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Wonder

You’ll shed a tear or two—especially if you’re a parent—and they’ll be totally earned.

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Mudbound

The film invites us to observe its characters, to hear their inner voices, to see what they see and to challenge our own preconceived notions…

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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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Cannes lacks blockbuster start

CANNES, France -- If Gilles Jacob, the overlord of the Cannes Film Festival, had gotten his way, the Palais des Festivals would have been trembling Wednesday night with the THX soundtrack of "Star Wars -- Episode I: The Phantom Menace." Jacob likes to open his festival with a blockbuster, just to remind everyone what a movie is, before they disappear into intense screenings of tortured adaptations of obscure novels by Herman Melville.

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Candid Cannes

CANNES, France -- One year I arrived in Cannes a little early, two days before the festival was scheduled to begin, and watched the waiters on the famous terrace of the Carlton Hotel as they loaded the good furniture into trucks and unloaded the weather-beaten rattan that I had come to know and love.

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A place in the Sun

PARK CITY, Utah How long has it been since I saw a film that was really scary, instead of just going through the motions of scary? Most horror films are merely exercises in ritualized surprise, but a low-budget film titled "The Blair Witch Project" shook up Sundance Film Festival audiences with its gathering sense of menace.

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Feeding the buzz about 'best' films

PARK CITY, Utah Of course I've seen all the wrong films so far at the Sundance Film Festival, according to the touts who whisper in my ear before screenings. It is always this way. You think you're seeing wonderful films, and everybody assures you that you've missed the masterpieces and are hopelessly out of the loop.

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Sundance a pinnacle for novice filmmakers

PARK CITY, Utah -- You have to go to something like Robert Redford's annual "filmmakers' brunch" to sense the level of ambition, hope and need at the Sundance Film Festival. You understand that the festival is a showcase for independent filmmakers. You know that a lot of them are here with their first or second movies and a game plan to make a sale, find distribution, win awards and generate buzz.

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Scrapping at Sundance

PARK CITY, Utah -- At most film festivals, 90 percent of the audience members are civilians and 10 percent are employed in the industry. At Sundance, the ratio is reversed. Screenings here consist of pitches, bids, dealmaking, business card exchanging and schmoozing, interrupted by movies.

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Sundance Festival of independent films opens today

PARK CITY, Utah The future of the American film industry begins its annual convention here today, at the Sundance Film Festival. For the next 10 days, new independent films and documentaries will unspool all over town, in every possible performance space: Wherever two or three gather together, they're probably looking at a movie.

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Quirky `Little Voice' gets the call to be this year's opener

The Chicago International Film Festival has not always been distinguished by its choice of opening-night films. Some never subsequently opened commercially, and at least one sent Junior Leaguers fleeing from the theater. But Mark Herman's "Little Voice," which opens this year's festival tonight, is a splendid choice - a film that may pick up an Oscar nomination or two.

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