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Movie Reviews

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    REVIEW | Domestic Disturbance: Curt Johnson's "Your Mommy Kills Animals"

    Attempting a more shaded vision of an issue that's all too easy to view in strictly black-and-white terms, Curt Johnson's documentary "Your Mommy Kills Animals" takes an expansive look at the American animal-rights movement, and all the savagery, nobility, and hypocrisy therein. Though told via a rotating gallery of talking heads and overly reliant on obscured images repeated ad nauseam (we see the same decontextualized image of a helpless puppy being smacked in the head at least four times), "Your Mommy Kills Animals," the title of which is ironically lifted from a grotesque PETA comic book intended to scare children witless, makes for a sur...

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    REVIEW | Paint by Numbers: Milos Forman's "Goya's Ghosts"

    "Goya's Ghosts" is half what one expects from Milos Forman. As in "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest," "Amadeus," "The People vs. Larry Flynt," and "Man on the Moon," its protagonist is a daring iconoclast who stands intrepid against the uncomprehending conventionalists of his time. But it significant...

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    REVIEW | The Bad Touch: Kim Ki-duk's "Time"

    "Time," the thirteenth film by that most disposable of Asian auteurs, Kim Ki-duk, should finally, definitively, expose the filmmaker's patented layering of ambiguities as nothing more than the tawdry covering-up of an empty imagination. As if the indignity of "3-Iron," with its ridiculous descent i...

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    REVIEW | A Town Burned Down: Michael Arias's "Tekkonkinkreet"

    "Tekkonkinkreet" is the tale of two young brothers, one named "Black" and the other "White," and the thematics underlying the Japanese anime by first-time American director Michael Arias couldn't be more plainspoken. A classic, cosmic battle between good and evil playing out within the soul of the older boy, and organized around the cyclical nature of the seasons, the film displays a dark heart and carries a disturbing emotional force. You would never find anything like it in American animation - of which it's impossible to conceive of anything beyond the G- or PG-rated, animal-anthropomorphizing blockbuster. It's too bad, because films such...

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    REVIEW | With Friends Like This...: Patrice Leconte's "My Best Friend"

    The latest incoming shipment in the modest import business of innocuously predictable French screen farces, Patrice Leconte's "My Best Friend" caters to that conservative audience who seek shelter under the implicit sophistication of subtitle, and who are still not acclimated to the blithe transgression that's become the standard in American screen comedy. But Leconte's inconsequential distraction is another sort of offense, displaying a total dearth of invention, relying only on its air of toothless benevolence. If you take your comedy seriously, the stateside arrival of "My Best Friend" is news every bit as devastating as the eleventh-hour ...

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    REVIEW | Hide and Seek: Steve Buscemi's "Interview"

    Those who know that Steve Buscemi's new film, "Interview" is a remake of a 2003 film of the same name by Dutch filmmaker Theo Van Gogh, who was brutally murdered in 2004 by a militant Islamist for his outspoken condemnation of Muslim treatment of women, may be surprised by how commonplace the film i...

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    REVIEW | Shrill Life: Cherie Nowlan's "Introducing the Dwights"

    A first impression of the titular family in Cherie Nowlan's "Introducing the Dwights" (formerly known as "Clubland") has one imagining the film will be a sunny, Aussie-style quirkfest in the vanilla vein of many a Sundance flick. When his new girlfriend, Jill (Emma Booth), asks about meeting the pa...

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    REVIEW | Body Contact: Pascal Arnold and Jean-Marc Barr's "One to Another"

    There's an ever more prevalent, if still marginalized, subgenre in international films today that is difficult to classify. In such films as Larry Clark's "Bully" and Gael Morel's "Le Clan" (released here as "Three Dancing Slaves"), groups of teenagers descend into violent oblivion while the filmmakers dispassionately, purposely objectify their supple flesh. The gap between the actions of the characters and the voyeurism of the filmmakers makes for an awkward, sometimes stimulating dialogue, even if it also leaves the actors somewhat adrift. The recurring image of these films are young, lithe bodies, supine, entangled: in "Le Clan," three eye...

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    REVIEW | Zero for Conduct: Fredi M. Murer's "Vitus"

    Of the thin trickle of foreign films that ever see proper U.S. release, the "subtitled moppets" subgenre seems to me the most superfluous - and when a film like Switzerland's "Vitus" comes along, press kit boasting an Antoine de Saint-Exupery quote on the cover, one can only prepare to be cloyed to ...

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    REVIEW | The Lower Depths: Asger Leth's "Ghosts of Cite Soleil"

    "Rap music influenced them people deep over there; they will live by it and they will die by it. And it ain't no Hollywood movie, it's the truth." So says Haitian-American musician Wyclef Jean, speaking on the street-level reality in Cite Soleil, a shantytown outside Port-au-Prince, and the central character of "Ghosts of Cite Soleil," a documentary on which Jean boasts both executive producer and original music credits. It's a statement that the film fails to follow through on the implications of, showing little curiosity as to what such an "influence" might imply for hardcore hip-hop music - a genre which, incidentally, has always borrowed ...

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