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Movie Reviews

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    REVIEW | Legend of the Fall: Richard Kelly's "Southland Tales"

    [An indieWIRE review from Reverse Shot. Writer Jeff Reichert is co-founder and editor of Reverse Shot and is a Senior Vice President overseeing publicity and marketing at Magnolia Pictures.]

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    REVIEW | Mean Girls: Noah Baumbach's "Margot at the Wedding"

    It's with great disappointment I report that "Margot at the Wedding," Noah Baumbach's follow-up dramedy, is not only nowhere near as sharp as its predecessor, "The Squid and the Whale," but a failure in its own right. Leaving behind "Squid"'s relatable adolescent's-eye view on divorce for a hackneyed, adult-oriented dysfunctional family dynamic, and replacing "Squid"'s modest realism for incongruent deep-shadow gothic, "Margot" attempts more but really offers less. Inasmuch, Baumbach's weaknesses are devastatingly exposed--the compassion he once showed toward his neurotic characters, starting from his 1995 debut, "Kicking and Screaming," has ...

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    REVIEW | The Earth Trembles: Joel and Ethan Coen's "No Country for Old Men"

    The term "return to form" may be overused, but it certainly applies to the Coen Brothers' new adaptation of Cormac McCarthy's novel "No Country for Old Men" -- in its visual economy, maddeningly beautiful symmetry, and eccentric mundanity the film is a reminder of why the Coens were initially tagged as wunderkinds. It's easy to derive pleasure from the Hitchcockian virtuosity of "No Country"'s mouse-trap set-ups, but the sweet surprise here is that Joel and Ethan Coen, genre vagabonds and occasional wise-asses who had been stuck in a rut as of late, have shot their latest film through with palpable, evocative melancholy and purpose. And have...

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    REVIEW | Lost in the Supermarket: Julien Temple's "Joe Strummer: The Future Is Unwritten"

    By the year 2015, any band that made the cover of NME in the Seventies will have been the subject of either a feature-length documentary (with commentary by Bono) or frontman biopic. As one to whom pop music and film both have both meant a great deal, I can't understand how this arrangement benefits either medium, but it's obvious there's money to be made, and so the process goes on. And if you've already forked out for your ticket to "Control" and you're still waiting on the Captain Sensible musical, you may as well take in a boogaloo eulogy to the Clash's dearly-departed Joe Strummer in the new doc "Joe Strummer: The Future is Unwritten" by...

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    REVIEW | Me, Myself & I: Ash Christian's "Fat Girls"

    The indie gay cinema movement in America was a necessary response not only to mainstream studio filmmaking but also to the hetero bias of other "alternative" cinema avenues; because of the outsider status of the films it was once difficult to too harshly criticize their narrative and aesthetic faults. The field was also narrow enough that there wasn't room for directors without a vision, or at least a technique, to slip in. Whatever their limitations, New Queer Cinema films (from Tom Kalin, Bill Sherwood, Gregg Araki, and so many more) were given deserved passes for the boldness of their inquiries. The torch has been passed, and with the ever...

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    REVIEW | Star Power: Theodore Braun's "Darfur Now"

    "Darfur Now," Theodore Braun's infectiously optimistic, if perfunctorily realized, documentary about the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Sudan arrives in theaters at a crucial moment. While the civil war in that wartorn region rages unabated, demanding more international visibility, the wave that brought documentary film (and a host of media-silenced issues) to commercial prominence here in the U.S. seems to have crested. As of this writing, only a handful of 2007 documentaries have crossed the one-million- dollar theatrical gross mark generally deemed a minimum condition for reasonable success, and while more and more high profile docs are ...

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    REVIEW | Fallen Down: Anthony Hopkins's "Slipstream"

    William Gaddis's slim final novel, "Agape Agape," takes the form of a stream-of-consciousness rant delivered by a highly erudite narrator on his death bed that encompasses scattered memories, ruminations on late 19th and 20th century Western culture, and elderly grumblings about the experience of mortal decay. In just a little over one hundred pages Gaddis succeeds in not only creating a fully fleshed character without ever resorting to commonplaces like description and motivation, but also in conjuring an elegy for the very specific brand of omnivorous literacy his protagonist embodies--one it's easy to imagine the writer mourning while fini...

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    REVIEW | Noble Rot: Steven Sawalich's "Music Within"

    Likable yet bland, Ron Livingston has been cursed with an earnest, puppy dog face that, while charming, makes him hard to take seriously as a dramatic actor, or even an intriguing comic one. He's not untalented, just dull, and in that sense he's perfectly cast as the protagonist of "Music Within." This debut feature film by Steven Sawalich is an inspirational tale "based on a true story," and obediently follows that disclaimer's tried-and-true formula: some laughter, some tears, and a consistent distribution of valuable life lessons. In other words, it's terribly earnest and mostly forgettable. "Music Within" isn't wrongheaded in its portraya...

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    REVIEW | Brothers in Lawlessness: Sidney Lumet's "Before the Devil Knows You're Dead"

    If our cultural arbiters are to be believed, the Seventies are back. "Serious," "adult," "provocative," and other signifiers of high-minded Hollywood adorn multiplex posters ("Michael Clayton," "The Assassination of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford"), which perhaps says more about the desperation of the moviegoer in a barren 2007 than about the movies themselves. Sidney Lumet's "Before the Devil Knows You're Dead" will likely be lumped in with the group, but in this instance the New Hollywood nostalgia is legitimate. Directed by someone who actually defined the period, this is no homage by a "last golden age" devotee--it's the genuine ar...

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    Happy Trails: Jonathan Demme's "Jimmy Carter Man from Plains"

    Titled like an old-fashioned Western where a man in a white hat gallops in to save a town from ruthless villains, Jonathan Demme's "Jimmy Carter Man from Plains" portrays the 39th president as an intrepid political lone ranger, unafraid of provoking discussion on sensitive international matters at an age when most retired representatives ride inoffensively into the sunset. Following Carter in autumn 2006 on a publicity tour in support of his controversial book "Palestine Peace Not Apartheid," Demme reveals Carter as a highly intelligent, dedicated, religious, humble, and concerned man constantly engaged with the world around him, and for that...

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