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Dear White People

You could make a (film geek) party game out of guessing director Justin Simien's influences, but his vision seems to spring directly from what's up…

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Private Violence

A look at the complexity of domestic violence, especially when it comes to the difficulty of prosecuting abusers in a court of law, "Private Violence"…

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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 amazing(ly cute) creature from... Earth

This five-foot-tall baby giraffe named Margaret has subtly changed the way I look at creature design in science-fiction and fantasy movies. I haven't been able to stop oggling her. Margaret is small for her age, and was having difficulty suckling, so she's being fed by humans at the Chester Zoo in the UK, where she was born. Now, if I saw a creature like this in a movie I would probably think the filmmakers were pandering to the audience. I mean, come on -- those eyes!?!? They're too much! We are evolutionarily adapted to respond to big eyes (from Maurice Sendak's Wild Things to E.T. to the Na'vi in "Avatar") -- which is why I nearly got in trouble once when I started to blurt out that a stranger's baby looked just like a pug. I meant that as a compliment, but realized in the nick of time that the mom might not.

Margaret, with her spindly legs, long neck, exotic fur patterns and adorable saucer eyes, is an improbably designed creature. And yet, there she is. And she's not a special effect. Maybe movie creature designers aren't so far-out in their conceptions after all...

Also: I find myself appreciating the 1960s work of Walter and/or Margaret Keane in ways I never imagined.

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