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Movie Reviews

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    Small Wonder: Shane Acker's "9"

    The release of Shane Acker's "9," an expansion of his compelling Academy Award-nominated short of the same name, adds another to 2009's slate of intelligent, distinctive animated features. "Coraline," "Up," "9.99," and "Ponyo" all represent antidotes to increasingly homogenized studio animation via a blend of unique, considered visual styles and depth of storytelling ability. "9"'s no slouch in either of these regards. (If "Fantastic Mr. Fox" turns out well, this might be remembered as a watershed year.) An apocalyptic steampunk vision in which a ragged band of miniature sock puppet figures risk their lives to defeat the remnants of evil ma...

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    MORE: In Theaters, 9
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    Colossal Youth: Alexis dos Santos's "Unmade Beds"

    As long there as there are young people living out their dreams in cities, there will always be young filmmakers eager and willing to follow them around churning out Bohemian anomie portraiture. Kids in urban settings constitute a broad enough arena of exploration that we'll always have the good (P...

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    Basic Formula: Cherien Dabis's "Amreeka"

    EDITOR'S NOTE: This review was originally published as part of indieWIRE's coverage of the 2009 Sundance Film Festival. "Amreeka" opens this Friday.

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    No Sense or Sensibility: Lee's "Woodstock" Undercooked

    This review was originally published as part of indieWIRE's coverage of the 2009 Cannes Film Festival.

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    An Engaging Portrait of Obsession: Robert Siegel's "Big Fan"

    This review was originally published as part of indieWIRE's coverage of the 2009 Sundance Film Festival. "We Live In Public" is being released in theaters this Friday.

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    Portraying Chaos: Ondi Timoner's "We Live In Public"

    This review was originally published as part of indieWIRE's coverage of the 2009 Sundance Film Festival. "We Live In Public" is being released in theaters this Friday.

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    Surface Tension: R.J. Cutler's "The September Issue"

    About five minutes into R.J. Cutler's "The September Issue," an almost-expose of the production of Vogue magazine's annual fall spectacular, electroclash act Ladytron's icy "Destroy Everything You Touch" spikes on the soundtrack. By this point Cutler's already established his hands-off nonfiction f...

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    Family Snapshot: Hirokazu Kore-eda's "Still Walking"

    Hirokazu Kore-eda's films are haunted by the specter of death -- from the exquisite undercurrent of loss infusing "Maborosi"' to the explicitly gimmicky conceptualization of the hereafter in "After Life" to the looming danger hovering over the abandoned children of "Nobody Knows". His latest, "Still Walking," again takes up questions of mortality. As the Yokoyama family reconvenes for what we gradually realize is a memorial day commemorating the eldest son's death, remaining siblings Ryo (Hiroshi Abe) and Chinami (You) quietly grapple with the aging of their elderly parents. From the start, small moments gesture toward the transition from one...

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    Still Searching for a Home Run: "Holy Land Hardball" Travels with Chutzpah

    Although frequently identified as America's quintessential national pastime, baseball contains an undeniable global component that has become commonplace in movies about the sport. Look no further than this year's sleeper hit "Sugar," a bittersweet story of Dominican players drafted for American tea...

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    After I Forget: Lucrecia Martel's "The Headless Woman"

    You've seen this empty canal before. Some boys and a dog were running around here, across the street and into it, just a few minutes ago. But you're not prepared, five minutes into "The Headless Woman," with a sunny pop song on the car radio, for the protagonist to hit something. Yet you'll spend the rest of the film making sense of what happened here, of what you've seen and not seen. In the films of Lucrecia Martel you're challenged to pay attention well before you're ready, to play catch-up, figuring out who's related to whom and what is relevant. But as with the protagonist's subsequent disorientation, your heightened yet bewildered state...

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