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Though based on a short story by Joseph Conrad, Patrice Chereau’s Gabrielle brings to mind the plays of Strindberg and Albee. Chereau was a man of the theater before becoming a film director, and this highly stylized portrait of a loveless marriage at the beginning of the 20th century merges a claustrophobic theatricality with dazzlingly […]

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Day Night Day Night

Given the stale conventions of most films that take on the issue of terrorism, Julia Loktev’s feature is notable for its efforts to avoid melodrama and sloganeering. Unfortunately this portrait of a young woman on the eve of her first terrorist foray—a bombing of Times Square—replaces the knee-jerk patriotic bluster of Hollywood films with its […]

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October 17, 1961

The title of Alain Tasma’s earnest if occasionally creaky drama refers to one of the most traumatic—and scandalously overlooked—atrocities in France since World War II. A peaceful demonstration, organized by the Front de Liberation Nationale to protest a curfew imposed on Algerian Muslims living in Paris, culminated in a police riot during which countless demonstrators […]

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The Devil’s Miner

Kief Davidson and Richard Ladkani’s documentary is a powerful indictment of the horrendous treatment of children who toil in hellish Bolivian silver mines. The filmmakers are better at fashioning haunting images than offering hard-nosed analysis, yet they never sentimentalize their young protagonists’ plight. At the center of their story is 12-year-old Basilio Vargas, who endures […]

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Carmen in Khayelitsha

This South African rendering of Carmen is only the latest attempt to make Bizet’s chestnut more palatable to contemporary audiences. Sung and spoken in Xhosa, Mark Dornford-May’s frenetic adaptation features solid performances by the leads (especially Pauline Malefane as Carmen, singing with gusto and carrying her large frame with considerable grace) and a shantytown setting […]

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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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Dylan Kidd’s first film, Roger Dodger (2002), was praised by many critics as an unsparing study of an unapologetic cad, but it struck me as unconvincingly glib. In this syrupy new romantic comedy Louise (Laura Linney), an admissions officer for Columbia University’s fine arts program who’s languishing in a bad marriage, undergoes an enormous romantic […]