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  • June 08, 2008
    By Peter Keough
    Are the terrorists winning the war of popular culture? While everyone has been keeping their eyes out for dirty bombs and airline hijackings, sleeper cells have infiltrated the ranks of Oprah’s Book Club and summer movie blockbusters.

    Leave it to eagle-eyed critic Debbie Schlussel to spot the hand of Al Qaeda in Andre Dubus III’s Oprah-touted “The Garden of Last Days,” which “sympathizes” with one of the 9/11 terrorists.


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  • June 03, 2008
    By Peter Keough

    Around the time of the moon landing when people were wondering what Neil Armstrong would say when he first set foot on the surface some comedian whose name I can’t remember joked that he could make himself a pile of money if he just shouted “Coca-Cola!” Those were the days. Now such Philip K. Dickian crass commercialization of space flight is the norm and what’s left of the final frontier is only on the Sci-Fi channel or in Star Trek sequels.

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  • May 29, 2008
    By Peter Keough

    Far from being tossed onto the trash heap of history, the Russian Communist Party has recovered very nicely from the downfall of the Soviet Union by entering another field: film criticism.

    After ripping “Armageddon” a few years ago because it impugned the quality of Russian space hardware, they are taking to task Steven Spielberg’s International blockbuster “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.

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  • May 27, 2008
    By Peter Keough

    Because of his many, memorable appearances on screen, Sydney Pollack, who just died at the age of 73, might have the been the most familiar of contemporary directors to the average moviegoer. In most roles (but not Stanley Kubrick’s "Eyes Wide Shut." Yikes!) he seemed that hardbitten, savvy guy with a heart of gold whom you wouldn’t mind having a beer with and whom you could rely on to help you out in a pinch.

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  • May 22, 2008
    By Peter Keough

    Who needed drugs back in 1970 when there were peyote-powered brain bogglers like Nicolas Roeg and Donald Cammell’s Performance, Alejandro Jodorowsky’s El Topo and Werner Herzog’s Even Dwarfs Started Small on the screen? Those psychedelic, boundary breaking days might be coming back despite the perpetual complaints about the death of independent cinema.

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  • May 14, 2008
    By Peter Keough

    The conventional wisdom says that C.S. Lewis’s Narnia and the movie adaptations of the books offer aproper Christian alternative to the godless moonshine of Philip Pullman’s "The Golden Compass" and the satan worshipping witchcraft of Harry Potter.

    But how Christian is it? I’m not referring to the scene in 2005’s “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” in which Father Christmas (that’s Santa Claus, or the Spirit of Rampant Consumerism as he is known to us on this side of the Atlantic) presenting children lethal weapons as holiday presents.

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  • March 25, 2008
    By webteam

    With two grim milestones passed -- the fifth year of war and the 4,000th soldier killed in action -- it would seem prime time for the presidential candidates to push the issue in their campaigns. John McCain, for one, seems to have pretty much taken it for granted that the war has been won (winning = endless U.S. military presence) and is setting the groundwork for a similar intractable, bloody and unrthinkably costly conflict in Iran

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  • March 20, 2008
    By webteam

    Anthony Minghella, who died unexpectedly Tuesday at the age of 54 , made some films that were truly great (“The Talented Mr. Ripley”), some that were madly overrated (“The English Patient”) and others that were deeply flawed (Cold Mountain). In all of them, however, he demonstrated the same principles: reverence for the art of film, ambition to push that art to its limits, a sincere humility and an engaging sense of humor.

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  • March 16, 2008
    By webteam

    Last year I had the chance to talk with director Ang Lee on the occasion of the release of his steamy, unrated film “Lust, Caution.” Ever the champion of beautiful young women who appear naked on screen, I asked him if he was concerned about the impact the film would have on Tang Wei, who engages with Tony Leung in numerous graphic and anatomically challenging sexual acts.

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  • March 11, 2008
    By webteam

    The heated, ongoing Democratic presidential nomination contest might be an interesting historical footnote, but what really concerns most Americans at the moment is, what’s wrong with Oscar? I thought the ceremony went rather briskly this time, but then again I was also eating pizza, doing the Sunday “Times” crossword puzzle and paying my bills (don’t ask!) while watching.

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  • March 07, 2008
    By webteam

    Everybody knows what a terrific motion picture “Chicago,” winning the Oscar and all a few years back. But who knew it’s been made into eight sequels already? Where was I when this happened? We’re already up to “Chicago 10” already and having seen the movie, I don’t see how it ties in. At least it doesn’t have Richard Gere tap dancing.

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  • March 03, 2008
    By webteam

    Now, as far as I know, unlike the ill-fated “The Signal,” Chicago 10” is still in the theaters. So I can run the lengthy phone interview I conducted with the director, Brett Morgen. And it’s a good thing, because I think this part animated, part archival recreation of the events leading up to the anti-war demonstrations at the Democratic National Convention in 1968 and the subsequent trial of the “ringleaders” provides some useful services.

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  • February 29, 2008
    By webteam

    I had intended to post a transcript of a fascinating (if I do say myself) interview I conducted with the three directors of “The Signal,” which is a thriller about a mysterious signal broadcast over every media that drives people into a murderous frenzy. Frankly, the same thing happens to me when I see a Head-On or Bob’s Furniture commercial.

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  • February 25, 2008
    By webteam

    I think we can safely say, after watching last night’s Oscars, that Barack Obama will defeat Hillary Clinton for the Democratic Presidential nomination. Otherwise, how else account for my incorrect prediction in the Best Supporting Actress category? And there are other reasons as well.

    But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

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  • February 21, 2008
    By webteam

    Alain Robbe-Grillet has passed away. Or has he? Given the fluid nature of reality in his books and films, the permeability of all times with eternity, the interconnection of every consciousness and fate with one each other and with none in particular, he may just have moved on to another scene or narrative line or another movie.

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