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Wormwood

A fascinating piece of filmmaking that challenges the form in new ways as it recalls themes its director has been interested in his entire career.

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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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The offer we cannot refuse

May Contain Spoilers

Behind every great fortune there is a crime. - Balzac

So states the prologue of Mario Puzo's novel, "The Godfather," a debatable statement that rings true nonetheless. It certainly feels like "the truth" after visiting this world. Does it mean that the Corleone family was completely amoral? Not at all, and that is what separates this material from just about every previous gangster film. This family provided justice and protection to those who couldn't get it elsewhere. They also gave them gambling, women and liquor--but heck, they did draw a line at drugs. If there is one thing that Mario Puzo and Francis Ford Coppola evidently were clear about, it's that black or white characters aren't particularly exciting.

The phenomenal success of the Godfather Trilogy can basically be attributed to the decision on the part of Paramount executives to put their helm in the hands of a master filmmaker at his very peak who also happened to be one of the few raised in a family with the precise sensibilities required to take the material from Mario Puzo's best-selling novel and make it feel absolutely real.

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Encounters at the End of the Mind

May Contain Spoilers

There are a few spoilers here. Because I am mentioning that there are spoilers, I am implying that there are things you do not want to know in advance, thus making you curious, thus lifting your expectations higher than they should be, thus making it harder for you to enjoy the film. So, enter at your own risk.

Occasionally I receive a paper from a student that is so outstanding in content and ideas, that in grading it I am compelled to overlook the shortcomings in argument, style and polish. Such is my experience with Christopher Nolan's "Inception." This movie is very ambitious, not only in the ideas it explores, but also in the expectations it has of its audience. In my estimation, having watched the film on a giant screen with a packed theater of cheering, laughing, and groaning moviegoers at a popular suburban multiplex, it fulfills its ambitions of big-budget intelligent storytelling.

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To travel and live without reasons

May Contain Spoilers

When I observed the lifestyle of Ryan Bingham in Jason Reitman's wonderful movie "Up in the Air" early in this year, Lawrence Kasdan's 1988 movie "The Accidental Tourist" came to my mind. Like Ryan, Macon Leary (William Hurt) knows a lot about traveling around by plane. He can tell you how to pack your bag as small as possible.

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Is a reasonable doubt unreasonable?

May Contain Spoilers

The dissection of a real life legal case from every possible point of view may be the main subject from Barbet Schroeder's "Reversal of Fortune" but the heart of the film unquestionably resides in one of the most amazing acting performances in the history of cinema: Jeremy Iron's portrayal of Claus Von Bulow

The real Von Bulow was indeed convicted to a thirty year term for the murder of his socialite wife Sunny, played by Glenn Close, but the movie, without taking sides, does make it clear that his sentencing was somehow influenced by the court of public opinion in which everybody believed Claus was guilty, he had to be, he certainly seemed like a man guilty of something.

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He wants to marry a hairdresser

May Contain Spoilers

"Film is the medium that gives room to our fantasies, most of the time harmless, since they are fantasies. The cinema is often more beautiful than life, if only because we write the screenplay." - Leconte

The Hairdresser's husband (1990) is a film so fantastical, so sensual, so romantic, that you can not help but sigh in ached longing...a longing that, deep down, you know is untouchable, but how good it is to be drenched so thoroughly in it in a French hairdressing salon, on sunny afternoons and stormy nights?

Dreamers. Lovers. However they came to be we do not know, and it does not matter. They are so content together, indeed so happy that they seem immune to the ravishing of life's toil. Passion consumes their lives. The day begins with it, and ends with it.

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A boy's best friend is his mother

May Contain Spoilers

It's quite easy for someone to enjoy film. Loving film is completely different. For those who see films enjoy them, yet only those who can read film truly love it and understand it as an art form.

Hitchcock is probably the most well known director of all time. There is no absolute answer to what his crowning achievement is. A lot of critics prefer "Vertigo." Taste varies from one film lover to the other. "North by Northwest", "Notorious", "Vertigo", "Rear Window", "The Birds", "Shadow of a Doubt", "Strangers on a Train", "Rebecca", "Suspicion", "The 39 Steps" and "Psycho" are among his most loved.

The truth is there is no such thing as one ultimate Hitchcock masterpiece, there are only favorites.

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The People vs. George Lucas

May Contain Spoilers

A documentary called "The People vs. George Lucas" gives disgruntled, hard-core, "Star Wars" a chance to vent on the decisions George Lucas has made over the last several years, regarding the alterations to his beloved original trilogy as well as the overall outcome of that series' prequels. It may be safe to say that these fans' gargantuan expectations were not fully met.

I have to wonder if such expectations were realistic to begin with, I also ask myself if it was the world we live in today that drastically changed the rules of the game for the release of the maligned prequels. Let's face it, the insufferable Ewoks never had to face the same fate that Jar Jar Binks did when days after the release of the first prequel, a web site called www.jarjarbinkssucks.com became the talk of the web in its early days.

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The rules of Jean Renoir's "Game"

May Contain Spoilers

Long before Luis Bunuel's "The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie" there was Jean Renoir's "The Rules of the Game," a 1939 classic tragicomedy about French upper crust society and its lack of morals. Billed as a "dramatic fantasy," Renoir's sharp-eyed satire was far ahead of its time, and took no prisoners, throwing both caution and political correctness to the wind.

Though filmed in beautiful, timeless black and white, "The Rules of the Game"(La Regle Du Jeu) is arguably the most colorful film ever made. It bursts with energy and life. The film is a multifaceted look at the emotional boundaries and battlefields of love and forbidden passions between men and women. The sexes openly hunt each other like prey, discussing their strategies, targets, regrets and longings with each other and amongst themselves. Mr. Renoir crafts a riveting anthropology of these vacant and trifling human creatures. Each is tinged with irony. Few have time for self-awareness or reflection.

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Waiting and waiting for Godot

May Contain Spoilers

The prospect of filming "Waiting for Godot" has always fascinated me. Can film do it any justice? Better yet, will it even translate well on film? I believe it could work. However, it depends on who adapts the screen adaptation. I'm not talking about a re-imagining but a direct adaptation. I cannot see anything being changed in "Waiting for Godot" because if anything is changed it will not be Samuel Beckett's "Waiting for Godot" but [Director's Name]'s "Waiting for Godot."

Still, if nothing is changed, it still doesn't mean it will work as a motion picture. Some of the greatest works of literature have been adapted to the silver screen with a faithful structure and direct character quotations, only to fail miserably. Take Henry James' "The Europeans" for example. The novel is a perfectly enriched with interesting characters trying to adapt in a sudden clash of cultures.

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Apocalypto: Epic in a real jungle

May Contain Spoilers

I truly enjoy Mel Gibson's work as a director. His films, whether he stars in them or not, always reflect a passion and heart like few others. His best work these days, more and more, seems to be coming from behind the camera. It seems to me he really makes the movies for himself first and second for everybody else, no test audience previews to influence the final product.

"Apocalypto" is a film about the demise of the Mayan civilization. It tells the story of Jaguar Paw, whose small village is attacked by a group of hunters from the nearby metropolis, their job literally being to pillage small defenseless groups while looking for "volunteers" for their "most dangerous game": the sacrificing rituals that the city's leaders use to keep the masses entertained.

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