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Simon Says

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    19

    SIMON SAYS: WILLIAM FRIEDKIN ON VIOLENCE, HUMOR, AND IDENTITY

    "Human nature is violent," William Friedkin tells me, going on to say that he also likes Immanuel Kant's phrase "the crooked timber of humanity." As an artist, Friedkin is as blunt, matter-of-fact and masterfully cynical as his initial statement suggests.

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    THE DARK KNIGHT RISES, But Not Quite High Enough

    "The Dark Knight Rises" is a half-baked success, a finale whose ambitions ultimately exceed the Nolan brothers' abilities.

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    TEN BAT-TAKES: THE TEN BEST INTERPRETATIONS OF BATMAN

    No matter how much Bruce Wayne and his alter-ego have changed over the decades, Batman's various incarnations are all related.

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    SIMON SAYS: Could TRISHNA Really Be a Michael Winterbottom Film?

    If you sat down to watch "Trishna," a modern-day adaptation of Thomas Hardy's "Tess of the D'Urbervilles" reset in contemporary India, and didn't already know that it was directed by Michael Winterbottom, you probably couldn't tell.

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    SIMON SAYS: MAGIC MIKE and the Camera

    Steven Soderbergh's recent use of digital photography in "Contagion" (2011) and "The Girlfriend Experience" (2009) has a painterly quality. In "Magic Mike," Soderbergh's visual flourishes establish concerns better than anything his characters say.

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    SIMON SAYS: The Roberto Benigni Problem

    The imminent release of "To Rome with Love," the latest movie directed and written by Woody Allen, should have you wondering the following: what exactly do people see in Roberto Benigni, and why has his career sustained itself for as long as it has?

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    SIMON SAYS: Trying Harder: What PROMETHEUS Gets Right

    One character in Prometheus sums up why Ridley Scott's return to his 1979 science fiction milestone is as refreshing as it is, in just two words: "Try harder."

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    SIMON SAYS: White Men Can't Ninja

    In 1981, producer-cum-director Menahem Golan was supposed to direct Charles Bronson in "Death Wish 2." But, as the apocryphal story goes, Bronson didn't want Golan at the helm. So Golan directed "Enter the Ninja"—a movie which, oddly enough, has remote ties to the spaghetti western genre.

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