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Mr. Turner

Filmmaker Mike Leigh's biography of the landscape painter J.M.W. Turner is what critics call "austere"—which means it's slow and grim and deliberately hard to love—yet…

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Annie

The new version of "Annie" is fashionably artificial and not very well directed, but its unabashed good cheer is very welcome.

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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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In memory of Claude Chabrol (1930-2010)

In honor of the late Claude Chabrol, one of the great filmmakers of the French New Wave, co-author with Eric Rohmer of the first book on Alfred Hitchcock, maker of moral thrillers and autopsier of the dis-ease of the bourgeoisie ("Les Biches," "La femme infidel," "Le Boucher," "La rupture," "Violette Nozière," "La cérémonie"...), here is my Opening Shot (and closing shot) piece for "La femme infidel:

A fairy-tale home in a wooded setting. Two women sit an an outdoor table in the shade of some tall trees. The camera glides across the lawn silently (we can't hear what they're saying, just barely audible laughter) at an oblique angle that takes us closer to the women, but not directly toward them. A big black trunk passes startlingly across the screen in the foreground. Then a smaller trunk comes into the shot, mid-distance, and nicely frames the image. That's all there is to the opening shot (which lasts less than 10 seconds), but to understand the context we have to consider the rest of the brief pre-titles sequence.

Continued here...

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