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Life of Crime

While it doesn’t hit the highs of the very best movies based on Elmore Leonard’s works, it’s also far less slick and ingratiating than the…

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The Last of Robin Hood

A title as good as "The Last of Robin Hood" deserves a better movie. In fact, it deserves a good movie.

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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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Toronto #10: Cinderella story with a twist

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TORONTO, Ont.--It's the Cinderella story of this year's Toronto Film Festival. Girl is born in Chicago, grows up, graduates from college, moves to Minneapolis to join her boyfriend Jonny, who she met on the net. Works in advertising, finds it boring. Starts working as a stripper, doesn't find it boring. Changes her name to Diablo Cody. Starts a blog. Works as a phone sex voice. Writes book, Candy Girl: A Year in the Life of an Unlikely Stripper. Quits the sex biz, marries Jonny, moves to suburbs. His daughter is their flower girl at wedding.

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Toronto #9: Everybody must get cloned

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TORONTO, Ont. -- “The Walker” is another of Paul Schrader’s “man in a room” films, and his best film since “Affliction” (1997). It’s a fascinating character study with as fine a performance as Woody Harrelson has given, and certainly the most unexpected. Schrader defined the films as centering on the image of a man in a room preparing to go out and do something, and then doing it, while remaining focused by his preparation. That would define Schrader’s “American Gigolo” (1980), with Richard Gere in training for his profession as a professional lover of women. And “Light Sleeper” (1992), with Willem Dafoe as a drug dealer who is also a recovering addict.

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Toronto #8: 'Sleuth' finds itself a Pinter film

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TORONTO, Ont. -- Everyone, including me, was under the impression that Kenneth Branagh’s new film “Sleuth” was a remake of the 1972 film. Same situation: Rich thriller writer is visited in his country house by man who is having affair with his wife. Same outcome: They argue, man is killed. Same visit: Police detective. Same so forth and so on.

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Toronto #7: One T-shirt after another

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TORONTO, Ont.-Attached to this article should be a photograph. Study it carefully. The next time you are at the Cannes, Toronto, Telluride, Pusan, Berlin, Venice or Sundance film festivals, you will see this man. His name is Pierre Rissient. You may also see him in Paris, Los Angeles, Hong Kong, Shanghai, and in the weather reports.

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Toronto #6: A miracle or two

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TORONTO, Ont. -- Sometimes in a smaller theater, away from the searchlights and the 24-hour fans making privacy impossible for poor Brad and Angelina, you find an independent film that is miraculous. Such a film is “Chop Shop,” by Ramin Bahrani, the Iran-born American director whose “Man Push Cart” made such a stir three years ago. That film was about an immigrant from Pakistan trying to make a living in New York with a rented coffee-and-bagel cart. It was shot on a shoestring in less than three weeks, and won the critics’ prize at London and three Independent Spirit Awards, including best first feature. It embodied, I said in my review, the very soul of Italian neorealism.

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Toronto #5: Great performances, strong stories

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TORONTO, Ont. -- I don’t know when I’ve heard a standing ovation so long, loud and warm as the one after Jason Reitman’s “Juno,” which I predict will become quickly beloved when it opens at Christmas time, and win a best actress nomination for its 20- year old star, Ellen Page.

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