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Time Is Illmatic

An excellent documentary that focuses more on why the Illmatic album came to be than how successful it became. Prepare to be schooled in many…

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Men, Women & Children

A potentially interesting premise is handled so badly that what might have been a provocative drama quickly and irrevocably devolves into the technological equivalent of…

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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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Houses of pain

PARK CITY, Utah -- Two documentaries about wounded families, one angry, the other healing, have caused a stir during the closing days of the Sundance Film Festival. "Just, Melvin" is the lacerating portrait of a monster who molested almost everyone in two families and seems to have gotten away with murder. "Legacy" is the story of how a family from a Chicago housing project, devastated by the murder of a 14-year-old relative, was able to break the cycle of welfare and make a new beginning.

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Sundance film fest stays on the safe side

PARK CITY, Utah At the midpoint of this year's Sundance Film Festival, no great blinding vision has dazzled audiences. The festival seems mostly mid-range, skewed toward safe, quirky comedies and lacking the discoveries of years past such as "In the Company of Men" or "American Movie."

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Tucci's movie full of secrets

PARK CITY, Utah I've seen 10 movies so far at this year's Sundance Film Festival, some of them, I fear, destined to play nowhere else. I'll comment on some of them in later articles, but here's one for today: Stanley Tucci's "Joe Gould's Secret," about the strange and strained long-term friendship between New Yorker staff writer Joseph Mitchell (Tucci) and a brilliant, charming bum named Joe Gould (Ian Holm).

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Tammy Faye's story captured in documentary

PARK CITY, Utah -- "When she was born," her aunt recalls, "she had perfectly manicured fingernails." She still does. She also has eyelashes so firmly attached that she never removes them: "They have to sort of wear out. When one falls off, I replace it." Tammy Faye Bakker, once the evangelizing queen of a global satellite network, now "living in virtual exile in a gated community in Palm Springs," came to the Sundance Film Festival over the weekend and won the hearts of the heathens.

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Indie filmmakers go digital

SALT LAKE CITY -- About half of the films at the Sundance Film Festival this year have been shot the low-cost digital way, and 26 percent of them were directed by women. Those two statistics, possibly related, point the way into the new millennium for American independent filmmaking.

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Rays of hope at Sundance

PARK CITY, Utah -- Beverly Hills slicksters and Manhattan indie distributors are packing their goose-down coats and Elmer Fudd hats and gearing up for the Sundance Film Festival, held every January here in this Utah ski resort, often in the middle of a snowstorm.

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Finding nirvana in a Calcutta theater

CALCUTTA, India This is the story of one afternoon at the Calcutta Film Festival. I meet my driver outside the hotel. Everyone in Calcutta who has a car has a driver. This is not because they are too lazy to drive themselves. It is because they are too frightened. Driving in Calcutta traffic is like living inside a dangerous and violent video game.

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Calcutta Film Festival

CALCUTTA, India I have been here at the Calcutta Film Festival for five days without once hearing the word "Miramax." No one has discussed a deal. There has been no speculation about a film's box-office prospects. I have not seen a single star. I have been plunged into a world of passionate debate about film - nonstop talking about theory, politics and art. For the visiting American, dazed and sedated by the weekly mumbo-jumbo about the weekend's top 10, this is like a wake-up plunge into cold water.

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1999 Calcutta Film Festival

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CALCUTTA, India - I have been here at the Calcutta Film Festival for five days without once hearing the word "Miramax." No one has discussed a deal. There has been no speculation about a film's box office prospects. I have not seen a single star. I have been plunged into a world of passionate debate about film--nonstop talking about theory, politics and art. For the visiting American, dazed and sedated by the weekly mumbo-jumbo about the weekend's ten grossers, this is like a wakeup plunge into cold water.

Continue reading →