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Wednesday, March 31, 2004

Past is now

Classic film of Algerian struggle remains instructive.

Posted By on Wed, Mar 31, 2004 at 12:00 AM

Security checkpoints. Bombs going off in busy cafes. These are not synopses from today’s news but rather the stuff of The Battle of Algiers. The 1965 film delivers a hyperactive, stark and poetic look at the revolt in the French colony of Algeria in the 1950s, and delivers a close-up look at the action in the Casbah. This one will stay with you for a while.

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The Ladykillers

Posted By on Wed, Mar 31, 2004 at 12:00 AM

The Ladykillers is Joel and Ethan Coen’s remake of the 1955 film of the same name. Why are the Coens making remakes? This is pretty safe stuff, has a few chuckles in it, some soul-shaking gospel numbers and a nice look. But it’s just OK, and OK isn’t good enough for the Coen brothers.

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Never Die Alone

Posted By on Wed, Mar 31, 2004 at 12:00 AM

It took 30 years for deceased Detroit author Donald Goines to realize his dream — having one of his novels turned into a major Hollywood film. Never Die Alone stars rapper-turned-actor DMX and actor David Arquette. The tale of drug addiction, crime and prostitution is visually engrossing, largely due to its dim and grainy visuals.

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There Was A Father

Posted By on Wed, Mar 31, 2004 at 12:00 AM

For better or worse, appreciation of this latest entry in DFT’s ongoing Ozu retrospective is somewhat dependent on familiarity with the director’s oeuvre. Taken by itself, it seems like a fairly stilted soap opera with funereal pacing and long digressive scenes in which people exchange inconsequential small talk. But it’s Ozu, and that’s enough.

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The Clay Bird

Posted By on Wed, Mar 31, 2004 at 12:00 AM

Set in East Pakistan in the late 1960s, the film takes place during the period when the Bengalis were attempting to overthrow their military government. The rebellion led to the creation of Bangladesh. The movie makes a direct grab for the heart, as the viewer sees what happens to a family caught up in religious extremism and the acts of a mad patriarch.

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Nothing Really Matters (Memories of Aging Strippers)

Posted By on Wed, Mar 31, 2004 at 12:00 AM

If I could offer one piece of advice to writer/director Fred Newman, it would be this: Stop while you’re ahead, pal. Never have I been so charmed by the beginning of a film, only to recoil in horror as it devolves into a train wreck of repetitive dialogue and a bludgeoning with the obvious. It’s a textbook case: A man should never attempt to write and direct a chick flick.

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Wednesday, March 24, 2004

Unblemished

Kaufman creates another genius work.

Posted By on Wed, Mar 24, 2004 at 12:00 AM

This impossibly difficult to describe, wholly brilliant film has many surprises. Jim Carrey’s character Joel meets Clementine Kruczynski, portrayed with punk-rock exuberance and a perfect American accent by British actress Kate Winslet. The pair has had their minds erased by Dr. Howard Mierzwiak, who specializes in specific memory removals. It would be a crime to transcribe the phantasmagoric journey that Joel is subjected to. Let Kaufman, the genius, tell the story in his own way. We, dear friends, simply aren’t worthy.

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Good Morning

Posted By on Wed, Mar 24, 2004 at 12:00 AM

Ozu spoofs the linguistic cliches that lubricate everyday conversation, the "good mornings" and "nice weather" exchanges that adults use to make safe contact and which the children think a bunch of bunk. The parents of two boys wish the kids would shut up, and to retaliate the two boys take a vow of silence, with predictable complications. Generally the film’s mood is gentle, and the feeling, as expressed by one character, is that the boys will eventually learn the value of small talk and the simple kindness of not always saying what’s on your mind.

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Good Bye, Lenin!

Posted By on Wed, Mar 24, 2004 at 12:00 AM

Alex’s mother was in a coma for eight months, precipitated by a heart attack that took place in October 1989. By the time she awoke East Germany was no more. Alex, informed by his mother’s doctor that she was still in shaky health and that the slightest surprise could be fatal, set about to protect her from the changes that occurred during her coma. What ensues is a nostalgic drama with a farcical premise, but also a moving exploration of the bittersweet confusion of family ties.

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Yossi & Jagger

Posted By on Wed, Mar 24, 2004 at 12:00 AM

A camp of Israeli soldiers are stationed on a snowy hill not far from the Israeli-Lebanese border, and two of the soldiers are carrying on a homosexual love affair. Yet, it merely plods along with a detached and cold eye and enough foreshadowing to spoil any tension that its emaciated plot attempts to rouse. The troops prepare for a dangerous mission and it’s likely someone may not return. But it’s just another boring subplot that only exists to wrench a little unearned emotion out of the audience.

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