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A Walk Among the Tombstones

Fans of the hardboiled detective, rejoice. Screenwriter-director Scott Frank and actor Liam Neeson, adapting the splendid work of crime novelist Lawrence Block, have brought a…

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The Zero Theorem

Terry Gilliam's first science fiction film since "12 Monkeys" is an inventively designed but oddly inert satire on technology, God and the future of humankind.

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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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The Sweet Smell of Success

The Sweet Smell of Success

The two men in "The Sweet Smell of Success" relate to each other like junkyard dogs. One is dominant, and the other is a whipped cur, circling hungrily, his tail between his legs, hoping for a scrap after the big…

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M

The horror of the faces: That is the overwhelming image that

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Pickpocket

Pickpocket

One of the early images in Robert Bresson's “Pickpocket” (1959)shows the unfocused eyes of a man obsessed by excitement and fear. The man's name is Michel. He lives in Paris in a small room under the eaves, a garret almost…

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Le Samourai

Le Samourai

An empty room. No, not empty. In the shadows we can barely see a man on the bed. He lights a cigarette, and smoke coils up toward a wisp of light from the window. After a time the man gets…

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Being There

Being There

On the day that Kasparov was defeated by Deep Blue, I found myself thinking of the film "Being There'' (1979). The chess champion said there was something about the computer he did not understand, and it frightened him. There were…

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The Exterminating Angel

The Exterminating Angel

The dinner guests arrive twice. They ascend the stairs and walk through the wide doorway, and then they arrive again--the same guests, seen from a higher camera angle. This is a joke and soon we will understand the punch line:…

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Ali: Fear Eats the Soul

Ali: Fear Eats the Soul

The first shots set up the theme: them against us. An older woman, dumpy and plain, walks into an unfamiliar bar and takes a seat at the table inside the door. The barmaid, an insolent blond in a low-cut dress,…

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Walkabout

Walkabout

Is "Walkabout" only about what it seems to be about? Is it a parable about noble savages and the crushed spirits of city dwellers? That's what the film's surface seems to suggest, but I think it's also about something deeper…

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2001: A Space Odyssey

2001: A Space Odyssey

The genius is not in how much Stanley Kubrick does in "2001: A Space Odyssey," but in how little. This is the work of an artist so sublimely confident that he doesn't include a single shot simply to keep our…

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The Godfather

The Godfather

“The Godfather” is told entirely within a closed world. That’s why we sympathize with characters who are essentially evil. The story by Mario Puzo and Francis Ford Coppola is a brilliant conjuring act, inviting us to consider the Mafia entirely…

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La Dolce Vita

La Dolce Vita

I have heard theories that Federico Fellini's "La Dolce Vita" catalogs the seven deadly sins, takes place on the seven hills of Rome, and involves seven nights and seven dawns, but I have never looked into them, because that would…

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