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    REVIEW | I Spy: Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck's "The Lives of Others"

    Curiously - or perhaps not - the four decades of economic hardship and political oppression endured by the citizens of the former German Democratic Republic have, in the years since reunification, given way to "Ostalgie," a pervasive nostalgia for life in the GDR (see, as an example, Wolfgang Becker...

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    REVIEW | More Tales of the City: Maria Maggenti's "Puccini for Beginners"

    Allegra (Elizabeth Reaser) is a thirtyish lesbian author living the sanitary, Whole Foods la vie de boheme of sitcomized contemporary Manhattan. Having just been dropped by a long-term girlfriend over commitment issues, she doubly rebounds - into both sweet, pie-faced Grace (Gretchen Mol) and of all...

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    REVIEW | The Road to Hell: Philip Haas's "The Situation"

    Let's just get the nod to its good intentions out of the way from the start: Providing a window onto the U.S.-occupied chaos of Iraq - this country's first narrative film to do so - "The Situation" strives mightily to put a human face on Iraqis forgotten by mainstream media reports and documentarie...

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    REVIEW | The Principles of Uncertainty: Henriette Mantel and Steve Skrovan's "An Unreasonable Man"

    The success of the 2006 midterm elections may have tempered Democrats' long-held grudge against Ralph Nader, but "An Unreasonable Man" is set to reopen the nasty wounds left from his quixotic 2000 presidential campaign, when several hundred votes for the Green Party candidate arguably cost the Dems ...

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    REVIEW | Back in the Saddle Again: David Von Ancken's "Seraphim Falls"

    It begins with a gunshot, as from a starter's pistol, and the race is on. Gideon (Pierce Brosnan) - heavily bearded, feral from chase - is pursued across a frozen landscape by the steady, vengeance-driven Carver (Liam Neeson) and his posse. Motives stay opaque; Carver's gang churns through the snow ...

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    PARK CITY '07 REVIEW | The Girl Couldn't Help It: David Stenn's "Girl 27"

    My favorite David Stenn book is "Bombshell: The Life and Death of Jean Harlow," a wonderful look at Hollywood's first blonde sex symbol and the dark and tragic circumstances regarding her too-short life. Insights about early Hollywood, sex scandals and ruthless exploitation by studio executives are ...

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    PARK CITY '07 REVIEW | New York Shuffle: Alfredo de Villa's: "Adrift in Manhattan"

    The intersecting lives that amble throughout "Adrift in Manhattan," director Alfredo de Villa's good-natured but forgettable New York street life drama include a young Latino named Simon (Victor Rasuk) who snaps photographs of just about everyone he meets. One person in particular captures his atten...

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    PARK CITY '07 REVIEW | Beautiful Squalor: Steve Berra's "The Good Life"

    The standout surprise on the slow burning melodrama "The Good Life" never appears on-screen. It has more to do with its origins. Writer/director Steve Berra is a top skateboarder turned self-taught filmmaker but "The Good Life," his solid debut effort, has little to do with skateboarding and takes p...

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    PARK CITY '07 REVIEW | Heartache Free of Language Barriers: Christopher Zalla's "Padre Nuestro"

    Good ambiguity is a film that enthralls audiences and yet, manages to give a variety of pleasures. That's "Padre Nuestro," a wonderful Spanish-language debut from writer/director Christopher Zalla and arguably the best dramatic feature I've watched so far at the festival. My initial response would b...

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    PARK CITY '07 REVIEW | Bad, Bad Boy: George Ratliff's "Joshua"

    At many film festivals, Cannes comes to mind; audiences would openly jeer a disastrous movie like director George Ratliff's unintentionally silly, bad seed horror drama "Joshua." At Sundance, where the film made its premiere over the weekend, the audience I sat with was polite and only laughed at al...

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