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Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Sunrise

Posted By on Wed, Feb 23, 2005 at 12:00 AM

Released in 1927 at the tail-end of the silent era, Sunrise was the first American film made by famed German director F. W. Murnau. Considered by some to be a perfect film, or at least a perfect silent film, its odd structure makes the film dramatically uneven. A country farmer, besotted by a vamp from the city, struggles with his conflicted emotions. Throughout the film, one gets the sense of guiding intelligence shaping the visual details of each scene. Aside from being a technical marvel, Sunrise is also a beautiful film, dream-like and extraordinary.

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Notre Musique

Posted By on Wed, Feb 23, 2005 at 12:00 AM

The eternally avant-garde French film maker Jean-Luc Godard’s latest cryptogram is structured like Dante’s Divine Comedy, layered in the three sections of Hell, Purgatory and Heaven. Obviously this is territory for buffs and not just film buffs. Godard peppers the soundtrack with re-contextualized quotes, offering snippets of Tchaikovsky and Sibelius and aphoristic insights from Dostoevsky. The result is pellets of high (and low) culture raining down on the viewer in a seemingly free-associative manner.

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Heaven doesn’t want you …

… and hell is full

Posted By on Wed, Feb 23, 2005 at 12:00 AM

Based on the critically acclaimed Hellblazer comic book, this film is a triumph of style over substance. Keanu Reeves stars as a chain-smoking, misanthropic devil-slayer who must thwart the arrival of the Antichrist. Reeves, however, is the wrong choice for this unique antihero. Visually stunning andoverflowing with arresting imagery, the film has no shortage of ideas … just a lack of restraint and subtlety.

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Moolaade

Posted By on Wed, Feb 23, 2005 at 12:00 AM

The twelfth feature by Senegalese writer/director Ousmane Sembene, Moolaade is a fictional tale of four pre-adolescent girls who are supposed to undergo a genital mutilation ritual, but flee and take refuge with a woman who challenges tradition. The woman offers the girls moolaade, a form of protection which tradition must honor. But her rebellious actions throw the village into upheaval. Sembene has taken a subject which most people would rather not think about, and created a compelling drama with shattering emotional moments and, against great odds, an uplifting ending.

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Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Kick ass

Thai kickboxing flick introduces the next Jackie Chan

Posted By on Wed, Feb 16, 2005 at 12:00 AM

To say Ong Bak kicks ass is an understatement of gross proportion; the debut of Thai martial arts phenom Panom Yeerum (also known as Tony Jaa) ranks among the best fight films ever made. Yeerum does his own stunts without the help of wirework or computer manipulation, bringing a beauty to the martial art of Muay Thai kickboxing. As far as story, it’s just a clean excuse to set up some really cool fight scenes, which make the film thoroughly enjoyable from start to finish.

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Realms of the Unreal

Posted By on Wed, Feb 16, 2005 at 12:00 AM

Academy award-winning filmmaker Jessica Yu presents a smart, engaging documentary on the famous outside artist, Henry Joseph Darger. A Chicago janitor who shook up the art world, Darger was a recluse whom no one really knew. Yu fills in the blanks with readings from Darger’s journals and animations of his illustrations, but eschews commentary from scholars. This film will be remembered as one of the first published works on Darger, in any media, to fully present his case.

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Inside Deep Throat

Posted By on Wed, Feb 16, 2005 at 12:00 AM

1972’s Deep Throat was a Z-grade porno flick made for a little over $25,000 that became a cultural phenomenon and grossed over $600 million. This fast paced and hugely entertaining documentary doesn’t entirely explain why, but offers a heady look back at the sexual revolution, and the rather tragic downfall of the film’s two stars. A little sordid and a little absurd, the film offers no great moral lessons but ably documents a moment of upheaval in the culture wars.

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The Merchant of Venice

Posted By on Wed, Feb 16, 2005 at 12:00 AM

Though Shakespeare’s play The Merchant of Venice was originally intended as a romantic comedy, that notion is hard to accept, given the troubling figure of Shylock. This film adaptation puts the focus on Shylock, but the end result is a rather tedious anticlimax, but it’s a solid attempt at tackling a problematic play, and performances of the actors (Jeremy Irons, Al Pacino) make it worth seeing.

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Hitch

Posted By on Wed, Feb 16, 2005 at 12:00 AM

Will Smith’s action flicks aren’t the must-see films they used to be, and his tough-guy persona has worn thin. Fortunately, Smith takes a departure with this romantic comedy, and dusts off his charmingly boyish old persona of the Fresh Prince. Although the film is expectedly predictable, the niche works well for Smith, who’s best advised to stick with this new trajectory, lest he produce another I, Robot.

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Bride and Prejudice

Posted By on Wed, Feb 16, 2005 at 12:00 AM

Bend It Like Beckham director Gurinder Chadha is back with her latest feel-good multicultural trifle, a mix of Bollywood musical, British domestic comedy and Jane Austen update. While great fun for its first third or so, Bride and Prejudice goes from gleefully cheesy to just plain uninspired in its last hour.

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