ARDENT REALISM FROM A CHERISHED INDIAN FILMMAKER

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In the late 1950s, the Indian filmmaker Satyajit Ray adapted a popular Bengali novel into a series of three movies, known as the Apu Trilogy. The result was one of the harshest and most beautiful coming-of-age stories ever filmed, a remarkable synthesis of realism and fable, agony and uplift. Ray’s patient attention to domestic routines, [&hellip
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OUT OF STEP

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In 1975—just a year before the United States Bicentennial—Robert Altman’s Nashville, E.L. Doctorow’s Ragtime and Michael Bennett’s A Chorus Line were an artistic triumvirate, each a boldly innovative examination of multicultural American experience. These film/literature/theatrical experiments advanced their respective art forms—and national self-awareness. None of them have been surpassed, but they’ve all been betrayed—by television. [&hellip
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STATE OF PLAY

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State of Play’s only point of interest is its dramatization of journalists’ professional anxiety as Washington Globe ace reporter Cal McAffrey (Russell Crowe) compares himself to cub reporter Della Frye (Rachel McAdams): “I’m overfed, too expensive and take way too long.” Editrix Cameron Lynne (Helen Mirren) reminds both of them that the digital age is [&hellip
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THE SETH ROGEN VEHICLE, OBSERVE AND REPORT, IS THE MOST HATE-FILLED COMEDY SINCE BORAT

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Midway through Observe and Report, the humor turns unbelievably nasty. This Seth Rogen comedy about mall cop Ronnie Barnhardt becomes a haven for the benighted, envious and spiritually small. He goes from being an underdog rent-a-cop wannabe to a vengeful brute, obsessed with capturing a flasher as if going after Osama bin Laden
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PROVING MOVIE STARS STILL MATTER

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Sometimes movie stars matter. After Julia Roberts’ weak display of industry dominance in Duplicity, the power of movie stars has never seemed more questionable. But Vin Diesel and Paul Walker both get spectacular entrances in Fast & Furious (the kind people only fantasized De Niro and Pacino had in Heat) while audiences cheer their tough [&hellip
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SUGAR

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As the mainstreams media crucifies Yankee outfielder Alex Rodriguez, indie filmmakers Ryan Fleck and Anna Boden’s new film Sugar takes a sympathetic look at the life of a fictional baseball prodigy from the Dominican Republic—and crucifies him with kindness. Miguel “Sugar” Santos (played by Algenis Perez Soto) leaves his impoverished home to work his way [&hellip
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ADVENTURELAND

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In Adventureland, college grad James Brennan (Jesse Eisenberg) works a Pennsylvania amusement park summer job to raise money for graduate school. It’s 1987 and Brennan listens to Lou Reed and The Replacements, reads Quiet Days in Clichy and can’t repress his intellectual ambitions when he’s stoned. Yet, he’s likeably callow—exactly opposite of the obnoxious brat [&hellip
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GUEST OF CINDY SHERMAN

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Guest of Cindy Sherman lost its coterie fascination as soon as the 1975 Hearts and Minds (both are showing at Cinema Village) was revived. An art-world hanger-on’s moping about his bad match with a famous girlfriend—though candid, revealing and with justified self-pity—shriveled next to the historic anti-Vietnam War screed. It makes for a revealing contrast: [&hellip
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HUNGER

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Hunger, the first film by British fine artist Steve McQueen, plays with Christ-like imagery without Christianity. That probably accounts for the film’s enormous praise from today’s secular movie mob (it’s been a festival-circuit hit). The story of Irish Republican Army martyr Bobby Sands (played by Michael Fassbender), who died in Northern Ireland’s Maze prison after [&hellip
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