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Lucy in the Sky

There’s a point at which this joke stops being funny and turns sad, and it’s very early in its over two hours runtime.

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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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* This filmography is not intended to be a comprehensive list of this artist’s work. Instead it reflects the films this person has been involved with that have been reviewed on this site.

#314 October 31, 2017

Matt writes: With so many potential Oscar contenders vying for one's attention this season, I'd like to take a moment and recommend one that I absolutely loved. It is "Novitiate," a brilliantly acted and provocative drama written and directed by Margaret Betts. It revolves around a group of young women training to be nuns while under the strict guidance of their Reverend Mother (played by Melissa Leo in an Oscar-worthy performance). The ensemble includes some of the finest emerging talent in modern cinema, including Margaret Qualley, Liana Liberato, Morgan Saylor and Maddie Hasson. The film is currently in limited release and should definitely be sought out.

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Thumbnails 4/12/17

"Bad at Dancing" by Joanna Arnow; Frank talk from four female directors; David Schwimmer's #ThatsHarassment campaign; Directors reframing black history; Pulling Baltimore out of poverty.

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Seduced by Sonoma

As Roger Ebert noted in February, film festivals have become so ubiquitous that there's almost certainly one within driving distance of most film fans in the US. And lots of them are sprouting world-wide. Three years ago, I'd pitched Roger with an "FFC" piece on the Santa Barbara International Film Festival. He advised that I provide a sense of the town and its atmosphere, the people, as well as what the festival itself was like.

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The Best Films of 2011

Making lists is not my favorite occupation. They inevitably inspire only reader complaints. Not once have I ever heard from a reader that my list was just fine, and they liked it. Yet an annual Best Ten list is apparently a statutory obligation for movie critics.

My best guess is that between six and ten of these movies won't be familiar. Those are the most useful titles for you, instead of an ordering of movies you already know all about.

One recent year I committed the outrage of listing 20 movies in alphabetical order. What an uproar! Here are my top 20 films, in order of approximate preference.

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Russian drama wins top prize at Chicago fest

Two men are in conflict in a stunning sub-Arctic landscape in "How I Ended This Summer," the Russian drama by Aleksei Popogrebsky that won the Gold Hugo, the top prize in the 46th Chicago International Film Festival.

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So many films, so little time

I have before me a schedule of the 2007 Toronto Film Festival, which opens Thursday and runs 10 days. I have been looking at it for some time. I am paralyzed. There are so many films by important directors (not to mention important films by unknown directors), that it cannot be reduced to its highlights. The highlights alone, if run in alphabetical order, would take up all my space.

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Overlooked Film Festival, Take 8

Some films are born overlooked. Others have it thrust upon them. Among this year's festival entries, "Ripley's Game" has never had a theatrical release in the United States, and "Duane Hopwood" had a release so spotty it seemed designed to hide the film. Yet these are the kinds of films a movie critic views with joy: Films that are a meeting of craft and art. Being able to share them is an incalculable pleasure; everybody should have their own Overlooked Film Festival in the glorious Virginia Theater, all the year around. You have no idea how much fun it is.

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Movie Answer Man (11/03/1996)

Q. On a recent "Siskel & Ebert" program you showed Hollywood's frequent use of scenes where characters outrun shock waves from blasts. There was a true-life instance of this, the day Mt. St. Helens erupted, and trees were felled like match sticks for miles around. At the moment of the blast there were two cars driving near each other and away from the volcano. One was a station wagon and the other a Jaguar (I think). When the volcano erupted the station wagon accelerated to about 80 mph and reached its limit. The Jaguar accelerated into the 100's. The station wagon was knocked off the road; the people in the Jaguar escaped. (David Shapiro, Libertyville, IL)

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