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Movie Reviews

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    REVIEW | Uneven But Charming, "Informant!" Works On Basic Level

    With "The Informant!", Steven Soderbergh enforces a happy-go-lucky sensibility not unlike the hyperbolic punctuation in its title. Transporting the agreeable flow of his "Ocean's" series to a company espionage setting, the director turns a rather dry true life story of company conspiracies, embezzle...

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    REVIEW | Succeeding On Her Own Terms: Samantha Morton's "The Unloved"

    Actors directing features at the 2009 Toronto International Film Festival tackled wildly different material, but each displayed an attempt to try something ambitious. Maybe hanging around in front of the camera engenders a desire to figure out its boundaries, or perhaps veterans of the set simp...

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    REVIEW | The Horrors of Bearing Witness: Lu Chuan's "City of Life and Death"

    War movies produced by commercial film industries have a tendency to show any given conflict not as it is or was, but as the side footing the bill for the film would like for it have been. The essential moral irony of war — that acts that would be considered revoltingly inhumane if committed in the...

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    Chaos & Claustrophobia: Toronto '09 titles from "Lebanon" to "Collapse"

    Stuck in basements, tanks and various landscapes of inescapable desolation, I will fondly remember this year's Toronto International Film Festival as a procession of utter despair. From the first press screening last Thursday night of Lu Chuan's "The City of Life and Death," an unsparing black-and-white epic about the 1937 Nanking massacre, which largely forgoes character development for lots of carnage, to Jean-Luc Godard's 1-minute fittingly titled "Un Catastrophe" - a meditation on love and war tucked away in the experimental Wavelengths program (available for viewing here, what began as a curious trend slowly became a kind of obsessive se...

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    REVIEW | Campion's Prudish "Star" Needs More Sizzle

    EDITOR'S NOTE: This review was originally published as part of indieWIRE's coverage of the Cannes Film Festival. The film is being released in theaters today.

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    REVIEW | Cedric the Entertainer: Cedric Klapisch’s “Paris”

    The films of Cedric Klapisch are easy to dismiss. They seem a bit too slick of surface and shallow of meaning. They’re comfortably tucked between entertainment and art, between slumming intelligence and vainglorious style. They go down easy. Klapisch hasn’t the formal genius of contemporary countrym...

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    REVIEW | Norton's Dual Role Salvages Nelson's "Leaves of Grass"

    2009 is starting to look like The Year of the Dual Role, with the stars of three major festival films acting opposite themselves as Patty Duke-esque physical copies with polar opposite personalities. In "Leaves of Grass," Edward Norton plays classically dissimilar twin brothers –– Brady is id, Bill is superego –– who come together after a long stretch of estrangement. Norton’s dual characterization and Tim Blake Nelson’s slight-of-hand staging is more seamless and convincing than the similar tricks employed by actor Michael Cera and director Miguel Arteta in Toronto premiere "Youth in Revolt," but even with scads of overwritten philosophicall...

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    REVIEW | Jeunet Continues His Magical Realism With "Micmacs"

    Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s signature films, including "Amelie" and "City of Lost Children," have functioned as gateway drugs, getting the previously uninitiated hooked on the habit of foreign film. Romantic enough to please what we now think of as the "Twilight" se...

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    REVIEW | Object Desire: Claire Denis’s “35 Shots of Rum”

    In the simple steadfast training of the camera lens, cinema has the ability to give seemingly mundane objects or actions an almost supernatural provenance; in so doing, it can change how we see the world. It sounds like a lofty notion, but it’s actually a literal truth. Chantal Akerman&rs...

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    REVIEW | Todd Intact: "Life During Wartime" Maintains Solondz' Droll Satiric Aura

    This review was originally published as part of indieWIRE’s coverage of the 2009 Toronto International Film Festival. “Life During Wartime” opens this Friday, July 23rd at the IFC Center in New York.

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