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Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Breaking and Entering

Posted By on Wed, Feb 21, 2007 at 12:00 AM

Building on his work in "Closer," Law plays Will, another well-heeled Londoner with everything going for him, save an ability to appreciate his many gifts. He’s an architect with a lovely flat, and he has a stunning live-in girlfriend (Robin Wright Penn) and a talented stepdaughter who adore him, but just can’t seem to communicate or break through their lingering melancholy. Along with twitchy partner Sandy (Martin Freeman), Will is working on the gentrification of London’s shabby King’s Cross section, a multi-ethnic melting pot ready to boil over with crime, poverty and an influx of illegal immigrants. Some of these newcomers have taken to stealing the firm’s computers, then waiting to break in when the replacements arrive. Instead of just hiring security, Will conducts his own overnight stakeouts, and follows acrobatic young burglar Miro (Ravi Gavron) back to the grim council tenement where he lives with his gorgeous Bosnian mother Amira (Julliette Binoche). She is, of course, exotic, mysterious and sensual in a way that he’s not used to, and shortly they are embroiled in a complicated affair. In his first unadapted script in years, writer-director Anthony Minghella tries to be bold and challenging but comes off a bit arch and distant, with characters more fragile then an antique tea service. The actors are uniformly good, but they are locked into a rarified atmosphere that leaves scenes lifeless and stolid.

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Revolucion: Five Visions

Posted By on Wed, Feb 21, 2007 at 12:00 AM

Documentary filmmaker and Michigan native Nicole Cattell’s timely rendering of five Cuban photographers is a poignant examination of what Cuba was and is 48 years after the revolution. From true-believers to and exiled surrealist, Cattell’s interweaving personal narratives paint a complex portrait of political and artistic expression. Not surprisingly, the film’s most interesting subjects are also the most conflicted in their feelings about Cuba.

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Wednesday, February 14, 2007

The Pervert's Guide to Cinema

Posted By on Wed, Feb 14, 2007 at 12:00 AM

A pop culture renegade, Slovenian philosopher and psychoanalyst Slavoj Zizek is like a male version of Camille Paglia with a thick Slavic accent. And, despite its salacious title, The Pervert's Guide to Cinema, Zizek's 2 1/2-hour exploration of the psychology behind popular cinema, hopes to titillate your mind rather than your nether regions. Bringing his trademark pop philosophy to motion pictures, Zizek argues that film is the "ultimate pervert's art" because it "doesn't give you what you desire, it tells you how to desire."

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CINEMA REVIEW

Posted By on Wed, Feb 14, 2007 at 12:00 AM

More than 40 years ago, Jean-Luc Godard solved a dilemma that had been vexing filmmakers since the birth of the medium. How do you get moviegoers to pay good money to see a bunch of random, unrelated characters deliver a socio-political treatise on the ideals of communism, the economics of cities and the unreliability of language? His answer was as simple as it was obvious: Parade a series of the world's most beautiful women — at times topless and having sex for money — across the screen, as early and as often as possible. That's the most reductive description possible of Two or Three Things I Know About Her, but it's tempting to think that even Godard wouldn't object to it.

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Animation Show 3

Posted By on Wed, Feb 14, 2007 at 12:00 AM

It sometimes feels like each coming sunrise heralds the arrival of a new festival of inventive, funny and edgy cartoons, especially with the third installment of The Animation Show, hot on the heels of this year's Spike and Mike Festival of Sick and Twisted Animation. Though the two events are similar, there are significant differences. Compiled by highly touted animators Mike Judge and Don Hertzfeldt, The Animation Show is, on the whole, a bit more cerebral and much less dependent on senseless violence and free-flying bunny viscera. Which is not to say it's violence free; no, there's more than enough freaky imagery and dark themes to satisfy everybody's inner Goth kid, while also providing a bit of stimulation for other parts of the brain.

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Rules of the Game

Posted By on Wed, Feb 14, 2007 at 12:00 AM

It is difficult to write anything about Jean Renoir's 1939 masterwork without feeling like you are dribbling tiny drops of ink into a vast ocean of praise. Routinely ensconced near the top of any list of great French films, and firmly enshrined in the pantheon of world cinema, it is a tremendously entertaining movie, one so stuffed with characters, motion, ideas and pure joie de vivre, that it can be exhausting. If it's multitude of charms don't instantly warm you, take comfort that critics and the press of the time simply hated it. In fact, it was such a flop, that when the original negative was destroyed by bombing, no one noticed and the movie was nearly lost forever.

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Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Imagination station

Winning experimental film fest breathes the rarified air of inspiration and indulgence

Posted By on Wed, Feb 7, 2007 at 12:00 AM

The good folks at Artcite Inc., Detroit Film Center and House of Toast Film and Video Collective have put together four brief days, during which audiences can experience film and video unvarnished by the clumsy hands of capitalism. Starting Wednesday, Feb. 7 and running through Saturday, Feb. 10, galleries and theaters in Windsor present a bevy of video installations, film retrospectives, panel discussions and competitive screenings from emerging artists around the world.

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Sweet Land

Posted By on Wed, Feb 7, 2007 at 12:00 AM

Director Ali Selim’s Sweet Land is not just another sunshiny ode to the rustic splendor of the plains, but a canny exploration of loneliness, community and the immigrant experience at the root of America’s family tree. The film works well thanks to the outstanding cast, led by Elisabeth Reaser’s luminous performance. She’s a true revelation as Inge, a beautiful and spirited German mail-order bride in 1920, who steps off the train with her phonograph player tucked under her arm, and into a buttoned-down Minnesota farming town that isn’t sure what to make of her.

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Because I Said So

Posted By on Wed, Feb 7, 2007 at 12:00 AM

In this unfunny romantic romp, Keaton, with the fashion sense of Minnie Mouse, is relegated to one of the darkest corners of moviedom — lame romantic comedies in which she can play either an overbearing mother or a sex-starved middle-aged woman. Here, she’s a hollow version of both. As Daphne, Keaton’s a controlling single mom who has pushed her three grown daughters to find love, but neglected her own personal life. She’s directing all of her energy into finding the right mate for the youngest and only unwed daughter, Milly (Mandy Moore). Milly, however, also lands a date with musician and single dad, Johnny (Gabriel Macht), whom we clearly see is Mr. Right. Much of the movie revolves around Milly making up her mind between the two men, and Daphne getting over herself. Is it more disappointing that the star of Annie Hall is now reduced to a caricature, or that director Michael Lehmann, who brought us the wicked fun of "Heathers," hasn’t been able to repeat in nearly 20 years?

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The Messengers

Posted By on Wed, Feb 7, 2007 at 12:00 AM

Directed by the Pang brothers (Hong Kong twins who gained notice for The Eye) this last gasp at Asian-inspired horror has plenty of gotcha moments and twitchy pale-skinned ghosts crawling across the ceiling, but never rises above the derivative. A family of Chicagoans moves to North Dakota to start a sunflower farm. The sinister old house hides a violent past. Haunted by disturbed and disturbing spirits, the troubled teen daughter slowly uncovers the farm’s dark secrets while her parents fret about her inability to adjust. Whatever promise the Pangs brought to the project is undone by the tired mechanics of Mark Wheaton’s script. Lifeless dialogue and incoherent plotting frequently undermine the brothers’ carefully constructed mood. If you stumbled across The Messengers one night on Encore you might stick around long enough to see where things were going. Or not.

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