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Men, Women & Children

A potentially interesting premise is handled so badly that what might have been a provocative drama quickly and irrevocably devolves into the technological equivalent of…

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Time Is Illmatic

An excellent documentary that focuses more on why the Illmatic album came to be than how successful it became. Prepare to be schooled in many…

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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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#155 February 13, 2013

Marie writes: If I have a favorite festival, it's SXSW and which is actually a convergence of film, music and emerging technologies. However it's the festival's penchant for screening "quirky" Indie movies which really sets my heart pounding and in anticipation of seeing the next Wes Anderson or Charlie Kaufman. So from now until March, I'll be tracking down the best with the zeal of a Jack Russell terrier!  Especially since learning that Joss Whedon's modern B/W take on Shakespeare's "Much Ado About Nothing" is set to screen at SXSW 2013 in advance of its June 21st US release date; they'll cut an official trailer soon, rubbing hands together!

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Opening Shots: 'The Crying Game'

Enlarge image: Your eye just naturally alights on the figure to the right of the support...

Enlarge image: ...who moves slowly along the shore in the opposite direction of the camera. (Here, the person is dead center in the frame.)

From Edward Copeland:

When Jim asked me to submit something about my favorite opening shot from a movie, I was at first flummoxed -- it seemed all the best ones were obvious and would have been written on to death, so I dug through my memory to try to find a less-obvious choice. What I settled on was "The Crying Game." I was fortunate to see "The Crying Game" for the first time long before the hype about the "twist" kicked in, so I was genuinely surprised at the direction the film went in and I think, upon rewatching its opening, that the beginning was helpful to that end. Percy Sledge's great "When a Man Loves a Woman" plays on the soundtrack (the irony of that song will only sink in later) as the camera moves slowly under a bridge across a lake where on the other side sits an amusement park with Ferris wheels and various rides going round and round. If you had no idea going in where this film was headed, you certainly couldn't have figured it out by these images, though you'd be mesmerized nonetheless.

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Robert Altman invents his life as it goes along

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Does anyone ever really think about the director of an opera? I'm not talking about opera professionals or music critics, who know all about such things. I'm thinking of ordinary ticketholders. We think about the singers above all, and then, in descending order, about the composer, the sets, the costumes, the plot, and the conductor. There's the libretto, which we think of primarily as a framework for the music. There's lighting, which we notice, and the person in front of us, who we notice even more if our view is blocked. Directors? Don't operas direct themselves?

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