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Mortdecai

Not only is it a one-joke characterization, the joke is on the level of a below-average knock-knock joke.

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Son of a Gun

Avery’s more than capable behind the camera, he just needs to be met halfway by his screenwriting, which dwells in overly familiar territory.

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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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Two more treasures unearthed at Telluride

TELLURIDE, Colo.--At last here is real humor, welling up from the heart and from human nature, instead of the crude physical comedy of Hollywood's summer specials. In Ismail Merchant's "The Mystic Masseur" and Nicole Holofcener's "Lovely and Amazing," the Telluride Film Festival warmed the souls of its audiences and sent them blinking and smiling back into the mountain sunshine.

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Big bad distributors

CANNES, France--"Shoot the distributors." That was Alan Cumming's helpful suggestion as eight American directors debated the sorry sight of independent film distribution here Wednesday, at the annual American Directors Panel at the Variety Pavilion. The big studios monopolize thousands of multiplex screens with movies aimed at teenage boys, and more inventive films for adults get shoved aside.

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Raise cash, he'll dance in a thong

CANNES, France Harvey Weinstein promised to dance in a thong if the AmFAR charity auction, the annual gala benefit here, raised $2 million Thursday night. The rich and the famous, who wined and dined in a big tent with Dame Elizabeth Taylor, wisely stopped just short of that milestone.

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Pages from a Cannes diary

CANNES, France Euzhan Palcy strikes me as proof that great directors can come from anywhere but they must know they are directors, and trust that they are great. As a 10-year-old schoolgirl on the Caribbean island of Martinique, she made her own movies at night in her room, casting shadow-plays on the wall. By the age of 17, she had produced short documentaries for the local TV station and recorded albums of songs and stories for children.

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Cannes 2001: Awards full of surprises

The jury stunned but did not displease a black-tie audience here Sunday night, with the awards for the 54th Cannes Film Festival. It's not that the winners were unpopular, but that they were unexpected. Everyone predicted Nanni Moretti's "The Son's Room," the story of an Italian family devastated by the death of a son, would win something but not the Palme d'Or, or top prize. Everyone expected French legend Isabelle Huppert to win as best actress for her searing performance in "The Piano Teacher," and she did -- but not that the film also would win for best actor and take home the special jury prize.

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French greats in top form

CANNES, France -- The old men still have the right stuff. Jean-Luc Godard at 70 and Jacques Rivette at 73, two founders of the French New Wave, have returned in triumph to Cannes with their new films for Rivette, the first in 10 years. And three younger rebels also scored, as this year's festival bounced back from its early doldrums. Sean Penn's "The Pledge" and David Lynch's "Mulholland Drive" were cheered, and the Italian director Nanni Moretti is a front-runner for a major prize after the premiere of his "The Son's Room."

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The direct-to-video king

CANNES, France -- Faithful readers will recall that when the home video revolution was new, I interviewed a man at Cannes who sold movies by the pound. His motto: "Back up your car and I'll load up the trunk."

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Films show prevalence of English

CANNES, France -- The woman hopes to slip illegally into Afghanistan from Iran to save her sister's life. She is helped along the way by a sympathetic doctor. The film is by one of the great Iranian directors. You are already imagining the subtitles at the bottom of the screen, but no: The woman has been living in Canada, speaks English, and narrates the journey into a tape recorder. And the doctor is a black American; they speak English together.

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