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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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Blinded by love

CANNES, France -- On the day that he won the best actor award at the Cannes Film Festival, Sean Penn sat with his wife, Robin Wright, and co-star John Travolta and talked about the spirit of John Cassavetes.

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Sundance standouts reflect black indie tradition

PARK CITY, Utah I saw a group of interesting films about African Americans at this year's Sundance Film Festival, the big annual showcase for new independent films. And as I sat down to write about them, I realized that black films in America have long been "independent." Only recently, with a new generation of stars, have they moved into the studio mainstream.

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'Prefontaine' premieres at Sundance

PARK CITY, Utah "Prefontaine" breaks most of the rules of the sports movie genre. It's about a runner who did not win his big race, who was abrasive and cocky and not always a nice guy, and who led a rebellion against the amateur sports establishment of the early 1970s.

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Sundance reflects unique world view

PARK CITY, Utah--Europeans tend to view Americans as perpetual teenagers, and maybe they have a point. If you were to judge the world on the basis of the movies at this year's Sundance Film Festival, the typical American is a troubled teenager and the typical European or Japanese is an adult confronting basic questions of life.

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Bleakness infuses films at Sundance

PARK CITY, Utah --The theme song of the opening days of this year's Sundance Film Festival should have been "Get a Job." I've seen six American films so far, all of them about characters mired in aimless unemployment or unsatisfying work. Oh, and I saw a Czech film too: That was about a man in Prague who is kicked out of the philharmonic and reduced to playing his cello at funerals.

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The evolution of Sundance

PARK CITY, Utah -- The most important little film festival in America opened here Thursday. The Sundance Film Festival, the annual trade fair for filmmakers working outside the studio system, will screen more than 100 films before industry-savvy audiences. People who got off the plane flat broke may fly out of town, clutching contracts. Maybe if we're lucky, there will even be another shoving match in a restaurant, like the one last year between guys from Fine Line and Miramax who both thought they bought the rights to the same film.

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3 films offer visions of 21st century

H ONOLULU - If there is a nation that seems to have one foot already planted in the 21st century, that nation is Japan, where every new high-tech gadget and virtual reality world seems to get its first consumer tryout. At the 16th Hawaii International Film Festival, which specializes in new films from the Pacific Rim, three movies danced along the cutting edge of new technology and emerging art forms:

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Film festival stresses quality, not quantity

The streamlined 32nd Chicago International Film Festival opens Thursday, with fewer films but better quality control. Emerging from a year of boardroom turmoil and an attempted coup, festival founder Michael J. Kutza has retained his post as director but adopted some of the changes long called for by the event's critics.

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Toronto fest teems with small treasures

The regulars at the Toronto Film Festival are a humbling lot. They take a week off work, arm themselves with backpacks, schedules and bottles of mineral water, and hit as many as six screenings a day. Toronto is said to have the highest per-capita film attendance in the world; maybe that's just all these same people, attending every single movie in town.

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