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Movie Reviews

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    Berlinale '11 | The Iran Question; Generations a Gem & "Jess + Moss"

    At a Berlinale notable for its predictability, one incident above all sticks in the memory: before the opening credits rolled on the Turkish competition entry "Our Grand Despair," a screen emblazoned with the words FREE JAFAR PANAHI AND MOHAMMAD RASOULOF appeared, and in my seat I braced myself, ant...

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    REVIEW | Triple H on Autopilot In Bland WWE Product "The Chaperone"

    With the proper alignment of talent, the cliché of a brawny thug with a heart of gold becomes an irreverent and heartwarming combination in films like Norwegian deadpan comedy "A Somewhat Gentle Man" and Darren Aronofsky's "The Wrestler." While "The Chaperone" bests those works by starring a real wr...

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    REVIEW | New Wave Finds World Cinema in "Zero Bridge"

    The 29-year-old Tariq Tapa serves as writer, director and soundman for his affecting directorial debut, “Zero Bridge." This bittersweet story set in the Kashmiri city of Srinagar follows the plight of 17-year-old Dilawar (Mohamad Imran Tapa). His adopted mother abandoned him at a young age, leaving ...

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    REVIEW | A Meandering Midlife Crisis in Ramin Serry's "Loveless"

    Low-life characters are rarely simultaneously pitiable and entertaining like the garrulous Andrew (Andrew Von Urtz), the wannabe filmmaker at the center of Ramin Serry's chatty comedy "Loveless." The movie, Serry's second after the 2002 Iranian immigration tale "Maryam," can't keep up with Andrew's ...

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    REVIEW | A Cannibal Family Dines Together in “We Are What We Are”

    The horror genre has been ruthlessly mined for metaphor, often at the expense of credibility. The tricky balance of the Mexican cannibal drama “We Are What We Are” ("Somos lo que hay") involves its pairing of a conventional family unit with ludicrously grotesque proclivities. At once chilling and pa...

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    Small Screen (DVD/Blu-ray): "Waiting for Superman," Woody Allen's Latest and "Last Tango" in Hi-Def

    This week on DVD and Blu-ray the American public education system is put under a microscope, Woody Allens returns to London and "Last Tango in Paris" dances into Hi-Def.

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    REVIEW | One Death, Many Lives in Matt Porterfield's "Putty Hill"

    The first impression created by Matt Porterfield's "Putty Hill" is that of an abandoned world. Against a silent backdrop, the filmmaker displays the vacant rooms of a creaky house in suburban Maryland, where a young man has recently died. In subsequent scenes, Porterfield builds on that haunting disconnect between reality and the emptiness caused by one individual's abrupt departure from it. Elsewhere, a group of paintball fighters dash through the woods; obscured by protective masks, their identities are indistinguishable. That literal anonymity mirrors the way characters in "Putty Hill" constantly hide their feelings, until Porterfield's ca...

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    Berlin Critic's Notebook: Swanberg America's One Last Auteur Hope?

    For this first dispatch, I was going to comment more broadly, on the Berlinale entire. The better weather, the lowered expectations, the increasingly blurred identities of the festival's various sections, weirdly appropriate to a festival screening Bergman’s “Persona” as part of a retrospective devo...

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    REVIEW | "For the Love of Movies" and the "Spider-Man" Debacle

    The calamitous tale of the overambitious, uber-costly Broadway spectacle "Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark" could only have been redeemed if the show wound up a masterpiece that proved all the haters wrong. Instead, the cavalcade of reviews unleashed in several mainstream publications earlier this week...

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    REVIEW | In "Lovers of Hate," Bryan Poyser Explores Sibling Rivalry At Its Worst

    Given a prominent slot at last year's Sundance Film Festival and nominated for the reputable John Cassavetes Award at the upcoming Film Independent Spirit Awards, Bryan Poyser's "Lovers of Hate" is still not fully recognized for its seamless merging of slapstick humor and realistically uneasy situat...

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