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PICTURES OF LOSS: HEREAFTER, directed by Clint Eastwood

Joan Didion says, “We tell ourselves stories in order to live.” In the months after my father died, the story I told myself was that I could write as I always had, about movies and movie directors, and that this would, in fact, serve as a useful distraction from my grief. I was certain that my professionalism would see me through this terrible time.
  • By Peter Tonguette
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  • November 21, 2011 1:44 PM
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  • 1 Comment

VIDEO ESSAY: Searching for the Muppets

When Jim Henson died in 1990, at the age of 53, there was reason to fear that the Muppets wouldn’t live on without him. They did. Since Henson’s death, Muppets have appeared in three major movies, a short-lived TV series, a few TV specials and several direct-to-YouTube videos. They’ve inspired toys, calendars and postage stamps. And now they’re poised to hit the big screen yet again, in a movie written by and starring Jason Segel.
  • By Jason Bellamy
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  • November 21, 2011 1:35 PM
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  • 1 Comment

PICTURES OF LOSS: Introduction

Ever since I began writing professionally about film, my father nearly always read what I wrote. Yet it was only recently that it hit me: Before he died in January of 2010, the last article he read by me concerned the death of a parent, and most of the films I have thought to write about since then concern losses like my own.
  • By Peter Tonguette
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  • November 21, 2011 1:24 PM
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  • 0 Comments

SLIDE SHOW: Woody Allen's greatest films

Woody Allen, whose career will be celebrated next week by PBS’ documentary series American Masters, has been making films for so long that it’s a wonder the program didn’t profile him sooner. With 47 directing credits, 68 screenwriting credits, and let’s-not-even-start-totaling his Oscar wins and nominations, he’s a gray-haired machine who gets more done in a decade than most artists accomplish in a lifetime.
  • By Matt Zoller Seitz
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  • November 19, 2011 2:50 AM
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  • 1 Comment

Eastwood's "J. Edgar" takes few risks with its controversial subject

You'd think Clint Eastwood would be the right guy to direct a movie about J. Edgar Hoover. After all, who better to tell the story of the 20th century's most influential law enforcement officer, the man who wrote the rule book on fighting crime only to disregard those rules when they prevented him from getting his man, than Dirty Harry himself? Or, to be less obvious, what would the man responsible for White Hunter Black Heart, A Perfect World and Million Dollar Baby — movies about men who defied authority, be it Hollywood, the law or God — bring to the life story of the man who held authority over the country for nearly 50 years? Alas, Clint Eastwood's stately biopic J. Edgar is a frustrating experience. For nearly 2 hours and 20 minutes we are held captive by the possibility of a major revelation or insight into a man whose obsession with cataloging every single detail of a person's personal and professional lives foretold the collapse of privacy. We get hints, intimations and suggestions of darker urges that shaped Hoover's behavior, but nothing concrete about the man's personality, and no attitude whatsoever toward his actions. Eastwood mistakes vagueness for ambiguity and puts us in the position of being armchair psychiatrists.
  • By Aaron Aradillas
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  • November 18, 2011 9:15 AM
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GREY MATTERS: With "Grimm" and "Once Upon A Time," TV fantasy casts its spell with mixed results

  • By Ian Grey
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  • November 17, 2011 12:04 PM
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  • 2 Comments

LISA ROSMAN: Lars von Trier's MELANCHOLIA is a masterpiece

Lars von Trier is not a brother who provokes a neutral response: there are those who feel he can do no wrong, and then there are naysayers like me. Although I consider Dancer in the Dark one of the best movies of the last decade, I swore I’d never sit through another of his films after suffering through the school-play machinations of Dogville. A guy who so unilaterally criticizes America without ever having stepped foot on its soil deserves a similar boycott, I declared.
  • By Lisa Rosman
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  • November 16, 2011 3:40 AM
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  • 3 Comments

Why did so many Nazis get away with murder?

Simon Weisenthal’s greatest contribution to the world was his dogged pursuit of Nazi criminals who escaped punishment at the end of World War II. His second greatest contribution was his reminder that despite being described as “the Good War” or “a just war,” not enough good was ultimately done, and comparatively little justice was meted out. Some of the most prominent and heinous architects of mass murder simply got on with their lives, and some were the recipients of largesse — jobs, travel assistance, even money and government protection — that was denied to the people who endured their cruelty. And we tend to forget that for every high-ranking sadist or mass murderer who was imprisoned or executed after the war, thousands more who assisted them directly (through action) or indirectly (through silence) were never even called to account.
  • By Matt Zoller Seitz
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  • November 15, 2011 7:52 PM
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  • 0 Comments

The Chicago Way: Crime Story back on DVD for its 25th Anniversary

On September 18, 1986, director Michael Mann (Heat) made good on his promising career in TV and film with the debut of his new period cops-and-robbers saga, Crime Story. Not only did Crime Story’s feature-quality production design live up to that of its TV antecedent, Mann’s stylish Miami Vice; Crime Story also fulfilled its aim to present a morally complex world in which it was often difficult to tell those who broke the law from those who upheld it. Set in 1963, the show explores the multiple facets of a young hood’s rise to power in the Chicago Mob through the viewpoints of its three protagonists. Ray Luca (Anthony Denison) is the pompadoured criminal quickly ascending the ranks of the “Outfit.” Lieutenant Mike Torello (Dennis Farina) is the cop in charge of Chicago’s Major Crime Unit (or MCU) who bends the law in the service of justice. And David Abrams (Stephen Lang) is the idealistic young lawyer caught between the two men and their obsessive cat-and-mouse game. Today, a little over 25 years since its premiere, Crime Story: The Complete Series (Image Entertainment) comes out on DVD. At press time, review copies were not made available, so it’s impossible to ascertain if any improvements have been made over the questionable video quality of previous iterations. But this short-lived series, an influential precursor to the well-written serials littered throughout cable this decade (i.e., The Sopranos, Mad Men, Justified, and others), is worth owning despite any potential issues with its digital transfer.
  • By Tony Dayoub
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  • November 15, 2011 7:15 PM
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In creating "Blind Love: In Memory of Steve Jobs," Illusionist Paul Gertner wonders how humans will process emotions in a digital realm

Look, I don't mean to come across as crass or insensitive, but I'm officially tired of hearing about Steve Jobs' legacy. I'm not saying he wasn't the visionary, creative genius we've been reading about or that the changes he brought to the human world aren't remarkable. But there are only so many words one can read and only so many lazy documentaries one can watch on this one guy. (Besides, I’ve read tens of thousands of words by writers famous, infamous and unknown, and none come closer to explaining Jobs' purpose, personality and legacy than the commencement speech that he himself delivered at Stanford University.) So, when my friend Rich sent me a link to a Steve Jobs tribute video by a magician named Paul Gertner, I will admit to a little eye-rolling – that is, until I saw the video.
  • By Ken Cancelosi
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  • November 15, 2011 4:52 AM
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  • 0 Comments

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