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Movie Reviews

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    REVIEW | Running Wild: Christina Clausen's "The Universe of Keith Haring"

    The best compliment that can be paid "The Universe of Keith Haring," a straightforward, fast-moving documentary about the Pennsylvania phenom who made his way from New York City bohemia to the art world and transcended all to become one of the most recognizable names in popular graphics in the late 20th century, is that it is as inspiring at the level of a cinematic portrait as its subject was at the level of pure creation. As directed by newcomer Christina Clausen, the film looks to Haring as an artistic role model for his preternatural talent, of course, but also for his infectious lust for life that had him as committed to social activism ...

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    REVIEW | A Matter of Taste: Philippe Claudel's "I've Loved You So Long"

    Juliette, a middle-aged woman, waits alone, gray and taciturn -- two words that pretty well describe "I've Loved You So Long." She stands to haltingly greet her rendez-vous, her sister, Lea. We gather they've been apart a long time. Juliette's been "away," her past a talked-around negative space tha...

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    REVIEW | Winter Kills: Tomas Alfredson's "Let the Right One In"

    With its calm, wintry rural setting, Tomas Alfredson's adaptation of novelist John Ajvide Lindqvist's Swedish best-seller "Let the Right One In" depicts slaughter, death, and dismemberment as though sprung from the stanzas of Robert Frost. This is hardly the first film to drench teen angst and burge...

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    REVIEW | A Self-Made Man: Charlie Kaufman's "Synecdoche, New York"

    Staring into the abyss through a kaleidoscope, Charlie Kaufman's "Synecdoche, New York" sees ecstatic, innumerable facets in the depths. Another of Kaufman's Alice in Wonderland narratives, his first directorial effort is more gnarled and coiled than his scripts for Spike Jonze ("Being John Malkovic...

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    REVIEW | Army of Shadows: Fear(s) of the Dark

    Like any omnibus film, the Christophe Jankovic and Valerie Schermann-produced French collection of creepy, crawly cartoon shorts, "Fear(s) of the Dark," succeeds on the strength of its best components. Though it seems that in animation it's easier to convey an "idea" of fear to an audience than impart in the viewer fear itself, the film nevertheless pleasantly lodges in the brain. A persuasive showcase for a handful of contemporary animators, "Fear(s)" is comprised of mostly beautifully designed segments which get exponentially better as the film continues, going deeper and deeper into an ever darkening rabbit hole. Like the famed sixties com...

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    REVIEW | Crash Landing: Gonzalo Arijon's "Stranded: I Have Come From a Plane That Crashed on the Mou

    In his 1993 review of "Alive," a film based on the infamous 1972 true story of the survivors of a Uruguay rugby team that crashed in the Andes on their plane ride to a tournament, Roger Ebert wrote, "We care about the characters while we watch the movie. But at the end it all seems elusive. The movie characters complete their dreadful ordeal, but somehow, walking out, we feel the real Andes survivors would not quite recognize themselves." Ebert suggested that "Alive"'s problem was one of evocation: despite the attempt to impart what the survivors went through, their incredible physical endurance (72 days in freezing cold temperatures) and men...

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    REVIEW | Like a Virgin Redux: Madonna's "Filth and Wisdom"

    The filmmaker of "Filth and Wisdom" has a lot to say. She's got big ideas and some clever ones too, and she's letting it fly. She's repulsed and fascinated by hypocrisy in the world, and wants people to just get over themselves, to abandon fear, pride, and learn to fly their freak flag high. She fou...

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    REVIEW | Electoral High School: Caroline Suh's "Frontrunners"

    This year's race comes down to a clear choice between vitality and experience. On the one hand, you have a young outsider running on a ticket of change; on the other, an older, more experienced candidate who nonetheless wants to "raise the bar." The former is accused of being all style and no substa...

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    REVIEW | Junior League: Luke Eberl's "Choose Connor"

    Often notable for the ways in which its naive, teenage protagonist's slowly eroding positive outlook seems to be duplicated by the director himself, "Choose Connor" is a movie about politics and disillusionment made by a first-time filmmaker barely out of his teens. This film, in which a middle scho...

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    REVIEW | The Naked Truth: Joe Swanberg & Greta Gerwig's "Nights and Weekends"

    Joe Swanberg and Greta Gerwig, the costars, cowriters, and codirectors of "Nights and Weekends," spend a good part of their film naked. At the film's outset, while in a long-distance relationship, James and Mattie enter the former's Chicago apartment and promptly make love on the floor; toward the end of the film, after a year and an off-screen break-up, they fleetingly try something similar in a hotel in New York. In between, the film often pauses to ponder the many levels of these characters' self-exposure: showering, sitting on the can, dressing and undressing themselves and each other, critically scrutinizing themselves in mirrors and pho...

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