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Movie Reviews

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    REVIEW | A Hero for Our Time: Gus Van Sant's "Milk"

    "Politics is theater," observes Harvey (Sean Penn) in Gus Van Sant's terrific "Milk." And sometimes, of course, theater -- or cinema -- is politics. When they first embarked on this project, Van Sant and screenwriter Dustin Lance Black could never have anticipated that 2008 would see the election of a minority candidate and former community organizer, running on a message of hope, to the highest office in the land, nor could they have expected that Obama's historic victory would coincide with the passage of Proposition 8 in California, delivering a major setback for the gay rights movement in the United States. But this is "Milk"'s political ...

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    REVIEW | Dream On: Tom Gustafson's "Were the World Mine"

    The least one could ask of a wish-fulfillment fantasy film is a little buoyancy and breeziness. Yet for all its good-natured intentions, Tom Gustafson's "Were the World Mine," in which a put-upon small-town gay teen converts his hopelessly straight town (including his corn-fed jock crush) to the pin...

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    REVIEW | Dull Flame: Shamim Sarif's "I Can't Think Straight"

    You would think that a cross-cultural, cross-religious lesbian romance should have enough built-in conflict to sustain an 80-minute feature, but Shamim Sarif's "I Can't Think Straight" slumps and stretches its way from its first uninspired set piece, an engagement party for Jordanian-Christian Tala ...

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    REVIEW | Close Encounters: Yair Hochner's "Antarctica"

    One can't accuse director Yair Hochner of not giving his target audiences what we want: in the opening fifteen minutes of the Israeli filmmaker's ensemble dramedy of hook-ups and hang-ups among a small group of gay men in Tel Aviv, he fills the screen with all manner of groping titillation. As one e...

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    REVIEW | Fan-dumb: Josh Koury's "We Are Wizards"

    Full disclosure: I have never read any of J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter novels. I have never seen any of the blockbuster movies based on her series. That I plan to never do so is not entirely because of any perceived intellectual and emotional poverty of these books and movies--I know plenty of smart ...

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    REVIEW | Yawn of the Dead: Vadim Glowna's "House of the Sleeping Beauties"

    Intended as a meditation on mortality and morality, Vadim Glowna's adaptation of a Yasunari Kawabata novel simultaneously strives towards portentous poeticism and thriller intrigue, but falls more into tawdry B-movie territory instead. Written, directed, and produced by the German filmmaker, who a...

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    REVIEW | You Can Go Home Again: Arnaud Desplechin's "A Christmas Tale"

    Though it often seems the nadir of schmaltz and sentimentality, the Hollywood Christmas movie has always been a bit bipolar. From "A Christmas Story" to "Gremlins," "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation" to (undoubtedly) the forthcoming "Four Christmases," the subgenre requires a course of dysfunct...

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    REVIEW | Trivial Pursuit: Danny Boyle's "Slumdog Millionaire"

    A noisy, sub-Dickens update on the romantic tramp's tale, "Slumdog Millionaire" zips around a boy's hard-luck life with a strange verve. Ragtag children run through a labyrinthine Indian shantytown with a police officer in hot pursuit. Two boys ride atop a moving train, hanging upside down over the ...

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    REVIEW | Hack Attack: Darren Lynn Bousman's "Repo! The Genetic Opera"

    A helpful shortcut for negotiating the heaps of texts in this modern world: all attempts to give something familiar or antique a self-consciously edgy, gritty makeover can be, de facto, written off as terrible. Reassuring American songbook standards ("Over the Rainbow," "What a Wonderful World," etc...

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    REVIEW | The Other Side of the Fence: Mark Herman's "The Boy in the Striped Pajamas"

    For a little, promising while, "The Boy in the Striped Pajamas" seems to be a welcome, if belated, response to "Life Is Beautiful." Whereas Roberto Benigni's self-deifying exercise in Holocaust schmaltz--one of the most repugnant and false movies ever made--sincerely believes obliviousness (not imag...

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