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Hercules

Dwayne Johnson tries, but he’s surrounded by poor CGI and a terrible adaptation of yet another comic book. Ian McShane steals what little movie there…

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Magic in the Moonlight

While Allen’s new picture, "Magic In The Moonlight," isn’t even close to being a disaster (for that, see, well, "Scoop"), I don’t think it’s unreasonable…

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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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Sundance Festival of independent films opens today

PARK CITY, Utah The future of the American film industry begins its annual convention here today, at the Sundance Film Festival. For the next 10 days, new independent films and documentaries will unspool all over town, in every possible performance space: Wherever two or three gather together, they're probably looking at a movie.

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Quirky `Little Voice' gets the call to be this year's opener

The Chicago International Film Festival has not always been distinguished by its choice of opening-night films. Some never subsequently opened commercially, and at least one sent Junior Leaguers fleeing from the theater. But Mark Herman's "Little Voice," which opens this year's festival tonight, is a splendid choice - a film that may pick up an Oscar nomination or two.

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'Mixing Nia,' 'Little Voice' bring humanity to Toronto

TORONTO -- Reeling after a week of too many films built on too much mindless brutality, I found "Little Voice" and "Mixing Nia" to be soothing reassurances that there were still filmmakers with heart and humor. The general view at this year's Toronto Film Festival is that a lot of ambitious new flickers are engaged in a game of one-upmanship in violence and may have outstripped even the audience appetite for mayhem.

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The New Geek Cinema

TORONTO -- Toronto 1998 was an edgy festival for people like me who are convinced that anything can theoretically be a legitimate subject for a film. Movies about the Holocaust, child abuse, rape and reckless murder have had audiences cringing and critics embroiled in nose-to-nose debates in the lobbies. The director John Waters has coined a term for them: Feel-Bad Comedies. So have I: the New Geek Cinema.

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'Thursday' director thinks it's hip to offend

TORONTO, Ont.--It is uphip to admit to being offended by anything in the new movies, and indeed it's pretty hard to offend me, but a film named "Thursday" crossed the line this week at the Toronto Film Festival. Watching it, I felt outrage. I saw a movie so reprehensible I couldn't rationalize it using the standard critical language about style, genre, or irony. The people associated with it should be ashamed of themselves.

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Hollywood writer honors tradition

TORONTO -- Canada Every year at the Toronto Film Festival we gather, the friends of George Christy, to have lunch in the Four Seasons Hotel. This is a tradition going back so far that no one except George remembers how it started, or what it represents. Christy, who writes the "Good Life" column for the Hollywood Reporter, invites some 70 of the chosen to a private dining room, where we eat chicken pot pie and gossip among ourselves.

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Offbeat family's tale is powerfully told

TORONTO -- I can't identify with a lot of the families I see in movies. They aren't like my family and I doubt if they're like anyone's. The family in "A Soldier's Daughter Never Cries" isn't like anyone else's family, either, but I never doubted for a moment that it existed. The movie could be advertised with a line like, "Apart from the fact that my dad was an alcoholic novelist and we were raised in the expatriate colony in Paris in the 1960s, I had a typical American childhood."

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A critic's ordeal

TORONTO -- We are a little past the halfway point of the 23rd Toronto Film Festival, and my colleagues are looking more hollow-eyed and gaunt than usual. It is a strange occupation, going to three or four movies a day, and critics begin to resemble fishlike creatures from unlit caverns. This year is worse than usual, because the facilities are better.

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Immigrants' hope turns to hardship in gritty 'City'

TORONTO Sometimes in the middle of the hustle and hype, you find a little film that exists simply because it needs to. Here at the Toronto Film Festival, the hotel lobbies are jammed with celebs wearing the T-shirts and baseball caps of one another's movies. But there is nothing to advertise "The City," not even a free lead pencil with the title printed on it, yet here is a movie to treasure.

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