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Now and Then

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    Now and Then: 'Haywire,' 'Bourne' Trilogy Prove That Style Is Substance

    Steven Soderbergh is a tough guy to peg. He made his name with a densely talkative indie about orgasms ("sex, lies, and videotape"), and in 22 films since has tackled everything from classy capers ("Out of Sight, the "Ocean's" trilogy) to the biopic of an iconic revolutionary ("Che"). But one thing ...

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    Now and Then: On Film, America's Culture of Violence

    The most terrifying 80 minutes I've spent in my career as a film critic were those spent watching "Elephant," in which even the rhythmic click-click-click of photographic negatives being shaken in chemicals brought me the edge of what I can bear.

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    Now and Then: Old-School Horror Is All in Your Head

    The most innovative thing about writer-director Ti West's "The Innkeepers" (on DVD today) is how low-fi it plays. The gore is minimal, the music restrained, the body count limited. Call it the rebirth of the classic American horror picture.

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    Now and Then: Werner Herzog's Matters of Life and Death

    Paranoia has long been Werner Herzog's preferred tropic, morbidity his comfort zone. His films brim with self-inflicted wounds, crazed schemers, and ruinous hubris. "Into the Abyss" is different; it shifts the frame. We have seen the enemy, and he is us.

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    Now and Then: The Mad-As-Hell Women of Mad Men

    History is not the most useful dramatic backdrop for a television show. It is, really, just one big spoiler alert: we already know what happens. But "Mad Men" is canny enough to twist this problem to its advantage, letting the past knock on the door in the middle of the night.

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    Now and Then: In Two Foer Adaptations, Surprises and Disappointments Abound

    I'll admit it came as a shock, near the end of "Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close," to find myself crying. As it turns out, movies can still surprise us, and I don't just mean that they defy the expectations set by Rotten Tomatoes. I mean they can, in the midst of things, find what they've been miss...

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    Now and Then: How to Ruin a Marriage Without Really Trying, from 'Carnage' to 'Virginia Woolf'

    A quick tip for anyone interested in making a film about class resentment in a recession: as the Soviet filmmakers proved, it usually helps if you're juxtaposing two distinct points of view. Roman Polanski's film "Carnage," about a quartet of outraged — and outrageous — New Yorkers, doesn't quite fo...

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    Now and Then: Katharine Hepburn, Consummate Comedienne

    Early in "The Philadelphia Story," Cary Grant's society playboy arrives for his ex-wife's wedding. When he comes across her in the drawing room, they take up a little two-step. He advances, she retreats; he thrusts, she parries. If you want to understand the genius of Katharine Hepburn, this is the ...

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    Now and Then: All About Almodóvar

    The problem with Pedro Almodóvar's "The Skin I Live In" is one of expectation. What we have come to want from him are hues of tomato, fire engine, blood. What he gives us are shades of cream, eggshell, off-white.

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    Now and Then: From 'Ferris' to 'Sleepover,' Teens, and Times, Have Changed

    "The Myth of the American Sleepover," David Robert Mitchell's independent film about a group of suburban Detroit teens messing around, and messing up, on a single night near the end of summer, is a quiet reminder of the power, and price, of looking.

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