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Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Filming the unfilmable

Transferring Murakami to the big screen

Posted By on Wed, Nov 30, 2005 at 12:00 AM

Adapted from a short story by Japanese writer Haruki Murakami, the film brilliantly captures the emotional displacement and dreamy tone of the author’s best work. Generally considered unfilmable, his fiction is more concerned with the experience of reading than the literal implications of plotlines. The linguistic calisthenics and emotional flights of poetry of his stories are as far removed from the conventions of popular cinema as you can get. Still, Ichikawa has turned one of Murakami’s more linear tales into an intensely focused character study.

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Saraband

Posted By on Wed, Nov 30, 2005 at 12:00 AM

Reunions aren’t all they’re cracked up to be, especially if the reunion in question involves two characters from a 30-year-old Ingmar Bergman movie. Endless talk of death, cancer, regret, betrayal, disability and emotional impotence: It’s all just another night at the movies for the famed Swedish master of mortality. Although he’s been churning out the occasional script, the 87-year-old vowed long ago never to direct another film. He came out of his self-imposed isolation to craft this swan song, a compact, biting follow-up to 1975’s brilliant relationship drama, Scenes from a Marriage. If you’re a fan of that film, Saraband will provide some closure to the off-again, on-again affair between Marianne (Liv Ullmann) and her poisonous ex-husband Johan (Erland Josephson). But be warned: No one ever really gets closure in a Bergman film.

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Just Friends

Posted By on Wed, Nov 30, 2005 at 12:00 AM

Over the course of a decade, portly, maladroit teen Chris (Ryan Reynolds) transforms himself into a callous, hunky record exec. Stranded in his New Jersey hometown for the holidays with Samantha, his multiplatinum brat of an ex-girlfriend, Chris tries to win the affections of "best friend" Jamie (Amy Smart), who rebuffed his advances in their senior year. He may be built like a god and driving a Porsche, but Chris learns he must lose his new asshole persona and gets in touch with his once-sensitive teen self. Along the way, he has to fight off competition from Dusty (Chris Klein), another geek-turned-hunk, as he tries to keep Samantha under wraps and out of the clutches of his horndog little brother (Chris Marquette). The one interesting idea in Just Friends — that you can transform your body and still have an unattractive personality — is buried under an avalanche of pointless car chases and groin-injury jokes. This is one of those comedies that feels like it’s been re-shot, re-edited and audience-tested within an inch of its life, to the point where only the broadest, most crowd-pleasing moments remain.

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Rent

Posted By on Wed, Nov 30, 2005 at 12:00 AM

True to the play but utterly unimaginative, Rent may pacify the scores of high-school drama troupes who saved up their allowance to see the traveling production of the live show, but it’s unlikely to win over any new converts.

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Pulse

Posted By on Wed, Nov 30, 2005 at 12:00 AM

Kurosawa’s tale of specters invading our world through the Internet comments on the alienating effects of technology. With haunting imagery, the director captures the loneliness and despair that plague disaffected youth and posits a depressingly apocalyptic outcome.

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Wednesday, November 23, 2005

The man in … grey?

Cash biopic reverential, but not gritty enough

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

First things first: Any movie about Johnny Cash that’s worth a damn should be rated R. Certainly there’s enough death, fire ...

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The Passenger

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

The execs at Sony Pictures would never admit it, but we most likely have Sofia Coppola to thank for this pristine re-release ...

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Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

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

With the most recent Harry Potter novel, The Half Blood Prince, J.K. Rowling once and for all dispelled the notion that ...

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Sarah Silverman: Jesus is Magic

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

If Lenny Bruce had married a Breck Girl, their daughter might look a bit like Sarah Silverman. Adorably perky, with a gleaming ...

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The Dying Gaul

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

Talk about a mindfuck: Instead of sleeping their way to the top, the characters in the new showbiz drama, The Dying Gaul ...

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