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Review

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    TIFF '11 Review: Admirable, Low-Key ’50/50’ Splits Difference Between Genuinely Funny And Sad

    Let's get this out of the way early; the cancer dramedy, "50/50," formerly known as "I'm With Cancer," is an admirable effort by all the parties involved. There's maturity and restraint shown throughout in this story, about a healthy young twentysomething man staring his mortality in the face when he is suddenly diagnosed with a rare spinal cancer, and it's a well-intentioned humanistic drama that tries to demonstrate that life is complicated and never quite cut and dry. The measured film takes pains to illustrate there is laughter to be derived in difficult and near-tragic situations and melancholy can also be found in some of the most humor...

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    TIFF '11 Review: Oh The Horror -- Francis Ford Coppola's 'Twixt' Is A Low-Rent Nightmare

    Francis Ford Coppola has played quite a few roles in his five-decade-long career. He started as a low-budget filmmaker in skin flicks and Roger Corman films before becoming an icon with a hugely impressive run of films that started with "The Godfather" and, arguably, ended with "Apocalypse Now." The...

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    TIFF '11 Review: Woody Harrelson Stands Tall Amidst Crumbling LAPD In Riveting 'Rampart'

    "Everything you learned at the Academy is bullshit." That's the sage bit of wisdom Date Rape Dave (Woody Harrelson, and we'll get to his cop moniker in a moment) gives a new trainee in the opening frames of Oren Moverman's "Rampart," a searing and riveting look at a crooked cop's decay amidst the cr...

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    TIFF '11 Review: Guy Maddin's 'Keyhole' Beautiful And Brassy...But Frustratingly Sealed

    Let us pause, then, to contemplate the fate and fortunes of the director who does not have his or her eye set on the five-picture deal, the glossy franchise, the production wing in the bungalow offices of some major studio; what becomes of the director who only wants to make art and make it well? Canada's Guy Maddin clearly has no eye on commercial success -- rumor has it that his next feature might actually be in color -- and instead prefers to stand at the edge and peer into the abyss to look for what's next. This is a unique vantage point, to be sure, but it's also perilous if one should fall; "Keyhole" is both too much and too little, a c...

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    TIFF '11 Review: Cross-Dressing 'Albert Nobbs' A Stodgily Straight Drama

    For Glenn Close, "Albert Nobbs" has been a long time coming for its big screen incarnation. Based on a short story by Irish author George Moore, it was first adapted into an off-Broadway production by Simone Benmussa with Close in the lead role that won her an Obie award. The actress has been a driving force behind the film adaptation, shepherding the project for 15 years, taking on the responsibilities of a producer and even co-writing the script with Man Booker prize-winning author John Banville and Gabriella Prekop. So yes, it's passion project for Close and it's unfortunate that none of that enthusiasm manages to find its way to the big s...

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    TIFF '11 Review: Manipulative & Melodramatic 'A Separation' Is A Soap Opera Morality Tale

    The fall festival circuit is all about buzz, and while the frontrunners for the awards season can usually be spotted a mile away, it's the sleeper sensations everyone keeps an eye out for now. As Telluride wrapped up this weekend, the Iranian film "A Separation" directed by Asghar Farhadi, began building some serious heat. Thought it has been playing international festivals all summer long and won multiple awards in Berlin earlier this year including the Golden Bear, the very strong word out of Colorado, led by a rave by Jeff Wells over at Hollywood Elsewhere -- who admitted to missing the first third of the picture -- put the movie on the sc...

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    TIFF '11 Review: 'From The Sky Down' A Disappointingly Incomplete Look At U2's "Achtung Baby"

    Whether you are a U2 fan or not, there is no denying their 1991 album Achtung Baby launched the band into the stratosphere of super-stardom and is simply one of the defining records of the '90s. With over 5.5 million albums sold in the U.S. alone, two Grammys for Best Rock Performance and Producer of the Year (for Daniel Lanois), the record not only found the group adjusting to the changing musical landscape of the late '80s and early '90s, it redefined their image and put them at the forefront of a select bunch of groundbreaking and hugely popular bands. 2011 will mark 20 years since the album first hit shelves on November 19, 1991, and U2 a...

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    Review: 'Tanner Hall' Is An Amateur-Hour Panoply Of Boarding School Girl Cliches

    While featuring a promising cast of on-the-rise newcomers and comedy veterans, a strong production design, plus a visual aesthetic that proves digital cinematography can be warm and capture light in a pleasing autumnal manner, the one-dimensional indie flick "Tanner Hall," has almost nothing else to...

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    TIFF '11 Review: The Ralph Fiennes-Directed 'Coriolanus' Is As Well-Acted As It Is Challenging

    From what little we know of Shakespeare's life, "Coriolanus" was one of his later tragedies; compared to his other works in the same vein, it's one of his more complex ones, as well. It doesn't offer us a father betrayed, like" King Lear," or a good man undone by his own wants, like "Macbeth"; instead, it gives us a Roman general who, in his hunger for war, devours his life -- family, country, honor -- when the world will not let him be a warrior and, instead, insists he be a war hero. Thrust into politics, Coriolanus is a general, then a politician, and then despised by the people who called for his elevation -- leading him to ally with his...

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    TIFF '11 Review: Numbers Don't Lie In 'Moneyball' That Swings For The Fences & Hits A Triple

    America's greatest pastime hasn't been in great shape lately. Plagued by drug scandals and general disenchantment with the sport that pays astronomical prices for out-of-shape guys to hit a ball four hundred feet or so, it seems the magic of the ol' ballgame seems to have dissipated. This writer once religiously followed the sport, could rattle off batting lineups, bullpen rosters and second string second basemen at a moment's notice. But of late, we haven't had much reason to pay attention other than casually stopping in on games while flipping through channels. And while "Moneyball" won't get us picking up the daily sports section again, Be...

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