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VIDEO: Hal Hartley's Must-See Moments

Hal Hartley’s newest film Meanwhile is said to be about a man who can do everything from plumbing to international finance to novel-writing, but who can’t seem to find “success.” But how do we measure success? In a quarter century of iconoclastic filmmaking, Hal Hartley has redefined the “achievement” as it pertains to film. As Meanwhile makes its debut at IFC center Wednesday, February 29, we celebrate several of Hartley’s films with a tribute to classic Hartley moments, especially from his excellent 1991 film, Surviving Desire.
  • By Kevin B. Lee
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  • February 28, 2012 12:49 AM
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VIDEO - THREE REASONS: King Vidor's THE CROWD

[EDITOR'S NOTE: Contributor Robert Nishimura's video series Three Reasons continues with King Vidor's The Crowd. He feels this film deserves attention in light of the Best Picture Oscar for The Artist and is a perfect candidate for restoration and release on the Criterion label.]
  • By Robert Nishimura
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  • February 27, 2012 11:54 AM
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VIDEO ESSAY: AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN HOLLYWOOD: HORROR, MAKEUP AND THE OSCARS

The practitioners of visual effects have a favorite phrase for what they do: the Invisible Art – effects that are imaginative, even astonishing, but that are ultimately there to sell a world, a character or a moment. Special makeup might be the best illustration of this principle. One of makeup's greatest triumphs is An American Werewolf in London, which in 1982 became the first film to win an Oscar for makeup in regular competition. Overseen by Rick Baker, who supervised all of the film's makeup effects, it shows a man changing into a werewolf in real time…right in front of your eyes. This sequence was the culmination of eight decades of movie makeup. And the film's Oscar represented a coming-out for a once-neglected aspect of filmmaking.
  • By Aaron Aradillas, Matt Zoller Seitz & Ken Cancelosi
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  • February 24, 2012 1:15 PM
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VIDEO ESSAY: Outstanding Collaborative Performance - Yoda, THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK

Muppets creator Jim Henson once said, “When Frank Oz does Grover, I think he is a better actor than Lawrence Olivier.” That’s not really an exaggeration. Puppeteering is not just a clever way to entertain children. It’s an ancient art, common to cultures all over the world. And it’s another kind of performance -- sort of a merger of acting, gesture and dance. It combines vocal performance with hand movements that approximate the movements of a human, an animal, or a non-human character.
  • By Matt Zoller Seitz & Matthias Stork
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  • February 24, 2012 12:00 PM
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VIDEO ESSAY: Outstanding Collaborative Performance - E.T.: The Extra Terrestrial

For a pretty long time, Steven Spielberg’s "E.T. The Extraterrestrial" was the top grossing film ever made, and it’s still one of the most beloved. The title character is a space alien. Who plays him? It’s hard to even begin to answer that question. There were so many people involved, and they all contributed something. But it you rule out the obvious suspects – Spielberg, who directed the movie, and Melissa Mathison, who wrote it – it’s still a pretty long list.
  • By Matt Zoller Seitz and Steven Boone
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  • February 23, 2012 9:25 AM
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VIDEO: HUGO and the First Movie Magicians

The 84th Annual Academy Awards will be announced this Sunday, with Martin Scorsese’s Hugo leading the pack with 11 Oscar nominations. Along with the 10 nominations for fellow front-runner The Artist, silent cinema will occupy center stage at the ceremony in a way it hasn’t since the dawn of the sound era. To commemorate the occasion, this video links Hugo to several films by the early pioneers of cinema.
  • By Kevin B. Lee
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  • February 23, 2012 8:50 AM
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'SHOULD WIN' VIDEO ESSAY SERIES: Best Picture TREE OF LIFE

All of the 2011 Best Picture nominees have their merits, but one towers above the rest: "The Tree of Life," writer/director Terrence Malick's film about...well what is "The Tree of Life" about, anyway? For a free-associative non-linear movie that skips back and forth through time and space, and that includes a lengthy early section recounting the creation of the universe, the movie was a surprising commercial success, dominating discussion among cinephiles throughout a summer moviegoing season that is usually overshadowed by much louder, dumber movies. And at the center of the discussion were very basic questions about writing and direction – about storytelling generally – that cut to the heart of what movies are and what they can be.
  • By Matt Zoller Seitz & Serena Bramble
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  • February 21, 2012 12:13 PM
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  • 26 Comments

VIDEO ESSAY: Outstanding Collaborative Performance: The Fly (1986)

David Cronenberg’s 1986 remake of "The Fly" would have been a shoo-in for a theoretical best collaborative performance Oscar. What makes it truly special is its empathy for its arrogant scientist hero, Seth Brundle, who tests his revolutionary new matter transporter on himself and becomes genetically fused with a fly that was not supposed to be in the telepod with him. Jeff Goldblum’s performance as Seth Brundle is a nexus point for all the film’s creative elements: direction, writing, acting, makeup, optical effects, miniatures and puppetry. Goldblum’s work here brings everything together. It’s kind of a thespian telepod.
  • By Matt Zoller Seitz and Steven Santos
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  • February 21, 2012 9:40 AM
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  • 1 Comment

VIDEO ESSAY And the Oscar for Outstanding Collaborative Performance goes to...

Why hasn't Andy Serkis won an Oscar yet? Will his achievements as an actor ever be recognized by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences? Should they be recognized? Is Serkis an actor, or is his physical performance in a CGI-assisted role just a rough guide for a movie's digital effects?
  • By Matt Zoller Seitz & Steven Santos
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  • February 21, 2012 7:39 AM
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  • 11 Comments

VIDEO ESSAY: Love Against Irony in Maren Ade's EVERYONE ELSE

One of the most sublime and insightful romantic films in recent memory, Maren Ade’s Everyone Else won both Best Director and Actress awards at the 2009 Berlin Film Festival. This video looks at one of the film’s key love scenes, and explores how two people struggle to express their true feelings clouded by personal insecurities, which they cloak behind a wall of smart-ass ironic statements. In other words, it’s truly a film for our time.
  • By Kevin B. Lee
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  • February 17, 2012 3:33 PM
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  • 0 Comments

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