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Thompson on Hollywood

DVD Review: Pema Tseden's 'Old Dog,' a Powerful Political Allegory of Modern Tibet (TRAILER)

Forget Uggie. My favorite canine companion in recent cinema is the shaggy, steadfast nomad mastiff of Tibetan writer-director Pema Tseden's contemplative and ultimately wrenching "Old Dog" (2011), available today on DVD from Icarus Films Home Video/dGenerate Films Home Video Collection.
  • By Matt Brennan
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  • July 30, 2013 2:40 PM
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  • 1 Comment

Review: Microbudget Indie 'By Way of Home' Punches Above Its Weight (TRAILER)

Reunited after a two-year estrangement, childhood friends Brooke and Morgan spend the early stages of "By Way of Home" catching up. The former, laid off and living with her parents, describes this state of affairs with a gentle euphemism ("the whole family's home"), but her delivery carries the unmistakable twang of disappointment.
  • By Matt Brennan
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  • July 18, 2013 2:01 PM
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  • 0 Comments

Now and Then: Mizoguchi's Bitter Masterpiece 'The Life of Oharu' Now on Criterion

Director Kenji Mizoguchi's "The Life of Oharu" (1952), newly available in a high-def digital restoration from the Criterion Collection, teems with contradictions. It's epic yet delicate, set in feudal Japan but animated by modern anxieties, at once a traditional picaresque and a bold feminist classic.
  • By Matt Brennan
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  • July 10, 2013 1:44 PM
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  • 0 Comments

Now and Then: Hollywood's Civil War Obsession

Director Ron Maxwell's "Copperhead," on VOD and in select theaters Friday, is the sixth Civil War-era film to debut in the past 12 months, the most earnest and straightforward in a burgeoning subgenre. Nearly 150 years after the Battle of Gettysburg, The War Between the States remains Hollywood's favorite war.
  • By Matt Brennan
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  • June 25, 2013 8:25 PM
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  • 1 Comment

Now and Then: Five Reasons 'Mumblecore' and 'Millennial' Don't Mean the Same Thing

Reading wave after wave of writing about the Millennial generation and the so-called "mumblecore" movement, you would be forgiven for thinking the commentators had somehow mistaken movies for real life.
  • By Matt Brennan
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  • June 13, 2013 1:44 PM
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  • 1 Comment

Now and Then: Remarkable New Doc 'La Camioneta,' a Masterful Miniature (TRAILER)

Spotsylvania County, Virginia and Queztal City, Guatemala are separated by nearly 3,000 miles of road, and by what would seem, at first, an unbridgeable cultural distance. But in Mark Kendall's remarkable documentary "La Camioneta" -- a brilliant microhistory of our globalized world -- you're hard pressed to consider them anything but neighbors.
  • By Matt Brennan
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  • May 29, 2013 2:10 PM
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  • 1 Comment

Now and Then: Obituary for 'The Big C,' Starring Luminous Laura Linney

Cathy Jamison was a brave bitch. Through four seasons of Showtime's "The Big C," which ended its run Monday, she suffered the indignities of metastatic melanoma, chemotherapy, brain tumors, hospice, and bad insurance, yet remained steadfast in her belief that "surviving" and "living" do not necessarily amount to the same thing. She will be missed.
  • By Matt Brennan
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  • May 22, 2013 12:18 PM
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  • 5 Comments

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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  • 0 Comments

EXCLUSIVE VIDEO: 'Kill List' Director Ben Wheatley Talks IFC's 'Sightseers'

Brit filmmaker Ben Wheatley had brought his prior two low-budget features, "Down Terrace" and "Kill List," to the Cannes market. Then he made his proper Cannes debut with "Sightseers" in the Director's Fortnight, an unexpected breakout during an unexceptional year. Then the film played the fest circuit, including Toronto. IFC opens the dark relationship comedy in New York and L.A.on May 10. See my flipcam interview with Wheatley below.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • May 2, 2013 1:39 PM
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  • 3 Comments

Now and Then: Olivier and the Bard

"I can smile, and murder while I smile," confides that notorious noble, Richard, Duke of Gloucester (Laurence Olivier), "and frame my face to all occasions." For Olivier, pronouncing "frame" like "feign," it's an auspicious beginning. In Shakespeare's words, he finds his performer's credo.
  • By Matt Brennan
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  • April 26, 2013 3:03 PM
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  • 1 Comment

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