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John Wick

The film breathes exhilarating life into its tired premise, thanks to some dazzling action choreography, stylish visuals and–most importantly–a vintage anti-hero performance from Keanu Reeves.

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Low Down

Preiss' movie does a consistently excellent job of explaining the lure of jazz, and the psychology of addicts, their enablers and their children, without explaining…

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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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The good, the bad and 'De-Lovely'

CANNES, France -- The winners of this year's Cannes Film Festival will be announced at a ceremony Saturday night. As I write, the leading contenders for the Palme d'Or are said to be "The Motorcycle Diaries" from Brazil and "Comme Une Image" ("Look at Me") from France, although there are supporters for "2046" (2005) by China's Wong Kar-Wai, a film I found maddening in its mannered repetition of a few worn stylistic and dramatic strategies. And it is said that Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 9/11" will win one of the top prizes; it was cheered longer than any other film in festival history.

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Several of strongest offerings play outside film festival mainstream

CANNES, France -- The 57th Cannes Film Festival heads into its closing weekend with no clear favorite for the Palme d'Or, and with critics generally agreeing there have been good films but no sensation that has pulled ahead of the pack. The most rapturous reception was for Michael Moore's Bush-whacking documentary "Fahrenheit 9/11," but the applause was as much for its politics as its filmmaking.

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Less is Moore in subdued, effective '9/11'

CANNES, France -- Michael Moore the muckraking wiseass has been replaced by a more subdued version in "Fahrenheit 9/11," his new documentary questioning the anti-terrorism credentials of the Bush regime. In the Moore version, President Bush, his father and members of their circle have received $1.5 billion from Saudi Arabia over the years, attacked Iraq to draw attention from their Saudi friends, and have lost the hearts and minds of many of the U.S. servicemen in the war.

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A sense of urgency -- and edginess

CANNES, France -- There are two species of journalists at Cannes, described by the festival as critics or chroniclers. The critics review the films. The chroniclers write the gossip, review the fashions, attend the press conferences and pray for scandal. One year, Jean-Claude Van Damme and Dolph Lundgren (remember them?) got in a pushing match on the steps of the Palais, and the chroniclers dined out for a week. The critics, however, savor moments of quieter savagery, as when Dogma founder Lars von Trier didn't win the top prize from a jury headed by Roman Polanski, and accepted his lesser award ''with no thanks to the midget.''

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The business of controversy

CANNES, France -- Quentin Tarantino, Charlize Theron, Tom Hanks, Michael Moore, Brad Pitt, Sean Penn and Shrek are converging on this balmy Riviera resort town today, and there may be trainloads of striking French show-biz workers to picket them. The 57th Cannes Film Festival is open for business.

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Peter Bogdanovich on storytelling

It was the kind of story that made you willing to linger over the after-dinner coffee. "What do you know about the death of Thomas Ince?" Peter Bogdanovich asked me. I knew a little. Like everyone with a fascination for Hollywood gossip, I'd read Kenneth Anger's legendary book Hollywood Babylon, in which he speculates that Ince, "The Wizard of Westerns," died after drinking bootleg booze on William Randolph Hearst's yacht.

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Precious cargo

HOLLYWOOD -- There's joy in Middle-earth tonight. "Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King" led the 76th annual Academy Awards with a record-tying 11 Oscars, including best picture and director. Vanquishing all opposition like the forces of Sauron, it won every category for which it was was nominated.

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