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American Assassin

Efficient, nasty action scenes can't overcome mostly bland characterizations and a half-baked story.

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Indivisible

Indivisible ponders, to a limited extent, what would happen to such siblings in a world that values celebrity, religion and sex to selfish ends.

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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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The inspiring 1979 treasure "Breaking Away"

May Contain Spoilers

"Breaking Away" is a movie about four working class friends from a college town who are better know as "The Cutters" a term for the stone quarry workers from town who never got to go to college, and how cycling becomes their unexpected ticket into bigger and better things.

It is populated with original characters who feel completely real, they all have their ambitions, their fears and their regrets which are hardly unlike ours. Each of their numerous idiosyncrasies only serve to make them all the more endearing.

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The Oscar mystery nomination: The Secret of Kells

May Contain Spoilers

"Wait until you see the rest of my forest," says Aisling, before she leads Brendan to the top of an oak tree. That remark by a guardian of the forest describes "Brendan and the Secret of Kells." This deceptively simple story of a young Irish monk has hidden dimensions beneath its lush, exuberant visuals. To praise its beauty alone becomes an understatement. Its beautifully realised storytelling is rich in symbols, analogies and themes, some obvious and others not so, that give weight and meaning to a seemingly uncomplicated story, set against a mixture of history, fantasy, reality and myth.

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"They're young, they're in love, and they kill people"

May Contain Spoilers

I remember the first time I watched "Bonnie and Clyde" like it was yesterday. I was seventeen years old and eager to broaden my knowledge in film. On weekends, I would go watch classic movies at my paternal uncles' who was a film buff himself. The only way to watch a movie uncut in Egypt was to purchase the video cassette from Europe or the USA and import it.

That is exactly what my uncle would do. His collection of UK video cassettes kept me busy for months. Every week I would visit him and we would watch one of Hollywood's classics together. It was there, at his living room filled with movie posters, that I was first introduced to such memorable characters as Norman Bates, Antoine Doinel, Tommy DeVito, Hal 9000 and of course Bonnie and Clyde.

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Almodovar's passionate celebration of cinema: Omar Moore on "Broken Embraces"

May Contain Spoilers

Whether or not you believe that "Broken Embraces" is Pedro Almodόvar's best film, one thing cannot be denied: it's a film that so passionately celebrates cinema and the filmmaker's love for it.

Multiple stories frame a complex narrative in "Broken Embraces." Mr. Almodόvar trains his lens on Penélope Cruz, his muse. She plays Lena, a woman caught between passion and misery in the film, set in Madrid in the early 1990s and 2008. A film director (Lluís Homar) is blighted by the past while also recalling fond memories in the present as he hibernates in the afterglow of a vibrant affair with Lena, whom he directed during the nineties in a comedy. Back then he was Mateo Blanco. Now, in the early 21st century he is Harry Caine - a hurricane of regrets, mysteries and opportunities. There's Lena's husband Ernesto (José Luis Gόmez), a billionaire business magnate who has helped Lena pre-marriage and produces Blanco's film "Girls With Suitcases." Keeping Blanco in line and on schedule with the film is his agent Judit (Blanca Portillo), and that isn't an easy task.

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We are all Untouchables: A Bollywood Ballad:Discussed by Omer Mozaffar

May Contain Spoilers

After commenting on George Clooney as Hollywood star, and as star of the very excellent Jason Reitman film UP IN THE AIR, I decided to shift attention to a similar figure in Bollywood cinema: Aamir Khan. Aamir Khan is the star of the most successful Bollywood movie in history, the comedy THREE IDIOTS. Like Clooney (and perhaps Redford before him) he uses his star power to make serious movies, with the most famous being LAGAAN. Here, in MANGAL PANDEY: THE RISING we look at this story of one of the respected heroes of Indian cultural memory.

On the surface, the film continues the popular David vs. Goliath anti-imperialist genre we find in such films as THE TEN COMMANDMENTS, KING OF KINGS, LION OF THE DESERT, THE BATTLE FOR ALGIERS, some revisionist westerns like THE OUTLAW JOSEY WALES, the TV miniseries MASADA, BRAVEHEART,

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Grace Wang of Toronto discusses "The Hurt Locker"

May Contain Spoilers

I am a dreamer, a traveler, a student, a teacher, a friend, a stranger, an Asian, a Canadian, a daughter, a woman, a photographer, a model, an immigrant, a citizen, a writer...but these are all just labels, and they wouldn't begin to tell you why I have an infinite love for hole-in-the-wall bars and coffee shops and black & white everything, or why live music of any kind just captivates me, or how Chinese novels move me in a way so deep that I wish every person in the world could understand the language, or why I can never ever hold back a smile watching the sun rise on a different continent.

Traveling is a huge part of my life, as is writing. With a pen and a backpack, I've had some of the most memorable moments of my life at some of the most random corners around the world.

If traveling is how one experiences reality, then writing is how I weave my dreams. It has always been the most natural, intimate, and truest expression of myself. And we all just want to tell our own stories in this lifetime, don't we?

It's like breathing, and as clichéd as that sounds, how can you explain why you need to breathe?

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'Ponyo,' the missing Oscar nominee,by Michael Mirasol of Manila

May Contain Spoilers

The Oscar nominees have been announced, now cinephiles everywhere have begun nitpicking amongst the nominations. Some will note those that should have and shouldn't have been nominated, but one almost criminal omission from the Best Animated Film category was the absence of PONYO, Hayao Miyazaki's latest work for Studio Ghibli.

In terms of filmmaking mastery, one can mention the name Miyazaki in the same breath as Spielberg or Scorsese. His works are beloved by animators, audiences, and critics around the world.

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"The Messenger" discussed by Omar Moore of London and San Francisco

May Contain Spoilers

Hello, I'm Omar Moore. I was born and raised in London, where I grew up before moving to New York City with my parents. After branching out in the Big Apple on my own for a number of years, I moved west to San Francisco. I love America and its promise. We all need to do our small part to make this great country even better for all. Where a film is concerned, it is never "only a movie." Images mean something. They have unyielding power and influence, whether in "Birth of A Nation", "Un Chien Andalou", "Night Of The Hunter", "Killer Of Sheep", "Persona", "Psycho", "A Clockwork Orange", "Blazing Saddles", "Straw Dogs", "Soul Man", "Chameleon Street", "Do The Right Thing", "Bamboozled" or "Irreversible". A filmmaker generally doesn't put images in a film if they are meaningless.

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The masters of disaster, by Gerardo Valero of Mexico

May Contain Spoilers

The source for our love of movies is different in each and every one of us. It may date back to our childhood, it may be about a particular film we saw under certain circumstances in our lives. Mine clearly come from one specific genre: the Disaster Film.

I realize they may have never been the most meaningful or profound of all, but they were certainly the one kids my age were discussing in school patios in the early '70s.

Back then hey had the hype, they had the long lines at theaters, they had the awesome John Williams scores, they had Sensurround, they had that unexplicable Best Picture nomination for "The Towering Inferno", they had the posters with the great artwork and the main actors boxed in little squares, depicted in various states of pandemonium.

"Earthquake" was even promoted as "an Event," believe it or not.

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Kathryn Bigelow's uncanny "Strange Days," by Michael Mirasol of the Philippines

May Contain Spoilers

2009 was a great year for Kathryn Bigelow. After a 7-year hiatus from filming K-19: The Widowmaker, she returned to direct The Hurt Locker, a suspense and war film set in Iraq that has deservedly been recognized by critics and award bodies alike, and is expected to be one of the primary contenders for the Academy Awards. Bigelow is known for her superb work in the action genre, which is rarity among female directors. Her skill in filming tension and violence is as good as any of today's directors.

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