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Waiter

What begins as a vaguely comic portrait of a put-upon middle-aged server quickly turns surreal when it cuts to the screenwriter, who’s ostensibly in the throes of creating the story we’re watching. Edgar, the title character (played by writer-director Alex van Warmerdam), eventually shows up at the home of the writer to ask for more […]

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The Fountain

A pretentious, unfocused, and fussy mess (2006), in which director Darren Aronofsky manages to make Hugh Jackman unattractive and unsympathetic, whether he’s stumbling through the jungle looking for the Tree of Life in the 16th century, weeping for his dying wife while trying to find a cure for her cancer in the present, or bobbing […]

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Candy

The incandescent love affair of beautiful young poet Dan (Heath Ledger) and beautiful younger artist Candy (Abbie Cornish) leads them to share everything. They live together, work together, swim together, and quickly shoot up together. Their mutual addiction briefly feels ecstatic, as it fuels their art and obsessive sex life. Their sometime enabler is a […]

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Severance

For horror fans who crave a few laughs along with their ritual decapitations and limb severings. Director Christopher Smith sends a motley group of English and American employees of international arms dealers to a shabby hunting lodge in a remote Hungarian forest for a corporate bonding weekend, and things quickly turn grisly. Is the lodge […]

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Twilight Dancers

Fans of the late Philippine director Lino Brocka will recognize the genre he created with Macho Dancer (1988), a groundbreaking exploration of the lives of beautiful young Filipino men who work as strippers in Manila gay bars. Their lives are nasty, brutish, and short, as they try to support their families while navigating a world […]

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Bee Season

Gifted filmmakers Scott McGehee and David Siegel have directed three features over a dozen years: the unsettling Suture (1993), the less experimental but disturbing The Deep End (2001), and now Bee Season, based on the well-reviewed novel of the same name about a dysfunctional family—the father’s a demanding professor of religious studies whose tight grip […]

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Shopgirl

A curiously bloodless effort from the usually reliable Steve Martin. He wrote the script, based on his similarly flat novella about a romantic triangle involving a Saks glove salesclerk (Claire Danes), a boyish slacker (Jason Schwartzman), and a wealthy Internet entrepreneur (Martin). They not only don’t connect, they seem to exist in different universes, the […]

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The Reader’s Guide to the 41st International Film Festival

Film Capital of the Week Being a second rate movie town has its advantages. By Jonathan Rosenbaum Heaven knows what possessed the Chicago International Film Festival to adopt “Film capital of the world” as its slogan this year, but considering some of the movies that played in New York and Los Angeles recently and never […]

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Finding Neverland

A curiously subdued offering from Marc Forster (Monster’s Ball). Johnny Depp plays a rather inexpressive J.M. Barrie, stuck in a loveless marriage, turning out flop plays, and hopelessly attracted to a lovely widow (Kate Winslet, in English rose mode) and her four adorable apple-cheeked sons. Barrie’s constant attentions to the family are here portrayed as […]

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Being Julia

Annette Bening puts her early theatrical training to good use in this glossy period piece (based on W. Somerset Maugham’s novella “Theatre”) about a capricious, spoiled stage diva who thrives on intrigue and adulation. When she needs more than she’s getting from her husband (an excellent Jeremy Irons), handsome admirer (Bruce Greenwood), slavish producer (Miriam […]

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Tarnation

Jonathan Caouette started photographing and filming himself when he was 11 during a chaotic childhood under the transient care of an electroshocked, intermittently institutionalized mom, numerous foster parents (some abusive), and his clueless grandparents. Drawing from home movies, answering-machine messages, and movie clips, Caouette famously put together this film for about $200 using iMovie, Apple’s […]