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    Chaos & Claustrophobia: Toronto '09 titles from "Lebanon" to "Collapse"

    Stuck in basements, tanks and various landscapes of inescapable desolation, I will fondly remember this year's Toronto International Film Festival as a procession of utter despair. From the first press screening last Thursday night of Lu Chuan's "The City of Life and Death," an unsparing black-and-white epic about the 1937 Nanking massacre, which largely forgoes character development for lots of carnage, to Jean-Luc Godard's 1-minute fittingly titled "Un Catastrophe" - a meditation on love and war tucked away in the experimental Wavelengths program (available for viewing here, what began as a curious trend slowly became a kind of obsessive se...

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    REVIEW | Campion's Prudish "Star" Needs More Sizzle

    EDITOR'S NOTE: This review was originally published as part of indieWIRE's coverage of the Cannes Film Festival. The film is being released in theaters today.

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    REVIEW | Cedric the Entertainer: Cedric Klapisch’s “Paris”

    The films of Cedric Klapisch are easy to dismiss. They seem a bit too slick of surface and shallow of meaning. They’re comfortably tucked between entertainment and art, between slumming intelligence and vainglorious style. They go down easy. Klapisch hasn’t the formal genius of contemporary countrym...

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    REVIEW | Norton's Dual Role Salvages Nelson's "Leaves of Grass"

    2009 is starting to look like The Year of the Dual Role, with the stars of three major festival films acting opposite themselves as Patty Duke-esque physical copies with polar opposite personalities. In "Leaves of Grass," Edward Norton plays classically dissimilar twin brothers –– Brady is id, Bill is superego –– who come together after a long stretch of estrangement. Norton’s dual characterization and Tim Blake Nelson’s slight-of-hand staging is more seamless and convincing than the similar tricks employed by actor Michael Cera and director Miguel Arteta in Toronto premiere "Youth in Revolt," but even with scads of overwritten philosophicall...

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    REVIEW | Jeunet Continues His Magical Realism With "Micmacs"

    Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s signature films, including "Amelie" and "City of Lost Children," have functioned as gateway drugs, getting the previously uninitiated hooked on the habit of foreign film. Romantic enough to please what we now think of as the "Twilight" se...

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    REVIEW | Object Desire: Claire Denis’s “35 Shots of Rum”

    In the simple steadfast training of the camera lens, cinema has the ability to give seemingly mundane objects or actions an almost supernatural provenance; in so doing, it can change how we see the world. It sounds like a lofty notion, but it’s actually a literal truth. Chantal Akerman&rs...

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    REVIEW | Todd Intact: "Life During Wartime" Maintains Solondz' Droll Satiric Aura

    This review was originally published as part of indieWIRE’s coverage of the 2009 Toronto International Film Festival. “Life During Wartime” opens this Friday, July 23rd at the IFC Center in New York.

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    REVIEW | From The Heart: Rodrigo Garcia's "Mother and Child"

    In his 2005 film “Nine Lives,” Rodrigo Garcia did something cinematically unexpected. Bringing to the women’s picture a rigorous aesthetic design, “Nine Lives,” made up of nine disparate segments about different female characters shot in elaborate single takes, successfully translated the structure of a short story anthology to the screen, and without denying film’s unique properties. The narratives themselves, surveying women from different classes and pasts and at different life thresholds, may not have been equally gripping, but together the film had a cumulative power, while certain segments (especially Robin Wright Penn’s supermarket enc...

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    REVIEW | Interpersonal Lyricism: An Exciting Filmmaker Is Born With "Mother"

    Xavier Dolan's "I Killed My Mother" marks the emergence of an exciting new filmmaking talent. The Montreal actor, a mere 20 years old, displays a startlingly mature perspective on human behavior in his triple threat position as writer-director-star. He plays Hubert, a gay teen constantly at odds wit...

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    REVIEW | Running Scared: Claire Denis's "White Material"

    At one point in Claire Denis's ravaging new film, "White Material," Isabelle Huppert's Maria, a coffee plantation owner in an African country increasingly torn apart by escalating civil war violence, is driving her grown son, Manuel, on a tractor to bring him medical attention for a minor injury to ...

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