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Moview Reviews, Movie Ratings, TV Show, Television Ratings

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    Three Extremes: Craig Lucas' "The Dying Gaul"

    Craig Lucas' "The Dying Gaul" features a wonderful, winking twist: A studio head offers a neophyte scribe one million dollars for his beautiful autobiographical screenplay about a man dealing with the death of his lover to AIDS -- as long as he changes the central relationship into a heterosexual one, of course. Taking its own title from that script, this engagingly postmodern film about selling-out in Hollywood purposively retains the very elements which Jeffrey (Campbell Scott) would have Robert (Peter Sarsgaard) negate, as the former ends up paradoxically pursuing the constantly cruised latter with an unabashedly spirited lust. Playwright-...

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    Idle Worship: Greg Whiteley's "New York Doll"

    "Rock history," as we know it, fueled by the obsessiveness and stunted adolescent Romanticism of its worse (and more numerous) chroniclers, basically consists of a heap of cliches so rancid that even calling them out for their rottenness has become a bit hackneyed. The druggy, self-important musicians whose corpses litter a "Mojo" subscription don't just die -- they die for our sins, self-fulfilling prophesies ushered into necrophilic canonization by the photographers who kept busy during their living years, and the journo hacks who stay busy thereafter. Rock history movies don't fare much better -- "24 Hour Party People" may have made a clai...

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    Growing Pains: Lucile Hadzihalilovic's "Innocence"

    In Lucile Hadzihalilovic's "Innocence" nostalgia and dread become one--and it's a perfectly welcome symbiosis. A remarkable sustained allegory, "Innocence" luxuriates in the kind of symbolic imagery one would associate mostly with the fantastic worlds of children's fiction, but with the wherewithal to acknowledge the inherent rot and sinister underpinnings propping them up. To applaud Hadzihalilovic for discovering or revealing the sexual discourse roiling below the surface of accepted tropes and narratives of preadolescent fantasy is to deny the subtle evocation of burgeoning sexuality in "Peter Pan," "Alice in Wonderland," and any number of...

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    White Trash: Atom Egoyan's "Where the Truth Lies"

    Since "Where the Truth Lies" debuted at Cannes this past May, it has been beset by a censorship controversy that, like "Basic Instinct" and "Showgirls" before it, might just be its only saving grace, financially speaking. Because Atom Egoyan's latest effort is a pretty wretched film, formulaic, conf...

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    Noah's Arc: Noah Baumbach's "The Squid and the Whale"

    Barely cracking the 80-minute mark and covering well-trod ground, "The Squid and the Whale" is the kind of movie that courts underappreciation. Noah Baumbach's fourth feature is of a familiar genre, the broken-family "bildungsroman," and its denizens are known to us as well -- this is the urbane, intellectual bourgeoisie of Woody Allen, Whit Stillman, and countless imitators. Further flirting with hermetic self-regard, the movie barely leaves its brownstone-lined milieu or strays from the family whose collapse it reconstructs. And yet by the end of this brisk but rich film, an expansive constellation of ideas and emotions will have emerged, a...

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    Tell Laura We Love Her: Ira Sachs' "Forty Shades of Blue"

    It feels like precious little happens in “Forty Shades of Blue” -- surprising for a film so fraught with disintegrating relationships and more than its fair share of infidelity. This isn’t meant to be an indictment, but praise: Ira Sachs’ ostensibly sensational narrative is muted through a quietly observational aesthetic, such that emotional states resonate more palpably than any single event. There is no American correlate for “Forty Shades of Blue,” the most apt comparison for its even temper and tumble of unvarnished emotion lies across the ocean with French director Maurice Pialat. Like Pialat, Sachs ha...

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    Foul Play: Thomas Vinterberg's "Dear Wendy"

    Putting the nature and quality of his films aside for the moment, Lars von Trier, the jolly sadist Danish director and writer, is simply useful to have around. Like a brash, needling party guest, he starts conversations. Less committed interrogator than pathological provocateur, his films demand r...

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    For the Boys: Paul Etheridge-Ouzts' "HellBent"

    Though it's far from the "first gay slasher film," as it has been momentously touted (hello? "A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy's Revenge" anyone?), Paul Etheridge-Ouzts's "HellBent" might be the first horror movie that's quite so unapologetically gay-friendly. Serial killer films have been chockablock with homosexual psychotics from day one, yet rarely is the gay sensibility refracted back throughout the texture of the film itself—both the worst offending tripe ("Cruising," "Hard," "Haute tension") and the eminently defensible yet unquestionably questionable masterpieces ("Silence of the Lambs," "Psycho," "Dressed to Kill") place bla...

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    Meet Me in St. Tropez: Olivier Ducastel & Jacques Martineau's "Cote d'Azur"

    To include Olivier Ducastel and Jacques Martineau among France's best-unsung contemporary filmmakers would probably be a bit of a hyperbolic stretch. Yet in the interest of making someone sit up and take note, I'll dare to do just that. Wearing their big-hearted generosity perhaps a bit too much on their sleeves, the directing duo nevertheless repeatedly construct narratives of unending good will and slapdash optimism that send you out of the theater refreshingly buzzed. Even if their brand of homo-happy whimsy doesn't exactly correspond with today's trendy art-house fare, it's been disconcerting to see their work become increasingly gay-ghet...

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    What Reverse Shot Learned During Summer Vacation: 13 Lessons

    We'd prefer not to have to once again go over the corrosive specifics of the summer's oft puzzled-over "summer slump." But with its projected "whopping" 9% drop from 2004's box-office totals and 11.5% decline in attendance, what are we supposed to do in response? Suddenly decry the paucity of strong Hollywood product? Sorry for the lack of alarmism on our part, but we're not pubescent enough that we can't recall the dour humidity of summer 1995 ("Judge Dredd," "Congo," "Nine Months,"), the scorching sunburn of July 2000 ("The Perfect Storm," "Loser," "Coyote Ugly"), or even last year's less than tanned and toned lineup ("Scooby Doo 2," "I, Ro...

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