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Thompson on Hollywood

Review: Rama Burshtein's Luminous 'Fill the Void' Looks at the Strange, Painful Romance of Choice

Rama Burshtein’s “Fill the Void,” Israel’s official Oscar entry earlier this year, is set in the Haredi Orthodox Jewish community in Tel Aviv. It focuses on one young woman’s turbulent experiences with traditional matchmaking -- a custom which, it should be noted, differs from arranged marriage, and is abundantly foreign to many of us Westerners. Yet Burshtein renders a portrait that is universal: of the necessity of choice, and its connection to putting away childish things.
  • By Beth Hanna
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  • May 21, 2013 6:05 AM
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Cannes Film Fest Diary 3: Seduced by 'The Past,' Abandoned by a Brazilian Beach Bikini Party

At 8:30am Friday morning, I got it. What Cannes is truly all about. You get something in theory, and then there’s the moment you get it through experience. Asghar Farhadi’s “The Past” had just begun, and I thought back to what a friend said was the real reason to attend Cannes: because you see the best films in the world. Literally, according to one of the money men in James Toback’s new documentary about Cannes, “Seduced and Abandoned” – more on that later – half of the year’s supply of big films debuts at the festival. Farhadi won the Oscar for best foreign film with his last, “A Separation,” and as the new film began, the audience just relaxed into their seats as the film, with its first shot, took over. It’s a wonderful feeling when you realize you are in very, very, very good hands.
  • By Tom Christie
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  • May 20, 2013 11:11 PM
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Cannes Review: 'Inside Llewyn Davis' Is Vintage Coens

There is a moment in “Inside Llewyn Davis,” the new Coen brothers film that stormed the Palais Saturday, when the owner of Manhattan's Gaslight club circa 1961 asks Davis what he thinks of the four Irish sweater-clad singers performing. Davis, a struggling folk singer with an edge, ponders the question. “I like the sweaters,” he says.
  • By Tom Christie
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  • May 19, 2013 8:41 PM
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Cannes Fest Diary 2: Dull Coppola, Brilliant 'A Touch of Sin'

I began the search for a room in Cannes quite late. I checked hotels.com, home to “Cheap Hotels, Discounts, Hotel Deals and Offers,” which is why I was a bit taken aback when my first offer was for a week at the Carlton for $52,000. What I wound up with was not quite the Carlton; it’s more of a bed with walls adjacent, a former maid’s quarters located on the ground floor of a very large complex; any resemblance to a prison cell, known or unknown, is entirely a coincidence.
  • By Tom Christie
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  • May 18, 2013 12:46 PM
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  • 3 Comments

Cannes Review: Ari Folman's Hybrid 'The Congress' Befuddles More than It Bedazzles

Ari Folman’s “The Congress” begins well enough, with the sheer physical presence of Robin Wright center screen, tears popping from her eyes. The actress, who in real life has aged gracefully into strength – or maybe it’s just bitterness -- plays “Robin Wright,” an aging actress who has made many “lousy choices.” We know this from her agent, played with sweet understatement by Harvey Keitel, who spares nothing and no one, including the “lousy men” Wright has chosen. Is that one of the movie’s many in-jokes?
  • By Tom Christie
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  • May 17, 2013 8:43 PM
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Weekend Preview: 'Frances Ha' Delights, 'Star Trek' Relentlessly Entertains, 'Pieta' a Bloody Must-See

Moviegoing prospects looks good this weekend, as J.J. Abrams' well-reviewed "Star Trek Into Darkness" continues its opening weekend after a Wednesday debut, and a slew of appealing limited release titles hit screens. One of these is Noah Baumbach's critical darling "Frances Ha," starring likable muse Greta Gerwig in a drifting, French New Wave Lite tale of twentysomething ennui and platonic breakups.
  • By Beth Hanna
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  • May 17, 2013 1:45 PM
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Cannes Virgin Festival Diary 1: From 'Gatsby' to 'Heli' and Back

The first indication that things at Cannes weren’t going to be quite as I imagined them to be – red carpet and champagne, rinse and repeat – was the crush trying to get on the express bus from the Nice airport. The bus was 20 minutes late in arriving from Cannes, and there was a lot of jockeying going on, which is a nice way of saying butting in line, except there were no real lines, not to mention not enough seats. As the harried driver pulled away a woman in the back began yelling for him to stop, exclaiming, “You didn’t take my husband or my bags. I need both.” The driver stopped and the woman exited to general laughter.
  • By Tom Christie
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  • May 16, 2013 8:56 PM
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Is There a Connection Between Baumbach's 'Frances Ha' and Bujalski's 'Funny Ha Ha'?

It seems so obvious. “Frances Ha.” “Funny Ha Ha.” Coincidence? We think not. But wait… One is about an awkward 20-something delaying adulthood, while her romantic planets fail to get in line. The other is ... well, yeah, pretty much about the same thing. Except that one rocketed to obscurity in 2002, and the other seems poised, based on reviewers more or less genuflecting since its U.S. premiere at Telluride last fall, to become an indie hit of major (albeit relative) proportions.
  • By John Anderson
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  • May 15, 2013 1:48 PM
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Now and Then: In Two 'Steel Magnolias,' the Times Are Not A-Changin'

The first thing one notices about "Steel Magnolias" (Herbert Ross, 1989) is the hair. Truvy's Beauty Shop overflows with tight-rolled pastel curlers and foot-high teases, held in place by enough hairspray to commit arson -- a style so far out of fashion it seems historical, as rococo as Marie Antoinette's bedsheets.
  • By Matt Brennan
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  • May 14, 2013 3:07 PM
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Review: 'Aftershock,' Starring a Nebbish Eli Roth, Plays with Religious Cliches While the Blood Spurts

When he hasn’t been writing directing or producing some of the more notorious entries in the horror/torture porn catalogue (like “Cabin Fever,” “Hostel,” and the two “Last Exorcisms”) Eli Roth has worked on his parallel career as screen star -- perhaps most notably as the Bear Jew, the baseball bat-wielding, Nazi-dispatching, one-man-Jewish-revenge-fantasy of Quentin Tarantino’s “Inglourious Basterds.”
  • By John Anderson
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  • May 10, 2013 2:42 PM
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