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Movie Reviews

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    TRIBECA '07 | Critics Notebook 1: Breaking Down a Carnival of Art and Politics

    Art and politics: two poles rightfully addressed by many of the selections in a film festival located (more and more virtually) near the festering hole that was the World Trade Center. The Tribeca Film Festival is so large (157 features) that this article covers those that most neatly fit into the "...

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    REVIEW | The Gift Horse: Robinson Devor's "Zoo"

    In gentler times, a film that sets out to seriously tackle taboo zoophilia might have elicited a bump on the cause celebre Richter scale, but in these post-everything days, when images and ideas far more controversial and chilling are readily available to any who care to look for them, there's littl...

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    REVIEW | Light It Up: Francis Veber's "The Valet"

    Francis Veber has been an industrious source of chipper, very lucrative French screen farces for well over 30 years, working first as a screenwriter, then as a director, amassing credits on such popular titles as "La Cage aux Folles" and "The Dinner Game," as well as a smattering of American remakes...

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    REVIEW | Rent-a-Cop: Edgar Wright's "Hot Fuzz"

    "Hot Fuzz" is the fulfillment of most any movie-glutted provincial adolescent's study-hall daydreams - basically, to turn their town into the set of an action movie smash-up. Filming in his hometown hamlet, Somerset, Wells, director Edgar Wright must be realizing set pieces that he mentally storyboa...

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    REVIEW | Lovely and Amazing: Apichatpong Weerasethakul's "Syndromes and a Century"

    Though it's riding a wave of critical exultation, "Syndromes and a Century" will surely still baffle and unsettle much of its audience---a necessity in our film culture. The gently swaying provocations of Apichatpong Weerasethakul's latest experiment in narrative palpate the edges of what today's ma...

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    REVIEW | Come and See: Andrea Arnold's "Red Road"

    Two paths cross in British director Andrea Arnold's debut feature "Red Road" - not in the story, but in the story mechanics. There's a tale of a woman, Jackie (Kate Dickie), confronted with the appearance of a harbinger of destruction from her past, Clyde (Tony Curran). And there's the manner in which this potentially combustive situation unfolds: Jackie is a CCTV security operator who spots Clyde on her monitors and then proceeds to spy on him with the advantage of the technology at her disposal. At once universal and unmistakably modern, "Red Road" combines elements of both no-nonsense realism and Foucaultian paranoia to produce a unique, n...

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    REVIEW | Stranger in Paradise: Ritu Sarin and Tenzing Sonam's "Dreaming Lhasa"

    Few films promise as enticing a glimpse into such an iconic but unknown reality as "Dreaming Lhasa" does; the title itself evokes a descriptive yearning. Seeking to explore the dynamics of Tibetan cultural identity in the absence of a homeland denied independence, Ritu Sarin and Tenzing Sonam's feat...

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    REVIEW | Flame Out: Mary Jordan's "Jack Smith and the Destruction of Atlantis"

    From the inventor of the wheel to the Ramones, originators repeatedly get the short end of the stick: unrefined and unfamiliar, their innovations usually fly over the heads of unappreciative audiences until someone shrewder comes along and renders them accessible. Thus goes the ecstatic yet tragic s...

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    REVIEW | Crass Course: Paul Verhoeven's "Black Book"

    The real value of Paul Verhoeven's career, above the lubricity of his craftsmanship, comes in the director's total committal to bug-up-the-ass ambivalence. In moving from Holland to Hollywood in the Eighties, and subsequently commanding massive budgets, he retained a distinctly "art-house" reticence to inject moral clarity into his work. Unkind reviews revealed a none-too-subtle elitism from writers who might have no trouble endorsing similar opacity safely fenced off in the subtitle ghetto, but who didn't trust the multiplex patron to navigate ambiguity. As such, he's never enjoyed the unanimous praise that's greeted far lesser artists - on ...

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    REVIEW | I Am Sham: Lasse Hallstrom's "The Hoax"

    Painless while viewing and fruitless upon reflection, Lasse Hallstrom's latest addition to his own wing in the Miramax mausoleum - where art film goes to die - is a wholly predictable product: a true-life story that eschews truth and banalizes life. "The Hoax" is based on one of the most fascinating scams of the 20th century. In 1971, author Clifford Irving pitched his publisher, McGraw-Hill, a fascinating proposal: an autobiography of America's most famous recluse, Howard Hughes, authorized by the tycoon himself. Truth was, Irving had never met the tycoon, but had concocted an elaborate smoke-and-mirrors ruse to hoodwink his publisher and th...

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