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Movie Reviews

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    Move Aside Michael Moore, Charlyne Yi Breaks Out in Comic Doc "Paper Heart’" (Sundance '09)

    If the great comedian Bob Newhart had an Asian American love child it would be Charlyne Yi. She's the drollest comic working today and her deadpan style makes the comic documentary "Paper Heart," premiering in dramatic competition at the Sundance Film Festival, a fresh, irreverent road comedy.

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    The Peculiarities of Soullessness: Sophie Barthes' "Cold Souls" (Sundance '09)

    Sophie Barthes's "Cold Souls" belongs to a genre of self-reflexive movie actors playing themselves — and it's one of the few that has nothing to do with Charlie Kaufman. It doesn't take much effort to explain why Kaufman's name must come up here: Paul Giamatti plays himself in an amusingly surreal story that finds him selling his soul to refine his performance in a New York stage production of "Uncle Vanya." Later, eager to be whole again, he journeys to a risky soul-exporting operation in Russia, and eventually into his own tortured mind, to set things right. Cynics might consider it "Being John Malkovich" with slightly modified symbolism, b...

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    Dreamlike Images Bring Undeniable Sparkle to London Romance "Unmade Beds" (Sundance '09)

    Seek out the specific source of youthful energy that brightens Argentine filmmaker Alexis Dos Santos' lovely London romance "Unmade Beds" and you will fail. There's no guaranteed technique behind a film as colorful, vibrant and emotionally sweet as "Unmade Beds," a love story with the power to move ...

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    Race Drama "Toe to Toe" Ushers in the New Obama Cinema (Sundance '09)

    To call filmmaker Emily Abt's compelling coming-of-age tale "Toe to Toe" the debut film of the New Obama Cinema, qualifies her debut feature drama as an American movie that treats race and class with insight and enthusiasm equal to the excitement over President elect Barack Obama and his impact on r...

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    Beyond Gay: Lynn Shelton's "Humpday" (Sundance '09)

    Lynn Shelton's "Humpday" is a comedic "Revolutionary Road" for twenty-first century audiences. Shelton's third feature evokes many of the underlying themes present in Richard Yates' novel of suburban discontent. You wouldn't guess that from the premise: Set in Seattle's hip urban youth scene, the movie focuses on two straight buddies intent on fulfilling the unlikely goal of filming themselves having sex -- with each other -- for the town's local porn festival. To these hilariously mixed up journeymen, violating their sexual dispositions offers an absurd, idyllic escape from their mundane existence. Thanks to crisp, believable performances fr...

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    Early Spring: Doris Dorrie's "Cherry Blossoms"

    [An indieWIRE review from Reverse Shot.]

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    Stolen Identity: Ole Bornedal's "Just Another Love Story"

    [An indieWIRE review from Reverse Shot.]

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    Slate's "Movie Club": Schwarzbaum, Catsoulis, Stevens, Winter, Zacharek

    Slate's "Movie Club": Schwarzbaum, Catsoulis, Stevens, Winter, Zacharek

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    Crap Artist: Robert Celestino's "Yonkers Joe"

    From the start, "Yonkers Joe" pitches the spectator directly into a world of tough-talking gamblers and sharks, where the dice are loaded, hands move quickly, and there's always a scam in the offing. This milieu of casinos and parking lots, peopled with hustlers and hookers, is a familiar film setting, but one that's produced remarkably few good films. Though the subject at hand seems ideally suited to cinema, allowing for a closer look at all the sleights and feints of card-sharp's or crap-shooter's trade, films such as "Hard Eight," "Shade," "The Cooler," and this year's "21" all mine similar material with a range of mostly disappointing re...

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    Magic Hour: Carlos Reygadas's "Silent Light"

    [An indieWIRE review from Reverse Shot.]

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