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  • July 29, 2008
    By Peter Keough

    So you toss the word “misogynist” around the hip young director and his ingenue star and everyone gets bent out of shape. I mean, of the three women in “The Wackness,” one (Stephanie played by Olivia Thirlby) is a cold-hearted, selfish and hedonistic bitch, her mother, played by Famke Jannsen, is a cold-hearted, joyless shrew, a chick named unity played by Mart-Kate Olsen is a drug addled Park Avenue ditz and the hero’s mother is a nag.

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  • July 25, 2008
    By Peter Keough

    Say what you will about the films of Judd Apatow, but “Knocked Up,” “Superbad” and the rest have inspired one worthy trend in Hollywood movies: dope smoking. Not only is it prominent in the upcoming Apatow movie, “Pineapple Express” (the title refers to a lethal blend of cannabis) directed by David Gordon Green, but also in “The Wackness,” JonathanLevine's vaguely-memoiristic tragi-comedy of being an 18-year-old dope dealer hopelessly in love with a seemingly unattainable woman in New York City in 1994.

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  • July 24, 2008
    By Peter Keough

    For what it’s worth, here’s my take on the greatest movie of all time .

    THE DARK KNIGHT

    Already fans are declaring “The Dark Knight” the best film of all time. Well, I’m not even sure it was the best film released last week. True, so much hype and near unanimous critical raves can set one up for disappointment.

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  • July 22, 2008
    By Peter Keough

    Kudos to fellow "Phoenix" film critic Brett Michel for being one of the few ( Dave Kehr makes similar observations in his blog) to recognize the resemblance between Heath Ledger’s Joker in “The Dark Knight” and Andy Robinson’s antic, anarchistic Scorpio in “Dirty Harry” (1971). Physical and stylistic similarities aside, they are basically the same in being domestic terrorists, sado-masochistic nihilists willing to kill the guilty and innocent alike in order to overthrow the status quo.

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  • July 21, 2008
    By Peter Keough

    Whenever I think I might be taking movies too seriously, there are always nutbags like Glenn Beck to remind me that, at least compared to some people, I have not as yet gone over the deep end. According to the CNN news personality, the upcoming film version of the Hasbro toy “G.I. Joe,” along with such previous fifth column screen assaults on Homeland Security as “Superman Returns” and “Happy Feet,” is just another sign that the U.

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  • July 18, 2008
    By Peter Keough

    Based on a F. Scott Fitzgerald story about a guy who is born an old man (ouch!) and ages in reverse into infantilism, David Fincher’s “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” starring Brad Pitt, has aroused much interest pending its opening on December 19. But judging from photos from the film released recently, the screen version looks like it might differ significantly from the original.

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  • July 17, 2008
    By Peter Keough

    (all photos except the second one by YH)

    Disney World by way of The Village

    The Thermal Hotel graces the Karlovy Vary Skyline

    The Fifth Floor

    Partaking of the healing spa waters

    Barbie (in the Toy Museum, Prague)

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  • July 17, 2008
    By Peter Keough

    As expected, “The Investigator” proved to be a tough sell. I was pleased that it was the favorite of one other juror, but it wasn't enough. So be it; on to the other contenders.

    One film did not enter the discussion: “The Guitar” by Amy Redford, Robert’s daughter. Though “well received” at Sundance (no doubt by Redford himself, that Festival’s founder) according to its publicity, it did not impress anyone in the jury, except maybe negatively.

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  • July 11, 2008
    By Peter Keough

    Some other random patterns I've been noticing in the films screened here:

    1. Split screen/splitting couples. Invariably a relationship in trouble is made concrete on the screen by separating the two with a door jamb, a stair railing, etc. Maybe arty about 40 years go, but now a cliche.

    2. Vomiting. At moments of intense emotion a character vomits dramatically.

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  • July 09, 2008
    By Peter Keough

    I just came from the fitness center at the Thermal Hotel, the monolithic 70s era Soviet hotel where I am staying, and let's just say that the term Kafkaesque came to mind. Had he been alive today the great Czech writer might have been inspired to write "The Castle" all over again. A simple workout involved taking a special sideways elevator only operated by a key card, paying 90 crowns, changing in a stark locker room, taking off one's shoes, showing a receipt to gain admittance, putting your shoes on again to use the cardio machine and asking an attendant to turn it on.

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  • July 08, 2008
    By Peter Keough

    Nick Nolte is a no-show. He cancelled at the last minute to appear with his documentary, "Nick Nolte: No Exit," leaving the director, Thomas Thurman, holding the bag. So much for his opportunity to join the ranks of such celebrated Karlovy Vary visitors as Karl Marx, Kamal Ataturk, Anton Dvorak and, this year, Robert De Niro, Christopher Lee and Rita Tushingham.

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  • July 06, 2008
    By Peter Keough

    I am now in Karlovy Vary in the Czech Republic attending the film festival where I am serving on the International Film Critics [FIPRESCI] jury [it is a "nonstatutory" jury, and I'm not sure what that means]. Also known as Carlsbad, the town has since the 14th century been renowned for its salubrious waters, reputed to cure many ills, and has expanded over the centuries into a valley full of baroque and Art Deco hotels, spas and knick knack shops that looks like a cross between Rockport, Mass.

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  • July 03, 2008
    By Peter Keough

    One of my earliest transcendent experiences in movies was watching Werner Herzog’s “Aguirre, the Wrath of God” for the first time. He has never quite equaled that achievement, in my opinion. But neither has anyone else. He’s one of the greatest living filmmakers, even though Abel Ferrara wants him to burn in hell.

    He seemed in a good mood when I talked to him on the phone about his new film, “Encounters at the End of the World.

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