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The Zero Theorem

Terry Gilliam's first science fiction film since "12 Monkeys" is an inventively designed but oddly inert satire on technology, God and the future of humankind.

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Tusk

It's not surprising that Smith's characterizations and dialogue lack subtlety given the type of broad comedy that Smith has practically made his brand. But somehow,…

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Ballad of Narayama

"The Ballad of Narayama" is a Japanese film of great beauty and elegant artifice, telling a story of startling cruelty. What a space it opens…

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Monsieur Hire

Patrice Leconte's "Monsieur Hire" is a tragedy about loneliness and erotomania, told about two solitary people who have nothing else in common. It involves a…

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* This filmography is not intended to be a comprehensive list of this artist’s work. Instead it reflects the films this person has been involved with that have been reviewed on this site.

'Saturday Night Live' Lives - Still Loved, Much Needed

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It's with pleasure and excitement that I welcome Tom Shales, a good friend, as a blogger on this site. Tom, the nation's best-known television critic, won the Pulitzer Prize while writing for The Washington Post from 1972 to 2010. His blog will focus on TV and whatever else he feels moved to write about. -- RE

Apparently a new bylaw at "Saturday Night Live," which began its 38th season this weekend, is "The worse the host, the more sketches in which he'll appear." So it was with big let-down Seth MacFarlane, multimillionaire comedy tycoon who hosted the season premiere. Once he arrived on the show's tiny (and, yes, "iconic") stage, he was punishingly omnipresent for the whole 90 minutes.

We can be grateful he didn't grab a cow bell and crash the musical act.

With the exception of MacFarlane - a man who has gone farther with less than perhaps even Tyler Perry -- the series seemed to be in tip-top ship-shape shape, especially considering that it begins a new year minus two of its greatest cast assets: Andy Samberg, off to make more movies, and the incomparably versatile Kristen Wiig, the funniest woman in television since Tina Fey. Or maybe since Gilda Radner. Or maybe since Carol Burnett. Or maybe since, dare we say it, Lucille Ball?

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Los Angeles Film Festival 2012

Los Angeles is a behemoth or, better, an octopus, with tentacles stretching 468.67 square miles, a fact that shocked me when I moved here in 1990. That meant that it was bigger than the distance consumed by driving to and from Chicago from my hometown, Kewanee (150 miles southwest), and back again. I soon realized that one could easily live an entire lifetime in Los Angeles and never see it all. This also meant that so much was always going on, including really desirable events, many of which would most certainly be missed.

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#109 April 4, 2012

Marie writes: kudos to club member Sandy Kahn for finding this - as I'd never heard of the Bregenz Festival before, despite the spectacular staging of Puccini's opera Tosca and which appeared briefly in the Bond film Quantum of Solace; but then I slept through most of it. I'm not surprised I've no memory of an Opera floating on a lake. Lake Constance to be exact, which borders Germany, Switzerland and Austria near the Alps...

Tosca by Puccini | 2007-2008 - Photograph by BENNO HAGLEITNER(click to enlarge)

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The code is written on his face

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When Andy Samberg (as Mark Zuckerberg) asked Oscar nominee Jesse Eisenberg how he played Zuckerberg in "The Social Network" (shortly before the real Zuckerberg joined them onstage during the opening monologue on "Saturday Night Live"), he said: "I speak in short, clipped sentences and I keep my head very still."

David Bordwell has an ingenious look at The Social Network: The faces behind Facebook at Observations on film art that examines the film's direction and performances in terms of its emphasis on facial expressions and body language.

Anybody who's seen Eisenberg before (say, in "The Squid and the Whale" or "Adventureland") will recognize that his Zuckerberg is indeed a stylized performance. And anybody familiar the real Mark Zuckerberg will recognize that Eisenberg's work is not based on the actual Facebook founder, but on the character created in Aaron Sorkin's script. (In fact, Eisenberg and Zuckerberg had never met until Saturday. Watch how eager for approval Zuckerberg is, smiling and repeatedly turning to the audience in expectation of laughs during his backstage bit with Lorne Michaels. That is not something the movie character would ever do.)

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The Tina Fey-Palin scenario

We've gotta cash in on this quick, so here's my pitch:

Tina Fey plays Sarah Palin as Tina Fey as Sarah Palin in a semi-remake of "Dave."

Animal Control nabs Palin off the street, mistaking her for a stray pit bull whose previous owner tested makeup on animals. Palin is asked to host "SNL" the week before the election, but nobody notices she's missing because the McCain campaign is so successful at keeping her away from the press that they forget where they put her. Security is airtight. Because Fey does a better Palin than Palin does, she is forced to do the show as Palin as Fey as Palin.

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