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Movie Reviews

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    Surface Tension: R.J. Cutler's "The September Issue"

    About five minutes into R.J. Cutler's "The September Issue," an almost-expose of the production of Vogue magazine's annual fall spectacular, electroclash act Ladytron's icy "Destroy Everything You Touch" spikes on the soundtrack. By this point Cutler's already established his hands-off nonfiction f...

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    Family Snapshot: Hirokazu Kore-eda's "Still Walking"

    Hirokazu Kore-eda's films are haunted by the specter of death -- from the exquisite undercurrent of loss infusing "Maborosi"' to the explicitly gimmicky conceptualization of the hereafter in "After Life" to the looming danger hovering over the abandoned children of "Nobody Knows". His latest, "Still Walking," again takes up questions of mortality. As the Yokoyama family reconvenes for what we gradually realize is a memorial day commemorating the eldest son's death, remaining siblings Ryo (Hiroshi Abe) and Chinami (You) quietly grapple with the aging of their elderly parents. From the start, small moments gesture toward the transition from one...

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    Still Searching for a Home Run: "Holy Land Hardball" Travels with Chutzpah

    Although frequently identified as America's quintessential national pastime, baseball contains an undeniable global component that has become commonplace in movies about the sport. Look no further than this year's sleeper hit "Sugar," a bittersweet story of Dominican players drafted for American tea...

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    After I Forget: Lucrecia Martel's "The Headless Woman"

    You've seen this empty canal before. Some boys and a dog were running around here, across the street and into it, just a few minutes ago. But you're not prepared, five minutes into "The Headless Woman," with a sunny pop song on the car radio, for the protagonist to hit something. Yet you'll spend the rest of the film making sense of what happened here, of what you've seen and not seen. In the films of Lucrecia Martel you're challenged to pay attention well before you're ready, to play catch-up, figuring out who's related to whom and what is relevant. But as with the protagonist's subsequent disorientation, your heightened yet bewildered state...

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

    This review was originally published as part of indieWIRE's coverage of the 2009 Cannes Film Festival

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    Naughty Intentions: Bobcat Goldthwait's "World's Greatest Dad"

    This review was originally published as part of indieWIRE's coverage of the 2009 Sundance Film Festival.

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    DIY Spirit Alive and Well in "Zombie Girl: The Movie"

    The movie brat spirit is alive and well, judging by the determination of Emily Hagins, the twelve-year-old subject of "Zombie Girl: The Movie." With the help of family, friends and a surprisingly generous grant, Hagins managed to complete a feature-length undead saga at a time when most kids are grappling with homework and puberty. Although clearly in its early stages, Hagins's vision provokes more curiosity than unintentional humor. She's not a child prodigy — nobody refers to her as the next Mozart or Spielberg — but nonetheless manages to relentlessly pursue her directorial vision. The result proves that there's no age limit on cinematic e...

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    The Way of All Flesh: Gyorgy Palfi's "Taxidermia"

    A three-course ordeal of icky sex, Olympian gluttony, and autoerotic dismemberment, Gyorgy Palfi's "Taxidermia" is consistently vile. Yet it's also a sustained, unique work of art, and well worth the mess. A triptych, the first two sections of which are based on stories by Hungarian writer Lajos Par...

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    The Valley of Indecision: Andrew Bujalski's "Beeswax"

    Over-under-articulators might be the best way to describe the characters in the films of Andrew Bujalski. This of course is also a fairly apt encapsulation of the performance approach in many of the entries in the dare-not-speak-its-name American indie movement that Bujalski unwittingly jumpstarted back in 2004 and that now includes Joe Swanberg, Aaron Katz, Lynn Shelton, and various others as its unofficial members. Yet it’s only fair to judge Bujalski’s work apart from this semi-collective, since when 2002’s word-of-mouther “Funny Ha Ha” first started making its way around people’s VCRs and DVD players (long before its limited theatrical ru...

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    Sci-fi, Futurism and Alternate Reality: "Second Skin" Scores Between Hobby and Addiction

    Juan Carlos Pineiro's "Second Skin" borrows from several contemporary movie traditions. As a portrait of hardcore online gamers, it has elements of sci-fi and futurism in its vision of an entire society based in the digital realm. But people devoted to staying up all night on a "World of Warcraft" b...

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