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Reviews

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    REVIEW | True Dedication: Ilana Trachtman's "Praying with Lior"

    No film critic would dare print a negative word about a film as well-intentioned as Ilana Trachtman's affable, purposely enriching documentary "Praying with Lior"; the reassuring news is that they'd have no reason to. One may be compelled to note the film's unremarkable visual textures, yet more apr...

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    REVIEW | Caught in the Middle: Andre Techine's "The Witnesses"

    Once again, with his new film "The Witnesses," great French filmmaker Andre Techine surveys the intersections of sexuality and politics, while offering up a compelling study in human strength and weakness. Instructive without ever falling into cheap bromides, dramatic without ever veering into overz...

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    PARK CITY '08 NOTEBOOK | Slamdance Docs "Dear Zachary" and "My Mother's Garden" Offer Personal Stori

    There's a certain intensity to low budget productions that often heightens their impact. At the Slamdance Film Festival, where singular vision overwhelms the importance of name talent and studio appeal, a number of sturdy entries achieve their cogent artistic intentions with focused minimalism. This...

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    PARK CITY '08 REVIEW | Scary Ha-Ha: Jay and Mark Duplass' "Baghead"

    The laughs outweigh the scares in "Baghead," a clever horror/comedy hybrid and the latest good time movie from filmmaker brothers Jay and Mark Duplass. The fact that there are shocks throughout the film confirms "Baghead's" best attribute. The Duplass Brothers, much admired for their 2005 Sundance f...

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    REVIEW | Laughing Stock: Jieho Lee's "The Air I Breathe"

    It says much about the failed dramatic strivings of "The Air I Breathe" that at a press screening -- an occasion for the most part free of audible displays of emotion since critics like to play their cards close to the vest -- Jieho Lee's feature debut (co-scripted by Bob DeRosa) met with hoots of l...

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    REVIEW | The Body Politic: Cristian Mungiu's "4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days"

    Cristian Mungiu's Palme d'or winner "4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days" is as good as you've heard -- ravaging, provocative, deeply moving, and expertly crafted -- but it may not be what you expect. Billed by many as the "Romanian abortion movie" (something akin to labeling "There Will Be Blood" the "Am...

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    REVIEW | House of Pain: Alex Gibney's "Taxi to the Dark Side"

    Presidential hopeful and all-around sleaze bucket Mitt Romney's desperate equivocating over the use of waterboarding during this season's Republican YouTube debate nearly left the man a frothing mess. That's because there really isn't any room for equivocation: torture is torture, no matter how much...

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    REVIEW | Castle Keep: Joseph Cedar's "Beaufort"

    Any thoughtful film about the Israel-Palestine conflict naturally takes futility as its main subject; and acclaimed Israeli filmmaker Joseph Cedar has a central premise in his new film "Beaufort" that perfectly encapsulates not just the futility of war but also the cycle of retribution and violence ...

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    REVIEW | Draft Bored: Bryan Gunnar Cole's "Day Zero"

    Of all the varied strands of post-9/11 cinema, the speculative film--the one showing us what life would be like if it were slightly (but significantly!) different--is by far the most superfluous. Last year's lame "Right at Your Door," which sank right into oblivion, pondered a world where Los Angele...

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    REVIEW | Missing Persons: Jia Zhangke's "Still Life"

    Jia Zhangke, who has emerged as one of the great artists from the "Sixth Generation" of Chinese filmmakers, is one of those directors whose work will always be embraced and discussed by a number of devoted followers but whose discursive, searching approach to narratives and the people who inhabit th...

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