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Lucy

Scarlett Johansson is an intriguing blank in Luc Besson's "Lucy," which is stranded somewhere between a stranger-in-a-strange-land action thriller and apocalyptic science fiction.

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Hercules

Dwayne Johnson tries, but he’s surrounded by poor CGI and a terrible adaptation of yet another comic book. Ian McShane steals what little movie there…

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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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Catherine Hicks cuts to the merry chase with 'Child's Play'

Actors are always sort of ambivalent about special-effects movies. They know the movie's likely to do well at the box office, but they feel strange about co-starring with the special effects. Alec Guinness observed, for example, that he spent most of the "Star Wars" saga standing in front of a blank blue wall, so that the special-effects guys could put in the visual effects months later. James Caan had a word for the visitors from outer space who were his co-stars in "Alien Nation." He called them "potato heads."

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Cinematic balancing act brings Solondz `Happiness'

TORONTO It is a disturbing movie. People don't know how to think about it. They laugh, and then they squirm. Afterward, they get into heated discussions, some calling it trash, others insisting it's a masterpiece. "Happiness" is like a challenge hurled at audiences who think movies should come with built-in viewing instructions - with cues to the appropriate response.

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Quirky `Little Voice' gets the call to be this year's opener

The Chicago International Film Festival has not always been distinguished by its choice of opening-night films. Some never subsequently opened commercially, and at least one sent Junior Leaguers fleeing from the theater. But Mark Herman's "Little Voice," which opens this year's festival tonight, is a splendid choice - a film that may pick up an Oscar nomination or two.

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'Mixing Nia,' 'Little Voice' bring humanity to Toronto

TORONTO -- Reeling after a week of too many films built on too much mindless brutality, I found "Little Voice" and "Mixing Nia" to be soothing reassurances that there were still filmmakers with heart and humor. The general view at this year's Toronto Film Festival is that a lot of ambitious new flickers are engaged in a game of one-upmanship in violence and may have outstripped even the audience appetite for mayhem.

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The New Geek Cinema

TORONTO -- Toronto 1998 was an edgy festival for people like me who are convinced that anything can theoretically be a legitimate subject for a film. Movies about the Holocaust, child abuse, rape and reckless murder have had audiences cringing and critics embroiled in nose-to-nose debates in the lobbies. The director John Waters has coined a term for them: Feel-Bad Comedies. So have I: the New Geek Cinema.

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'Thursday' director thinks it's hip to offend

TORONTO, Ont.--It is uphip to admit to being offended by anything in the new movies, and indeed it's pretty hard to offend me, but a film named "Thursday" crossed the line this week at the Toronto Film Festival. Watching it, I felt outrage. I saw a movie so reprehensible I couldn't rationalize it using the standard critical language about style, genre, or irony. The people associated with it should be ashamed of themselves.

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