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Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Of kings and paupers

DFT opens the season with two top offerings

Posted By on Wed, Aug 31, 2005 at 12:00 AM

Craftily plotted and filmed in a jittery style, writer-director Arnaud Desplechin’s latest work strives to overwhelm you with its audacity — and pretty much succeeds. The film is a comic melodrama, a clever soap opera crammed with character detail and plot twists; a thick slice of life spread over an event-filled two and a half hours. The story of a twice-divorced woman, the film expertly interweaves deeply personal tales, and nothing is as it seems.

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Pickpocket

Posted By on Wed, Aug 31, 2005 at 12:00 AM

Pickpocket is Robert Bresson’s 1959 drama about Michel, a young writer who’s living in poverty who picks pockets for a living, feeling he’s above the law because of his intellect. The parallels to Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment are plainly evident, as Michel dangerously flirts with the law. Even those resistant to Bresson’s unconventional approach will appreciate the pickpocketing montages, executed with a dazzling combination of ingenuity and grace.

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The Constant Gardener

Posted By on Wed, Aug 31, 2005 at 12:00 AM

A true rarity: a film that strives to combine political suspense with emotional resonance and social relevance and delivers on all three counts. City Of God director Fernando Meirelles delivers a provocative and thoughtful adaptation of John Le Carré’s novel. Using nonlinear storytelling and a guerilla-style filmmaking he creates an urgent thriller that is as gripping as it is emotionally affecting. Ralph Fiennes plays a timid British diplomat who, while investigating the murder of his wife, uncovers the crimes of a global pharmaceutical company and an insidious conspiracy. Provocative and thoughtful, it confronts the economic and humanitarian crimes of capitalism more seriously than most American films.

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Brothers Grimm

Posted By on Wed, Aug 31, 2005 at 12:00 AM

Director Terry Gilliam’s first film in seven years is the most obviously commercial film of his career. Reimagining the famous storytellers as con men who travel the Napoleonic countryside posing as supernatural exterminators, the script suffers from a complete lack of subtext. Still, the filmmaker’s enormous talents are on full display. Boasting dazzling otherworldly images, quirky characters and a loopy tone that evokes the nightmares of childhood, the film proves Gilliam is one of the most interesting and unappreciated filmmakers alive today.

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Pretty Persuasion

Posted By on Wed, Aug 31, 2005 at 12:00 AM

In this lame Heathers rip-off, Evan Rachel Wood plays Kimberly Joyce, a cunning smart teen who coaxes her friends into bringing harassment claims against their hated teacher. The ensuing trial incites a media frenzy at their hoity-toity Beverly Hills private school. The witless script is riddled with stabs at humor that are off-color for the sake of being off-color. One would hope that all the cruelty would at least culminate in some smart social commentary, or at least some wickedly black comedy, but no such luck.

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The Cave

Posted By on Wed, Aug 31, 2005 at 12:00 AM

This warmed-over Alien rehash features a lot of buff explorers, some cool, slimy beasts and exactly one decent action scene. The Cave is exactly the sort of late-August stink bomb the studios hope to pass off on audiences who’ve already seen all the bigger, better summer thrill rides.

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Undiscovered

Posted By on Wed, Aug 31, 2005 at 12:00 AM

Ashlee Simpson stars in Undiscovered, which follows young star-crossed lovers (Steven Strait and Pell James) seeking fame and fortune in Los Angeles. It’s all shot with slick, hip, overcast feel of a mopey urban rock video or an episode of Angel, but the movie has about as much emotional depth and romantic sensibility as a Simpson sister MTV reality show.

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Chaos

Posted By on Wed, Aug 31, 2005 at 12:00 AM

This no-budget shocker tries to pass off its ineptitude as some sort of raw style, but even the most tolerant horror fans will find Chaos dull, lazy and sick — but not in a good way.

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Wednesday, August 24, 2005

A grisly tale well told

Posted By on Wed, Aug 24, 2005 at 12:00 AM

Hyperactive bear advocate Timothy Treadwell is the tragic hero of Grizzly Man, a movie made mostly of his video diaries from five of his 13 summers spent living among grizzlies in Alaska’s Katmai National Park and Reserve — living, that is, until the bears ate him alive. Director-narrator Werner Herzog neither condemns Treadwell as a madman nor glorifies him as a martyr; Treadwell’s conflicts and contradictions are what drive the film.

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Junebug

Posted By on Wed, Aug 24, 2005 at 12:00 AM

Another indie movie that takes a trip to dysfunction junction, depicting a family on the brink of collapse, set in the South — but don’t call the cliché police just yet. A city dweller brings his new chic wife back home to rural North Carolina to meet his family. The filmmakers are careful not to leave their characters as mere caricatures, instead basking in the complexities of the South, soaking in the feel of a quiet, knick-knack-filled home and the sultry Southern air. It’s old, familiar territory, but every breath is fresh.

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