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The Maze Runner

What’s intriguing about “The Maze Runner”–for a long time, at least–is the way it tells us a story we think we’ve heard countless times before…

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20,000 Days on Earth

In his music, he routinely celebrates/deconstructs his public persona: brutalizer, coward, agnostic, and wannabe deity. "20,000 Days on Earth" is accordingly not a biography, but…

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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.

The best feature films of 2010

David Fincher's "The Social Network"is emerging as the consensus choice as best film of 2010. Most of the critics' groups have sanctified it, and after its initial impact it has only grown it stature. I think it is an early observer of a trend in our society, where we have learned new ways of thinking of ourselves: As members of a demographic group, as part of a database, as figures in...a social network.

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"The Hereafter," "Casino Jack" and vengeance

• Toronto Report #2

Clint Eastwood's Hereafter considers the possibility of an afterlife with tenderness, beauty and a gentle tact. I was surprised how enthralling I found it. I don't believe in woo-woo, but there's no woo-woo anywhere to be seen. It doesn't even properly suppose an afterlife, but only the possibility of consciousness after apparent death. This is plausible. Many near-death survivors report the same memories, of the white light, the waiting figures and a feeling of peace.

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Favorite movies of 2009 movie: The commentary track

The first time I made a year-end list for Scanners, I did it by suggesting double-bills of 2006 films with older films (much like what contributors to The Auteurs did this year). In 2007, I made my first year-end movie, inspired by "L'Eclisse," as a tribute to the late Michelangelo Antonioni and a commentary on the WGA strike that was happening at the time. Last year, the concept was based on a shot of Hannah Schygulla, Goddess of Cinema, waking up, looking into the camera (in Fatih Akin's "The Edge of Heaven") and dreaming fragments of the films on my list.

This year, I'm not quite sure how it came together (see opening title), but I took my cue from my favorite movie of the year, the Coens' "A Serious Man." I knew I didn't want to adhere to any rigid countdown hierarchy this time, but to let the movies converse with themselves through images. I chose the word "conversation" knowing there would be no dialog except at the very beginning and the very end, with the Jefferson Airplane song "Somebody to Love" (recurring element in "A Serious Man") in between. That gave me approximately 2 minutes and 58 seconds for the montage....

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A Serious Man: Kafka in Minneapolis

May Contain Spoilers
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"We're Jews. We have that well of tradition to draw on, to help us understand. When we're puzzled we have all the stories that have been handed down from people who had the same problems." -- Mimi

"Mere surmise, sir." -- Clive

Larry Gopnik didn't do anything. In the whole movie he doesn't do anything. Not much of anything, anyway. He just wants to understand what is happening to him. So, every time he protests that he didn't do anything, he's really asking a related question: "What did I do to deserve this?" Joel and Ethan Coen's "A Serious Man" is an x-ray of Larry's life, but even the title doesn't respect him. It's a reference to another man, Sy Ableman (Fred Melamed), who is passive-aggressively taking over Larry's wife life. To add insult to injury, it seems to be a fait accompli -- just came at Larry out of the blue. And Larry, remember, hasn't done anything.

Larry (Michael Stuhlbarg) lives in a Minneapolis suburb, circa 1967-70 (between "Surrealistic Pillow" and "Santana Abraxas"). It is a flat world without curbs, without fences, without boundaries. The streets and the lawns and the houses all kind of run together, and it's hard to tell which is which. His neighbor's mowing crosses the invisible property line, infringing on Larry's grass. The TV antenna on the roof picks up all kinds of things out of the air, but "F-Troop" is not coming in clearly on channel 4. And Larry himself is becoming indistinct, as if he were breaking up and fuzzing out like the television picture.

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