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Transcendence

"Transcendence" is a serious science fiction movie filled with big ideas and powerful images, but it never quite coheres, and the end is a copout.

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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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Autumn is rich in 'art films'

TORONTO -- Sometimes it's good to sit down in a quiet corner and take a deep breath and stop running as fast as you can. This year at the Toronto Film Festival, I've averaged three to four films a day and talked about movies in interviews, at lunch, in hotel lobbies, in elevators, corridors, standing next to hot dog stands, waiting in line for coffee, lingering on theater sidewalks and walking down the street. The phone is ringing right now.

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A continent speaks for itself

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TORONTO -- Anant Singh opened his first video store in Durban, South Africa, when it was still illegal for a nonwhite to own a store in a whites-only area. Mark Bamford and Suzanne Kay moved from Los Angeles to South Africa four years ago to make movies. For many years, their interracial marriage would have been against the law there. Darrell James Roodt started making anti-apartheid films in the early 1980s, when he had to work in secret. His producer was Anant Singh, who used profits from his video stores to back films he could not legally make. Leleti Khumalo, who is 33, spent the first 23 years of her life living under apartheid. Her father died when she was 3. Her mother worked as a domestic, raising her four children in a home with a bed as its single piece of furniture.

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Midnight movies offer challenges

TORONTO -- I went to be interviewed for Stuart Samuels' new documentary, "Midnight Movies," and it started me thinking. His film will be about the transgressive movies that started appearing in the 1970s -- titles like "Eraserhead," "El Topo" and "The Rocky Horror Picture Show." He wanted to know who went to see them, and why, and what it all meant, and his questions started me thinking.

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Cheadle and Foxx feel the power at Toronto fest

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TORONTO -- Moviegoers at this festival who have seen "Hotel Rwanda" talk about it in a hushed tone, and their eyes turn away as if remembering the images. (One person I know walked out of the theater and skipped her next movie and went back to her hotel room and cried.) Here is a film about a brave and good man, but it is also a howl of rage against the crimes of men against men.

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Up-and-comer tells tales of disaffected youth with grace

TORONTO, Ont. -- This kid David Gordon Green is 29 years old, and he is a great filmmaker. He walked onto the stage at the Toronto Film Festival wearing jeans, a T-shirt and flip-flops, and said he'd gotten worked up over the premiere of his new film and stubbed his little toe on his coffee table and broken it. "It's twice the size it was an hour ago," he said morosely, peering down at the injured digit. And then he showed us "Undertow," and this film is a masterpiece.

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Toronto fires starter's gun for Oscar race

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TORONTO -- Oscar season starts this weekend. The Toronto International Film Festival has become the showcase for ambitious autumn releases by studios hoping for Academy Awards, or at least for good reviews of movies that adults can enjoy without resorting to their child within.

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Dynamic duo blasts off for 'Tomorrow'

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So this guy named Kerry Conran goes into his garage and sits down at his Macintosh and creates six minutes of images to show what he's thinking about, and the next thing you know he's directing a movie starring Gwyneth Paltrow, Jude Law and Angelina Jolie. He must have been a good salesman.

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Telluride & the triumph of 'Overlord'

TELLURIDE, Colo. -- The most remarkable discovery at this year's Telluride Film Festival is "Overlord," an elegiac 1975 film that follows the journey of one young British soldier to the beaches of Normandy. The film, directed by Stuart Cooper, won the Silver Bear at Berlin -- but sank quickly from view after a limited release and was all but forgotten until this Telluride revival.

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Telluride: Three very different looks at sex

TELLURIDE, Colo. -- Three of the best films at this year's Telluride festival deal with unusual frankness with sex. Sally Potter's "Yes" (2005) stars Joan Allen as a scientist trapped in a loveless marriage, who begins a passionately physical affair with a Lebanese cook. Bill Condon's "Kinsey" stars Liam Neeson as Dr. Alfred C. Kinsey, whose research revolutionized conventional ideas about human sexual behavior. And Todd Solondz's "Palindromes" is a story of messy, sad teenage sexual experiences.

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A breath of thin air

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TELLURIDE, Colo. -- After years of controversy, one of the most persistent questions in the world of film has finally been settled: Yes, Annette Bening's face was used as the model for the torch-bearing woman on the logo that opens every Columbia Picture.

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