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Movie Reviews

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    REVIEW | Dite-moi: Jiri Menzel's "I Served the King of England"

    For the last decade American movie audiences have been bludgeoned so mercilessly with poorly and vacuously executed whimsy ("We're drowning in quirk," Michael Hirschorn famously wrote in the September 2007 issue of Atlantic Monthly, and I wholeheartedly agree) that an even partially successful excur...

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    REVIEW | The Rising: Tia Lessin and Carl Deal's "Trouble the Water"

    "I'm showing the world that we had a world before the storm," says Kimberly Rivers Roberts, a.k.a. Black Kold Madina, on August 28, 2005, the day preceding Hurricane Katrina's devastating touch down in New Orleans. Kimberly is poor, black, and, unlike the majority of the city's wealthier white citiz...

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    REVIEW | Tomb of the Mommy: Azazel Jacobs's "Momma's Man"

    Considering that Azazel Jacobs, the director of "Momma's Man," is the offspring of American avant-garde filmmaker extraordinaire Ken Jacobs, one would be forgiven for expecting his film to be more experimental and abstract than the seemingly conventional narrative that plays out. Yet buried beneath ...

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    REVIEW | Split Ends: Claude Chabrol's "A Girl Cut in Two"

    At first glance, Claude Chabrol's latest seems yet another in his long line of slow-boiling thrillers, set mostly amongst the upper classes, in which the sinister bobs up above a seemingly placid surface -- compulsively watchable and strangely unsettling, sure, but par for the course for the erstwhi...

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    REVIEW | Pale Fire: Woody Allen's "Vicky Cristina Barcelona"

    Each review of a new, annual Woody Allen film needn't require an overarching, state-of-his-art introduction, but it's hard to fight the urge to do so. The fact that, even at this late stage in his career, America's most prolific just-off-mainstream filmmaker instigates such charged responses from so...

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    REVIEW | Age of Consent: Isabel Coixet's "Elegy"

    In what may be a perfect sophisto storm, none other than Sir Ben Kingsley plays Philip Roth's academic antihero David Kepesh, a solemn piano underscoring his negotiations with sex, art, and mortality in the Continental Manhattan of Isabel Coixet's new film, "Elegy." Kepesh teaches literature at Colu...

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    REVIEW | Circle Jerk: Rodger Grossman's "What We Do Is Secret"

    The world certainly isn't wanting for hagiographies of Seventies punk-rock trailblazers, but rarely has one felt as inauthentic as Rodger Grossman's feature debut, "What We Do Is Secret." Grossman short-changes his subject by framing the tragic, brief musical career and suicide of the Germs' front m...

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    REVIEW | Corked: Randall Miller's "Bottle Shock"

    In "Bottle Shock," director and co-scripter Randall Miller -- of such disparate (and dismal) output as the Sinbad-starring "Houseguest" and painfully twee indie "Marilyn Hotchkiss Ballroom Dancing and Charm School" -- seemingly extrapolates Virginia Madsen's centerpiece soliloquy on wine from "Sidew...

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    REVIEW | Sweatin' to the Oldies: Darryl Roberts's "America the Beautiful"

    Opening with "vintage" black-and-white footage of women from the Fifties huffing and puffing through antiquated exercise routines, set to Bruce Channel's "Hey, Baby," the ostensible investigative documentary "America the Beautiful" establishes its de-facto glibness within seconds. Throughout the course of the film, further video montages will be set to such ferociously on-topic chestnuts as Right Said Fred's "I'm Too Sexy," Marilyn Manson's "The Beautiful People," and Letters to Cleo's "I Wanna Be a Supermodel," ironically backing images of primped, preening girls or magazine model cut-outs. Director Darryl Roberts's mode of address is so hac...

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    REVIEW | Soft Shoe: Alex Holdridge's "In Search of a Midnight Kiss"

    From "Sunset Boulevard" to "Mulholland Drive" and beyond, most movies revolving around Hollywood hopefuls portray the greater Los Angeles area as a soulless cesspool into which the hordes can't help but sink. But in his Tinseltown-set feature "In Search of a Midnight Kiss," Alex Holdridge reimagines L.A. as a place of renewal and unsung beauty: Skyline shots inclusive of freeway traffic, graphic compositions incorporating the city's variegated architecture, and even the Hollywood sign shrouded by smoggy haze are lovingly lensed in stark black-and-white in obvious homage to Woody Allen's "Manhattan" (though this hipster kid on the block scor...

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