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Movie Reviews

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    REVIEW | Gag Order: Cheryl Hines's "Serious Moonlight"

    The enormous groundswell of sympathy and support surrounding the release of Adrienne Shelly's "Waitress" blinded most viewers to its clear deficiencies. It might be unfair to conjecture what the critical reception for the good-natured if contrived and shabbily visualized romantic comedy might have been if actress-turned-director Shelly hadn't been horrifically murdered before its release, but it's safe to assume the processed-cheesy Keri Russell vehicle wouldn't have been the subject of quite as many think pieces. Interest in Shelly's auteurist potential will inevitably end with the release of "Serious Moonlight," based on a script of Shelly'...

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    REVIEW | Drifting Through Layoffs: Clooney Plays his Trumpcard in Reitman's "Up in the Air"

    George Clooney may not possess tremendous range, but he sure knows his sweet spot. In "Up in the Air," the highly anticipated third feature from "Juno" director Jason Reitman, Clooney plays a man who likes to control his enviornment. As the corporate downsizing expert Ryan Bingham, he portrays the s...

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    REVIEW | Life on the Stage: Richard Linklater's "Me and Orson Welles"

    Like so many of Richard Linklater's films, his latest, "Me and Orson Welles," follows an ad hoc group working together towards an unlikely, and very impending, goal. In his winning "School of Rock" a bunch of children (and one mental child) aimed to play a great rock show. His pint-sized Bad News Bears struggled for dignity through sport and teamwork, crescendo achieved via the "big game." In "Me and Orson Welles," Linklater hops back to the 1930s to the debut of Orson Welles's political staging of "Julius Caesar," but despite this sophisticated material he still populates his movie with childish types (narcissistic theater actors, producers ...

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    REVIEW | A Long and Dreary Path: John Hillcoat's "The Road"

    With its drearily brief paragraphs and poetic emphasis on imagery over dialogue, Cormac McCarthy's 2006 post-apocalyptic novel "The Road" practically reads like a screenplay. Not unreasonably, John Hillcoat's tense, discomfiting big screen adaptation remains almost entirely faithful to the book's distinctive pace and tone. The maintenance of this restrained progression is key to the movie's chilly effect, but the subtle ingredients behind such morbidity -- dreary-eyed performances, an enigmatic score, visual suggestions of death and decay in nearly every frame -- turn Hillcoat's version of "The Road" into a uniquely cinematic portrait of pess...

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    REVIEW | Wright and Wrong: Rebecca Miller's "The Private Lives of Pippa Lee"

    One of contemporary cinema's most graceful, taken-for-granted actors, Robin Wright, too long in the shadow of her ex-husband, would seemingly have finally found the perfect leading role in Rebecca Miller's "The Private Lives of Pippa Lee," in which she plays a graceful, taken-for-granted wife and mother. Onscreen, Wright imbues her roles with effortless compassion, which is always just barely peeking out from layers of weariness and insecurity. Her lack of actorly grandstanding has often relegated her to smaller roles, but rather than languish in supporting parts, she thrives, from her one-scene, one-shot wonder in Rodrigo Garcia's "Nine Live...

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    criticWIRE This Week: "The Road" Leads Thanksgiving Offerings

    John Hillcoat's "The Road," Rebecca Miller's "The Private Lives of Pippa Lee" and Richard Linklater's "Me and Orson Welles" mark a rather star-studded batch of specialty films making their way to theaters this Thanksgiving week. Generally regarded as one of the most potent filmgoing holidays of the ...

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    Introducing criticWIRE: Sokurov's "The Sun" Tops This Week

    Alexander Sokurov's "The Sun," from the 2005 Berlinale, is currently atop indieWIRE's new criticWIRE among films opening in theaters this week. The new section of indieWIRE, being officially unveiled today, features hundreds of grades for new and recent films from dozens of film critics and bloggers...

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    REVIEW | Oddly Coarse and Compellingly Offbeat: Werner Herzog's "Bad Lieutenant"

    EDITOR'S NOTE: This review was originally published as part of indieWIRE's coverage of the 2009 Toronto International Film Festival. "The Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans" opens this Friday in theaters.

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    REVIEW | Distant Voices, Shrill Lives: Lukas Moodysson's "Mammoth"

    Much can be said about the concept and implications of globalization. That it's good for corporations, indifferent to local economies and cultures, rough on the working class. Here's another: globalization inspires very bad art. Besides Jia Zhangke and Olivier Assayas, who understand commercial exch...

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    REVIEW | After Words: Oren Moverman's "The Messenger"

    With so many films about the Iraq war come and gone, the arrival of "The Messenger," a becalmed, observant drama about Casualty Notification Officers (those whose work it is to stoically inform next of kin of their loss) seems oddly appropriate, especially as it's released at that moment when the public's attention is being wrenched towards Afghanistan and the ongoing situation in Iraq drifts ever further from consciousness. Oren Moverman's directorial debut is structured around absences -- those who've died, actions taken elsewhere. His protagonists are largely obsessed with aftermaths, even as they works towards becoming actors in their own...

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