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    NYFF '11 Review: 'Sleeping Sickness' A Morality Tale That Doesn't Fulfill Its Promise

    Poor Ulrich Köhler. His first feature "Bungalow" was a quiet, very reserved tale about a young soldier going AWOL. Instead of finishing his service, he gives into lethargy, laying around and doing nothing while hoping the military doesn't catch up with him. Once he's introduced to his brother's sweetheart, he finally finds his purpose: get in her pants at all costs. No, it wasn't terribly ambitious, but it was a relatively solid debut and was interesting enough to make those who actually saw it keep an eye on the new German filmmaker. Four years passed and finally his sophomore picture "Windows On Monday" was unleashed with a whimper. This fi...

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    NYFF '11 Review: 'Once Upon A Time In Anatolia' A Masterful, Slow-Burn Epic

    Minimalist art filmmaker Nuri Bilge Ceylan spent a long time crafting very personal and breathtakingly photographed tales. His work has never been big on plot, nor have they ever been anything other than glacially paced. Indeed, his general aesthetic isn't very welcoming to the impatient, though those willing to give their attention are always struck by something special. His black and white debut "The Town" is a real toughie, containing less of a story and more of a collection of moments -- but without the presence of a narrative, Ceylan is free to discover and exhibit universal beauty that isn't dependent on deep characters or drama. A "sce...

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    VIFF '11 Review: 'I Wish' The Rare Example Of A Great Kids Film That Actually Understands Kids

    The frustrating thing about most modern "kids films" is that many filmmakers seem like lost balls in tall grass when it comes to portraying what makes children tick. Perhaps it's tougher than we imagine to capture the youth/kid experience, but is it just us or does it seem like nearly all child characters in movies exist in some bizarro world where they're smarter than the all the adults, know just the right thing to say at every moment and hardly ever act like, you know, kids? (See every American indie and Hollywood rom-com from the last 10 years for examples of this annoying, ridiculous trend). That's why, when a thoughtful, intelligent dir...

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    Review: 'Dirty Girl' With Juno Temple Is All Attitude & No Heart

    If there's one thing "Dirty Girl" has going for it -- and it's made abundantly clear even before the glittery title card, spelled out in swoopy, neon-lit letters like the name of a roller disco -- it's that it has attitude. The titular dirty girl is an Oklahoma teen named Danielle (Juno Temple) who acts out in class and sleeps around. She has an infectiously "fuck you" approach to just about everything, from her classmates, agog at her sexual promiscuity, to her soon-to-be stepdad (William H. Macy), to her teachers, who bump her down to a remedial class where the most pressing assignment is taking care of a bag of flour like it's an actual hu...

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    Review: 'Blackthorn' Catches Up With A Retirement-Ready Butch Cassidy

    The following is a reprint of our review from Fantasia.

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    NYFF ’11 Review: ‘Paradise Lost 3’ Is Utterly Compelling, But Still Ethically Messy At Times

    Few movies have a conclusion as out-of-nowhere, compelling and yet strange as the one featured in "Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory." What makes this finale even more exceptional is the fact that the film is a documentary and that this unexpected coda wasn't dreamed up inside the head of an imaginative sc...

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    Review: Imperfect Yet Understated & Tender 'Swell Season' Digs Under The Skin Of 'Once' Co-Stars

    “Once” was the little movie that could get you out of a rut, provided the mind and heart remained open to the maudlin yet unstrained love that sprung up between a guitar player and a flower seller of few words. Much of the film’s success can be justifiably attributed to the immense charm of the two ...

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    NYFF '11 Review: '4:44: Last Day On Earth' Envisions The Apocalypse Without Much Imagination

    There's something very wrong in Abel Ferrara's "4:44: Last Day On Earth." The world, as the title would suggest, is coming to an end, and Ferrara, the fuck-you auteur behind "King of New York" and the non-Nic Cage-adorned "Bad Lieutenant," is content with keeping things inside a spacious apartment on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. There aren't any fireballs ascending heavenward, or steely buildings splintering into a million computer generated pieces. The anguish here isn't global, but personal, and instead of millions of people, Ferrara zeroes in on an arty couple, played by Willem Dafoe (channeling his "Antichrist" persona of earnest con...

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    NYFF ’11 Review: ‘Corpo Celeste’ Is A Quietly Moving Coming-Of-Age Tale

    The subtle, affecting “Corpo Celeste” is the story of Marta (Yle Vianello), a 13-year-old Italian girl who has spent the last decade growing up in Switzerland. She returns to Calabria (an act that’s described in the press materials as a “return emigration”), in southern Italy, to be bombarded with f...

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