had the dryly funny, literate indie legend behind "Barcelona" and "Metropolitan" gotten rusty in his time away? Would the casting of teen idol Adam Brody, and mumblecore queen Greta Gerwig in a college-set comedy see him water down his work to appeal to the kids?

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  • The Playlist
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    Denzel Washington Offered Lead In Pointless 'The Secret In Their Eyes' Remake

    In 2010 when "The Secret In Their Eyes" took home the Oscar for Best Foreign Film, it seemed totally out of left field. And for good reason, because while the Academy had all received screeners of the movie, it had yet to hit theaters for anybody else. But when it did finally arrive, it quickly became clear why Juan José Campanella's work took home the gold. It's a twisty thriller, an intelligent procedural and moving drama all rolled into one exciting package, directed with flair by Campanella, whose complex soccer match sequence/tracking shot became one of the major talking points around the film. Of course, Hollywood came calling and a remake was quickly underway with Billy Ray ("Shattered Glass," "Breach") set to write and direct. And then...nothing. Until now.

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  • Spout
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    TIFF11: "Coriolanus" Reminds Us Why We Loved Shakespeare in the First Place

    “Anger’s my meat; I sup upon myself, and so shall starve with feeding.” Thus says Volumnia, Coriolanus’s mother, and in this particular adaptation the immensely powerful and portentous Vanessa Redgrave. The sentiment that “they just don’t write like that anymore” is often trite and ridiculous, but when it comes to Shakespeare it’s pretty accurate. If anything, this makes a cinematic adaptation even more difficult: how do you live up to such brilliant lines and artfully crafted narratives without the end result seeming more buoyed by the Bard himself than any of the filmmaker’s own vision. That’s why so many productions have gone with drastic setting changes, and perhaps why Ralph Fiennes chose to place “Coriolanus” in a dark and almost post-apocalyptic landscape.

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  • Thompson on Hollywood
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    Documentary Features to be Considered for 84th Academy Awards Due Today, September 15

    Oscar entries for consideration for the documentary feature film category for the 84th Academy Awards (to be announced on February 26), are due September 15. Nominees will be announced January 24. More information is here, and qualifying details are below. Last year's winner, Charles Ferguson's Inside Job, is pictured below.

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    More: Awards, Oscars
  • Thompson on Hollywood
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    The Hunger Games Wraps First Installment; Months of Promoting Will Ensue Prior to March 2012 Release

    That was fast. Lionsgate's The Hunger Games has wrapped 84 days of principal photography on the first installment of the intended series. Lionsgate's Joe Drake says: "What I observed on set was impressive on every level, and reinforced my confidence that we have assembled precisely the right team to bring Suzanne Collins’ brilliant novel to the big screen." The film won't feed its hungry teen fans until March 23, 2012. But plenty of first-look fodder (with more to come) are serving as catnip for what looks to be the next young adult female Twilight replacement franchise.

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