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Movie Reviews

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    REVIEW | Manipulating the Past: "A Film Unfinished"

    The popular sentiment about Holocaust grief at the movies reached a breaking point in 2008, when backlash against "The Reader" suggested that audiences had grown tired of the predetermined gravitas that seemed to infuse such stories with an immediate sense of purpose. Last year, Yoav Shamir's perceptive documentary "Defamation" put an additional focus on the problem by following school children on a guilt-inducing field trip to Auschwitz. The kids are meant to accept the morbidity and cry for the dead rather than try to understand the forces behind their fate. Shamir rose a boldly progressive question: Does acknowledging a dark patch of histo...

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    Big Screen | "Tillman" and "Unfinished" Bring Best of Festival Docs To Cinemas

    Two of the best reviewed documentaries off this year's festival circuit, Amir Bar-Lev's "The Tillman Story" and Yael Hersonski's "A Film Unfinished" both hit theaters this Friday. The films also share the distinction of arriving with controversial R-ratings by the MPAA (of which both "Tillman"'s Wei...

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    Locarno Review | Singing Serbian Depression: "White White World"

    In the Serbian drama "White White World: The Miner's Opera" ("Beli Beli Svet"), the characters sing, but never dance. Formulated as a modern day Greek tragedy set in the decrepit southeastern mining town Bor, the movie follows a close group of alienated locals through misguided love affairs and othe...

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    Daniel Cockburn's Enigmatic "You Are Here" Is "Inception" With More Puzzles

    A man trapped in a room answers questions in Chinese without comprehending the language. Confused pedestrians wander the city streets, taking meaningless orders from a control center that guides their movements. A child tells the story of a mad scientist whose ubiquitous computer-eye threatens ...

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    Big Screen | Sundance Hit "Kingdom" Comes To America

    Set in the underground of Melbourne, Australia, David Michôd's "Animal Kingdom" received considerable approval at this year's Sundance Film Festival, winning the Grand Jury Prize in the festival's World Narrative Competition. Sony Pictures Classics picked up the film shortly thereafter, and is relea...

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    Locarno Review | A Man Copied: Benedek Fliegauf's "Womb"

    The prospects of human cloning have provided fodder for decades of science fiction stories because they always contain a kernel of truth. Unlike the far-fetched conceits of alien invasions and deep space travel, cloning is tangible to the point where it doesn't demand extreme suspension of disbelief...

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    Locarno Review | Diary of a Filmmaker: Christophe Honoré's "Man At Bath"

    Christophe Honoré has cranked out a series of critical favorites over the last few years, garnering enough praise to place him among the giants of contemporary French cinema. Popularity often gives artists room to play around, a freedom reflected in the relative smallness of his latest feature, "Man...

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    Locarno Review | Santa Gone Wild: Jalmari Helander's "Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale"

    In 2003, Finnish director Jalmari Helander made a zany short film about smugglers in the business of hunting Santa Claus and inadvertently created a viral sensation. The short, "Rare Exports Inc.," and its 2005 follow-up, "Rare Exports: The Official Safety Instructions," con...

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    Review | There Will Be a Crime: David Michod's "Animal Kingdom"

    Equal parts crime thriller, neo-western and coming-of-age story, the Australian drama "Animal Kingdom" puts its moral compass into a tailspin. Initially, first time writer-director David Michod introduces a basic sense of right and wrong adopted by the most casual entries in good-versus-evil sagas, but he later endows his cruel world with a fittingly tilted vision of justice. Our sympathies lie with alienated teen Josh (James Frecheville), a Melbourne youth whose innocence gets challenged by his older gangster relatives. Michod situates Josh as the moral center, then sneaks in a finale suggesting nothing is sacred. Josh grows up when he grow...

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    Locarno Review | Undead Porn: Bruce LaBruce's "L.A. Zombie"

    Unless I'm missing something, the miraculous potential of a giant undead penis in Bruce LaBruce's "L.A. Zombie" is a definite first for film history. Banned from the Melbourne Film Festival and bound to inspire heated debate wherever it plays next, the wordless, hour-long portrait of a walking corps...

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