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  • Issue of
  • Oct 19-25, 2005
  • Vol. 26, No. 1

News & Views

Arts & Culture

  • The Scene
  • Elizabethtown

    Quirky romance is usually writer-director Cameron Crowe’s strong suit (Almost Famous, Jerry McGuire, Say Anything), but he seems to have lost his flair with Elizabethtown. Orlando Bloom stars as Drew Baylor, a young man working for a mega shoe company in Oregon, who just had the career failure of a lifetime and learns his father has passed away. Drew embarks on a journey to his father’s hometown to claim the body; on the way he meets flight attendant Claire (Kirsten Dunst), whom Crowe sets up as something of a guardian angel, swooping in to make everything right. Unfortunately, the story is all over the place, with so many random tangents one wonders what was left on the cutting room floor.
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  • The Scene
  • Lacombe, Lucien

    In this 1974 Louis Malle film set during the waning days of WWII, a young man living in German-occupied France winds up working with the Nazis, which offers him, for the first time in his life, a feeling of empowerment. He relishes his newfound control and ability to evoke fear. When Lucien falls in love with a Jewish girl, he neither knows nor cares about the implications until he’s in over his head.
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  • The Scene
  • Separate Lies

    Everyone admits to everything in Separate Lies, writer-director Julian Fellowes’ latest sardonic, upper-crust whodunit. Set in a privileged corner of the English countryside where the rich and powerful spend their ample free time playing cricket and drinking themselves silly, this is the kind of mystery that opens with a man dying on the side of the road, and two confessions 15 minutes later. The suspense comes from trying to figure out who’s covering up for whom, and why.
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  • The Scene
  • Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress

    Though set in the early ’70s during China’s Cultural Revolution, this film isn’t a gritty look at that horrendous period in history. Director Dai Sijie, who also wrote the novel the film is based on, lived through those times, and is less interested in focusing on the persecution (and sometimes flat-out murder) of writers, artists and anyone else who showed “bourgeois tendencies,” and more intent on recapturing a period of his youth that he sees through a gloss of nostalgia.
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  • The Scene
  • The War Within

    While big-budget Hollywood films are just now gingerly dipping their toes in the pool of complex, volatile issues surrounding 9-11, a slew of indie efforts are busy wading into the waters — usually way over their heads. The latest in need of a life raft: the new psychological thriller The War Within. Star and co-writer Ayad Akhtar plays Hassan, a conflicted would-be suicide bomber preparing for an attack on Grand Central Terminal. Sent from Pakistan by shadowy, unnamed forces, Hassan goes against his sleeper cell’s suggestions and stays with the family of a childhood friend (Firdous Bamji) in New Jersey. It’s not the lowest profile for a terrorist to keep, and living with the decent, well-adjusted clan brings on a crisis of conscience in Hassan. Relentless in its attempts to provoke but maddeningly simplistic in most other respects, this terrorist-among-us tale shows a great deal of promise in its opening stretch, before succumbing to amateurish, connect-the-dots storytelling.
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  • The Scene
  • Good Night, and Good Luck

    Directing his second feature film, George Clooney delivers a smart, restrained and timely examination of how TV news, once upon a time, fearlessly spoke truth to power. Good Night, and Good Luck is set in 1953, during the Communist witch-hunts that recklessly destroyed careers and lives, and traces the five episodes of Edward R. Murrow’s television program, See It Now, which challenged Sen. Joseph McCarthy, the witch-hunt’s grand inquisitor.
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  • The Scene
  • Domino

    Keira Knightley does her best in Domino to shake off the powder-puff girl-power veneer of her Bend It Like Beckham days, and lose the sickly sweet love-interest persona she earned in Pirates of the Caribbean and Love Actually. Armed with a new-wave hairdo, rifle, ammo slung across her chest and a newfound bad-girl ’tude fully charged, the willowy Knightley storms into the role with all the bravado of a heavyweight action star in the middle of a ’roid rage. The film is loosely based on the travails of real rich-girl-turned-bounty-hunter Domino Harvey, who died of a drug overdose earlier this year. The movie mostly centers on her becoming a bounty hunter — a hired gun who returns runaway crooks to the authorities. The result looks like the lovechild of Quentin Tarantino and David Lynch, although glossier, dumbed-down and more explosive than anything they’d produce.
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  • The Scene
  • Firecracker

    Film crit kingpin Roger Ebert practically busted a nut over this film, stating it had “one of the most immediately gripping opening scenes I can remember.” True enough, the first five minutes of Firecracker immediately command your attention. Unfortunately, filmmaker Steve Balderson seems to have blown his wad on the opener, as the remainder of this convoluted yet intriguing film is a haphazard mix of edgy, bold moves and just plain terrible clichés.
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Food & Drink

  • Table and Bar
  • A bite-sized bistro

    The concept is "a new American bistro" — cutting-edge food served tapas-style, for sharing and grazing. It’s a good idea, one used more or less successfully elsewhere, but what makes this restaurant work so well is creative flair.
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