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Listen to Me Marlon

A tour-de-force of editing, this is essentially a feature length film about Marlon Brando's life and personality, narrated by Brando himself.

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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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Cannes #10: Guessing games

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CANNES, France –- All rumors about the prizes at Cannes are essentially worthless. Why don’t I know this? I could make up my own and do just about as well. It is apparently true that Sam Jackson told somebody there were going to be “big surprises” when the awards were announced, and there were; never before has a jury honored the casts of two films with ensemble acting awards, and certainly no one predicted that Ken Loach’s “The Wind That Shakes the Barley” would win the Palme d’Or. When it did, there was much agreement, and, yes, much surprise.

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Cannes #8: Sex, awards & film

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CANNES, France – It probably won’t happen this way, but wouldn’t everyone be pleased if Gerard Depardieu won the best actor award at Cannes this year. The festival’s awards are given out Sunday night (12:30 p.m. CDT), and Depardieu received a tumultuous ovation Friday as the star of “Quand j’etais Chanteur,” or “The Singer.” Depardieu’s character reminded many audience members of the actor himself: A beefy middle-aged artist still slugging away at a job he loves, smoking too much, adamantly on the wagon, given new hope by his feelings for a much younger woman (Cecile De France). “I’ve been written off a lot of times,” he tells her, “but I always bounce back.”

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Cannes #7: A real movie

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CANNES, France – At last, on Day 9 of the Cannes Film Festival, an old-fashioned real movie, with a beginning, middle and end, characters, a story, and a powerful message. Is Rachid Bouchareb’s “Days of Glory” (“Indigenes”), a drama about French troops from the colonies of Northern Africa, too traditional to win the Palme d’Or?

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Cannes #6: Palme d'Odds

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CANNES, France – Like any good bookie, Derek Malcolm carries his odds in his head. He revises them after every screening of a film in the official competition. Wednesday morning, the odds got a little longer for Sofia Coppola’s “Marie Antoinette,” which is tipped as a front-runner for the Palme d’Or.

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Cannes #5: Luster & its lack

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CANNES, France – There are entries that have been liked and even loved, but the 2006 Cannes Film Festival reaches its halfway mark looking like a fairly lackluster year. Only Pedro Almodovar’s “Volver,” a high-spirited memory inspired by his childhood in La Mancha, has been embraced by critics and audiences. “Volver” means “to return,” and resembles in its exuberant nostalgia Fellini’s “Amarcord” (“I Remember”).

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Cannes #4: 'Bug' by Friedkin

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CANNES, France – William Friedkin’s new horror film “Bug” begins as an ominous rumble of unease, and builds to a shriek. The last 20 minutes are searingly intense: A paranoid personality finds its mate, and they race each other into madness. For Friedkin, director of “The Exorcist,” it’s a work of headlong passion.

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Cannes #3: Dreamgirls deferred

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CANNES, France -- One of the traditions at Cannes is the dramatic unveiling of advance footage from a blockbuster scheduled to open next Christmas. I avoid these opportunities. I prefer to see movies all at once. Therefore I turned down an invitation to the preview party for "Dreamgirls," the big musical scheduled to open Dec. 6.

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Cannes #2: Meat the press

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CANNES, France – In one of the bravest acts of courage I have performed in the exercise of my duties at the Cannes festival, I went out to dinner Thursday night. The company was exhilarating and the food was superb, but let me tell you about two movies I saw before dinner. Both were official selections. “Fast Food Nation” is about how meat arrives in franchise burgers, and what might be in it besides meat. “Taxidermia” is about a man who invents a machine that eviscerates and stuffs its occupant, stitches up the incisions, and chops off his head and one arm.

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