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  • Issue of
  • Mar 16-22, 2005
  • Vol. 25, No. 22

News & Views

Arts & Culture

  • The Scene
  • Robots

    Blue Sky studio’s Robots comes close — but no cigar — to capturing the kind of magic created by rivals Pixar in movies like Finding Nemo and Toy Story. Director Chris Wedge creates a world not of high-tech, futuristic machines, but of robots with mechanical springs, cranks and bolts. Where Robots — and Pixar succeeds — is offering characters that are as multi-dimensional as the animation. Ewan McGregor, Halle Berry, Mel Brooks and Robin Williams lend their voices.
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  • The Scene
  • Dear Frankie

    Director Shona Auerbach holds the reins tight in Dear Frankie, creating a sentimental family drama that rings true, even in at its most unlikely turns. A single mom hires a stranger to pose as the father her deaf son Frankie has never known but writes to constantly. Young Jack McElhone does much to keep the movie out of the dregs of schmaltziness, playing Frankie as charming and bright, but without trying to win the audience with cloying cuteness or fishing too deep for sympathy for his character’s hearing loss. The film is honest and smart, yet still handkerchief-worthy.
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  • The Scene
  • Hostage

    Hostage, the first English-language movie for French director Florent Emilio Siri, is a far more stylized and serious action drama than anything in Bruce Willis’ Die Hard franchise. Based on a Robert Crais novel, Willis plays a burned out hostage negotiator who moves to a small town for relief, but finds himself involved in another intense fight to save a family. An exercise in film noir, Hostage is dark, intensely violent and often nearly too bloody to watch. Nevertheless, if Willis was looking for a vehicle in which to redeem himself as an action hero, he chose wisely here.
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  • The Scene
  • Days of Being Wild

    Released in 1991, Days of Being Wild was Hong Kong filmmaker Wong Kar-wai’s second feature as a director, and seems, in retrospect, to be a template for the best of his later movies. Wong imbued Wild with the kind of moony green-tinged scenes that convey a feeling of lassitude and foreboding, as though his characters are sleepwalking through a menacing landscape. Not for all tastes, obviously, but Wong fans will be in unhappy heaven.
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  • The Scene
  • 42 Annual Ann Arbor Film Festival

    Don’t let the Ann Arbor Film Festival’s longevity fool you into thinking it’s grown stodgy. The digital video explosion of recent years has caused a major shift in the fest’s focus, turning what was once a purists-only festival into a showcase for some of the most cutting-edge work in the world, whittled down from some 1,900 entries. Highlights include Jonathan Caouette’s highly acclaimed Tarnation, and Crispin Glover’s bizarre provocation What Is It?
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  • The Scene
  • Steamboy

    Katsuhiro Otomo’s groundbreaking Akira was the first, and arguably most influential, big budget Japanese anime; he now emerges after sixteen years with this over-the-top “steampunk” epic. Touted as the most expensive anime ever made, Steamboy impresses, deafens and bores its audience in equal doses. The animation is stunning and flawless, but story and character development in favor of visual spectacle.
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