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16 articles


Two Men in Town Gets a Bewildering 'R' Rating

12 hours ago

In Rachid Bouchareb’s Two Men in Town, a remake of José Giovanni’s 1973 film, William Garnett (Forest Whitaker) is on parole after serving eighteen years for murdering a deputy of Sheriff Agati (Harvey Keitel). Agati is not at all pleased that Garnett is back in his perpetually windy New Mexico municipality, though despite what the title suggests, Two Men in Town is less about the dynamic between the two men than the reformed and newly religious Garnett’s relationship with Agent Smith (Brenda Blethyn), his parole officer. Blethyn is wonderful as an all-too-rare character, a middle-aged woman who holds her own in a position of authority over violent men. Similarly, Ellen Burstyn has a cameo as Whitaker’s mother, and the pictu »


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Tina Fey's Weird and Winsome Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Channels Liz Lemon and Leslie Knope

12 hours ago

The world is a terrible place. That's the uncompromising truth with which Tina Fey and Robert Carlock begin Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (Netflix), their follow-up to the under-seen but culturally monumental 30 Rock. The very first scenes of Unbreakable's first season, which will be released in its binge-able entirety on March 6, find 29-year-old Kimmy (Ellie Kemper) being rescued from the doomsday cult she's been trapped in for fifteen years. If you do the math, that's a harrowingly young age for a girl to be groomed into a sister-wife. "Yes, there was weird sex stuff," blurts the Ptsd-ridden middle-school dropout, who's spent more than half her life in a basement (with three other women). But the cheerfully determined Kimmy refuses to give in to the a »


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Grey Gardens Gets Spruced Up at Film Forum

12 hours ago

You might want to protest that a sparkling new print of Grey Gardens violates the point of Grey Gardens. But if you feel strongly about it — or if you've never had the chance to witness the Fall of the House of Beale on a big screen — there's no excuse to miss the restoration of Albert and David Maysles's 1976 study of spirited decrepitude. Shot on 16mm, and still grainy, the story of the two generations of Ediths swanning and dancing about their crumbling mansion remains elusive and dreamlike, no matter how its corners have been brightened. In those corners, of course, is filth, now more sharply detailed than ever before.

The chance to apprehend the precise blackness of the stains on Big Edith's mattress is no revelation, of course, and the new »


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Strong New Docs on Hoaxers and Debunkers Reveal a Country Eager to Be Fooled

12 hours ago

The public really doesn't listen when they're being told straightforward facts," says the Amazing Randi. The magician, escape artist, and tiny lion of principled skepticism, now north of 80, leans forward in a black chair, all knees and elbows and Old Testament beard. If it weren't for that sharpie's suit he's wearing, the kind that looks like it has face cards slipped between its every seam, he could be some wise-wizard marionette rigged up by the Henson workshop.

He's dismayed, thinking of frauds he's exposed, truths he's fought for, and the fact that America still hasn't run its psychics and UFO abductees and flimflam preachers out of the country on a rail. "They would rather accept what some charismatic character tells them than really think about what the tru »

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Parisian Spring: This Year's Rendez-Vous With French Cinema Might Melt Our City at Last

12 hours ago

Apologies to T.S. Eliot, but March in New York is surely the cruelest month, often a 31-day mantle of cold or drizzle (or both) through which spring refuses to budge. Yet March does have its saving graces, among them the Film Society of Lincoln Center and UniFrance Films' annual Rendez-Vous With French Cinema, now in its twentieth year.

The festival, a showcase of new French films spanning genres and styles, and made by relative newcomers and veterans alike, has grown so much that it now takes place in three venues: the Film Society of Lincoln Center, the IFC Center, and BAMcinématek. The ten-day event kicks off on March 6 with Rendez-Vous stalwart Benoît Jacquot's stylish romantic melodrama 3 Hearts, starring Charlotte Gainsbourg, Chiara Mastroianni, »


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Allure Tries to Make Sense of the Occupy Movement

12 hours ago

Set in the distant past of 2011, when the Occupy movement was still roaring and all hope was not yet lost, Vladan Nikolic's Allure struggles to make sense of an uprising that didn't ascend to the heights many had hoped. It doesn't help that the docudrama is arriving neither in the heat of the moment nor with more than a few years' worth of hindsight on a movement whose full implications have yet to be sussed out. Nikolic does contribute to that effort, however, with a multicultural portrait of several women either directly involved in or tangentially affected by Occupy; the more he expands beyond this core element, the more interesting Allure becomes. The filmmaker, originally from Serbia, has a sensitive understanding of the immigrant experience s »


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The True Story in Kidnapping Mr. Heineken Tastes Flat

12 hours ago

In 1983 — as chronicled in Dutch investigative reporter Peter R. de Vries's bestseller — five financially desperate childhood pals turned to crime, capturing wealthy beer magnate Freddy Heineken (and his chauffeur Ab Doderer) in broad daylight after robbing a bank to fund their operation. Not to be confused with 2011's liberties-taking thriller The Heineken Kidnapping (a more ambitious and exciting film, with Rutger Hauer as the abducted mogul), The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest director Daniel Alfredson's exposition-heavy English-language adaptation boasts an amusingly belligerent Anthony Hopkins as the brew baron and little else. Jim Sturgess, Sam Worthington, and True Blood's Ryan Kwanten co-star in this glossy, lifelessly paced »


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These Final Hours Offers an Amped-Up, Pre-Apocalyptic Vision

12 hours ago

Where David Michôd's recent The Rover provided a poised, sparse vision of post-apocalyptic Australia (complete with "a Bressonian car chase," per the critic and filmmaker Dan Sallitt), Zak Hilditch's These Final Hours — shot in and around Perth, and set during the twelve hours leading up to a sure-thing, planet-annihilating cataclysm — offers a more amped-up experience. James (Nathan Phillips), the ripped, rugged protagonist, snorts lines of coke and chugs from a liquor bottle as he speeds his way to the "party to end all parties"; a weapon-wielding drifter butchers a helpless man before James's eyes, leading to a frantic foot chase; and, at that aforementioned party/orgy/ra »


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October Gale Is a Character-Driven Thriller

12 hours ago

Ruba Nadda followed up her breakthrough film Cairo Time with thrillers for its two leads: Inescapable for Alexander Siddig, and now October Gale for Patricia Clarkson. Both rely on character-driven drama more than traditional action, exploring the intricacies of family relationships and the repercussions of loss. Dr. Helen Matthews (Clarkson) was accustomed to peaceful getaways with her husband, James, in the Hamptons of northern Ontario, a lake district that's long been a retreat for affluent Toronto residents. James died during an October gale on Lake Joseph, and Helen is still submerged in grief as she opens up their island cottage the following spring. Tidying the house triggers memories of James (Callum Keith Rennie), and Nadda uses these flashbacks to »


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The Loser in Buzzard Spirals Near Psychosis

12 hours ago

Marty Jackitansky (Joshua Burge) likes video games, death metal, and horror comics; he doesn't see a future past the stone's-throw distance of his financial horizon, immediately spending everything he makes from his shitty temp job and through a variety of hilarious scams: workers' compensation, bogus merchandise returns, consumer complaints, and a venture into the felony territory of cashing the refund checks of his company's clients. Paranoid about getting caught, he first hides in his co-worker's nerd basement ("The Party Zone!") where they eat Bugles, play last-generation video games, and have duels armed with a lightsaber and a Nintendo Power Glove modified to look like Freddy Krueger's claw. Often very funny, the film is not a comedy; as his anxiety mounts, Marty b »


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Adam Carolla Mines His Own Career for Road Hard

12 hours ago

Adam Carolla mines his own career trajectory for worn-out dramedic pap in Road Hard, in which the comedian plays autobiographical proxy Bruce, a former host of The Bro Show who now flounders about doing stand-up in obscure clubs while his past partner (Jay Mohr) thrives as a successful late-night talk show star. This based-on-real-events setup initially fuels Carolla's caustic one-liners both onstage and during his day-to-day, which consists of hanging out with showbiz buddies (David Alan Grier, Everybody Loves Raymond creator Phil Rosenthal), meeting with his toupee-wearing, bimbo-loving agent (Larry Miller), and trying to convince his daughter (Cynthy Wu) to go to an affordable college. Those scenarios are all rooted in a particular brand of Holl »


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NYC Drug Drama Straight Outta Tompkins Is Engaging but Overstuffed

12 hours ago

With a title that plays knowingly on Nwa, this autobiographical debut from 21-year-old writer-director-star Zephyr Benson swaps the black L.A. ghettos of Straight Outta Compton for the white, middle-class milieu of Manhattan's Lower East Side. Shot on location with a bracing, handheld immediacy, it's an engaging but ultimately overstuffed morality tale that blends crime thriller, addiction saga, and coming-of-age elements. The lazily charming Benson — whose messy tangle of mud-colored curls, oblong, off-porcelain face, and giant green eyes lend him the look of a live-action Botticelli — plays Gene, an outwardly cocky high-schooler suffering reverberations from the death of his mother and subsequent abandonment by his businessman father (who appears in chronic »


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Deli Man Documents a Grand Food Tradition

12 hours ago

Chinese and Italian cuisines in America recall the traditions of homelands to which their practitioners can return. Not so with the Jewish traditions of Eastern Europe that inform delicatessens; those communities were destroyed in the Holocaust. This is one of the themes of Deli Man, which documents how New York delis run by German Jews became an Americanizing force to the Yiddish-speaking shtetl Jews immigrating to the States from Eastern Europe in the early twentieth century, serving pastrami, salmon, soup, hot dogs, latkes, rye bread, kugel, blintzes, bratwurst, herring salad, and knishes, all tantalizingly documented in the film. Deli Man includes interviews with deli owners from across the country, as well as such celebrities as Jerry Stiller, Fyvush »


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In The Mafia Only Kills in Summer, the Cosa Nostra Is Gloriously Lampooned

12 hours ago

The city of Palermo has long suffered under the rule of a criminal empire: the Sicilian Mafia, better known as the Cosa Nostra. Anti-mob group Addiopizzo reported in 2008 that the Mafia extorts more than $200 million annually from local businesses — in a city of fewer than 700,000 residents. In the Nineties, when things were really dire, Palermo was besieged by bombings and assassinations. An article on Italian travel in The Guardian cautioned that in those days, the city "had all the tourist appeal of a city break in Kabul." Part of the problem, as Pierfrancesco Diliberto's The Mafia Only Kills in Summer smartly observes, is anyone with the power to confront the Cosa Nostra tends to turn up dead, no matter how well-known or well-protected. Speaking »


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The Mind of Mark DeFriest Is a Powerful Indictment of the Prison System

12 hours ago

A chilling, timely, often darkly and unexpectedly humorous look at one man's brutal experiences in the American prison system, the documentary The Mind of Mark DeFriest is the adage "truth is stranger than fiction" writ large. If it were a Hollywood fiction, the film would strain credulity at almost every turn. (Don't be surprised if it's one day turned into an Oscar-bait biopic.) After his father dies, nineteen-year-old DeFriest — ignorant about the terms of probate — goes to the family home to retrieve the valuable work tools bequeathed him in the elder man's will. His stepmother calls the cops, setting into motion a years-long trek through the justice system that includes several impressive jailbreaks that embarrassed the powers that be and tacked »


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The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel Earns a Silver Medal

12 hours ago

Almost immediately after it was released, the 2012 stealth hit Best Exotic Marigold Hotel became more a punchline than a movie. Who knew “older” people were so starved for pictures featuring gorgeously shot exotic locales, not to mention people falling in love, falling out of love, or desperately hoping for love, all while dealing with assorted problems related not just to aging but to life itself? Directed by Shakespeare in Love’s John Madden and based on the novel These Foolish Things, by Deborah Moggach, the first Marigold Hotel attracted a staunchly adult audience, apparently made up of women in particular. Naturally, then, it was s »


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