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Movie Reviews

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    REVIEW | Last Gasp: Frank Oz's "Death at a Funeral"

    "Death at a Funeral" is the kind of movie that inspires anticipatory eyeball-rolling--you feel like you've heard permutations of its punch lines in craftier incarnations numerous times before, even as it's just getting going. This hunch was confirmed when I was cued to chortle mightily at the incong...

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    REVIEW | The Outside Scoop: Tom DiCillo's "Delirious"

    "Delirious" represents a return from direct-to-DVD purgatory for Tom DiCillo, still probably best remembered--when he is--for his calling card 1995 film, "Living in Oblivion," a self-reflexive look behind-the-scenes of an independent film shoot that piggybacked on the mid-'90s vogue for all things "...

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    REVIEW | Sunset Stripped: Julie Delpy's "2 Days in Paris"

    Paired with another scruffy American in Paris, Julie Delpy actively engages viewer recollections of "Before Sunset" in her DIY feature-length directorial debut. Playing like a rough-around-the edges reinterpretation of Richard Linklater's transcendent "Before Sunrise" sequel, "2 Days in Paris" echoe...

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    REVIEW | Blisters in the Sun: "Rocket Science" Blasts Off

    [EDITOR'S NOTE: This review of "Rocket Science" was first published during the Sundance Film Festival in January.]

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    REVIEW | Kissability: Christophe Honore's "Dans Paris"

    If the critical act can be described simply as the attempt to reconcile in words a personal aesthetic philosophy with that of another as expressed through an artistic work, then criticism comes easiest when a work's flaws and missteps are apparent, the creator's ineptitude runs rampant, or the guidi...

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    REVIEW | Moving Up: Jule Gavras's "Blame It on Fidel"

    Julie Gavras's first feature "Blame It on Fidel" is based on an Italian novel of the same name, but given that the filmmaker's father is Costa-Gavras, the famously committed leftist director behind "Z," a sense of covert autobiographical impulse hovers over the adaptation. Her protagonist, Anna (Nina Kervel, in her film debut), is a precocious nine-year-old living in a typical bourgeois French household complete with nanny, garden, multilevel apartment, and (most importantly for Anna) easily understandable codes of conduct. Her father, Fernando (Stefano Accorsi), may be Spanish and speak slightly accented French, but that small blip aside, ...

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    REVIEW | Dark Undercurrents: Stefan Krohmer's "Summer '04"

    Crystal blue waters on which sailboats glide; cooling, hushed evenings for night drives; creaking floorboards of vacation retreats: "Summer '04" uses familiar elements from seasonal coming-of-age and romance films and twists them to sinister, damaging effect. Director Stefan Krohmer and screenwriter Daniel Nocke, both veterans of German TV and collaborators on Krohmer's 2003 debut, "They've Got Knut," set out on a seemingly standard course when adolescent Nils (Lucas Kotaranin) takes along younger girlfriend Livia (Svea Lohde) on a trip with his parents, Andre (Peter Davor) and Mirjam (Martina Gedeck), to the Baltic coast, where the family ow...

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    REVIEW | Most Unbecoming: Julian Jarrold's "Becoming Jane"

    Towards the end of "Becoming Jane," a new - and generally lousy - dramatization of the early life of novelist Jane Austen, a would-be suitor to the inimitable Ms. Austen utters the phrase, "It is a truth universally acknowledged...," and the great opening line to "Pride and Prejudice" is born. It's no small concern that screenwriters Kevin Hood and Sarah Williams imagine their protagonist snatched one of her most famous lines from the lips of a man; indeed, "Becoming Jane" would have us believe that Austen, played here by the perennially boring Anne Hathaway, was nothing less, or more, than a watered-down variation on one of her own heroines,...

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    REVIEW | Farce of Habit: Laurent Tirard's "Moliere"

    The release of Laurent Tirard's "Moliere," in close proximity to the U.S. arrival of Christophe Honore's "Dans Paris," should provide further proof that the inexplicably in-demand Romain Duris is one of the most smug, unresourceful, unsurprising, and thoroughly infuriating actors to emerge in recent memory. "Dans Paris" is one brand of prestigiously awful screen acting: precious, grandiose brooding, with attendant beard and dark-rimmed eyes to give the proper impression of seriousness. "Moliere," a flouncy 17th-century costume comedy, would seem on the surface more properly suited to Duris's showy, sharply accented performance style - he gets...

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    REVIEW | The Good Fight: Anthony Giacchino's "The Camden 28"

    Even as "The Camden 28" documents from multiple perspectives and in minute detail a crucial, if somewhat lesser known, moment in the storied Vietnam antiwar movement, it's hard not to feel that director Anthony Giacchino's aim isn't merely historical recordkeeping. Created amidst an ongoing war that has been widely compared to the nation-devouring Vietnamese conflagration (and is arguably lacking that conflict's broad activist counterforce), the film exudes a certain sense of awe at the actions of the Camden 28, coupled with some (very) mild finger-wagging, almost as if to say to the current antiwar crowd: "Look what these folks were doing."...

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