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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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Thumbnails 2/20/14

1.

"After Midnight": Many people have waxed poetic about the "Before" films since their inception in 1995. Few how moved this journalist like Tracy Wan's essay at Bright Wall/Dark Room. 

"It feels wrong to compare falling in love to falling in love in the movies, but I’ll do it, because we met on a film set and that should be enough. And if that’s not enough, I’ll say that the day I met him I told my best friend, 'I met him,' and she understood, and I meant it. It’s hard to deny or ration something that lands fully-formed into your chest. And if that’s not enough, well, if you asked me a thousand days from that day, I still would nod, as in, I had no choice, as in, 'Let me get my bag.'"

2.

"Memo To Distributors: Buy These 2014 Berlin Film Festival Titles": Eric Kohn of IndieWire writes about five quality films from the Berlinale that have yet to pick up distribution. 

"Of course, many of the high profile Berlinale films have already found homes: Richard Linklater's 'Boyhood' (IFC Films), Wes Anderson's 'The Grand Budapest Hotel' (Fox Searchlight), the Jennifer Connelly-Cillian Murphy vehicle 'Aloft' (Sony Pictures Classics) — and, of course, Lars von Trier's 'Nymphomaniac' (Magnolia Pictures). But there's more to the story than those surefire bets. Here are a few other memorable new works that deserve greater exposure in the coming months. Audiences intrigued by them should track their potential appearances at upcoming festivals — unless buyers can figure out a faster route."

3.

"Is Girls the Reality Bites of This Generation?": At Vanity Fair Joanna Robinson compares two pieces of art that ostensibly define a generation.

"It’s the 20th anniversary of Reality Bites, the film that, for many people, defined a generation. It’s not what the film set out to do. In fact, according to a number of people who worked on the film, the term 'Generation X' wasn’t even a label they considered applying to the project. Nonetheless, the story of Lelaina (Winona Ryder) and her circle of friends struggling to make their way outside the bubble of college and parental support worked its way into the classic 90s pantheon right next to the girls from Clueless and the staff of Empire Records. But now, some of the people who grew up with Lelaina, Troy, Vickie and Sammy are the same people who find Lena Dunham’s show Girls nothing more than a portrait of 'obnoxious, self-involved pseudo-struggling singletons' and 'a hellacious abuse of [their] time.' Reality Bites producer Michael Shamberg, on the other hand, has drawn a direct comparison between the movie’s characters and the ones who populate HBO’s Girls."

4.

"The Worst Reviews of the 2014 Best Picture Nominees": We don't generally link to articles published by BuzzFeed, but Louis Peitzman has put together something of merit. 

"There’s never a sense of how these people, by and large distractingly (though not unimpressively) played by a who’s who of actors, live their private lives in between the very hectoring scenes that spotlight their public role in the history of slavery, and the effect is off-puttingly manufactured.” - Ed Gonzalez of Slant on 12 Years a Slave.

5.

"How the Modern RoboCop Lost Its Political Edge": Noah Gittell has a penchant for writing about the overlap between film and politics. Yesterday at Movie Mezzanine he took a stab at how and why RoboCop fails in its political observations.

"Similarly, the issue of drone warfare and the privatization of law enforcement remain worthy of debate, but RoboCop oversimplifies the issue so badly, it might as well have not raised it at all. Omnicorp tries to buy off Congress to get them to overturn their ban on robotic police officers, but Congress, led by a virtuous U.S. Representative named Dreyfus, is resolute. In reality, Omnicorp would likely have a lot more sway with this Congress than the film suggests, and its depiction of government at odds with corporate interests is woefully out of date."

Image of the Day

An alternative, custom-made poster for Spike Jonze's prescient film, Her. Illustration by Sam Smith, a Nashville based graphic designer and musician. Read more at The Dissolve

Video of the Day

After an onslaught of coverage detailing Jimmy Fallon's first night as the new host of the Tonight Show, Arsenio Hall fights back, refusing to go unnoticed and marginalized. More at IndieWire

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