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Movie Reviews

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    Toronto Review | A Title That Lies: "It's Kind of a Funny Story"

    Few American filmmakers in recent memory have matched the ability of co-directors Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck to make small stories work in big ways. "Half Nelson" made a gritty, low key portrait of one teacher's struggles with the Brooklyn public school system into Oscar bait. Their follow-up, "Sugar," miraculously turned the immigrant experience in minor league baseball into a rousing sports movie. Given their proven track record for injecting socio-economic talking points into understated crowdpleasers, Boden and Fleck have earned the resources to make more of them. Unfortunately, their shift toward mainstream filmmaking with "It's Kind of a...

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    Toronto Review | One Sad Note: "Never Let Me Go"

    An incidental sci-fi story that favors elegant imagery over content, "Never Let Me Go" has plenty of emotional baggage to spare. Adapting Kazuo Ishiguro's 2005 novel about an alternative history where clones are bred to donate organs, Mark Romanek (directing his first feature since 2002's "One Hour ...

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    Toronto Review | De Niro Versus Norton: John Curran's "Stone"

    A bizarre, messy tale of religious philosophy and guilt, John Curran's "Stone" has several unique parts that never entirely fit together. Robert De Niro stars as Michigan-based parole officer Jack Mabrey, an unnervingly cold man with inner demons to spare. His latest subject is Stone (Edward Norton)...

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    Toronto Review | Punk Rock Women Talk: Bruce McDonald's "Trigger"

    The engine of Bruce McDonald's "Trigger" is chatter, and it rarely lets up. Gliding along on the controlled nature of its two lead performances, the movie portrays two aging women rockers in unflattering detail. Former childhood friends Vic (Tracy Wright, in her last performance b...

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    Eric Rohmer vs. the 3-D Threat: August in Focus

    No movie made more money in August than "The Expendables," an old school action product so thoroughly decried for its empty, virile spectacles that you have to wonder if the majority of audiences pouring money into Sylvester Stallone's pocket have done so with full awareness of the blatant stupidity...

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    Big Screen | "Mesrine" Finally Hits U.S. Theaters

    Two years after premiering at the 2008 Toronto International Film Festival, the first of a two-part film, "Mesrine: Killer Instinct," is hitting U.S. theaters via Music Box Films. It's directed by Jean-François Richet and written by Abdel Raouf Dafri and Richet. The first part's script was based on ...

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    REVIEW | Checking In: Spike Lee's Return to New Orleans Uneven But Still Essential

    In 2006, Spike Lee's sprawling HBO documentary "When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts" delivered the definitive look at the destruction wreaked by Hurricane Katrina on the lower class residents of New Orleans. While other investigative reports on the disaster have come and gone, Lee's portra...

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    REVIEW | An American Conspiracy: "The Tillman Story"

    The opening shot of "The Tillman Story" states its intentions in visual terms. Tillman, a former NFL star-turned-soldier who died in Afghanistan in 2004, stares blankly into the camera as he waits for an interview to begin. Seconds pass. He takes a deep breath. Sitting in silence, free from scrutiny...

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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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