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The Magnificent Ambersons: What's Past is Prologue

I've always felt Orson Welles' second feature, the memory-movie masterpiece "The Magnificent Ambersons," got a bad rap because: 1) it isn't "Citizen Kane"; and 2) it isn't the perfect creation Welles intended it to be because, as we all know,…

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Kiss Kiss Bang Bang: Deeper into Kael

"Film criticism is exciting just because there is no formula to apply, just because you must use everything you are and everything you know." -- Pauline Kael, "Circles and Squares: Joys and Sarris" (1963) "She has everything that a great…

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From zombies to Pasolini: Movies as schoolyard dares

"The Last 15 Minutes... Will Mess You Up For Life." -- tagline for "Paranormal Activity 3" (2011) "Anyone who leaves the cinema doesn't need the film, and anybody who stays does." 
-- Michael Haneke on his first version of "Funny…

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Melancholia: This is The End

"Melancholia" is now available On Demand; in theaters November 7. Of the Four Bodily Humours -- sanguine (blood), choleric (yellow bile), melancholic (black bile) and phlegmatic (phlegm) -- Lars von Trier has probably been most closely associated with the choleric,…

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VIFF #3: Almodovar gets skin deep

Pedro Almodovar's movies are so beguiled by lustrous surface textures and colors (fabrics, hair, makeup, architecture, upholstery, jewelry) that the title "The Skin I Live In" (or "The Skin That I Inhabit," as I've seen "La piel que habito" translated…

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In the Cut: Salt action previsualization

Thanks to Joshua Frankel, who worked closely with director Phillip Noyce and stunt coordinator/director Vic Armstrong on the animated storyboards for the sequence I examined in "In the Cut Part II: A Dash of Salt," for sending me his previsualization…

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Aboard the movie to Vancouver

Vancouver, BC, is a lovely town (not that I ever get to see any of it during the Vancouver International Film Festival, where I'm writing from) -- comparable in scenic beauty to my beloved home burgh of Seattle, and only…

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VIFF #1: The "normal" pedophile nobody notices

I wasn't sure how much I was going to be able to take of Markus Schleinzer's "Michael," at first, given that it begins as the "Jeanne Dielman" of Austrian kidnapper-pedophile movies. Fortunately, once the opening title appears on the screen…