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Entries filed in: 'Reviews'

Alfredon’s ‘Tinker, Tailor’ smolders on screen

Posted by · 5:23 pm · September 19th, 2011

I don’t want to write too much about “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy” right now because, point blank, I want to see it again and digest and — gasp! — consider. For now, though, I’ll start with this: It’s an impeccably made, satisfyingly dense piece of work from director Tomas Alfredson. It’s the rare film that […]

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Lurie’s ‘Straw Dogs’ finds its own way

Posted by · 4:48 pm · September 14th, 2011

I should really write something about Rod Lurie’s “Straw Dogs” remake, which, naturally, has been met with a lot of skepticism ever since it was announced. “How dare someone tinker with Peckinpah,” etc. As if Peckinpah is beyond reproach. He’s not, I’d argue, and Lurie’s version of the novel that Peckinpah’s film was based upon […]

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Moverman’s expressive ‘Rampart’ offers tour de force performance from Woody Harrelson

Posted by · 8:26 am · September 14th, 2011

Oren Moverman’s “Rampart” is absolutely fantastic. Top to bottom, it’s a considerable directorial achievement, and an exciting, brazen departure from his excellent 2009 debut, “The Messenger.” The film — from an original screenplay by James Ellroy, re-written by Moverman — uses the 1999 Los Angeles Police Department Rampart corruption scandal as a frame, a state […]

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The writing shines in dense and rewarding ‘Moneyball’

Posted by · 11:53 am · September 13th, 2011

Bennett Miller’s “Moneyball” is a tightly constructed piece of work, thematically layered, rich in substance, hard work from two of the best writers in the business clearly evident. And the last thing it is is a sports movie. The film is about so much. It’s a David vs. Goliath story of changing the status quo. […]

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VENICE: Delicious ‘Damsels’ breaks the Closing Night curse

Posted by · 9:57 am · September 10th, 2011

“Oh, Christ, that means it’s going to be shit,” wailed a friend of mine, an ardent devotee of long-dormant American auteur Whit Stillman, when the director’s new film, “Damsels in Distress,” was announced as the Closing Night film of this year’s Venice Film Festival. I consoled him that it needn’t be the case, but only […]

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Emmerich surprises with ‘Anonymous’

Posted by · 11:15 am · September 9th, 2011

I have to say, quite unexpectedly, I really liked Roland Emmerich’s “Anonymous.” I think it’s his best work yet. Having busied himself with matters of the apocalypse for the better part of two decades in films like “Independence Day,” “The Day After Tomorrow” and “2012,” it’s fair to say few would expect him to have […]

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VENICE: ‘Killer Joe,’ ‘The Exchange,’ ‘4:44: Last Day on Earth’

Posted by · 10:11 am · September 8th, 2011

With two days to go until wrap-up, and a host of journalists having defected to Toronto, one can feel the air not-so-slowly hissing out of the Venice balloon. And while this certainly has its upsides — it no longer takes half an hour to get an espresso as the festival café, for example — it’s […]

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REVIEW: “Wuthering Heights” (***1/2)

Posted by · 5:41 am · September 7th, 2011

Venice Film Festival British filmmaker Andrea Arnold would have been 16 years old when Kate Bush topped the UK pop charts with “Wuthering Heights,” a swirling art-rock ballad that stripped the Emily Brontë novel for which it is named down to a few key lines and narrative details, but evoked its grand-scale tragic romance in […]

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TELLURIDE: Sent off on a high note

Posted by · 2:32 pm · September 5th, 2011

Today is the final day of the 38th annual Telluride fest, and the whole thing was another rewarding sprint through the Labor Day weekend. This afternoon I had the great pleasure of sitting down with “The Descendants” star Shailene Woodley to get her wide-eyed, “it’s all happening” perspective on the early days of this year’s […]

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REVIEW: “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy” (***1/2)

Posted by · 8:22 am · September 5th, 2011

Venice Film Festival An uncharacteristically dark Venetian downpour greeted this morning’s premiere screening of “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy,” and if some flashbulbs of lightning last night hadn’t already previewed the turn in weather, I’d suspect the pervasively, necessarily drab atmospherics of Tomas Alfredson’s artful John le Carré adaptation of bleeding out from the screen and […]

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VENICE: ‘Dark Horse,’ ‘Chicken With Plums,’ ‘Sal’

Posted by · 4:53 am · September 5th, 2011

(Review of “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy” landing later this morning. Hang tight.) Todd Solondz has forged a loyal friendship with the Venice Film Festival across the second half of his career: all three of his last features have premiered here. Their mutual devotion somewhat surprises me, given that both Solondz screenings I’ve now attended on […]

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TELLURIDE: The expensive, painstaking restoration of ‘A Trip to the Moon’

Posted by · 12:13 am · September 5th, 2011

Following today’s “Shame” screening I really wanted to make it across the mountain to the Chuck Jones Cinema and my last chance to catch Agnieszka Holland’s buzzed-about “In Darkness.” But with 15 minutes to get there before it started, a 10 minute walk and a 15 minute gondola ride ahead, it just didn’t seem to […]

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TELLURIDE: Michael Fassbender and a tale of two movies

Posted by · 11:54 pm · September 4th, 2011

Today’s screening of “Shame” was the big note of anticipation for me at this year’s Telluride fest. After bowing in Venice earlier this morning to generally positive praise, my hopes were still high that Steve McQueen made good on the promise of “Hunger” three years ago. And did he ever. I’m tired, at the end […]

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TELLURIDE: Gearing up yet winding down, ‘Le Havre,’ Herzog, Ballard’s long-lost ‘Rodeo’ restored

Posted by · 1:32 pm · September 4th, 2011

The interesting thing about Telluride is, the moment things begin to heat up, they also feel like they’re beginning to wind down. I still have screenings of “Shame” and “A Dangerous Method” to come today, and may duck into Asghar Farhadi’s “A Separation” tomorrow morning before hopping the shuttle back to Montrose, but for the […]

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REVIEW: “Shame” (***1/2)

Posted by · 5:36 am · September 4th, 2011

Venice Film Festival If “Hunger,” artist-turned-filmmaker Steve McQueen’s remarkable debut feature, was a study of a body strenuously denied its fundamental needs, his satisfyingly rigorous, explicit follow-up, “Shame,” traces the very different damage done by a body over-gifted with wants. A sternly formalist parable on the pruning and stunting of relationships both familial and carnal […]

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TELLURIDE: Herzog’s meditative and crucial ‘Into the Abyss’ is best of the fest so far

Posted by · 2:08 pm · September 3rd, 2011

The weather is keeping up here, with rain only threatening a drop or two here and there. As festival co-director Julie Huntsinger quipped at yesterday’s press orientation, there must have been a deal struck with the devil somewhere along the line, because the weather is always miserable here for the three or four weeks leading […]

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VENICE: ‘Alps’ and other drugs

Posted by · 11:57 am · September 3rd, 2011

The first few days of the Venice Film Festival were so jam-packed with the big-name premieres you’ve been most restless to hear about that, between thrashing out full-length individual reviews of those and negotiating the braided Venice obstacles of crippling humidity and crippled wi-fi facilities, my usual roundups of less flashy fare got a bit […]

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TELLURIDE: ‘La Luna’ is Pixar’s best short in years

Posted by · 7:31 am · September 3rd, 2011

Yesterday before the 3D screening of Wim Wenders’s “Pina,” the audience was treated to Pixar’s latest animated short (which was also shown to audiences, I believe, at the D23 convention last month). I felt like it deserved some notice here, because it’s my favorite short from the studio in quite some time. I greatly admired […]

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