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  • December 31, 2007
    By webteam
    Now I could say that I was trying to find out if anyone was paying attention to explain why I wrote "Sinclair Lewis" for "Upton Sinclair" in that last posting, especially since the right name was staring me right in the face with the illustration from the book cover. But, no. It's yet another manifestation of a kind of name dyslexia that I, and, or so they tell me, no doubt to make me feel better, other people in this business suffer from.

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  • December 28, 2007
    By webteam

    Say what you will, good or bad , about Paul Thomas Anderson’s “There Will Be Blood,” it at least has the positive effect of reawkening interest in Sinclair Lewis’s [or Upton Sinclair's, as my non-addled mind now recognizes] largely forgotten 1927 novel, “Oil!” I don’t think many film critics, though, have been drawn to read the 500+ page opus.

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  • December 24, 2007
    By webteam

    A few years back a perhaps over-generous local film critic used to bug the crap out of his colleagues, myself included, by padding his “Ten Best” list with “ties.” It got so we used to joke, somewhat mean-spiritedly, “so and so’s ten best list this year only has 14 movies. What happened?” Very petty. Why should we care?

    I pondered this question again this Sunday after reading the “New York Times” critics “Ten Best” lists.

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  • December 21, 2007
    By webteam

    Big surprise: the Screen Actors Guild would give four nominations to a scenery chewing (and spewing) film about a safe political topic directed by a pompously outspoken actor in an election year. Makes for good awards ceremony drama and fine thespian self congratulation.

    But back to the opinions that matter, part II in the Boston Phoenix critics best, worst and most overrated lists:

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  • December 20, 2007
    By webteam

    “Time” magazine’s Richard Corliss’s item “Do Film Critics Know Anything?” is the latest in whines from critics about how critics don’t know anything about what people really like (ie: movies with promotion budgets above $50 million opening in 5,000 theaters). One might well wonder if “Time” knows anything, having named Vladimir Putin their “Man of the Year” for restoring “stability,” presumably by removing such rowdy elements as the right to dissent and a free press.

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  • December 19, 2007
    By webteam

    The “Juno backlash” notwithstanding, the film’s screenwriter (what happened to director Jason Reitman, who was so cool last year with his smug and reactionary “Thank You For Smoking?”), self-promotional wunderkind Diablo Cody has been institutionalized as cinema cool by such cutting edge journals as "Entertainment Weekly," where she now has a blog, and Criterion, at whose website she has decreed her ten best selections from that august DVD distributor’s portfolio.

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  • December 14, 2007
    By webteam

    I was lead to believe that the growingsuccess of “Juno” might be curtailed by its failure to take any awards from the first handful of critics groups meetings, including Boston, Los Angeles and New York. Fat chance. The tide turned when groups such as the Broadcast Film Critics Association gave it three nominations and the Hollywood Foreign Press (you know -- The Golden Globes) did likewise and in the same categories: Best Film (in the latter case, Comedy or Musical), Best Screenplay and Best Actress.

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  • December 09, 2007
    By webteam
    I've just finished cleaning up the coffee cups and discarded ballots from the BSFC meeting and can share the results of the voting:
    Best Picture: "No Country for Old Men"
    Best Foreign Language Picture: "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly"
    Best Documentary: "Crazy Love"
    Best Director: Julian Schnabel ("The Diving Bell and the Butterfly")





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  • December 07, 2007
    By webteam

    The past week I’ve been “researching” a feature story I’m writing on the “I Am Legend” mini-genre of Last Man on Earth flicks by watching DVDs featuring plagues, cosmic catastrophes, climactic disasters, devastating technological snafus, nuclear warfare and, of course, rampaging zombies. I watched “Omega Man” again, with a hip Charlton Heston, now senile NRA spokesman, blasting away at black-robed ghouls with a tommy gun.


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  • November 29, 2007
    By webteam

    “Depressing,” unsentimental or subversive (ie: made for adults) movies don’t win many awards or many fans back here in the USA, as a couple of recent news stories reminded me.

    Here, it seems, taboos, conflicts and anxieties are more conspicuous by their absence on screen than by frank and courageous confrontation and analysis.

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  • November 26, 2007
    By webteam

    When asked what he was looking for in a winning movie, the Jury President Jiri Menzel (director of the great, bittersweet 1968 Czech New Wave classic “Closely Watched Trains”) said “I hope to find a nice film about people." Sorry, wrong festival. As noted below, what you’ll find here is a lot of alcoholism, child abuse, intractable depression, violence against women, dead cats, faux cynicism, genuine cynicism, corrupt officials and overall despair.

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  • November 24, 2007
    By webteam

    As it turned out we did have Thanksgiving dinner in Thessaloniki. The festival organizers were thoughtful enough to throw one for the Americans in town, and so I was fortunate enough to have Turkey in an Italian restaurant in Greece with Danny Glover, John Sayles (John Malkovich had already left), numerous American critics.

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  • November 22, 2007
    By webteam

    Another Thanksgiving in a country without Thanksgiving.

    Speaking of family get togethers, fathers are definitely taking a beating at this festival. In addition to the "Hamlet" mentioned before, several other films offer a dark view of paternity and the legacy of inherited evil. In "Vasermil," no dads are present, and good riddance ("Do you want to turn out like your father?).

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  • November 20, 2007
    By webteam

    Chances are John Malkovich might have been in a sour mood during his master class, the legions of statuesque female fans notwithstanding. At the ceremony where he received the Golden Alexander he thanked, among other worthies, British Airways for "helping me to evade my tendency to overdress by losing my luggage." Otherwise he seemed gracious and pleased by the encomia heaped on him by the presenters, who hailed his ability to merge into a role using various hairpieces, though they didn't mention any in particular or show any clips (ironically, they did screen "Being John Malkovich," in which he plays himself in the most solipsistically way possible).

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  • November 18, 2007
    By webteam

    Athens, being the cradle of Western civilization and all, might overshadow its northern rival, Thessaloniki. But the less touristy Thessaloniki is still the second largest city in Greece. Historically it's nothing to sneeze at, either, founded back in the 4th century BC by Cassander, one of the late Alexander's generals, who named it after his wife, the world conqueror's half sister, perhaps to make up for the fact that he murdered her mother to take over the throne.

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