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Movie Reviews

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    REVIEW | The Kid Is Alright: Jennifer Venditti's "Billy the Kid"

    Like its protagonist, Jennifer Venditti's acclaimed documentary "Billy the Kid" is both pretty hard to dislike and difficult to parse. It's already scooped up awards at Edinburgh, Los Angeles, and South by Southwest film festivals, and it's easy to see why: this compelling, ingratiating portrait of some days in the life of a charming and troubled fifteen-year-old New Englander, with its canny intimacy and sharp editing, manages to be up-close-and-personal as well as safely discreet. Venditti, following around the not-quite-outcast teenager Billy verite-style, is inoffensive in her intrusion, yet also manages to make the boy a compelling scree...

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    REVIEW | Room with a View: Julian Schnabel's "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly"

    Like his previous films, "Basquiat" and "Before Night Falls," Julian Schnabel's "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly" attempts to elevate the middle-brow biopic to the status of high-brow art cinema. Schnabel, an artist and sometimes filmmaker, has carved out a niche for himself crafting visually arre...

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    REVIEW | Stuck Figures: Jessica Yu's "Protagonist"

    When she was commissioned to make a documentary about Euripedes (a tall order, indeed), filmmaker Jessica Yu instead chose to see if she could apply the classical Greek playwright's dramatic structuring principles to present-day living. Rather than rehash what made the tragedian's works great or set them apart from those of Aeschylus or Sophocles, or probe his dramatic intentions through a flat biography format or literal stagings of his plays, Yu decided to make Euripedes somewhat tangential, a unifying force rather than the center of attention. She then spent a long time trying to find four individuals who would reveal for the camera, in so...

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    REVIEW | "Starting Out in the Evening" Offers Complex, Brainy Take on Battle of Wits Between Young a

    EDITORS NOTE: This review was originally published during the 2007 Sundance Film Festival.]

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    REVIEW | An American Tale: Todd Haynes' "I'm Not There"

    In the next month, every film critic with a byline or blog will recap the past year in movies and pick ten films as 2007's finest. More likely than not, these lists will serve as springboards for an endless series of harangues on the declining quality of cinema. (Do we really need to be reminded that "Killer of Sheep" -- a movie made 30 years ago -- was the best film released this year? So what? Setting that masterpiece aside, I've seen at least twelve new films in 2007 I'd classify as great.) American cinema is usually a specific punching bag -- especially for writers discerning enough to give credit to the likes of Apichatpong Weerasethakul...

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    REVIEW | Better Than the Real Thing?: Brian De Palma's "Redacted"

    [EDITOR' NOTE: "Redacted" was originally reviewed in indieWIRE's sister publication covering Bay Area film, SF360.]

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    REVIEW | A Snark Tale: Frank L. Anderson & Barry Poltermann's "The Life of Reilly"

    I'd guess that most people under 30 who know of Charles Nelson Reilly at all remember him as played by a leisure-suited, compulsively spectacle-tweaking Alec Baldwin on an SNL "Inside the Actors Studio" skit. The joke, as always, was that Will Ferrell's James Lipton was prostrating himself before a trashy, basically negligible career, one that, in this case, will largely be remembered on the strength of "Match Game" appearances, sharing Friars Club roast panels with Foster Brooks, and generally providing a reliable source of nudge-nudge feyness and snark when Paul Lynde was otherwise occupied (actual "Hollywood Squares" exchange--Peter Marsha...

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    REVIEW | Legend of the Fall: Richard Kelly's "Southland Tales"

    [An indieWIRE review from Reverse Shot. Writer Jeff Reichert is co-founder and editor of Reverse Shot and is a Senior Vice President overseeing publicity and marketing at Magnolia Pictures.]

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    REVIEW | Mean Girls: Noah Baumbach's "Margot at the Wedding"

    It's with great disappointment I report that "Margot at the Wedding," Noah Baumbach's follow-up dramedy, is not only nowhere near as sharp as its predecessor, "The Squid and the Whale," but a failure in its own right. Leaving behind "Squid"'s relatable adolescent's-eye view on divorce for a hackneyed, adult-oriented dysfunctional family dynamic, and replacing "Squid"'s modest realism for incongruent deep-shadow gothic, "Margot" attempts more but really offers less. Inasmuch, Baumbach's weaknesses are devastatingly exposed--the compassion he once showed toward his neurotic characters, starting from his 1995 debut, "Kicking and Screaming," has ...

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    REVIEW | The Earth Trembles: Joel and Ethan Coen's "No Country for Old Men"

    The term "return to form" may be overused, but it certainly applies to the Coen Brothers' new adaptation of Cormac McCarthy's novel "No Country for Old Men" -- in its visual economy, maddeningly beautiful symmetry, and eccentric mundanity the film is a reminder of why the Coens were initially tagged as wunderkinds. It's easy to derive pleasure from the Hitchcockian virtuosity of "No Country"'s mouse-trap set-ups, but the sweet surprise here is that Joel and Ethan Coen, genre vagabonds and occasional wise-asses who had been stuck in a rut as of late, have shot their latest film through with palpable, evocative melancholy and purpose. And have...

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