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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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Heaven Is for Real

Faith-based film tries reaching past its audience, but falls back on preaching to its own choir way too much.

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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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Opening Shots Pop Quiz: Answers

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Here goes. For the time being, I'm just going to offer up the answers to the Opening Shots Pop Quiz, without further elaboration or analysis in most cases -- because these shots are so great they deserve full Opening Shots treatments of their own. (And you, by the way, are welcome to provide them if you are so inclined!)

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1. "Sherlock, Jr." (Buster Keaton, 1924)

OK, let me just say a few words about this one: It's nothing more than a traditional interior establishing shot, lasting only a few seconds before a closer shot succeeds it. We can see it's inside a movie theater, between shows because the house lights are up. There's a pile of trash and a broom leaning against an aisle seat in the back row. And a porkpie hat floats above a book in the hands of... who? Well, the janitor, probably. Only, of course, it turns out to be Buster, and he's also the projectionist. And the book he's reading is about how to become a detective... All the ingredients of this masterpiece of movie-love are present in this one image.

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2. "A History of Violence" (2005) by David Cronenberg

It was clear Cronenberg's film was one of last year's best by the end of this single shot.

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3. "The Tenant" (1976) by Roman Polanski

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4. "The Servant" (Joseph Losey, 1963)

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5. "Sydney," aka "Hard Eight" (1997) by Paul Thomas Anderson

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6. "Playtime" (1967) by Jacques Tati

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7. "Sunrise" (1927) by F.W. Murnau

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8. "North By Northwest" (Alfred Hitchcock, 1959)

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9. "Out of Sight" (1998) by Steven Soderbergh

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10. "M" (1931) by Fritz Lang

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11. "Three Kings" (1999) by David O. Russell

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12. "Twin Peaks" (David Lynch, 1990 -- pilot/European feature)

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13. "Repulsion" (1965) by Roman Polanski

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14. "The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant" (1972) by R.W. Fassbinder

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15. "Rear Window" (1954) by Alfred Hitchcock

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16. "Accident" (1967) by Joseph Losey. Note: Both this film and "The Servant," above, were collaborations with screenwriter Harold Pinter.

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BONUS: "Deep End" (1970) by Jerzy Skolimowski. Starring Jane Asher, John Moulder-Brown and Diana Dors. Music by Cat Stevens (from "Tea for the Tillerman"). More about this later...

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