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Movie Reviews

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    REVIEW | Staying Afloat: Aki Kaurismaki's "Lights in the Dusk"

    There's a fine line between an artist spinning out variations of core themes and merely treading water. No doubt some will find Aki Kaurismaki's deceptively slight, 77-minute "Lights in the Dusk" a textbook example of the latter, especially given the strenuously laudatory response that greeted his ...

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    REVIEW | Crazier Love: Taika Waititi's "Eagle vs. Shark"

    Quirky: the one adjective that if employed in a synopsis or review should cause any thoughtful person to avoid a film so described, and a perfect kiss-of-death salvo for "Eagle vs. Shark." This crowd-pleasing New Zealand indie, developed from the Sundance Director's and Screenwriter's Labs (from whi...

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    REVIEW | Aftermath: Olivier Meyrou's "Beyond Hatred"

    The straightforward, very American, talking-head "expose" approach to documentary, cribbed from television shows like "Dateline NBC" and "20/20," has become the norm - and, in exploitative dreck like "Capturing the Friedmans" and "Crazy Love," efficiently transformed real human lives into sound bite...

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    REVIEW | Domestic Violence: Andrew Currie's "Fido"

    The rom-zom-com--the romantic zombie comedy--spearheaded by "Shaun of the Dead" continues to build momentum with "Fido," a candy-colored satire of the "Leave It to Beaver" Fifties, in which the Eisenhower era is reimagined as a macabre world populated by the living dead. Writer-director Andrew Curri...

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    REVIEW | Children of the Revolution: Corneliu Porumboiu's "12:08 East of Bucharest"

    Unless I've missed the boat, the definitive take on the impetus behind the recent, unlikely surge in terrific Romanian cinema has yet to be published; that a country more often linked in the public consciousness (vampires aside) to vague ideas of post-Communist black market capitalism run amok shoul...

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    REVIEW | Grand Dame: Olivier Dahan's "La Vie en rose"

    Encompassing hardship and tragedy of near-mythic proportions, the details of Edith Piaf's life story seem spawned from literature and are so well-suited to cinematic adaptation they appear invented. Abandoned by her mother as a child and raised for a time by her grandmother in a brothel, only to be ...

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    REVIEW | Mortal Coil: Adrian Shergold's "Pierrepoint: The Last Hangman"

    "Pierrepoint: The Last Hangman," which first debuted at the Toronto Film Festival back in 2005, may have the highest body count of any movie to hit American theaters this side of "300." Since Albert Pierrepoint was among Britain's most prolific (though in point of fact not its last) hangmen - the fi...

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    REVIEW | Story Telling: Rolf De Heer's "Ten Canoes"

    I'm usually left slightly anxious by those works of western filmmakers that take as their subjects the nature and stories of indigenous peoples. The potential for exploitation - artistic, commercial, moral - runs so deep in these instances of cultural intersection that it's amazing such films don't...

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    REVIEW | Earthbound: Luc Besson's "Angel-A"

    In a comeback that I've been anticipating only slightly more than the reemergence of JNCO jeans or polio, Luc Besson now returns to American theaters after a nearly decade-long absence. The occasion is the release of "Angel-A," a Paris-set variation on "It's a Wonderful Life," which replaces Clarenc...

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    REVIEW | Panic Room: William Friedkin's "Bug"

    Even during the heyday of the American paranoia thriller, there was never a performance quite like the one given by Michael Shannon in William Friedkin's take-no-prisoners adaptation of Tracy Letts's off-Broadway play about fear and loathing in an Oklahoma motel room. As Peter Evans, the blandly nam...

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