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Movie Reviews

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    In Favor of Imagery: Tsai's "Visage" Paints a Puzzling, Pretty Picture

    From the very first minutes of "Visage" ("Face"), director Tsai Ming-liang stakes out familiar territory. But familiarity in a Tsai Ming-liang movie is an elusive thing. Working in abstract mode, Tsai depicts strange and cryptic moods, regardless of his intentions. The immediate thematic parallel to his earlier work arrives when a Taiwanese filmmaker (Lee Kang-Sheng) copes with a late night kitchen leak that ultimately floods his entire apartment. The progression from slice-of-life detail to slapstick comedy and ultimately lyricism happens swiftly, echoing a scene in Tsai's first feature, "Rebels of the Neon God." In "Visage," water symbolize...

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    Low on Luster, Gilliam's "Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus" Winds up a Sideshow

    Marred by shoddy special effects and half-formed fantastical conceits, Terry Gilliam's "The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus" has the feeling of a comic fantasia desperately seeking to find its rhythm. Nearly abandoned after the sudden death of leading man Heath Ledger prior to completing production ...

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    Does It Take This Village? "White Ribbon" Ascends Art

    Despair haunts every moment of Michael Haneke's "The White Ribbon." The director's dour, Bergmanesque black-and-white portrait of enigmas and familial discord in a Protestant German village at the beginning of the twentieth century peddles in the art of downbeat expressionism....

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    Tone Deaf: Stephan Elliott's "Easy Virtue"

    In the face of the current world financial crisis, is an urbane adaptation of a mid-20s Noel Coward comedy of manners hopelessly out-of-step, or an appropriate cinematic tonic for troubled times? The collapse of economies is perhaps an unnecessary weight with which to burden a film like "Easy Virtue," whose sole aim is providing 90 frothy, mildly entertaining minutes, but lingering around the borders of Stephan Elliott's ("The Adventures of Priscilla Queen of the Desert") take on one of Coward's earlier plays are increasingly relevant questions of wholesale societal change and the decay of class relations. It's a concern of the source text t...

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    Falling Short of Tarantino's Own High Bar, "Inglourious" Goes Bubblegum

    Given what the world expects from Quentin Tarantino - the man, the myth, the pastiche-driven movie machine - his latest feature, "Inglourious Basterds," stands out for its seemingly low ambition. Talked about for years by the filmmaker as his epic "guys-on-a-mission" movie, the final product, unveil...

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    Dargis On Von Trier

    Dargis On Von Trier

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    "Broken" Record: Almodovar's Latest Repeats His Greatest Hits

    Pedro Almodovar offers nothing new in his latest feature, "Abrazos Rotos" ("Broken Embraces"), but that's probably enough for his devout followers. With solid performances and a script that's never too hard on the ears, Spain's superstar director merely repeats the themes and conflicts of his greate...

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    Art-house Crowd Pleaser: Loach Lightens Up with "Looking for Eric"

    In 2006, British director Ken Loach won Cannes' top prize with a bracing chronicle of the Irish Republican Army's struggles against the British in the 1920s. Three years later, he's come up with a film that couldn't be more different in tone and subject matter - a lighthearted dramatic comedy about ...

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    Off The Edge: The Primal Power of Von Trier's "Antichrist"

    With "Antichrist," Lars Von Trier fully lives up to his reputation as an outrageous provocateur and master image-maker. Love it or hate it, boo it or applaud it-as audiences did both simultaneously after the world premiere here in Cannes-the film is the most shocking of the festival so far, with cri...

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    Amenabar's "Agora" Rings Hollow Despite Visual Shock and Awe

    Alejandro Amenabar's "Agora" contains a dense plot littered with historical details of Egyptian society during the Roman Empire, but none of them can save the movie from having the fleeting qualities of a high school science class.

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