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Movie Reviews

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    REVIEW | Figurines in a Landscape: Stephane Aubier and Vincent Patar’s “A Town Called Panic”

    The joy of watching “A Town Called Panic” lies in its uncanny evocation of adolescent invention. It’s an overturned toy box of a movie, complete with mismatched action figures, improvisatory effects, and stream-of-consciousness storytelling. It invites you to plop down on the shag carpet, ignore you...

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    criticWIRE This Week: "Nine," "Heart" and "Victoria" Hit Screens

    This week, Rob Marshall's "Nine," Scott Cooper's "Crazy Heart," and Jean-Marc Vallée's "The Young Victoria" will each open in limited release in an attempt to prove a viable alternative to the wide opener "Avatar." To make your decision as to which option might be your best bet (that is, if you fi...

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    criticWIRE This Week: "A Single Man" Leads Anticipated Field of Debuts

    A super low budget entry from Werner Herzog, a not-so-low budget Alice Sebold adaptation care of Peter Jackson, the directorial debut of Tom Ford, and Clint Eastwood taking on Nelson Mandela. Only in December would we get all of these films coming at us on a single Friday. And to make your decisio...

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    REVIEW | Ready, Set, Heal: Clint Eastwood’s “Invictus”

    Clint Eastwood, who deals in a variety of subjects yet often gives his films recognizable authorial stamps, would seem to be prime evidence of the strength of auteurism: the dulcet-toned romantic weepie “The Bridges of Madison County” feels as much like an “Eastwood film” as the shadowy political thriller “Absolute Power” or the boxing tragedy “Million Dollar Baby.” Yet in recent years, Eastwood’s films have begun to seem like they were made by committee, even the almost parodically self-mythologizing “Gran Torino,” which appeared as though it might have plausibly been half-directed by a second unit crew (anytime the Hmong kids were onscreen ...

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    REVIEW | Depth in Beauty: Tom Ford's "A Single Man"

    Directed by former Gucci creative director Tom Ford, "A Single Man" has a few of the qualities you’d expect from a fashion designer’s first film. On a superficial level, nearly every frame is highly styled to the point where it would not seem out of place printed in Italia...

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    criticWIRE This Week: "Up In The Air" Leads December's First Batch (UPDATED)

    Jason Reitman's "Up In The Air," Jim Sheridan's "Brothers," Michael Hoffman's "The Last Station," Cheryl Hines' "Serious Moonlight," Kirk Jones' "Everybody's Fine" and Marie-Hélène Cousineau and Madeline Ivalu's "Before Tomorrow" mark December 2009's first five releases, an eclectic group that featu...

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    REVIEW | Gag Order: Cheryl Hines's "Serious Moonlight"

    The enormous groundswell of sympathy and support surrounding the release of Adrienne Shelly's "Waitress" blinded most viewers to its clear deficiencies. It might be unfair to conjecture what the critical reception for the good-natured if contrived and shabbily visualized romantic comedy might have been if actress-turned-director Shelly hadn't been horrifically murdered before its release, but it's safe to assume the processed-cheesy Keri Russell vehicle wouldn't have been the subject of quite as many think pieces. Interest in Shelly's auteurist potential will inevitably end with the release of "Serious Moonlight," based on a script of Shelly'...

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    REVIEW | Drifting Through Layoffs: Clooney Plays his Trumpcard in Reitman's "Up in the Air"

    George Clooney may not possess tremendous range, but he sure knows his sweet spot. In "Up in the Air," the highly anticipated third feature from "Juno" director Jason Reitman, Clooney plays a man who likes to control his enviornment. As the corporate downsizing expert Ryan Bingham, he portrays the s...

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    REVIEW | Life on the Stage: Richard Linklater's "Me and Orson Welles"

    Like so many of Richard Linklater's films, his latest, "Me and Orson Welles," follows an ad hoc group working together towards an unlikely, and very impending, goal. In his winning "School of Rock" a bunch of children (and one mental child) aimed to play a great rock show. His pint-sized Bad News Bears struggled for dignity through sport and teamwork, crescendo achieved via the "big game." In "Me and Orson Welles," Linklater hops back to the 1930s to the debut of Orson Welles's political staging of "Julius Caesar," but despite this sophisticated material he still populates his movie with childish types (narcissistic theater actors, producers ...

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    REVIEW | A Long and Dreary Path: John Hillcoat's "The Road"

    With its drearily brief paragraphs and poetic emphasis on imagery over dialogue, Cormac McCarthy's 2006 post-apocalyptic novel "The Road" practically reads like a screenplay. Not unreasonably, John Hillcoat's tense, discomfiting big screen adaptation remains almost entirely faithful to the book's distinctive pace and tone. The maintenance of this restrained progression is key to the movie's chilly effect, but the subtle ingredients behind such morbidity -- dreary-eyed performances, an enigmatic score, visual suggestions of death and decay in nearly every frame -- turn Hillcoat's version of "The Road" into a uniquely cinematic portrait of pess...

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