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  • Issue of
  • Sep 21-27, 2005
  • Vol. 25, No. 49

News & Views

Arts & Culture

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  • Asylum

    For a film about madness, sex and violence, Asylum is far too serious and sane. Natasha Richardson plays the bored wife of a mental hospital administrator who has a torrid affair with a handsomely murderous inmate. Directed by David Mackenzie, this gothic melodrama abandons the macabre wit and dramatic momentum of Patrick McGrath’s source novel, instead favoring grim restraint. Never-the-less, solid acting and beautiful cinematography keep the film highly watchable.
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  • The Fire Within

    The Fire Within Louis Malle’s 1963 low-key portrait of a suicidal writer making one last survey of his life while working up the will to make that final leap into the void. A depressed, alcoholic unable to cope with real life, Alain struggles to balance compromise with integrity.. Filmed in moody black and white and with Erik Satie’s seductively forlorn piano music on the soundtrack, it conjures a feeling of profound sadness without resorting to sentimentality.
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  • The Baxter

    This romantic comedy attempts to spoof romantic comedies, specifically, the Baxter: He’s the terminal nice guy in movies who inevitably gets left at the altar when the real hero rushes in at the last moment to sweep the bride away. The jokes are tame, and the film tries just a little too hard, and the end result is amusing but never hilarious, likable but not lovable — just like a Baxter.
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  • Tell Them Who You Are

    Tell Them Who You Are This documentary about acclaimed cinematographer Haskell Wexler is only partly about his turbulent career. Filmed by his son Mark Wexler, the emphasis is more on the relationship between the two, exploring Haskell’s sometimes cold and harsh dealings with Mark, who grew up in the shadow of a famous father, struggling to stake out his own identity.
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  • Lord of War

    Nicolas Cage’s effortless charisma and energy shine through in this intoxicating — if not completely convincing — tale of a slick arms trader pulling in cash in the 1980s. With a few less clichés, Lord of War might’ve been a classic, but as it stands, it’s just an enticing near-miss.
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  • Genesis

    The follow-up to the 1996 film Microcosmos, which examined the mostly hidden world landscape, revealing a strange and beautiful world of seemingly unearthly abstraction. Genesis is technically similar, exploring the creation of the universe and, subsequently, life on Earth. However, it’s less compelling, perhaps because the topic is so huge and riddled with physical and philosophical conundrums.
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  • This Divided State

    This Divided State A documentary exploring the uproar that ensued when Utah Valley State College invited Michael Moore to come speak on campus in the weeks before the 2004 Bush-Kerry election. It’s a riveting metaphor for our violently divided country, a documentary filled with fascinating real-life characters displaying all the venom and vehemence illustrated in meetings of American conservatives and liberals these days (screaming, hissing, sign-toting, a.k.a. civil discourse, American style). The film drags a bit and is short on reflection, but aptly provides a frightening and fascinating allegory for the hatred between the two sides of our nation.
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  • Just Like Heaven

    Reese Witherspoon’s latest stock romantic comedy has a cast that might lead you to hope for something more, but in the end, it’s like the acoustic cover version of the Cure song that opens the film: cutesy and irritating.
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