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Transcendence

"Transcendence" is a serious science fiction movie filled with big ideas and powerful images, but it never quite coheres, and the end is a copout.

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Bears

"Bears" could have used a lot more science; more substantive information in the place of wacky one-liners. Still, the images trump everything.

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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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How the South won the Civil War

From Arlie Davis:

I was surprised to see this statement in your review of "Outside the Law": "Imagine the feelings of Americans about a film where the Confederacy is viewed as heroic and the Union as murderous invaders. It all depends on which side you think is the right one."

Nearly every movie that I have seen that involves the US Civil War *has* portrayed the Union as murderous invaders, and the Confederacy as heroic defenders of home and hearth. I cannot think of a single significant movie that shows the Union as a force of liberation, re-union, and forgiveness. Which it was.

The Union won the military and legal battle. But the Confederacy won the emotional battle.

Consider "The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly." The baddest bad guy is a vicious, torturing, murdering Union officer. Or "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge." It's *not* a political story, but instead is a very lyrical and personal study of the value of life, at its very end. The protagonist is clearly a middle-class Everyman who was fending off the invading North, and is hanged for it. Countless, uncountable movies show similar perspectives.

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