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Movie Reviews

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    REVIEW | Sweet Sounds: John Carney's "Once"

    A new almost-musical from Ireland, "Once" neatly transcends even the hoariest of cliches about the sublime communicative powers of pop music. This is a treat and a surprise, as films this slight and unassuming often seem more apt to curl up into themselves than approach any sort of expansiveness. A...

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    REVIEW | Unspoken Truth: Tsai Ming-liang's "I Don't Want to Sleep Alone"

    Even as Tsai Ming-liang nearly hypnotizes the viewer with his elegantly composed static images and methodical pacing, rarely does a filmmaker encouraged such active engagement with stillness. The Taiwanese director might be the visual narrative stylist par excellence working in cinema today; an entire story, a life, a world, breathes through his films, even as he rarely burdens them with language. Often, it will take a moment for your senses to adjust to a new Tsai composition - at once teeming with life and emptied out, this place will force your eyes to wander and scan the frame for signs of movement, color, or familiarity. Tsai gives us ti...

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    REVIEW | Remote Control: Julia Loktev's "Day Night Day Night"

    There's no doubt that filmmaker Julia Loktev makes quite an impression with her debut feature "Day Night Day Night," which shows off her expertise at oblique storytelling and subjective suspense. Yet the bigger questions of why "Day Night Day Night" exists, and what tensions it's capitalizing on can...

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    REVIEW | Picking Up the Pieces: "Paris, je t'aime"

    Chock-a-block with recognizable directors and thespians, "Paris, je t'aime" is a series of vignettes commissioned by producers Emmanuel Benbihy and Claudie Ossard. Each of its 18 segments is ostensibly connected through the concept of L'amour in the City of Lights (introduced, dazzling, under millennial fireworks), which is presumably more spiritually satisfying or noteworthy than the provincial love practiced in, say, Lexington, Kentucky. As a personalized triptych through Paris, the city and entity, there's not much here; read Edmund White's "Stroll Through the Paradoxes of Paris" if you're in the market for local color. And taken as a whol...

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    REVIEW | Frozen Assets: Dominique Abel, Fiona Gordon, and Bruno Romney's "L'Iceberg"

    Considering "L'Iceberg," a cute-as-a-button-and-about-as-sharp-as-same feature debut comedy from Belgium by writing/directing/acting team Dominique Abel, Fiona Gordon, and Bruno Romney, it seems the deadpan ethos of Wes Anderson has found a home in mainland Europe. In a way, this style has come full circle - one of his guardian angels, Jacques Tati, harkened from France, and it makes conceptual sense that the playful wonders of controlled composition and quirky production design should return to their Gaul origins. But something has gone wrong here. Despite a desire to provide the most whimsical of entertainments, "L'Iceberg" feels contrived ...

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    REVIEW | Terror Bull: Jeff Renfroe's "Civic Duty"

    Waiting for "Civic Duty" to start, I browsed its synopsis: an everyday guy, recently unemployed, spends all day taking in alarmist TV news and, saturated with images of swarthy bad guys, decides to undertake a paranoiac surveillance operation on his new Middle Eastern neighbor. As the lights went do...

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    TRIBECA '07 | Critics Notebook 4: Reel Politic

    Hollywood cranked out a plethora of movies about World War II and the Korean War as they were being fought. But it took years after Vietnam and the Gulf War for the U.S. to make fiction features about them. Today, American documentarians are pretty much the only filmmakers addressing the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The time lag between event and product for narrative films is a truism, but if this country could swing it in the '40s and '50s, why not in the '70s and the '00s? America is not the only nation with a blind spot. Most Tribeca Film Festival films about current conflagrations are docs, and a majority of the fiction features that de...

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    REVIEW | In Loving Memory: Sarah Polley's "Away from Her"

    For moviegoers, the thought of "losing" Julie Christie might simply be too much to bear. That's why Sarah Polley's got a devastating hook in her crystalline feature debut "Away from Her": as Christie's Alzheimer's-afflicted Fiona slowly slips away from her husband Grant (Gordon Pinsent), she's also gradually fading from us, viewers, lovers of her vivaciousness, her glamour that never overshadowed her wisdom. In fact, it's the very mystery of Julie Christie - that actress who so enchanted moviegoers in the Sixties and Seventies with her delicately modulated brand of lush femininity and strong independence - that functions as "Away from Her"'s ...

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    TRIBECA '07 | Critics Notebook 3: The Evolution and Whither American Indies

    1. Whither American indie films?2. Do they evolve?3. Or wither?

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    REVIEW | Bad Education: Emmanuel Bordieu's "Poison Friends"

    "Poison Friends" revives a rare pleasure of moviegoing: articulacy. Ten years ago Phillip Lopate diagnosed a "Dumbing Down of American Movies," and the disproportionate praise given to reactionary "realism" in recent indies suggests that, as expectations shrivel, things have gotten stupider across t...

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