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Movie Reviews

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    REVIEW | Based on a Predictable Story: Tony Goldwyn's "Conviction"

    Tony Goldwyn's "Conviction" opens with that all-too-familiar title card announcing its basis in a true story. That alone provides no cause for alarm, but the decision to establish the movie's central hook in the opening minutes immediately lessens its particular dramatic weight. As Betty Anne Waters, the Rhode Island resident who put herself through law school for the sole reason of exonerating her brother from wrongful murder charges, Hilary Swank explains her entire quest to a friend. The premise comes before the journey, which promptly begins in a flashback that goes through the typical motions of a Lifetime movie, albeit one made bearable...

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    A Primer on Plympton: The Animator At His Best With "Idiots and Angels"

    Animators are generally an odd, whimsical bunch, but the studios have figured out how to tame them. Many of the latest refined animated offerings from Disney and Dreamworks mask the unkempt artistic voices behind them. In a healthy contrast, the entire career of Bill Plympton represents that rarefie...

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    Americana in Microcosm: Jeff Malmberg's “Marwencol”

    This review was originally published during indieWIRE's coverage of SXSW. "Marwencol" opens at the IFC Center in New York, October 8.

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    De Niro Versus Norton: John Curran's "Stone"

    This review was originally published during indieWIRE's coverage of the 2010 Toronto International Film Festival. "Stone" hits select theaters this Friday, October 8.

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    A Title That Lies: "It's Kind of a Funny Story"

    This review was originally published during indieWIRE's coverage of this year's Toronto International Film Festival. The film hits theaters this Friday.

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    Drenched In Sarcasm: Stephen Frears's "Tamara Drewe"

    This review was originally published during indieWIRE's coverage of this year's Cannes Film Festival. The films hits theaters this Friday, in limited release.

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    Favored By the Right Folks: Post-Cannes, "Bedevilled" Finds an Audience at Fantastic Fest

    When Jang Cheol-so's Korean revenge drama "Bedevilled" premiered at Cannes, critics had a tough time figuring out if they liked it. As the portrait of a damaged woman whose life consists of an abusive marriage and little else, it spends nearly an hour lingering in her depressing existence before sud...

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    Feuds and Film: Midway Through Fantastic Fest, the Punches Fly

    The 2010 edition of Fantastic Fest has no greater defining image than that of festival founder and Alamo Drafthouse owner Tim League, decked out in a pink mohawk, dodging punches from a sprightly Michelle Rodriguez. The farcical duel marked the climax of "The Fantastic Debates," an annual tradition ...

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    Review | Taming the Man-Child: "Barry Munday"

    The story of an aging man-child has been told and retold so many times that it has evolved into a kind of narrative ritual. Witness the phenomena of Seth Rogen and his ilk, a brand exclusively defined for their dopey charm in the face of adult responsibilities, or the series of stubborn lackadaisical men throughout Mike Judge's oeuvre: The character type often works because he remains likable in spite of his archetypical trainwreck routine. Chris D'Arienzo's "Barry Munday" runs this playful stereotype into the ground with its titular crude ladies' man (Patrick Wilson), whose rough wake-up call arrives when he loses both testicles and looks be...

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    Review | Movies Within a Movie: The Anthology Documentary "Freakonomics"

    Equal parts journalistic exposé and targeted anthropological dissection, the slick anthology production "Freakonomics" makes heavy ideas go down easy. That's the point, of course: Based on Steven Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner's bestselling 2005 tome, the movie explores "the hidden side of everything" -- meaning the interpersonal rituals dictating when societal decisions get made, or should get made, or should not get made. It's a broad topic, which justifies the mini-movie format for probing the book's central concepts. Directed by a documentarian "dream team" composed of established non-fiction storytellers with divergent approaches, "Freakon...

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