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Set It Up

A solid romantic comedy with sharp dialogue, amusing characters, and a few surprises up its sleeve.

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A lazy, vulgar celebration of White Male American Dumbness.

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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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Two reviews: "The Lives of Others" & "Climates"

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Listen (doo-dah-doo), do you want to know a secret?

I have new reviews of two fine films -- one from Germany and one from Turkey -- in today's Chicago Sun-Times and on RogerEbert.com:

The Lives of Others

It feels like science fiction -- "Fahrenheit 451" or "THX 1138" or "Brazil," with roots in Kafka and Orwell -- but the chilling and chilly dystopian world of writer-director Florian Henckel's "The Lives of Others" existed. The film, which begins in 1984, is a depiction of historical reality, not a cautionary fiction. It's set in East Germany, the German Democratic Republic, then a Soviet bloc communist-totalitarian state. Think of it as "The Conversation" behind the Iron Curtain.

Climates

The air is alive in Turkish director Nuri Bilge Ceylan's "Climates" -- more alive than the characters, who are like inert lumps of rock or sand. But that's the point. In this movie, so finely attuned to frequencies of light and sound, it's the invisible space around the characters that swarms with life and possibility. Their interior lives are muddled, opaque even to themselves, and they can't express anything directly, not even their own anguish and dissatisfaction.

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